109: Personal Pivot Update—My Big News and the Decision-Making Process Behind It

109: Personal Pivot Update—My Big News and the Decision-Making Process Behind It

I'm sharing some big personal pivot news in this week's solo episode . . . I am starting a two year Masters program at Union Theological Seminary this fall! It's a partner school to Columbia here in New York City, and if it seems to come out of the blue for you, don't worry—it did for me too! I got the idea, applied and accepted in a matter of weeks earlier this Spring. It seems fitting to share now, given that my 7-year solopreneurship anniversary was just yesterday — I'm looking forward to seeing where these next two years take me :)

This week I take you behind-the-scenes into my own pivot process around how I arrived at this decision—unpacking tools like intuition, following hits of curiosity, weighing pros and cons, taking just the one next step, and accepting remaining unknowns. As I shared in Episode 100, I have no idea where this will end up, but I'm putting myself in the path of pivot—immersing myself in a new environment and seeing where it takes me :) 

108: Penney & Jenny Show Returns! On Spirituality and Small Business

108: Penney & Jenny Show Returns! On Spirituality and Small Business

I'm delighted to bring you the seventh (!) episode in a side series of this podcast we affectionately call the Penney & Jenny show :) It's a series of conversations with one of my dear friends and mentors (friendtors), Penney Peirce. We had so much fun during our first interview together that we added a second . . . which became a third . . . and so on, until it was a regular feature on the Pivot Podcast! 

This week we're riffing on the intersection of spirituality and small business—how we apply intuition, transparency, non-physical realms, and personal practices toward business-building, attracting clients, and earning a living in a way that feels easeful and joyful. You can check out all of our interviews here (and check for future episodes)—and for easier listening, tune in on our SoundCloud playlist

107: (Un)Medicating Grief—Recovering Feeling After Decades on Anti-Depressants with Brooke Siem

I'm so grateful to Brooke Siem for opening up and sharing her story with us this week. Not only is she a woman of many talents (ballerina! chef! Chopped champion! bakery owner! crossfitter! writer!), Brooke has spent the last two years sober. Sober from medications that doctors, the assumed authority figures of her life, had been prescribing for the last fifteen years and an estimated 30,000 pills.

It all stemmed from an attempt quell her initial grief at the sudden death of her father when she was just a teenager. Brooke assumed she was broken, that she couldn't function in society without the drugs. It was only recently that she began to question what life would—or could—be without these medications driving modulating her emotions. Listen in to this week's conversation for how Brooke is navigating her newfound life—re-learning what it means and how to be herself, if not truly figuring it out for the very first time.

Check out full show notes from this episode with links to resources mentioned at PivotMethod.com/podcast/brooke-siem. Enjoying the show? Make my week by donating just $1 an episode at Patreon.com/pivot.

More About Brooke

brooke siem.jpeg

Brooke Siem is a speaker, writer, and chef who spent a eight years in the New York City food and wine industry before an opportunity to travel around the world with Remote Year fell into her lap. Despite a career that included honors such as being named one of Zagat's 30 Under 30, becoming a Food Network "Chopped" champion, and co-founding Prohibition Bakery and authoring the book of the same name, Brooke's "successful" Manhattan life also fueled a lifelong battle with depression. Prescribed antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs at 15 years old after her father's sudden death of pancreatic cancer, the opportunity for a life abroad sparked the realization that she had been heavily medicated for half of her life. She decided to make a massive change.

First, she booked a one-way ticket to Malaysia.

Then, she got off all the prescription drugs.

Two years and 17 countries later, Brooke's primary focus is on advocating for mental health and wellness without the use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Though she believes that these sorts of drugs can have their place on the road to healing, her own experience has taught her that these medications are often poorly monitored by doctors, prescribed without thought of the long term consequences, and prioritize the notion of "existing" versus thriving. Brooke's goal is to show that it is possible to live a joyful, centered life without the use of antidepressants, no matter how far down the rabbit hole we once were.

As of May of 2017, Brooke sold her half of Prohibition Bakery in order to continue working and writing remotely. She is currently working on her second book, a memoir, and is currently based in Vancouver, BC. You can also say hi on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Topics We Cover

