Hannah Shtein Interview
As social gatherings slowly start to creep back into our lives, many of us are preparing to dodge that classic question, “So what do you do?” Coming out of quarantine, many of us feel as though we are behind on what our life paths were supposed to be. Especially if your career path sits outside the norms of what is expected of you. I sat down with Hannah Shtein, a business and mindset coach, to discuss the limitations we unknowingly set upon ourselves and the benefits of authentic self-expression in building our careers as women.
EP: Oftentimes, young women feel the pressure of following a specific path and checking off “milestone boxes.” We tend to have a very linear perspective on success and progress. You’ve found success in many different paths both conventionally and non-conventionally. Could you speak a little about your background and how you arrived at becoming a business and mindset coach?
HS: I did the linear path thing for a very long time. That’s very much how I was brought up and how I viewed things. I had this plan that I was going to go to law school. I had no interest in going to law school but I convinced myself that was what you did if you didn’t know exactly what you wanted to do with your life and you wanted to be “successful” and make money– and I basically planned my entire life around that and then I got there and had pretty much an emotional rock bottom because it was so just out of alignment for me. I was so unhappy and I had an eating disorder and I was binge drinking and I just honestly hated my life and that was when I had this realization that like, you can’t live this way anymore. It hasn’t made you happy even though you’ve done everything “right”, so it’s time to do things differently. So I guess you could say that was the start of my spiritual awakening, if you want to call it that. But at that point, I just resolved– I did finish law school– but after that I resolved to just listen to myself and do what felt right for me, even if I didn’t know exactly what that was going to look like. From there, there was a lot of career exploration that happened, but everything I did from that point was based on what I wanted and what felt right to me. I really did have to let go of this linear model and just trust myself and my curiosity enough. It took me a while to get to the coach thing, but I got here because I’d learned to release the linear timeline and start listening to myself and seek out mentors who also had a non-linear path, which made it seem much more possible to do things that I previously thought were not possible for me.
EP: As a mindset and business coach you help new and aspiring coaches and consultants start and scale their online businesses. What does mindset coaching mean to you? What are some common misconceptions? And why is it important, specifically for young women?
HS: For me, mindset coaching means expanding people’s view of what is possible for them. I truly think most people are living — this sounds really dramatic– but I really think most people are living at half of their volume. They’re perpetually muting themselves in some way. And they don’t know that they’re doing it often, or they know and they don’t know how to stop. To me, coaching is all about expanding a person’s vision for what is possible for them and allowing themselves to figure out what their most authentic self looks like. Does that make sense?
EP: That totally makes sense. I completely relate to that feeling of setting limitations on yourself without knowing it.
HS: Yeah, exactly. You asked why it is important for women. I think women especially have a huge tendency to set limitations on themselves. I think women are very much trained and raised to ‘people-please’ and to fit themselves whatever spaces they are in. We’re just socialized to do that, so I think coaching is especially important for women to unlearn some of those behaviours.
EP: As a mindset coach, you appear to act as both an industry expert and guide or therapist (in more emotional matters, like breaking down expectations, limitations, internal biases, etc.) Can you speak to the intersection between heart and business in your work and has that been rewarding?
HS: My favourite part of my work is that I get to combine both of these things. So on the business side there is this strategy that I share with people — so that’s more the mentorship consultation piece, but then, on the coaching side there are so many ways you can implement that strategy and make it work for you and there are so many ways to run a business and it’s truly an expression of who you are. The coaching piece is helping people figure out what works for them not just on the strategy side, but also what sort of business they want to have, what feels good for them, learning to trust their instincts, etc. It’s not just learning the strategies, but then also learning to trust themselves to implement them in a way that really resonates with them and to create something that feels very much theirs, as opposed to “I built a business this way, and I’m gonna show you how to replicate that” and you know you make your cookie cutter replica of it.
EP: At Outspoken, we’ve discussed the impact of imposter syndrome and self-censoring for women in the workplace. Oftentimes women feel trapped by learned behaviors such as over-apologizing. What are methods you use in rewiring this mindset? And how can young women and girls unlock their full potential in the workplace or in their entrepreneurship?
