64. Finding Your Purpose with Ashley Stahl

January 10, 2023

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn't cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don't personally use or believe in.

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.

Do you feel stuck in your career?

For so many, 2020 and beyond was a wake-up call –– we suddenly started asking more and more questions about how we approached day-to-day life and especially how we approached our jobs, goals, and career aspirations.

If you’ve ever asked…

“How can I find my dream career?”
“How do I know what I’m good at and then make money off that?”
“What’s my purpose?”

This episode with career coach and podcast host Ashley Stahl is the perfect listen. Join Ashley and host Tori Dunlap as they discuss the ten skillsets Ashley believes are the most valuable in the current market, how to know which one is yours, and how she utilized her skills working for the Department of Defense to trust her instincts and build a career she loves.

You’ll learn: 

  • How to listen to your intuition when it comes to jobs

  • Why knowing your core skillset makes you stand out as an applicant

  • How to move on from jobs that aren’t lighting you up.

Ashley’s Links:





Meet Ashley Stahl

Ashley Stahl is a counterterrorism professional turned career coach, an international bestselling author, a Fortune 500 spokesperson, and an expert on intuition, career clarity, and fulfillment. Daymond John from Shark Tank says Ashley’s bestseller You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, Design Your Dream Career, is “the ultimate guide to discover your path in the workforce.” With more than 7 million views, her TEDx talk on intuition and fulfillment is ranked amongst the top 100 TED talks on the Internet. Between her online

courses, subscribers, and show “The You Turn Podcast,” (with 2M downloads), she’s been able to support clients in 78 countries in self-discovery, upgrading their confidence, and finding career fulfillment. She maintains a monthly career column in Forbes, and her work has been also featured in outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, CBS, SELF, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and more.


[00:00:00] Tori Dunlap: came on. I was like, is it Kara Dio Guardi? Is that who we’re, is that who we’re,

[00:00:03] Ashley Stahl: Oh my God,

[00:00:04] Tori Dunlap: with today?

[00:00:05] Ashley Stahl: I love that. For me,

[00:00:06] Tori Dunlap: She’s, she’s great. I don’t know what she’s up to. I kind of wanna Google her now.

[00:00:10] Ashley Stahl: I was just wondering what 50 cent and Cisco are up to. Like they’re,

[00:00:15] Tori Dunlap: What’s, what prompted that?

[00:00:17] Ashley Stahl: I just heard the thongs. I just, I’m in Miami right now and I just heard the thong song and a coffee shop and I was like, where has Cisco been?

[00:00:24] Tori Dunlap: So we have like three things to talk about before we actually get in the episode. Okay. I’ve never been to Miami. I’m going in like two weeks yeah, I’ve literally, I’ve never been to Miami. Do you live there? Is that where you live full-time.

[00:00:35] Ashley Stahl: no, I’m in a, I’m in a new little situation ship right now, and it’s taking place in Miami,

[00:00:41] Tori Dunlap: It’s taking place. you’ve like, I’ve planned it. I’ve designated Miami as our location. That’s

[00:00:47] Ashley Stahl: It started in New York and it trickled down to the tropics.

[00:00:50] Tori Dunlap: Yep. I love it. Okay. Yeah, so you look exactly like Kara Diogaurdi. I’m literally gonna Google her cause I’m like wondering what she’s up to for those who are wondering who that might be. The only reason I know her is because she was an American Idol judge for a while, but she’s like a songwriter and a singer. She got married in 2009, thrilling.

[00:01:08] sales of albums on which her songs appear exceed 160 million worldwide.

[00:01:12] Ashley Stahl: Wow.

[00:01:13] Tori Dunlap: I don’t know what she’s up to now. Maybe still writing songs. I don’t know. Well, there you go.

[00:01:17] Ashley Stahl: Wow. You know, people sometimes tell me I look like Cindy Crawford, which I absolutely don’t, but it’s only cuz I have the mole.

[00:01:22] Tori Dunlap: Yeah, I see

[00:01:23] Ashley Stahl: thank you. I have to say though, that I’m like, that’s all I’ve got going. And you know what’s so crazy about this mole? Is that people form instant friendships with me if they have a mole in the same spot.

[00:01:33] And I tell them, it’s like we’re we’re Bluetooth paired. Like through the mole

[00:01:37] Tori Dunlap: That’s really sweet. It’s kinda like twins having like, what is it, e s p or whatever,

[00:01:41] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly.

[00:01:43] Tori Dunlap: cute. I had an ex tell me I looked like Scarlet Johansen, and I was

[00:01:48] Ashley Stahl: I could totally see that.

[00:01:50] Tori Dunlap: oh, don’t flatter me. Because I was like,

[00:01:52] just trying to get in my pants, but you’re so inaccurate.

[00:01:55] Ashley Stahl: That’s what I thought you were just trying to get in my pants with the Cindy Crawford comment. So you

[00:02:00] Tori Dunlap: There’s no way I look like her. Thank you. But like I, no, I get did you watch success?

[00:02:05] Ashley Stahl: Yes.

[00:02:06] Tori Dunlap: Okay. I get shiv from succession daily.

[00:02:10] Ashley Stahl: I can see that too. You do kind of look like a hybrid. Shive Scarlet. Like a Charlotte

[00:02:15] Tori Dunlap: Oh,

[00:02:16] Ashley Stahl: That’s good.

[00:02:17] Tori Dunlap: A Charlotte, a charlatan. That’s so kind of you to say Scarlet

[00:02:22] Ashley Stahl: how are we gonna get any content? You’re way too fun for

[00:02:26] Tori Dunlap: no, we’re, we’re gonna loop it back. That’s good. To counterterrorism. We’re gonna get there. Okay. I am so excited to talk to you today. So I, we’re gonna spend probably 15, at least 15 minutes on this. So I studied terrorism in college.

[00:02:40] Ashley Stahl: no. Away.

[00:02:41] Tori Dunlap: So I took, because this was me, I took four fun, a 400 level poly sci class. My sophomore year. I majored in organizational communication and theater. Did not major in

[00:02:51] Even close. And I was, Literally, I had a physical book of like all of the classes that were offered by my university, and I was the kid who went through with a highlighter and was just like,

[00:03:02] Ashley Stahl: I did that too.

[00:03:03] Tori Dunlap: Great. Perfect. And so I literally found, I was like, politics of terrorism, this sounds interesting. So I took it my sophomore year, and then it changed my course of study. So for my senior year thesis, for my comm thesis, I wrote about like isis, how ISIS uses social media to recruit Western women. And so I was watching like fucking beheading videos

[00:03:24] Ashley Stahl: Oh, yeah.

[00:03:25] Tori Dunlap: and all of that shit.

[00:03:26] So I, I’m just so excited to talk to you about it.

[00:03:29] So what was

[00:03:30] Ashley Stahl: I’m so happy to scratch that itch for you, Tori

[00:03:34] Tori Dunlap: So like, what brought you to that world? Like what, what was that like?

[00:03:39] Ashley Stahl: Well, I mean, I studied Al-Qaeda in the Islamic mares, so it was before ISIS was even a thing. So I, I feel like I’m pretty outdated at this point. But at the time I had a lot of family on the East coast and they were really impacted by nine 11 and nobody passed away, thankfully, that I knew. But obviously it was such
a tragic thing.

[00:03:57] And I feel like the way that human memory works is that we remember where we were, whether it’s like a standout weather situation, like a storm or like a current event. That’s a really big deal, like nine 11.

[00:04:08] Tori Dunlap: Show you how probably young I am. It was my first day of second grade was nine

[00:04:12] Ashley Stahl: Oh my God, I love that. For you. Give me some of that age. Give me some of that age youth.

