Cait: Today’s guest is Shoshanna Raven, a business and empowerment coach, and quite frankly, somebody that you absolutely need to be knowing about. I’m just so pumped to talk to you today shows, thanks so much for being here.
Shoshanna: Yay. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to just dive in.
Cait: Oh my gosh, so awesome. So okay, for people who don’t know about you just give us like a little bit of an overview of what you do, because I feel like two different people might have encountered you in different ways.
You come to the online business space with an incredible background as a writer. You have done so much with your podcast, the Living Brave Podcast, and just helping women absolutely transform their shame through the power of storytelling, and you’re also an epic business coach. So tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
Shoshanna: Well, the podcast came first. So we’ll start there, in 2019. When I launched my podcast Living Brave, where I spoke openly about genital herpes, and really the larger themes of breaking shame and stigma and inspiring connection between one another and also ourselves.
Through that I had been freelance writing for five years. I quit my nine to five in 2015. I was burnt out. I was in midtown Manhattan working at a big four corporate consulting firm. So I had been a freelance journalist when I launched Living Brave and saw just the reaction from people . Whether it was herpes or another STI or honestly, anything that really makes us feel shameful and alone. Whether you’ve never told someone you’ve been adopted, or you went through a horrible breakup, I just realized that this was my calling. And I needed to talk more about this.
Then I lost all my writing jobs and decided to dive into coaching. I fell on my face, finally got support, and gave myself that permission slip to dive right in. Initially, I was just working with women on overcoming shame and reclaiming their personal power.
And, Cait, you also experience when women feel empowered. They want to start their own businesses. So I had a lot of friends reaching out to me a lot of past clients saying, Oh, my gosh, I feel so good. I want to do what you do. And through business coaching, and really helping heart centered entrepreneurs and leaders find their voice and build true community around their work. That’s how I kind of shifted more into leadership, business coaching, and have some wonderful group programs. So that’s where I’m at right now. It’s constantly evolving and growing.
Cait: I love that so much. And I love how beautifully you talk about your story and your transition and how much space you hold for women to rise up in their leadership and allow their story to just be the unfolding narrative that guides their lives and their businesses. And wow, I mean, talk about living brave, like owning the fact that you have not only owning it like privately to your partners, but owning that you have genital herpes. Announcing that and really reclaiming that part of your identity. And going public with that.
Tell us about what that experience was like, because I can imagine that for some of the people listening, whether they have an STI or they have a very similar experience, or there’s something else that feels really shameful, and like the last thing in the world they want is for that to be disclosed. That feels super edgy. So tell us about what that experience was like for you and what that opened up for you once you kind of let that be.
Reclaiming Your Identity and Embracing Your Shame
Shoshanna: Yeah. And I just had a great question from someone because I’m doing a storytelling immersion at the end of the week. And someone was like, hey, Sho. Spirituality isn’t all about transcending your story and not being attached to the details of your story. So all this like owning your story and telling your story, does it not build more attachment? And I was like, that is a wonderful question. I think that the only way that you can transcend your story and reclaim your personal power is through owning every part of your story. And being able to go to the most shameful and dark parts of yourself and say, This is me and I have nothing to hide. And having no secrets and having nothing to hide is the most freeing thing that you can do for yourself.
So I’d say that I didn’t get genital herpes and then share it online. And I really don’t recommend that. It was a long journey of being in the depths of depression and addiction and just total turmoil and realizing that I had a lot of unresolved trauma and shame around herpes. And honestly, herpes was just revealing larger stories about who I was and my worth. So something like a herpes diagnosis usually just shines a light on shame that already lives there. It just validates shame, because if we didn’t already think that there was something wrong with us or something to hide, then something like a boring fact about your sexual health wouldn’t make you flinch, right?
So I found out I was in Nepal working at a kid center for untouchable caste children. So I’d walk down the street and see the children that I had worked with during the day picking up plastic bottles in cardboard boxes to then give to the slumlord, who would then feed them so it was a really intense place that I was in.
On top of that I got really sick with a fever and nerve pain down my legs. Yeah, there was water just pouring out of my vagina. I had no idea what was going on. I bought $1 antibiotics at the kiosk down the street. After a quite traumatic experience at the hospital where the doctor told me women just get stressed and thought I had typhoid, some Google searching told me that I had a highly stigmatized STI. I thought my life was over.