HS: I think that the pressure to not feel these negative emotions or to get rid of them makes them so much worse. I do think that, yes for women some of this stuff like imposter syndrome and self-doubt comes up more than it does for men, however, it comes up for everyone. I think in general when you’re doing something new and exciting that you haven’t done before that involves risk-taking, which is going to be any sort of new business venture, that stuff is going to come up. A huge part of moving through it is welcoming it. It’s about allowing those feelings to happen, welcoming them in, but also not assigning meaning to them. It’s totally fine that we feel them, they’re totally normal, but it’s learning to change how we think about them and what we make them mean. It’s more about what we make these things mean and choosing how we’re going to think about them instead of letting them define us and control our actions.
EP: That is such a good way of putting it. I am such a fixator. I think I’m holding myself accountable by critiquing myself when negative feelings come up. It’s similar to meditation advice, where you calm your mind, acknowledge a thought and just let it pass through.
EP: As women, we rise by lifting. It seems to me as though you’re in the business of lifting. How important is female empowerment in your work? Could you speak to the power of community building and connectivity in empowerment coaching?
HS: I love this. It’s so important– especially the types of businesses I help people create. They’re very much built around who you are, so you have to feel empowered and you have to appreciate yourself and your gifts in order to keep constantly putting yourself out there. Which is why so much of this self-worth and mindset work is closely tied into the business creation piece. The community building piece is also really important because entrepreneurship can be super lonely like you’re building something by yourself and you’re your own boss– and that part is cool obviously– but you don’t have colleagues unless you’re hiring a team of course, so it can feel super lonely. It makes it so much easier to have a community of like-minded people. I also think– going back to the idea of expanding what is possible for you– seeing other people do something you admire is so expansive. It makes it feel so much more possible for you. People underestimate the power of that, like some of the biggest benefits I’ve gotten from being coached is just being around people who have created something that I want and seeing people do it in their own way. To see people truly create businesses that are an expression of them and be really successful doing it, that’s what made my dream seem so possible.
EP: It’s so true. One of the best pieces of advice I got, in the terms of networking, was that you shouldn’t only network with people 30 years older than you. You want to make friends with the people on the same level as you and create a community. That’s where the job opportunities come from. It’s not a competition with your peers, you’re all moving towards the same goal.
EP: Do you have any advice for young girls who dream of becoming entrepreneurs or starting their own coaching business?
HS: Start seeking out people who are doing what you want to do. It doesn’t have to be exactly the job you want but start finding people who are doing something you’re interested in and connecting with them, like truly connecting. Don’t view it as if they’re going to give you an internship or a job, but just finding people who have done what you’re looking to do is three quarters of the battle. My second piece of advice is to invest in mentorship because it will just speed up your journey. It will cost money up front obviously, but will save you money long term because you’re not going to be stuck in a trial and error phase.
EP: As women, we tend to censor or undersell ourselves, how can authentic expression change the game for female entrepreneurs?
HS: The cool thing about entrepreneurship is you do get to build something that is based on your own rules, so you get to create your business your way and I think that is extra empowering for women who often feel like they are not allowed in certain spaces, or have to act a certain way in certain spaces. When women do find that way to fully express themselves and create a business around that, there are few things that are more empowering. We are literally creating a new paradigm and showing other women that it’s possible. And it doesn’t have to be through entrepreneurship, it’s just more women doing things their way and setting that example that we don’t have to act this way, we don’t have to follow these rules set by other people, instead we can create something of our own.
EP: It’s so true. We are the paradigm shift!
EP: Is there anything else you want us to know?
HS: I want people to know that building a business is possible and I want people to believe that and if this is a dream of theirs, they can make it happen and there are so many resources out there. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what your background is like you can make it happen.
Call To Action
We get it. The word “entrepreneur” was single-handedly tainted by the fish-holding bros of Tinder. However, building your own business can be one of the most empowering ways to advocate for yourself, build workplace confidence, and make a lasting impact.
Hannah Stein helps new and aspiring coaches and consultants start and scale their online businesses. You can learn more about her practice on her Free FB resource group, Website, Instagram, and TikTok.
–Emily Powers, Content Creator