[00:04:18] Tori Dunlap: There you

[00:04:19] Ashley Stahl: I was just telling you, like I went to get a facial the other day and the lady was like, what are we going for today? And I was like, I wanna look like I’m seven. Like I’m in an anti-aging spiral. , like just, but anyway, back to the

[00:04:30] Tori Dunlap: we can talk about is the patriarchy trying to force you to look child like a little girl, but that’s a whole other

[00:04:34] leo DiCaprios of the world.

[00:04:36] Ashley Stahl: Oh my gosh, right. Well, so counterterrorism, I, I had family on the east coast. I was always really into culture. I had a knack for languages when I was a kid. Like I learned Spanish when I was five. I forgot it at this point, but my French is still bilingual. And I just thought, what a cool, cause for me to, what a cool opportunity for me to help the world.

[00:04:58] And I think that was very much at the height of millennials wanting to follow their passion. And that was one of the biggest lessons I learned. And that’s what carries into my work. Now, as an author and a, you know, podcast host like you, it’s like the concept that, you know, my message has become, don’t do what you love, do what you are.

[00:05:15] Tori Dunlap: Mm.

[00:05:16] Ashley Stahl: And I think the thing about counter-terrorism for me was, obviously I don’t love counter-terrorism, but I love being of service and I love making the world better. And I love foreign languages and I love cultures. And I find that my worldview is so expanded because of being exposed to other cultures. You know, one of my best friends just had a baby and I was just telling her, I’m like, you know, I really believe that when you have a baby, which, who am I to talk?

[00:05:39] I’m not a mother, but it feels like you don’t even own them. It’s like they belong to the world. Like they just, you are just a vehicle bringing them here. And so I feel like a citizen of the world and have always felt connected to people beyond the scope of my culture and and curious about them. And so when I got to college just like everyone else, it was like, what do I major in?

[00:06:00] Well, who am I and how do I even know what makes sense for me to major in? And so what was huge for me was really just getting crystal clear on. Okay, what is my skillset and how do I work best? Those are two core dynamics that I think people don’t always hone in on that are really key. So when I was in counterterrorism, my core skillset was writing and I thought, oh, I’m, I’m in intelligence analysis.

[00:06:25] Like, great, I’m gonna do a lot of writing. What I didn’t realize at the time was that that’s a not a lot of analysis, which is pretty much the opposite side of your brain. Then writing, writing is creative, you know, then we have analytical. So I think a lot of people have these career defining moments where they make a story up about who they’re gonna be because of these moments.

[00:06:44] And for me, nine 11 was just one of them. And so off I went and focus everything I had on studying national security, being a part of the solution, being passionate about languages and culture. And it wasn’t until, you know, like you said, I’d watched, you know, a few too many terrorist incidents in front of my face and had to travel to 18 countries that were or zones that I was like, okay, this is not a fit for me.

[00:07:07] I’m crying in my room. And this kind of brings up the how. So first it’s what you do, meaning what is your skillset? And I wrote a whole book about this because I think that this is what people are missing the most when they don’t like their career. And I outlined 10 different core skillsets, but then there’s how you work best.

[00:07:24] Given that we know that more than half of people leave their job because they don’t like their boss, what we can assume to be true is that how your job looks, how it looks, meaning what are your hours, who are the people? It matters just as much as what your job is. Your

[00:07:38] Tori Dunlap: I would argue sometimes even more like, I think there is a stat out there that say most people quit jobs because of bad bosses more than any other reason. It’s because like the person that is in charge of basically their, their development, their growth, their stability at a company, it doesn’t have their best interest at heart or doesn’t advocate for them in the way that they need.

[00:08:00] And I think that that’s, yeah. Super. I.

[00:08:04] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, exactly. And I think a lot of people who have come, you know, back when I was doing my private practice, even more so than I do now I just remember people coming in and they, they didn’t even know where to start to figure out how they could figure out their path. And for me, going from national security to an entrepreneur, to a podcast person, to an author, it’s like and even right now I’m in a meditation teacher training just because I really don’t have an intention of being a meditation teacher.

[00:08:28] Tori Dunlap: No. Well, it sounds like I, we talk about this a lot on the show. And I’ll get into my, my prepared questions in a second, but like, Curiosity, I think is the most important trait to have, especially in your career because we’ve, we’ve literally been asked the question of like, what do you wanna be when you grow up since you’re like four or five years old?

[00:08:48] And so instead of like asking, what am I gonna do with my life? Or like, what is my life’s biggest passion? I really encourage people, especially like young people who are like graduating college, trying to figure out, or even going into college, like, what is my major? What do I wanna do? Just like, what do I wanna do next?

[00:09:04] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:09:05] Tori Dunlap: especially in today’s world, you’re not going to be doing the same thing for your entire life. You’re not gonna be at the same company. You’re probably not going to be in the same industry or doing the same job because your interests change or you learn more about yourself. And so I think curiosity and asking yourself, okay, what am I just gonna do next?

[00:09:21] Is one, a way more accessible question than what am I supposed to do with my life? But two invites curiosity as opposed to like panic and dread.

[00:09:31] Ashley Stahl: I love what you’re
saying. And also, you know, the factor that, you know, we just came out of a pandemic, or arguably we’re still in one. So the amount of job titles that don’t even exist yet that are about to exist in the next five years and every five years, one of your core skill sets becomes obsolete.

[00:09:45] So times are changing so fast that this outdated idea of a five year plan, it just doesn’t make sense anymore. I think the truth of the matter is, what you wanna harness in your career is your core skillset. And I think one mistake that people tend to make in their, in my opinion, so this is just what I think for what it’s worth they think that their purpose is in their work.

[00:10:04] And I get that idea that your purpose has to be in your work because you spend 90,000 hours, you know, of your life at work on average, which is two thirds of your time awake on this planet. So to me, it makes sense that you want it to feel good. That being said your purpose moves. You know, I just had a lot of friends have babies and their purposes in motherhood right now.

[00:10:23] Back when I met them, their purpose was in their business, and whether they sold it or closed it, they’re in a different era. And so the pressure that we experienced from a young age, like you were saying, and I opened up my book, talking about my preschool graduation actually. The, the principal had us go up to the mic each kid and say what we wanted to be when we grew up

[00:10:41] and,

[00:10:41] Tori Dunlap: well-intentioned and cute. Especially when, you know, it’s a little four year old being like, I wanna work with Anna, I wanna be a veterinarian. Like that’s very cute. But it’s also like, how do you know? And like we, we’ve also, especially with I think America as we, we are so focused, right? The second question, when we meet somebody out of, out of our mouths, it’s like, what’s your name?

[00:11:01] What do you do for work? Like, it’s so focused on our careers rather than like who we are as people.

[00:11:07] Ashley Stahl: Exactly, exactly. And I’ve gotten so out of that. And weirdly, even though I’m a career expert and spokesperson around this kind of stuff, I don’t identify with my career at all. I don’t identify with my bank account. I don’t iden whether it’s high or low. You know, someone once told me, it’s like sometimes you’re in the front of the bus, sometimes you’re in the back of the bus, but just stay on the bus.

[00:11:29] And in my career, I’ve been in the front of the bus, whatever that looks like for me, like doing really well financially, making a lot of impact, putting a lot out there. And I’m in the back of the bus. I try something like my YouTube channel, I swear like my mom’s Insta story has more views than my YouTube channel right now.

[00:11:46] And that’s totally fine. You know, it’s like, I think that your message around being curious to. Is one of the core messages of my work is be experimental. Life is an experiment. Life is a numbers game. And what we are putting ourselves through in our career, telling each other like, it’s almost like the equivalent of your mom coming up to you, your first day of preschool and saying The first person you have a crush on, marry them.