I was supposed to track the Annapurna circuit for two weeks. It was like the pinnacle of my independence and freedom as a solo traveler after a couple years. I just accepted defeat and went home. And it took falling into another low in Denver to realize that there was power in that story. And if I could reclaim that part of myself and be vulnerable and share that with the world, then I could find some purpose, and I can find some strength in something that felt like a horrible experience.
Cait: Wow, that is just so powerful. And I can imagine, like finding that out overseas and feeling like the disempowerment that you must have felt at that time. I just think about all of the different stages of grief, I mean you didn’t use the word grief, but I imagine that there were just so many different layers of what that diagnosis or that face off with shame felt like.
One thing that I am just so inspired by, Shoshanna, in your work is the way that you talk so much and speak so much, and quite frankly, like lead and embody so much around building true community. It seems to me that part of what you’re talking about, and like really reclaiming your story.
I love what you said about when you own all of your story, and there’s nothing to hide, it’s the most freeing thing in the world. I imagine that has a lot to do with your ability to really generate a powerful community. And I’d love to hear you kind of talk about the relationship between those things, because it seems like they’re so interconnected in the world of your work.
How You Build A Strong Community
Shoshanna: Yeah, that well, thank you so much for that, Cait. I think that community really starts when two people truly see one another for who they really are. So sharing your story with one person, with a stranger with someone online, you don’t even know is there and you allow yourself to be seen, and you’re in conversation. Not just speaking at your audience or talking at someone, but you’re in conversation with someone.
And when two people can connect. That’s how you start a community. So it starts with you allowing yourself to be seen. That’s true genuine depth of community, right? That’s like the prerequisite. So I think that’s why Living Brave has grown into such a strong community. People want to own this part of themselves. They want to believe that their shame is the source of their power, that their vulnerability is their strength. And that we can all rise together.
When you have that powerful mission statement, that powerful intention, that’s the foundation of a community. That’s a community that other people want to spread for you, that people will tell their friends about. And it’s less about you yelling, like, Hey, everyone join my community and more about the experience that someone has being part of that mission in that movement. And then the way that they want to share that with others. Talking about something worth spreading.
I was just reading a Seth Godin book. It’s an oldie. All Marketers Are Liars. And I know that you’ve read Seth before, but he was talking about this, this whole idea of niche and who’s your niche and who’s in your community. And that’s something that the hyper niching down hasn’t always resonated with me.
Finding the Gap In the Conversation
So even reading this week about the self-definition of finding your niche is finding a worldview that’s underserved or unsatisfied. Speaking to those people, having them be heard and seen, and then giving them opportunities to connect with one another. That’s how you grow a community.
So finding the gap in the conversation and going there, rather than showing up online seeing what other coaches are doing, and saying, hey, this looks like it works. It’s like, what can I do and say that’s going to be a little bit disruptive, it’s going to speak to people who haven’t really been spoken to, in a way that’s fresh in a way that’s genuine.
Cait: I love that phrase ‘finding the gap in the conversation’ and really occupying that space and in so doing giving other people permission to find the gap in the conversation that they’re hearing or what they’re not hearing and to own their voice and speak into that space. That’s so so beautiful.
I’m curious. This your gap in the conversation and really the community that you’ve grown around Living Brave and really redefining leadership for so many aspiring and then existing entrepreneurs is super powerful.
And hello, has that worked for you or what? Like to have scaled to a quarter of a million dollars in eight months? I am just like, blown away by that. That is so so amazing. What would you say to a new or aspiring entrepreneurs – we have so many entrepreneurs who listen to this podcast really at every stage of business – or for somebody who reads that and sees that. Like, wow, Sho has just got like the Midas touch over here. What would you say to them or to any entrepreneur who is really wanting to go for it but feels fearful about her ability to really make it in the online space?
Shoshanna: Yeah, well, what I would say first is piggybacking off of finding the gap in the conversation, going there. I think that’s disruptive leadership. And what holds back so many new entrepreneurs. And what still, I think, holds us all back is the fear of being seen, the fear of ruffling feathers.
I had a great lesson that I shared with you recently, when a few close friends of mine have reached out and have attacked my work and have completely misunderstood my message. My first post that I ever made launching my business, which was the zero dollar launch in January.