  • Deciding to detox after realizing she had been medicated for over half her life 
  • Pivot points of her inner landscape: being put on antidepressants to manage her grief "on a timeline that worked for everybody else.”
  • Don’t remember much, "living under the impression I was broken”
  • In her Legacy Show talk she shared, “When they first put you on the drugs, they don’t tell you that you’ll forget how to feel."
  • Taking 4-7 medications at any given time, 30,000+ pills over the course of her life
  • New York Times article: Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit (and the ensuing backlash) 
  • Detoxing at 30 years old felt much like going through a second puberty; became extremely sensitive to sounds, crowds, pain, tastes, music, clothing, everything - “I have no idea who this person is”  
  • Jealous of children who could express their feelings and anger out loud
  • Sleep had always been the antidote 
  • What carried her through the down moments of detox when it could’ve been easier to go back to the meds
  • Buying a one-way ticket to Malaysia, aha of starting to feel again - raindrops on her skin - little things to hold onto, started painting - felt creative for the first time in her life 
  • Finding a spiritual therapist - working with Edward Mannix; compassion key healing process
  • Growing up in a very spiritual environment - picking angel cards as a child 
  • “He didn’t try to teach me how to cope, that my brain was broken or the solution was in a pill - he told me he thought it was possible to heal. We have all these experiences in this life and past lives that converge together and influence all of our decisions.” 
  • On clearing past karma, wipe off the lens of our life through self-compassion and feeling some of the things we’re feeling 
  • Silver lining doesn’t always work, on wondering about the why of all this
  • All the issues of my life that I believed were permanent 
  • Self-compassion process: start with the phrase, “I’m so sorry . . .”
  • Now approaching the two-year anniversary of getting off her last drug  
  • Living in Vancouver with her boyfriend, move around every four weeks or so; priorities have really shifted, don’t feel the need to look for validation in external things when it’s so much more important to spend time with the people who are important to her
  • Created a much smaller life - love the idea of a tiny house
  • On winning Chopped with chocolate, crabs and caviar

(Un)Medicating Grief: Recovering Feeling After Decades on Anti-Depressants with Brooke Siem

Listen below or on iTunesSoundCloud, YouTubeOvercastStitcher, or Google Play Music:

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106: Music Without Sound—How Mandy Harvey Rebuilt a Thriving Singing Career after Losing Her Hearing

106: Music Without Sound—How Mandy Harvey Rebuilt a Thriving Singing Career after Losing Her Hearing

It was love at first listen when I first heard Mandy Harvey perform at a fundraiser for Erik Weinenmayer's No Barriers summit coming up here in New York City in October. Erik, a previous guest on the Pivot Podcast (Turning Pain Into Purpose: Blind Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer on Kayaking the Grand Canyon, Climbing Everest and Building No Barriers), said Mandy was a must-meet, and he was right. Her performance was exquisite, and I was mesmerized by her signing while singing and sharing her inspiring story with the audience. 

With lifelong dreams of being a musician and music teacher, Mandy was devastated to lose her hearing completely ten years ago during college. You might already know her story if you are one of half a billion (with a B!!) people who have watched her America's Got Talent audition—that's a MUST before you even listen to this episode.

I cried when Simon Cowell asked what motivated her to be there, and she said at “After I lost my hearing I gave up. But I want to do more with my life than just give up.” I assure you, there was not a dry eye in the audience either as they give a standing ovation midway through, including the judges! Even Simon came out of his curmudgeonly shell to say, "I’ve done this a long time and that was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and heard.” I hope you enjoy this conversation with Mandy as much as I did—which she did with the help of a live captioner while we were on video Skype. 

105: Tools for Transitions—Just Ahead Mentors, Jealousy Antidotes, and Powerful Small Steps to Find Jobs (or Clients) with Dev Aujla

105: Tools for Transitions—Just Ahead Mentors, Jealousy Antidotes, and Powerful Small Steps to Find Jobs (or Clients) with Dev Aujla

Contrary to popular belief that trolling for a new job or client is the drag of all drags, a process that should be hurried through as quickly as possible, Dev Ajula believes our careers can be avenues for inquiry. His book, 50 Ways to Get a Job has a hidden curriculum that stretches so far beyond the job-search, and is relevant to everyone, including entrepreneurs. “Our careers and the questions they answer are lifelong pursuits,” Dev says.

I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation and learning more about Dev's incredible long-term passion project: building a non-traditional Sorted Library based on the power of inquiry in DUMBO, New York (the Instagram account alone is a must-peruse!). 

104: (A Course in) Miracles at Work—On Spiritual Intelligence with Emily Bennington

104: (A Course in) Miracles at Work—On Spiritual Intelligence with Emily Bennington

Emily Bennington and I have been on parallel pivot paths since we first connected online in 2011. So imagine my surprise when I was searching on Google images for a visual depiction of the word "Grace." I downloaded my favorite and lo and behold, it was pointing to Emily's site with a landing page informing readers about her new direction: teaching others to live and lead with grace, based upon her interpretations of the Course in Miracles as it applies to work and careers.  

In this episode we talk about what the Course is, how we can apply spiritual intelligence to our day-to-day interactions, how to create miracles through powerful mental shifts, and Emily's pivot from entrepreneur giving mainstream career advice to an exciting new full-time role as Executive Director for the Circle of Atonement.

Check out full show notes from this episode with links to resources mentioned at PivotMethod.com/podcast/miracles-at-work.