[00:12:09] It’s like, wait, who? We don’t even know who we are. Why are we doing that with our career? The first career you pick, you better build it. It’s like no, start to see your career as a pod that you enter and calibrate with. You know, I really think there’s a few key Lilly pads in people’s careers. You know, the first one is, I don’t know if I love what I’m doing, but it’s serving some sort of purpose, whether it’s paying my bills or keeping me occupied, whatever.

[00:12:36] A lot of people hang out there. And they’re fine. And you know, some people they say they’re fine, but what they really mean is they’re not in touch with their pain and other people are actually fine. And it’s fine to be fine. That’s okay. But my work is about the second lilypad, which when I was writing my book, it was about how do I get people to swim from one to two?

[00:12:54] How do I get people from, I’m fine to, this is my gift and I’m at least working in an area that harness. My gift. And that’s where I focus the most on skillset. And instead of saying your career is a place that you have a purpose, which if you want, that can be your purpose. But I actually think your career is a place that you get to contribute to the world.

[00:13:15] And there’s a lot of purpose in contribution. And when you’re contributing your highest and best use, your skillset, your zone of genius, you’re making an impact. And the research shows that it feels good to be good at things. So you feel good if you’re doing a good job. And if you’re being you and you’re getting paid to be you, it sounds quite like a, a nice little flow state, you know, if I don’t say so myself.

[00:13:33] So that’s really what my goal is, is to get people to that second lily pad of at least knowing what their gift is, because then it becomes like almost like a river of opportunities where. , you’re in the current of your gift and people notice gifted people like think about your team. You probably have a lot of amazing people.

[00:13:53] There’s probably one where you’re like, damn, that person is in their gift. Like they are a magician. And those people stand out. You don’t forget them. You talk about them, you rave about them. They just rock your world. So when you are working in your gift, you’re that person and people start coming to you for all sorts of opportunities that run the gamut, and that turns your life into an experiment.

[00:14:12] And the thing about opportunities is that they’re really abundant. They’re really exciting. They can also be a very high form of distraction. So what’s really amazing about opportunities is that you get to choose. And when you know what your skillset is, when you’re on that second lily pad, when people start coming to you and presenting you with opportunities, they see that you’re gifted.

[00:14:30] Your life is about saying yes or no. Your life is about filtering your contribution. Your career becomes an experimental filtering experience. And I think that’s what gets you the opportunity, not the guarantee, but the opportunity to get to that third lily pad. , which I think is dharma, like true flow state, true divine human experience of like, wow, I can’t believe I get to do this.

[00:14:53] And I’ve moved in and out of the second and third lily pad. I mean, when I’m podcasting, whether it’s on my show or just here with you, I feel a lot of dharma in it. Not from a place of like, I mean, thanks Tori. I

[00:15:03] Tori Dunlap: launched right in there was like . I

[00:15:06] Ashley Stahl: I don’t mess

[00:15:06] Tori Dunlap: asked you a question, and I’m

[00:15:08] Ashley Stahl: no. Yeah. You asked about counterterrorism. I’m like,

[00:15:10] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. And we went and we’re

[00:15:12] Ashley Stahl: spiral girlfriend? Yeah.

[00:15:13] Tori Dunlap: but it’s so good.

[00:15:14] Yeah.

[00:15:15] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. So I, I think that a lot of people are hungry to feel something, and it makes sense for me that they feel that way, but I think that there’s not enough patience to actually be in the process that it takes to really create a path that is true for you.

[00:15:32] And we’re all in a rush. We are all thinking to ourselves like, we need to get an answer. We need to have a plan so that we can feel some sense of stability. But, you know, sometimes, backing up. It’s not backing down. You know, sometimes you need to take a step back. You know, a lot of people think they’re moving forward.

[00:15:49] Like I had a friend who got married a long time ago. I remember she looked at me on her wedding day and she said, I shouldn’t be married in this guy. And she walked down the aisle and it was just like,

[00:15:58] Tori Dunlap: I can’t tell you the amount of people that that in my life that that is also, yeah. I’ve had multiple conversations with friends who are just like, yeah, we’re engaged cuz it just seemed like the next thing you do. And I’m like,

[00:16:08] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, yeah, I know,

[00:16:12] Tori Dunlap: Or literally I had a, I had a friend who told me like, we’re $10,000 into planning this wedding so we can’t get out.

[00:16:18] And I’m like,

[00:16:19] Ashley Stahl: right?

[00:16:20] Tori Dunlap: N, that’s not it,

[00:16:22] Ashley Stahl: gonna cost. Yeah.

[00:16:23] Tori Dunlap: what I said. I’m like, that’s not it. They’re married now.

[00:16:27] Hopefully they’re happy, but like, yeah, no, that’s literally what, okay. I have so many questions for you, like literally just off of that. Okay. So you’ve talked about your book and I wanna plug it your turn or U-turn.

[00:16:37] Ashley Stahl: U-turn. Yeah, but you know what? Your turn would’ve been a great name too.

[00:16:41] Tori Dunlap: I’m gonna try it again so we can cut it. Okay. I’m gonna talk about your book cuz you keep bringing it up, which I love. U-Turn, get unstuck. Discover your direction, design your dream career. Can you define a U-turn for us? And then the three steps you talk about in the book to make one success.

[00:16:57] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. So to me when I think about people in their life, and thanks for mentioning my book, cause it’s like my favorite thing in the world. When I think about people, they often feel like something’s not working and we become like ping pong or pendulums where we just try to go the other direction.

[00:17:15] Like it’s very reactive and reactivity is one of the worst places you can be in for your career because you’re not thinking clearly when, I mean, your amygdala and your brain is usually hijacked when you’re, you know, your decision making centers. When you’re anxious, when you’re unhappy, you’re not thinking as clearly.

[00:17:33] the U-turn instead of going the opposite way from which you came instead of reacting is about coming home to y o you a U-turn. And what that looks like to me is that real critical moment of transformation where we hear that voice in our head, that wise voice, that witness that is watching us, and instead of muffling it down, instead of pushing it down, we decide to listen to it for once and get radically honest with ourself about our lives.

[00:18:05] And it can be so scary to do that because happiness is not for the faint of heart, right? Like fulfillment is not for the faint of heart because it

[00:18:16] Tori Dunlap: And it’s not for the

[00:18:17] Ashley Stahl: it’s not for the comfortable and it’s uncomfortable to be uncomfortable. Like who wants that?

[00:18:21] Tori Dunlap: literally that’s what I was of, that’s the thing I talk about with like the example I just gave of my friend who was like, yeah, well, you know, I’m basically sunk cost in this wedding. I need to get married. And I’m like, I don’t blame this person at all, but I’m like, you’re comfortable.

[00:18:36] You have, you have this, you know, the stable job that you don’t love and that you tell me you don’t love all the time, but like it pays the bills you have the person you’re in a relationship with, who it’s a lot harder to get out of said relationship, at least temporarily, right? Like you have comfort. And even if, you know, the right decision is I need to quit my job and find something better, that is temporarily incredibly uncomfortable to, to break up with this person and to admit to your family, oh my God, maybe this person wasn’t the the person that I’m gonna spend the rest of my life with.

[00:19:08] Very embarrassing, deeply uncomfortable, but also you owe it to yourself to build a life that you’re actually proud of, instead of one where you’re like, I had the least shame upon my head, right? Like, I had the least egg on my face. I’m like, who cares?

[00:19:27] Ashley Stahl: And the thing is that that’s what causes anxiety. And you know, anxiety is such a messenger and resentment. I mean, it’s just a whole Lebanese NICs unfortunate series of events to follow

[00:19:39] Tori Dunlap: Yeah.

[00:19:39] Ashley Stahl: I will say you know, people, usually it’s the human experience not to make a change until you’re so miserable in your current state that it outweighs your fear of the unknown.