So, I had a childhood friend say, hey, you might be good if you have any experience, but you should be really careful trying to work with people in this capacity. And that fear of judgment, that fear of rejection, that fear of failure holds so many of us back.
Pushing Past Fear And Growing Momentum In Business
It’s because we’re not really taught how to do it. A lot of us didn’t grow up with entrepreneurial parents, my dad has always been a struggling entrepreneur. We’re not taught how to solve interesting problems and how to take initiative on doing so. And so it’s really freakin scary to take the first step – to offer a solution that’s never been offered before.
Because that’s the leadership – you lead. And we have to relearn that. We have to unlearn a lot, be able to do that. So I’d say gradually stepping into your voice and speaking a little bit louder. And then also knowing that you move through the fear by doing the thing, the worst thing happens, and it’s not so bad, being told by some of my best friends that my work is manipulative. And whatever other really horrible things have been said to me, I got to pause and reflect and say, thank you, I don’t agree.
That experience actually led me to say, Wow, I’ve been subconsciously quieting my own voice. So to avoid this conversation, look at where in your own life – outside of your business – you are staying small. Where you are not really projecting your voice, even if you’re being vulnerable. Even if you’re being authentic, or finding the gap in the conversation, there’s probably a deeper place you can go, you can project your voice a little louder, a little stronger, and that’s going to serve you. It’s going to serve others. And that’s how you grow momentum in a business.
Cait: I love that so much. And I love the distinction between like, Part one is like finding the gap in the conversation. But Part two is being willing to amplify that voice and really stand for what you stand for. And I just think that’s so true. And I know you and I have talked about this offline, but I think that for so many women there are we experienced something like what you’re talking about rejection from friends but or rejection from family or judgment projection, like the whole nine yards. And I think it’s such an important reminder. If you need a dose of inspiration, rewind and go listen to Shoshanna’s words again.
Really just allow the worst to happen. Be willing for that to happen and then realize, okay, so what now, I think that’s such a powerful reminder to all of us, like the importance of continuing to move forward and continue on and choose another aspect of your business and your work that I just think is so cool.
How do you live in business with your partner? Myles, I know you are telling me that you guys got off to an interesting start in business. But talk about your relationship and how you have navigated that and have been in business together to a certain extent and how you navigate partnership in business and in life.
Owning Your Story, No Matter What
Shoshanna: Speaking of rejection, I went on an amazing first date with Myles and I called my mom, I’m like, Oh my God, he’s so funny and I love him. And then it just fizzled out in six months. But he was part of the vulnerability project that I went on – of telling the world I have herpes. I had to go have the hard conversations and tell all the guys that I dated in the past two years, that I had a highly stigmatized STI.
And Myles was so supportive. So it’s almost a mirror of what happens now. He’s like, yes, let’s build your website. We’ve been dating also and it’s like, I’m not into it. Plus, we’re both very career oriented. And we’re both Scorpios who are full of fire and passion. And we were going to be just friends. It was definitely friendzone. And the rest is history.
So now he was my first team member, I really couldn’t do it without him. It’s definitely been really freakin hard, um, and also really rewarding. I feel like when we’re in the early stages of business, whether it’s scaling to multiple, six figures and x months, you know, it’s still a process of just having better problems. And I think when we’re talking about business growth or personal growth, I want to be clear with anyone I work with, this isn’t a process of solving your problems forever, you’re just going to have better problems, and we’re going to grow your toolbox to be able to navigate them and to find a little less fluctuation.
So Myles and I definitely push each other’s buttons. And he’s the design guy, so if I’m a little too harsh, he takes it personally, or whatever it is. Yeah, it’s challenging. He even fired me this summer. I think I was like, kind of stressed out. I was in between hiring someone as a VA and was in transition my business. And yeah, he just fired me. He was like, No, I’m not doing this anymore. You’re fired. He sent me an email, you’re fired.
This is funny, because this was edgy, right? Like I can talk about genital herpes. But like talking about my partner fired me online. There was an amazing woman who ended up signing up for my mastermind, and I was like, hey, what makes you feel called to my work?
She was like, I love it. You talked about Miles firing you. So just continuing to get this validation that like being yourself and being vulnerable in a relaxed human is so great. For your business for your family.