103: Strong Inside Out—Pivoting from OCD and Depression toward Mind-Body Alignment with Amy Clover

103: Strong Inside Out—Pivoting from OCD and Depression toward Mind-Body Alignment with Amy Clover

Amy Clover has a powerful story to share about pivoting her mindset from one of self-flagellation and control toward acceptance and flexibility in body, mind and spirit. After battling for years with eating disorders, depression and a failed suicide attempt in a fitness industry that grew increasingly oppressive, she now teaches people how to build strength from the inside out. In her own words:

I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and hate who’s looking back, to feel like you have no control whatsoever over your mind or your life, to feel like you’re so broken that you’re beyond healing. I’ve struggled with clinical depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and eating disorders throughout my entire life. In fact, they almost killed me. I hit rock bottom in 2005 when I was hospitalized on suicide watch. 

Having my freedom stripped from me in that hospital shocked me back to life: it hit me that I’d given up. I’d never even tried to take action to feel better because I just assumed that nothing would ever work for me. With this realization fresh in my mind, I committed to working on myself from the inside out as soon as I was released. After all, the worst had already happened. I figured I had nothing else to lose.

Amy's recovery, and the mindset and methods she developed that created a true sense of freedom, are what we'll cover in this week's show, along with some of her recent business pivots. 

102: How to Pivot Your Business When You Feel Trapped by Its Success — with Jason Van Orden

102: How to Pivot Your Business When You Feel Trapped by Its Success — with Jason Van Orden

Is pivoting just a way of rebranding failure as NYT writer Jacob Silverman would have us believe? I say no way José. In fact, pivots are often a product of our success. As I shared in the #PivotList newsletter I wrote in response to Silverman's somewhat snarky article, Silicon Valley start-ups do tend to talk about pivoting in response to their initial strategy failing. Or in the case of Ross from Friends, when a couch just won't fit around a tight corner :) 

But I believe that pivoting is the new crucial skill we must all foster, a far cry from being just another silly PR performance. If you've hit a pivot point or plateau, it means you have outgrown your current career or business and are ready for something new. We should celebrate that, and all the searching and small experiments that follow!

That's why I'm thrilled to bring you this week's Pivot Podcast conversation with my friend Jason Van Orden, a fascinating guy who was early to the podcasting and internet marketing scene, but who began to feel trapped by that very success, unsure about how to redefine himself from a unique perch atop of his industry. He is chock full of wisdom and systems to help you navigate out from under success that you've outgrown, and I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did! 

101: The Soul of an Octopus—Exploring Consciousness and Animal Communication with Sy Montgomery

101: The Soul of an Octopus—Exploring Consciousness and Animal Communication with Sy Montgomery

When exploring a branch of highly evolved animal consciousness that evolved in parallel (and completely separate) from our own, Sy Montgomery is sure of one thing: “If I have a soul, an octopus does too.” If you want even the tiniest dose of confirmation, try to keep your eyes dry while watching this octopus thank its rescuer in a two-minute video that has garnered 11 million views and counting: releasing a stranded octopus. (If you have more time, Amazing Octopus: Most Intelligent Animal on Earth is a must-watch too!) 

I am over-the-moon to bring you this week's interview with Sy, who became an instant soul-friend the moment we started talking. I'm in awe of her career as a naturalist writing about and befriending pigs, tigers, dolphins, hyenas, and now octopuses (not octopi as many assume for plural form!) around the world. I love her passion for animals, and the heart with which she shares their beautiful stories and spirits. 

Sy has been described by the Boston Globe as "Part Emily Dickinson, part Indiana Jones.” Researching articles, films, and her 26 books for adults and children, she has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Rwanda, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum with piranhas, electric eels and pink dolphins in the Amazon. Her work has taken her from the cloud forest of Papua New Guinea (for a book on tree kangaroos) to the Altai Mountains of the Gobi (for another on snow leopards.) 

For her recent book (the one that inspired me to reach out), The Soul of an Octopus, a National Book Award finalist, Sy befriended octopuses at the New England aquarium and scuba dived and snorkeled with wild octopuses in Mexico and French Polynesia. We also talk in detail about The Good, Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood (2006), a memoir about her 14-year relationship with her pig who grew to be 750 pounds, famous within her town of Hancock, and beloved by all who met him. 

At the end, we briefly dive into her routines for such prolific writing while traveling, and her practice of reflecting beyond the details of what happened to "what that day showed me."

100: Ten Lessons Learned in 3+ Years of Podcasting

100: Ten Lessons Learned in 3+ Years of Podcasting

This week marks a big milestone for the Pivot Podcast, as we celebrate the 100th episode! This has been more than three years in the making, from the show's early, scrappy beginnings in late 2014, when I got the book deal for Pivot, to when I started publishing weekly in earnest in 2015.

Podcasting is a labor of love, but the biggest surprises for me have come from the priceless benefits: connecting more deeply with my author heroes, with all of you who are here listening, and learning every day along the way. 

In addition to the countless content nuggets of wisdom I’ve taken away from these 100 interviews—on everything from cyber security to finding one's home frequency (check out the full show archive here)—in this week's episode I'm sharing 10 behind-the-scenes lessons from three years of podcasting. As I’ve always said with blogging, which I did for nearly ten years before switching to this format, what you see (and hear) today is the result of 1,000 tiny iterations over time.