[00:19:51] So, you know, at any given moment, we’re all toggling between the fear of the unknown and our current situation and how we feel. And I hate that people have to get so miserable in their current situation that that’s when they go into the unknown, especially when it comes to their career, because they were already always going to go into the unknown.

[00:20:09] So why not do it when you’re lukewarm? Why not spare yourself that kind of suffering that you don’t need to go through? You know, we know what we know without knowing why we know it a lot of the time. That’s my definition of intuition. Knowing what you know without knowing why you know it.

[00:20:24] Tori Dunlap: Hmm.

[00:20:25] Ashley Stahl: we tend to push it down because it’s so freaking inconvenient.

[00:20:29] And I think the difference between me and a lot of people, and I don’t know where I get this from, but I’d rather know, and I’d rather unravel my life every single time because I feel it coming together even better every time. So whether that’s leaving the t
hree year relationship or the five year partner who proposed to me and we got a dog together, whether it’s moving to New York because LA doesn’t feel like my home anymore, whatever the unraveling looks like giving myself what I like to call the dignity of the process.

[00:21:01] There’s a dignity to process and a lot of us don’t wanna be in a process. We just wanna be in a result. And that resistance creates so many more messes.

[00:21:16] Tori Dunlap: how many hours do you

[00:21:17] Ashley Stahl: Okay, let’s go

[00:21:19] Tori Dunlap: Wow. Okay. We have to talk about, okay. Oh, this is so good. went through, I wrote about this in a recent email, and if you subscribed to our email list, you got it. But what I I went through something in 2020 that felt just like, I don’t want to be too specific to keep my privacy, but it was like, it was like a cr, the life event that just altered everything for me.

[00:21:39] I got to the point where I was like, I don’t know how to move forward without like, I don’t know how to do this.

[00:21:46] And I was October to December, I got to the point where I was so

[00:21:51] Ashley Stahl: Mm.

[00:21:52] Tori Dunlap: because I had felt for so

[00:21:55] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:21:56] Tori Dunlap: that I was like, I don’t know if I’ll ever be happy again. And as someone who is joyful and happy most of the time, that was the most terrifying thought I’ve ever had in my entire life, or the most terrifying realization. And I was so focused on trying to get through it. Now, I thought I was processing correctly, right? I was crying. I was going to coaching and therapy, and I was talking to friends, but I kept going, oh, when this happens, then I’ll be okay, right? Or like, when we get to a year, then I’ll be over it and it’ll be fine.

[00:22:31] And I put myself on a timeline because it was so uncomfortable to be in that I was trying to fabricate the light at the end of the tunnel when I just needed to sit in the dark for a while.

[00:22:46] Ashley Stahl: Yes.

[00:22:46] Tori Dunlap: Like I had to sit there and be uncomfortable. And that was how I was going to move through the discomfort, not on my own schedule, not when I dictated.

[00:22:58] Again, I thought I was grieving, quote unquote correctly, but I was so focused on like, okay, like this’ll, this, this’ll pass. We’ll get through this. We’ll move through it by trying to move through it. I

[00:23:10] Ashley Stahl: right? You resisted

[00:23:11] Tori Dunlap: like, that was the, yeah, that was the most powerful again, horrible, worst thing I’ve ever been through.

[00:23:17] Awful. But I’m so glad it happened because my control issues were so like, you know, calibrated up to a hundred that I was like, okay, we’ll just move through it. We’ll just move through it. And I’m like, no, you need to sit in it. You need to sit in it for a while. Nothing’s gonna happen for a while. It’s gonna suck, and you just need to understand that it’s going to

[00:23:37] Ashley Stahl: a hundred percent. And some of the most profound people I know, they all happen to have had a lot of darkness, like a dark, dark night of the soul. And I don’t know if it’s a chapter or a heading in my book, but I talk about how rock bottom is sacred. You know, it, it is. And there’s a power to it. Like you can only go up from it if you really bottom out.

[00:23:56] Being a human is hard. Like there’s so much we need to do to be here. We need to like, you know, go to school. If we’re in a, you know, western, at least society where that’s the setup,

[00:24:08] Tori Dunlap: Or the, you have the

[00:24:08] Ashley Stahl: we have the privilege to go

[00:24:09] to school, right? It’s a have to, it’s a get to, but it’s a, it’s there and it’s hard. We gotta do the homework.

[00:24:15] We, we got a pass, maybe we go to college, maybe we don’t, then we gotta get a career and we gotta put food on the table. And then maybe we have kids and we need to provide for them. And by the way, we need to have purpose and love what we’re doing while we provide and do all these things that we show up for.

[00:24:27] And then there’s heartbreak.

[00:24:28] Tori Dunlap: also watch while the world seems

[00:24:30] Ashley Stahl: Yes. Yes. And that was, that was another reason I was a gunner encounter terrorism was I couldn’t take in. Our brain is not designed to take in the amount of information that we take in every day. I mean, think about our human experience.

[00:24:43] Tori Dunlap: scroll through Twitter and I literally saw like trigger warning, sexual assault, and then right under it, like Elon must be in a piece of shit. And I literally had the thought, same thing where I was like, if I was passing people in the street and they were just yelling this at.

[00:24:56] I would plug my ears. I would like, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna do this. And yet we consume this level, like scrolling through TikTok. It’s like I got, I got fired cuz of an abusive boss and then like midterms and then this, and then, you know, oh the polar bears are dying. And I’m like, I do this on a multi daily

[00:25:13] Ashley Stahl: Yeah.

[00:25:15] Tori Dunlap: without a

[00:25:15] Ashley Stahl: Exactly. And you know, it’s interesting because I noticed that having moved to New York, it’s like I watch people try not to see the homeless people who are mentally unwell. And I get it. It hurts, it hurts to see it, but it’s the truth. And it’s kind of like life. You, you can’t really move the way you wanna move if you’re not willing to see the truth.

[00:25:35] And so for me, and I, I have a soft spot for people who are homeless because I had a sister who was an addict and eventually became homeless and passed away from that. And so for me, I do my best to hold what’s going on in the world around me and hold my own reality and sit in it. and also be a person that is happy and grateful and joyful and present and alive.

[00:25:57] And again, it kind of goes back to what we said about process. Like you needed to be in the dignity of your process. You know, you needed those days where you thought you were working on it by checking the boxes that align with what it looks like when somebody’s allegedly healing from something.

[00:26:13] But that’s not what you actually need to do. You need to sit with the sheets over your h
ead and just be sad in your stuff. And the good news about life, and maybe the bad news, depending on how you wanna look at it, is that everything is so temporary. You know, if it’s good, it’s temporary, if it’s bad, it’s temporary.

[00:26:29] Tori Dunlap: What I came to this realization, and again, I talked about it in the email I sent, we can link it to is like, All of those moments I had of like driving at two in the morning with friends in college with the windows down and like telling the person I was dating that I loved them for the first time.

[00:26:45] And you know, riding a rollercoaster, like all of the moments that I truly felt alive and just like the, you know, perks of being a walflower

[00:26:53] Ashley Stahl: Oh my God. That’s my favorite book. I can’t believe you said that book.

[00:26:56] Tori Dunlap: well there you go. The movie, right? Where she’s like, you know, she’s got her head out the sunroof. Like all of those moments I had where I was like, God, I, life is so beautiful.

[00:27:05] I realized that was the same thing with my pain because I could feel deeply enough to be so deeply happy and I could feel so deeply enough to be so devastated, so utterly naked and raw and devastated and like, wasn’t that a beautiful thing in its own

[00:27:24] Ashley Stahl: yes. I had a guest on my podcast named Jason Goldberg, and he is amazing. And he talked about how you can’t just take the good feelings and not the bad feelings. It’s all one pipe that your emotions go through. So if you turn it off, you don’t get the good ones, you don’t get the bad ones, you don’t get to pick.