Cait: Totally, love that so much. And it’s hilarious that like you got that feedback that that story was literally the direct funnel. And I think so much of the time in business, like, I’m sure you see this as well. But it’s such a common tendency to want to be like, well, what’s the secret sauce? What’s the fast track to, you know, this big money, like, there’s got to be this secret funnel or this strategy that I don’t know about?
And it’s like, yo, just tell the truth. Talk about your story and let your people find you. And I love that you have had that experience over and over like this one with Miles that you’re describing?
How Relationships Are Like the Entrepreneurial Journey
Shoshanna: Oh, yeah. And it’s definitely a journey. I think the world doesn’t need more Instagram couples. And I love a good photo shoot with Miles. But I love to, to really put the story behind it.
Because a relationship, as you probably know, is like the entrepreneurial journey, right? Like it takes work to actually grow together. And to come back again, again, to your values. If you’re a heart centered business, if you’re in your relationship, and you want to be centered in the heart, like what’s our vision? What are our values? Who are we showing up for? How do we want to show up? Totally? And how do we navigate that conversation? When do priorities shift? Or when is there newness introduced? How do we navigate back together?
Cait: 100%, I totally feel you there.
Shoshanna: And really being people centric. And that’s something I love about the UK is really focusing on the people in your business. There are a lot of business coaches who talk about systems and strategy. And that’s all super important, right. But to really focus on the relationship building process, the community building process, that is sales, right.
And sales has been one of the biggest shifts, as well as like, stepping into the fact that we have offers from our hearts that we genuinely believe will help other people. So please make that invitation to someone that it might be of benefit. Because what’s worse than saying no, when you’re getting rejected, or them not having the opportunity to go on a transformation that’s going to hold them high and allow them to spread that until you can’t even see the ripple effect of your work anymore. So that’s why I work with you. Because I love that you embody that so much. And I do want to bring up that I was triggered by your content. And your work.
Cait: Yes, okay. Let’s go there. Tell me what triggered you?
Leaning & Learning From People Who Trigger You
Shoshanna: Well, one thing that I just love and taapsee classnames at Vanderbilt, I’m messing that up, but we can put it in the notes. Um, she was a guest speaker for my accelerator, and she was talking about jealousy and envy. And how when you’re jealous of someone, that means you should work with them. You should collaborate with them, you should go there.
And I’ve consistently done that. I’ll message people who pop up in my explorer and I’m like, Hey, we should be friends. Let’s do that. And so sometimes I think as I’m now kind of embodying more of my voice, and we talked about triggering people and people love it, and people hate it.
Often, you have to just accept that a lot of people aren’t ready for you, and maybe not ready for you yet. So Cait, you’re like an example of me stepping into my next evolution of self, of business, of being unapologetically myself when it comes to even sharing financial milestones and things like that.
So this was before because we had a discussion, and I was thinking of working the one to one and I was like, I’m not ready yet. And now I’m in Rise. Before that, I think I’d seen your content. I was like, Oh, I’m interested in and I was like, Oh, no, it’s too much for me, like whatever excuses that you make to validate your own just judgment, because it forces you to look at where you’re at, and why. And like that resistance between where you want to go and that part of yourself that fear that’s telling you like, ooh, No, you shouldn’t go there. That’s not why you need that, or whatever the story was.
I just think it’s so interesting that often the people who trigger you are the ones you should work with the ones you should collaborate with. And that you might not be ready for someone yet, you know, go mute them for a while. But it’s probably because they are part of us stepping into some kind of new perspective or growth.
Cait: I love that so much. And I so appreciate you sharing this Sho. Because I mean, I’ve totally had a similar experience. And it’s like, whatever the projection, or the story is that we’re telling ourselves about that person, whatever it is – whether it’s like, oh, they’re unapologetic, and taking up big space in some part of that is mirroring to me some way I want to be.
I had a similar experience this year, being bigger, being triggered by somebody who seems so easeful and seamless in this feminine way of not just like operating business and making a ton of money, but like, of weaving that cycle into absolutely everything in her life. And, and her motherhood and like all of that, like it was just like, all together, right?