[00:27:41] So either you turn it on, you turn it off, and I just think, why would we wanna be here on this planet? We are beings with so many cells and neurons designed to feel. Why would we rob ourself of that? The importance of that experience?

[00:27:55] Tori Dunlap: Well, and we talked about before, and I wanna, I wanna round back to this because what I’ve realized in my career and in business, in my relationships, every time I have not trusted my gut, which I think you would call your intuition, right? It’s the same thing, like, I have gotten in trouble literally every single time.

[00:28:12] Like the, you know, the, every time I, my gut has fired and gone, that’s, that’s not it. And then I don’t listen to it. It manifests six months later, or even six years later with a person or a business decision. So I know that a lot of people in my life have been gas lit so much, or are dealing with mental issues to the point where they. Can’t listen to their gut, or their gut doesn’t speak to them anymore. They don’t know how. So how do you tap into your, your intuition? What is for you? Like what is that feeling like and how do you listen to it even when it’s telling you to do the scary

[00:28:53] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. So when I was at the Pentagon in counter-terrorism and, you know, learned languages, did the stuff, that was one of the top things that I learned was how to really access your intuition. Because for a lot of people who are on the path to being a spy like I was, it’s a lifesaving tool. Why do scientists call our gut the second brain right now?

[00:29:15] Because it has more than 200 million neurons. That’s the size of a cat dog’s brain. I have a German shepherd named Jupiter who’s like a hundred pounds of pure intelligence. And I mean, I taught ’em how to gimme a high five in like four minutes, you know, so it’s like they’re pretty, that’s pretty smart.

[00:29:30] And so to me there’s a wisdom to your stomach sinking and you feeling pulled towards something. And you know, we live in a time right now where I think we have over reprioritized our intellect. And there’s many different bodies of work around intuition, intellect. But I would say first thing’s first.

[00:29:48] If you feel cut off and you’re not int your intuition and you, you feel really stuck, the first order of business is not to jump around and try to grab onto something. It’s to find you again. When you’re, you, you can hear you. It sounds obvious, but it’s not. I always tell people, make a list of people, places, experiences, friends, things that make you feel like you.

[00:30:08] So for me, I grew up in Los Angeles. The ocean does something for me. And so when I’m totally cut off, it wasn’t unusual for me to hop in my car and put my feet in the sand and grab a journal and I would leave that hour feeling like a lot more me again. I have a lot of girlfriends and I love them.

[00:30:24] There’s a couple in particular where it’s like, wow, whenever I’m with them, I’m really me. There’s something that happens in my nervous system where I get quiet and I get calm. It’s hard to hear yourself when you’re not regulated, and it’s a very dysregulating world that we can live in sometimes. So just regulate yourself by getting back to yourself.

[00:30:41] I love hip hop dance classes, so you’ll see me do that. I love rap music. I love cupcakes. Like there’s some weird stuff that you’re gonna find me doing when I’m trying to get back into my body. But just do that and that could take you a few months, like be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, get back into your body.

[00:30:55] Another thing I’ll say is, Osho, kind of a controversial figure, but he defines instinct, intuition, and intellect differently. So intuition is not to be confused with instinct. To me, instinct is bodily. It’s like your cells are firing, your body is breathing. You do not need to intellectualize breathing.

[00:31:11] You don’t need to think about it. It’s just happening. Animals run away from a tsunami hours before it even happens. It’s instinct. It’s like their body knows that something’s coming and their body knows to run. We don’t have that in our instincts for whatever reason. As as humans, we get swept away.

[00:31:24] So really taking a look at your instinct and your body, it’s like you need to take care of your body so it could keep functioning at a homeostasis on your behalf. I think the second. is intellect. And we live in a world right now where it’s all about the brain. It’s all about what we think. But according to, you know, I’m in a meditation teacher training, like I was mentioning, we only see 0.0035% of the electromagnetic spectrum, meaning that the majority of what, of what is in front of us, we cannot see.

[00:31:56] So whether that’s different cells or bacterias or beings or whatever is in the invisible for our eyes, the limits of our five senses there’s a lot going on that we are not aware of. And I think what’s harnessed within that is intuition. So like I said earlier, to me intuition is knowing what you know without knowing why you know it.

[00:32:16] And we could always get into the why, right? There’s 200 million neurons of why you probably think something that’s coming out of your gut. And I think it takes work and it’s a life choice to live vulnerably. It’s a life choice to live honing your intuition like. . I am vulnerable every day and it hurts.

[00:32:35] It hurts to be this way. I feel like an open wound some
times being so honest and so, but, but it’s the only way I can go to bed at night with myself. It’s the only way I’m gonna like myself is if I’m vulnerable and real. And it’s not like I’m sharing myself with people who are not safe for me to share myself with, but I to. But I lean towards being open and honest and transparent. And I think it’s the same thing with intuition. It’s a choice you need to make every single day. And sometimes it will feel like it’s against reason. But if you look back into your life right now, the most important things in your life, whether it’s people you know, opportunities you took, something that happened to you, did those come because you intellectualized yourself into them cuz you decided to go do it Or did something, you know, like I met my best friend outside of a nightclub 12 years ago.

[00:33:24] like I didn’t control that meeting. . And so I think that we intellectualize and control and plan, and we miss the opportunity to be in our intuition and to follow something much

[00:33:34] Tori Dunlap: you talked about this, this

[00:33:36] this

[00:33:36] feeling. That I know very intimately of wanting things I can see that in my career, where back in 20 15,

[00:33:45] 20 16, when I was working

[00:33:46] a corporate job, I would look at people I admired. Like I, I,

[00:33:50] don’t know if you know,

[00:33:51] Jenna

[00:33:51] Kutcher,

[00:33:52] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. I love her so much. She’s so

[00:33:55] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. So like, I looked at her business back when I was like 22, 23, didn’t know anything about like, running a company really. And I looked at her business and I was like, I can

[00:34:07] do

[00:34:08] Ashley Stahl: Yeah.

[00:34:09] Tori Dunlap: Why can’t I have that right now? And of course, what you realize is that she’s been at this for like five years, seven years, and she’s over only an overnight success to you because you discovered her last

[00:34:21] Ashley Stahl: Right.

[00:34:22] Tori Dunlap: And so I, I kept thinking to myself like, okay, I know I’m capable of.

[00:34:26] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:34:27] Tori Dunlap: Why do I only have a thousand followers on Instagram? Why do I, you know, why am I not being able to coach more than one person? Why are people not interested in that? And of course, what I’ve realized is

[00:34:38] like

[00:34:40] she took five, seven years, however many

[00:34:42] years to get to the point where I discovered her and thought, I want

[00:34:45] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:34:46] Tori Dunlap: If I had the business,

[00:34:47] if you know, a

[00:34:48] genie popped out of a bottle and gave me

[00:34:49] the business that

[00:34:50] she had, at that point I would not have

[00:34:52] been ready at all. Would not have

[00:34:55] been ready,

[00:34:56] Ashley Stahl: Genie in a bottle

[00:34:58] Tori Dunlap: there you go.

[00:34:59] You got

[00:34:59] it.

[00:35:00] Ashley Stahl: Oh, thank God. I’m

[00:35:01] not

[00:35:02] Tori Dunlap: I, I wouldn’t have been ready. Yeah. No, I, here again, Kara de Guardi. But I wouldn’t have been ready, I wouldn’t have been capable cuz I wouldn’t have gone through building and understanding and learning a

[00:35:12] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. Yeah,

[00:35:13] Tori Dunlap: think I, I something similar to say of like, I. Both in how quickly

[00:35:19] society moves of like we want things immediately because we’re used to getting things immediately, but also because again, it’s uncomfortable to

[00:35:26] Ashley Stahl: yeah.

[00:35:27] Tori Dunlap: or it’s uncomfortable to like slowly build to the point where you get the thing that you

[00:35:32] maybe

[00:35:33] want.

[00:35:33] Ashley Stahl: so let’s look at that. Why is

[00:35:35] it uncomfortable to wait? Why? Why

[00:35:37] do we just jump? I think it’s because we, we haven’t, and this is like

[00:35:41] human psychology. So I, I, after I got my master’s in war, I got a master’s in spiritual psychology. So I don’t know what that means about me. Must have had like a spiritual void that I needed to fill after.

[00:35:51] Yeah, a warm piece.

[00:35:52] Yeah. I was just like, get causal relationship. But

[00:35:57] you know, one of the things I studied in my

[00:35:58] master’s in

[00:35:59] psych was human attachment. And you know, if you haven’t read the book attached by Amir Levine, you have to read, I’m sure you

[00:36:04] have.

[00:36:05] Tori Dunlap: I’m anxious. Attachment. I’m getting

[00:36:06] Ashley Stahl: sister.

[00:36:07] Yeah. Yeah. Well, I promise you in this new

[00:36:10] Tori Dunlap: men have gaslighted me

[00:36:12] for so long

[00:36:13] that I have

[00:36:13] become anxious.

[00:36:15] Ashley Stahl: bored of that for you.

[00:36:16] We

[00:36:17] are gonna just fire them all

[00:36:18] Tori Dunlap: I’m a lot better and I’ve, I’ve learned a lot. And also you dat
e people who are like,

[00:36:23] if something’s wrong, I will tell you. And I’m

[00:36:26] like, oh, you’ll tell me. I don’t have to ask you

[00:36:30] constantly if you’re okay and worried that you’re

[00:36:32] lying to me.

[00:36:33] Yeah. It’s

[00:36:34] great when you date somebody

[00:36:35] like that for the first time and

[00:36:36] you’re like, this

[00:36:37] is how it

[00:36:37] should

[00:36:37] Ashley Stahl: I know, I know. I’m in that right

[00:36:39] now. I’m like, wow, this is easy. I forgot about that

[00:36:43] And I feel like what happens? Okay, so for those of you who don’t know attachment stuff, are just like deep in the spirals of anxious attachment together, but there’s four different types. There’s anxious, there’s avoidant, there’s secure, and then there’s the little lucky 5% that’s anxious and avoidant.

[00:36:57] I won’t go too far into attachment. What I will say is that how you, your attachment is about how you especially when in intimacy. So it has a lot to do with your relationship with your parents growing up. And a lot of attachment is formed if you want a secure attachment, meaning you’re very regulated, you’re okay with intimacy, you don’t run.

[00:37:14] When people get closer is learning how to self sooth. And what happens is a lot of people who have insecure attachment, meaning anxious or avoidant, meaning the anxious people are like, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? I’m scared. I don’t wanna lose you. And then the avoidant people are like, go away.

[00:37:30] You’re too close. Ah, I’m scared of intimacy, but I want it, but I can’t. These people, I think it comes back down to they did not have, typically, according to the research, the opportunity to co-regulate with their parents. So maybe their parent was busy, maybe their parent was all over the place, maybe their parent was, you know, avoiding them and they did not have a parent that when.

[00:37:53] life happened. They could sit with them and help that kid regulate themselves, regulate their nervous system, accept a hard event, and they go out into the world as adults. Not having had that with a parent and not being able to do that for themselves. So,

[00:38:10] Tori Dunlap: and we also call this, of course, parenting your inner child, right?

[00:38:13] Self soothing. My, my mentor calls it like her little girl. Her little girl who’s like kicking and screaming and yelling inside. That’s like, yeah,

[00:38:20] everybody’s going to

[00:38:21] abandon me and everything’s awful and people will judge me for

[00:38:25] being vulnerable.

[00:38:26] And it’s

[00:38:26] like,

[00:38:27] you have

[00:38:28] Ashley Stahl: Do you know who’s so lit

[00:38:29] on this topic is Dark. Dr. Margaret Paul, if

[00:38:31] you’ve never had her on your podcast, she, she wrote a book called Inner

[00:38:34] Bonding and it’s all about like bonding with yourself.

[00:38:37] reparenting yourself. And she made me cry on my own podcast. Hopefully they edited that out, but maybe they didn’t.

[00:38:42] Cuz of my vulnerable life choice, .

[00:38:44] Tori Dunlap: Oh, I cry.

[00:38:45] Almost

[00:38:45] Ashley Stahl: You know, it’s just where we’re at.

[00:38:48] Yeah. It’s just, let’s come on undone together. But I think that a

[00:38:51] lot of people who are being reactive like that in their career, they just didn’t self-regulate. They didn’t learn how to self sooth. They didn’t learn how to have that dialogue with themselves in the in-between of, I hate my job, but this is temporary.

[00:39:04] And it’s not about just pep talking yourself and staying in your head, but really feeling like, I’ve got you, I’ve got your back. I’m gonna make sure that we figure this out. But you need to be patient and allowing your body to accept that you’re not just gonna go grab onto something, but to find comfort in the now to find comfort in being patient so you can get to the right answer.

[00:39:24] Or else you’re doing your own version of walking down the aisle towards a partner or a job marrying it and then having to undo the mess that never would’ve happened. And then you’re further away than what you, from what you wanted, than you thought you were.

[00:39:37] Tori Dunlap: One of my favorite ways that I do this, I’m sure you know Liz Gilbert, eat, pray, love, big magic. Yep. I learned this from her.

[00:39:45] She writes, I think, I think she calls it like God, but it’s really like the higher version of herself. She writes herself letters back and forth. So, and I do this when I’m struggling or when I just need some reassurance.

[00:40:00] It’s literally just like, hi, I am scared.

[00:40:03] And

[00:40:03] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:40:05] Tori Dunlap: the inner part of myself, whatever you wanna call it, universe, God, my higher version responds. Love. I’m so sorry to hear that. What, what do you need?

[00:40:12] Oh, I’m, I’m really scared that, yeah, this person’s gonna leave me. And we fought last night and I, I just don’t know what to do.

[00:40:18] That sounds really

[00:40:19] hard.

[00:40:20] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:40:21] Tori Dunlap: and assure that I’m here. You’re going to be okay if this person does move on. You’ve survived worse before. Like, you’re gonna be okay. This person loves you and they will communicate

[00:40:31] to you if something’s wrong. And literally just like the back and forth of very compassionately talking yourself down. and it’s incredible

[00:40:38] what’s, literally, I

[00:40:39] have journals and journals of myself responding

[00:40:44] to myself

[00:40:44] freaking out

[00:40:45] about shit.

[00:40:46] Like, it’s

[00:40:46] so crazy.

[00:40:48] Ashley Stahl: very powerful. And that’s actually the gestalt method of therapy. so

[00:40:51] there’s a whole body of work about

[00:40:53] Gestalt, the philosopher did, and that is what his work is. Sometimes therapists who use the Gestalt method will have people sit in two different chairs, and each chair represents a different aspect of themselves.

[00:41:03] So in this dialogue you wrote down, it’s you as you are now. And then the other chairs are higher self, right? Like your wise self, your parent inside that can help

[00:41:12] you.

[00:41:12] Tori Dunlap: Is this the same guy who did

[00:41:13] the puppet therapy?

[00:41:15] Ashley Stahl: oh my gosh, who was that? Yeah, I mean, I don’t, I don’t

[00:41:18] Tori Dunlap: like is like, it’s slightly different, right? It’s like

[00:41:20] different concept of the

[00:41:21] puppet says

[00:41:21] what

[00:41:22] you can’t

[00:41:22] say or what you’re too

[00:41:23] scared to say. yeah,

[00:41:24] Ashley Stahl: yeah. Oh, I love

[00:41:26] that. Yeah. You know, there’s therapy’s so powerful. I don’t know how all of

[00:41:30] us are getting by without

[00:41:31] it. It’s, it’s a necessary thing

[00:41:33] for me.