My perception from her Instagram content – I was really triggered by that. And now I’m joining her mastermind. And so it’s just so interesting. I love that you’re sharing this. And I think it’s so permission giving for anybody who’s listening who’s felt either, like, elevated but also annoyed by someone’s content. That’s such an invitation to lean in, and like, look at what’s the medicine there? What’s the, what’s the wisdom, what’s trying to come through.
So I just I love that you name that because I think this is like an undiagnosed epidemic. And the online space is like this kind of butt sniffing of what everyone else is doing. And not in like a comparison sort of way, but in a way that’s like, Oh, that’s impacting me. Do I want to acknowledge that or pretend it’s not happening?
Handling Your Power As A Coach
Shoshanna: Mm hmm. And you won’t look for the flaws. And other people, when you’re feeling really solid in yourself. You just won’t, and you don’t. And it’s so funny, because even when you start working with someone this can happen.
I had a client who I’m so happy that she felt safe enough to tell me but she’s like, hey, Sho, I hated you last week, I want to tell you, it was all over. And I just couldn’t watch her stuff. And I was like, She’s too damn successful, because I was pushing her. And you can only push so much like, I was pushing her to step into something really uncomfortable as she watched me do that. And it was just too much.
I think what can happen, especially for early stage entrepreneurs, is you’re so excited to get support. And then you almost collapse your own intuition and decision making process. Yeah, to someone else, and you use yourself. And then you build resentment for someone that you’re trying to be because you’re not them. And it’s like, oh, so important to talk about that. Because it’s like, I don’t want to tell anyone, there’s one way to be I don’t want someone to mimic me. I want to partner with my clients to help them find their own unique voice and go do the thing and reach the vision that’s authentic to them.
Cait: I’m snapping all my fingers and toes. Yes, this is so true. And I love that you’re saying this because I think that both from a coach perspective, but also from a client perspective, it can be really easy as coaches and as mentors to inadvertently and sometimes unknowingly take or or consent to, like non verbally consent to holding and taking the power of our clients and something as subtle as, hey, what do you think about this or I’m thinking about doing this.
Don’t get me wrong, like businesses bounce and that partner energy is amazing. But when it’s this kind of deferred power, I think that’s when it can become really detrimental. So, one of the things that I really feel about the coaching industry and what makes for a powerful coaching is consciously returning the power of our clients to them and saying, Hey, I’m here to be a bouncer and be a partner and be a back and forth. But I’m not here to be the authority and guru that you need the stamp of approval on to take any single action in your business.
Shoshanna: Yeah, and that’s why it’s been so powerful as well to consistently work with different coaches and mentors. And of course, like, I’m all about narrowing the voices that you listen to online, like I have your following. It literally helps you so much your content will transform.
But knowing that there is no one way and being very wary of people who say that this is the right way to do it. It’s been really cool to share different pathways to a goal for my clients, and then see them say, hey, yeah, okay, and run with it, and just blow me away.
Giving Space For Your Client’s Innovation
And I think that when you’re coupled with that excitement and passion for what you’re doing, and just determination, and as you talk about Cait, decision that this is not only what I’m going to do, but it’s going to work with someone who’s that sounding board who’s saying, ooh, no, I’ve done this before. I’ve been there. And I’m going to save you that time and energy and those resources, or how about this name? Or how about whatever it is? Have you thought about the strategy, both of those together with you being in the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship? Brilliant?
Cait: Yes, I love that so much. I love that so much. And you’re so right, like there is no one way and reminding our clients of that, I think is not only permission giving, but it gives rise and it gives space for that innovation.
I love that you use that word, because I think it’s so relevant in entrepreneurship. And so bypassed again, when we buy into that, like, let me get the secret pathway, the trap door, the secret code. It really is so much of the time about coming back to our own innovative spirit, isn’t it and finding the way that works for us?
Shoshanna: Yeah, and I just had a guest speaker, Tori Washington, she’s fucking awesome. She was a guest speaker for my mastermind. And her mentors, I don’t even know who I’m quoting said, you don’t have to have a problem to be coached. Period you’ve heard like you don’t need to be fixed, to be coached.
This is so important, because although we’re talking about right now, the power of innovation, that there’s no one way that the coach doesn’t have all the answers, consistently getting support and mentorship. And that’s been the biggest game changer.
For me, I just wrote about the fact that, you know, I’ve invested almost 30,000 in my business, just with different mentors and coaches, just this year, my first year in business, and how that’s paid back tenfold.