[00:41:33] Tori Dunlap: Okay. So you talked about like your gift, your flow state, your passion. I have two questions for you that I’m sure people listening are trying to figure

[00:41:41] out.

[00:41:42] How do I decide what this is? How do I figure out what this is? And two, how do I find that in a capitalist hellscape like

[00:41:49] Ashley Stahl: yeah.

[00:41:50] Tori Dunlap: when I have to have a job And I, but I try not to contribute to you know, I don’t wanna kick puppies or kill the polar bears.

[00:41:57] Like, how do I find it and how do either make peace with it or

[00:42:02] try

[00:42:02] to find it

[00:42:03] in

[00:42:03] a

[00:42:03] world that is

[00:42:04] so

[00:42:04] inequitable.

[00:42:06] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. Well, first of all, I read this book called The Science of Happily Ever After, and it talked about how the research indicates that

[00:42:12] , People around, you know, if your marriage is going to. before, you know, and what I learned from that is that neutral observers are powerful. They have no skin in the game.

[00:42:25] They have no attachment to things going well for you. I mean, they do, but they want to. They’re just witnesses, right? Whether it’s a relationship or it’s your job, you can really trust neutral feedback. And granted, you don’t wanna just ask anyone for it. You wanna respect the opinion of the people you ask but asking the people around you whether it’s at work from college, you know, professors from high school, people that you feel like have a good sense of you. Just a simple question of when have you seen me at my best? Like, when have you, and professionally, when have you seen me at my best? Professionally, the answers that you’ll get might surprise you, especially if you ask your own parents. That’s always kind of interesting, like, where do they see you at your best?

[00:43:05] It’s, I think colleagues though, being able to say, oh, when you’re giving presentations, and I think one thing that holds people back a lot of the time

[00:43:12] is anxiety. Like, for example, skiing. My family used to force me to go snow skiing and I freaking hated it. Like, I just hate snow skiing. I feel like outta control.

[00:43:21] I’m scared I’m going to, you know, hit a tree that, you know, my uncles are daredevils, so they take me to Mo Mountains when I was a kid that I really shouldn’t have been on, and I was crying my whole way down the moguls. And so I thought that I hated skiing. But what I realized when I went skiing, you know, years later with friends and I was begrudgingly attending with them, like kind of in a victim energy, like, yes, I’ll go with you, but I hate it.

[00:43:42] A, they were all green skiers, meaning like easy slopes. And I had the best time and I realized, oh wow, I love skiing when I. , I’m not managing anxiety. So if you have the tastiest cupcake ever, but there’s anxiety sprinkles on it, it’s gonna taste like a bad cupcake. So I think sometimes we might get feedback that we shine a lot in an area that we’re really anxious.

[00:44:03] And that comes back to, do you wanna avoid pathways that are very high frequency for you because it brings up something in your body? Or do you wanna work on your body’s response to these edges for you so that you can free yourself and liberate yourself into paths that really harness your, your natural skills and talents?

[00:44:23] for me, public speaking, I have an agent. I go on speaking tours, I wanna die every time. Like 100 eyeballs, 4,000 eyeballs.

[00:44:31] I don’t, I do get nervous, but I don’t

[00:44:33] care as much

[00:44:34] if it’s

[00:44:35] free. Cuz then I’m like, oh, I’m

[00:44:37] just

[00:44:37] sharing. But if I’m getting paid a lot,

[00:44:41] then it’s like, this is a client, this is a

[00:44:43] contract, my

[00:44:44] agent is gonna, it affects

[00:44:45] his reputation.

[00:44:47] Tori Dunlap: Right, right, right, right, right, right.

[00:44:49] Ashley Stahl: But yeah, I would say where have you, whenever people

[00:44:52] seen you at your best. That’s a good one.
Another thing is a joy journal. So let’s say you feel really lost and stuck. Do that thing I talked about with your intuition. Like start to rejuvenate yourself by being around people, places, things that feel good and bring you back into your body.

[00:45:05] But I would say also really taking a look at where you light up every single day. I hate to admit this, but when I was working at the Pentagon, I lit up on my coffee break because I was giving my mind a break from all the heavy stuff, but forming relationships with the barista at my local coffee shop, and I was total friends with all of them, and they all kind of got excited to see me.

[00:45:25] I got excited to see them and it was my little ray of sunshine every day. So in my Joy journal, some days my coffee was the best thing that happened to me. Other days. And, and you can write down in your Joy journal what’s joyful for you every day, just a sentence or what moved you, what, what spoke to you or a task that you felt really like enliven by.

[00:45:43] And what you’ll notice after 30 days of doing this is there’s usually a skillset pattern in there. There’s usually a pattern in your interests in there. and it’s watching yourself and taking notes on yourself so you can say, oh, wow, I really light up when I’m writing or communicating.

[00:45:57] You know, in my book, I think it’s chapter two, we talk about core skillsets. So one, I can give guys a, a few of them just to help people kind of see this one is words. You know, and that’s my core skillset. Another one is service. Being a humanitarian, being a helper. Another core skillset is analysis.

[00:46:12] These are the researchers, the academics, you know, so there’s 10 of these core skillsets. And I think what’s so important is most people when they read through my 10, they’re like, oh, I, I feel like I might be one of three or four of these. And from there it’s about having the conversations with people, asking for feedback, noticing your track record, noticing where you feel like you’re pushing a river, like you really think you’re a core skill set of speaking because you, you, you really, it took you like four days to write something that took me a half of a day, you know, really taking a look at where you’re being you.

[00:46:45] Tori Dunlap: How

[00:46:45] Ashley Stahl: Right. Well, okay, so let’s say you collect feedback and you know, we were talking about those three Lilly pads, right? So the first lily pad is like, you’re fine, and you’re collecting feedback, right? Then you’re moving over to my little second lily pad. You’re swimming and it could take you a few months or even a couple years to swim over there.

[00:47:01] You’re, it’s experimentation, which goes back to the real message I think of this conversation is

[00:47:08] if you want to be powerless, Just stay stuck in limbo. It’s, it’s such a powerless place. But if you wanna be in your power, sometimes you need to show up, make a commitment, see what feedback the universe gives you

[00:47:25] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. I think the, the wrong choice, I’m putting wrong in quotes, is to not make a

[00:47:30] decision

[00:47:30] at all. right.

[00:47:31] Like I

[00:47:32] think so many people, right? Right. So many people I think are scared of making the quote unquote wrong choice or failing, or, oh, my parents want me to be this, or I want to be able to show up at my 10 year reunion, who goes to those anymore, but like show up on Facebook or Instagram again, who, I don’t know, I’m like 10 year reunion.

[00:47:48] Facebook, how old am I? But like be able to like post on social media of like, I am this kind of person with this kind of life. And it’s like, okay, I would rather you make a decision that ends up not lighting you up, but at least you know that now than doing the,

[00:48:04] oh, I’m so scared of not pleasing somebody, of failure,

[00:48:11] of making the

[00:48:13] wrong choice that I’m not gonna do

[00:48:16] anything at

[00:48:16] all

[00:48:17] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:48:18] Tori Dunlap: stay

[00:48:18] comfortable. Yeah. .

[00:48:20] Ashley Stahl: Exactly. And so I think when you say, how do we do

[00:48:22] it? it? can be messy. And

[00:48:25] I think it’s about, talk about self-soothing.