I’ve been a business and markets journalist for five years, looking at stocks all day, excited about my above average returns, and oh my gosh, 40%. And realizing that really the investment with the lowest downside risk, and the highest potential for you to get ROI is in yourself. But that requires a huge amount of trust of self-trust of self-belief. And of course, not just like signing up for every course with every mentor, doing your homework, making sure you resonate and trust the person.
Whatever you’re investing in, investing in yourself can also be self care and a retreat, whatever that is that you are your safest investment. And then there’s no no no reason to be doing it alone.
Cait: 1,000,000% I just feel that so deeply. And I love that you looked at those numbers, and you saw that and it’s such a powerful reminder that having that support in your corner is just it’s such an accelerator. Such an accelerator is so awesome, Sho.
Empowering & Accelerating Entrepreneurs
Okay, speaking of accelerator, I know that you have created such an amazing program to help entrepreneurs accelerate forward, particularly entrepreneurs who are at that earlier stage, wanting to grow a business but needing the support to get it all together. So talk to us a little bit about EBA and what that’s all about. I’m pretty sure you’re launching that quite soon.
Shoshanna: We already have women from five different countries and yeah, it’s really fun. The Empowered Business Accelerator really was born out of working with women, one to one in business, mentorship in the early stage and realizing that a lot of the foundational pieces and my perspective on them, I was sending them again and again and again. That’s how a great program is born.
And again, with that aspect of having a live coaching and collaboration community, it’s really for. Heart-centered entrepreneurs. Who, are in the idea phase, wanting to maybe quit their nine to five, and then really needing that push to get out there and really needing the strategy to help them gain traction to do that, from in their business have have their first offer to but feeling inconsistent feeling like they lack strategy. Maybe they’ve invested in a course in the past or under delivered, or they’ve never actually gotten mentorship and they’re ready to take the leap.
It’s an intensive. We have live group coaching and training every week. It’s really a high vibe community. And I get in guest speakers for every module who I really hire to train and coach. Myles is one of them. He talks about funnels and systems and all of that just basic funnel building.
I’ve had a lot of women say like, Oh, I thought I was coming in for strategy and I left with like lifelong friends and a sisterhood and just a community that I can count on to hold me accountable to support me to encourage me to inspire me. And that’s really what I believe about coaching.
I love working with women, one to one. But having a group where I’m not the only one providing feedback. There’s all of these gifted healers and teachers and coaches, who can also offer their support and wisdom. I feel so honored to hold space for that container. So yeah, that happens in January. And I’m super excited. So I’d love to have a conversation with anyone, even if it’s not for the accelerator, there are different programs and offerings and just the community and connection. I love connecting with people. I read all my DMS and and that’s the best part about being a business owners, the people that you can meet
Cait: 100% I love that so much. Well, we will put that link in the show notes. So guys, anybody listening who is interested to know more about the empowered business accelerator will have that link in the show notes and shows this was just such an incredible interview.
I love to end my podcast by asking all of our guests the same question, which is, you know, if you had to give a word of advice to an entrepreneur who’s listening, who’s maybe hit a rock hit a hard place and is like in this place of needing and wanting to rise up, what would you say to them?
Shoshanna: No pressure? Yeah. I’d say in the long term, all of it is predictable, right. So the slump that you’re in, might feel like the end of the road. And I hit six figures, multiple six figures. And I was like, Yeah, that’s it. No more clients.
I spent a month having that self awareness of saying, oh, you’re doing that again. And it’s all predictable, you can be the best of the best, you can get the most amazing results for people. And there’s going to be a journey of ups and downs. And just know that this is what creates contrast in life.
It’s a test of how much you believe in what you’re doing and coming back to your mission. Are you in it for the long game? Because you’ve got to be if you’re going to be on this journey of doing something brave and being a leader and leadership going first. So being willing to get creative, to get brave to take action.
I think a lot of the times the fear and the doubt, limiting beliefs hold us back from taking action and action is the way that we build confidence and we build bravery. We’re not born with all of that. So the action that you can take to form a new story that’s going to guide you forward. And I absolutely am fully confident that if you’re embodied in your mission and you care about people and you show up consistently with that spirit of innovation and being brave enough to get support that there’s no way that you won’t succeed.