[00:48:27] You need to self-sooth yourself through experimenting with your life. And if you’re not willing to experiment and course correct every time, and I get it, we don’t want our resume if we’re in the workforce to look like a graveyard of trial and error, right?

[00:48:40] Like not, not ideal, but happiness has a cost of a. Fulfillment has a cost of admission, has a tax, and the tax is trial and error. So are you willing to say, okay, these are my four core skill sets. I read Ashley’s book, or forget my book. You do something else and you realize, hey, these are my three areas that I shine the most.

[00:49:02] And it has to do with your function, right? People talk too much about their interest or their industry. Your interest or your industry is a backdrop. You can be a coder at Walt Disney Company in the same week. You can be a coder for Google. Very different types of, you know, you have the entertainment industry of tech, but you’re still doing the same function.

[00:49:19] Your tasks throughout the day from nine to five, how you’re harnessing your mind, your body, your heart, your hands are the same. So it’s important to really tune into what is that skillset? What are those tasks? What are those functions that you carry out that you’re most brilliant with? Ask around and then say to yourself, who do I know in the world that is using these skillsets?

[00:49:38] Get on LinkedIn, do an advanced search. One of my courses, we have a tutorial on how to use the advanced search as a way to discover more people who are out there using your core skillset in a way that maybe you never thought you could use it. You know, job titles are infinite and a lot of the times my work is just about helping people learn what they don’t know is out there. You know, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. So sometimes it’s about, okay, this is my skillset. And you know, going back to our conversation when we were little kids, veterinarian, it’s like, that’s what I heard at my preschool, graduat. I wanna be a vet, I wanna be an astronaut, I wanna be a teacher, I wanna be a lawyer.

[00:50:17] I wanna be a doctor. Well, you know, good news everyone. There’s taste testers, gamers and all sorts of other things in between. You could, you could do so many things. Um, I’ve gotten paid as an entrepreneur to do some of the most random things that
are so much fun and so surprising that I can’t even believe it exists. So I think your work is to go into discovery, not just taking something with the best of your knowledge um, but having conversations. You know, whenever my life feels really stuck and stale, I know that it’s time for me to have more conversations. So what that looks like is, you know, clarity comes from engagement.

[00:50:51] It doesn’t come from thought. You can’t just think your way there. So I’ll get on LinkedIn, I’ll maybe put my college in. I went to King’s College in London. and I’ll look for alumni and let’s say I, I’m looking into using communication as my core skillset. People think I’m a good communicator. My other question would be for you is are you an introvert or an extrovert?

[00:51:11] So once you look at your skillset, do you wanna externally share that skillset or is that an internal skillset? How does your energy ride best? That’s another question to ask yourself. Um, and then I’ll take a look. So let’s say I’m a communicator and I’m more introverted. Okay? So let me look at writing or content jobs, things that allow me to use words, but kind of stay inward and stay behind my laptop. I’ll get on LinkedIn and I’ll put into the advanced search writing and I’ll do an advanced search of people who went to King’s College London and I’ll just start messaging ’em, Hey, I’m a fellow alumni. I’m looking into making a transition and I see what you’re doing to be super interesting. Do you have 10 minutes for a quick conversation?

[00:51:46] People who have associations with you some sort of overlap with you, like the same school, you’re gonna get a higher response rate, which I think is

[00:51:52] always ideal.

[00:51:54] Tori Dunlap: and I will also add, if you are a student that is the card that you don’t know you’re about to lose, that is like the best thing ever. I like, hi, I’m a student. I’m trying to figure out my next step in my career. Do you have 15 minutes? Oh my gosh. That is like the best calling card that eventually you won’t have anymore.

[00:52:12] So use it while you do. And I would add to it too, if like we have a, we had an episode um, with Doc G, uh, talking about like, how do you reckon with okay, finding the thing you’re good at slash your passion and the things that fulfill you with also knowing that you need to make money and you need to like, try to build your financial future.

[00:52:31] So listen to that episode if you haven’t already. But I think the greatest takeaway that he gave was like, there is a balance that you can find, right? And maybe your career doesn’t light you on fire, but it’s stable and consistent. And all of the things you do outside of that career are the things that you love, your hobbies, your relationships, your, you know, the, the side hustle that you maybe, maybe makes you money, maybe doesn’t like, Your career doesn’t have to be the thing that lights you on fire.

[00:53:02] It can just be the thing

[00:53:03] that you get paid for. Because regardless, we, I, I, if, even if I love doing something,

[00:53:09] I think it would

[00:53:10] be hard to show up if I didn’t get paid, if that is my career

[00:53:13] versus

[00:53:14] the thing that I’m doing, regardless of if

[00:53:16] I get

[00:53:16] paid because it lights me on fire.

[00:53:20] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. and you know,

[00:53:21] I think there’s so much black and white thinking um, you know, like it’s either this or that. We either love it or hate it, but. I mean, there’s a fine line. I mean, even right now, millennials kind of started the poly work movement, meaning, you know, the recession happened and we needed to take five jobs on to take, keep our lights on and pay our bills.

[00:53:37] Now Gen Z is using poly work more as a tool to express themselves, which, which I think is really cool. So instead of them having one full-time job, they’re taking on three part-time jobs and maybe they wanna work in film and they’re taking three different jobs in the film arena that allow them to harness different skill sets and explore which path they wanna take.

[00:53:54] So the power of the part-time job cannot be underestimated when it comes to self-discovery. So if you’re in a place in your career where you are having these questions, there’s nothing wrong with having those conversations of where have you seen me at my best? Getting into your body with your intuition, doing some of the things we’ve talked about, getting on LinkedIn, doing those conversations, but then also, you know, this

[00:54:13] piece.

[00:54:14] Tori Dunlap: You talk about in the book, and you’ve mentioned this, of like 10 skill sets of the workforce you

[00:54:18] discovered. ,I want people to read your book. Can we talk like half of

[00:54:22] them? Let’s talk about like five of

[00:54:23] them. How, what

[00:54:25] are they, first of all? And then how do we use these to

[00:54:28] translate? Like how do we figure out

[00:54:31] what our

[00:54:31] dream career might be using these skill sets

[00:54:35] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, so we kind of started on those. So one is words, right? People who are good with words are communicators. And kind of going to that same concept of introvert versus extrovert is very important. The second skillset we’ve mentioned was service. So the service people are the helpers. And an important question for people who like to be of service whether it’s assistances or just even nur, you know, it could be nurses, it could not be, it depends on how you lead, right? Like a

[00:55:01] Tori Dunlap: Like I’m a

[00:55:02] Enneagram two and services like our big thing. And so it’s like for me, services take

[00:55:07] on a role of like, yeah, education

[00:55:09] and also service to my team, which I really try to do as.

[00:55:13] Ashley Stahl: Well, I think the thing that’s important to know, like you’re saying, is that the job doesn’t imply the skillset automatically.

[00:55:20] what’s important to say is, okay, so take a look at this. A psychologist. Some psychologists are gonna be amazing with their words. That’s

[00:55:27] why people come to them. It’s like they put words to things.

[00:55:31] Other psychologists are gonna be highly analytical and they’re gonna be able to find patterns in who you are. So two different core skill sets. Same career path, different impact, right? But both in the right career. So th
at’ll bring us to the analysis skillset. Before we get into that one, the service one, it’s important to ask yourself, am I a helper? Because that’s a coping mechanism I developed as a kid of being super helpful. Or is that who I am? I like to be of service because some people come from cultures especially. My best friend is Persian Jewish and. Her cultural dynamic is something that she’s had to really work with is this norm of kind of being collectivistic and forgetting yourself. And that has made her be such a helper. And God bless her, Nicole Naar, she’s a therapist and helping so many people with this, but it’s, it’s interesting to watch her have to undo that being So if she didn’t do self-discovery work

[00:56:27] Tori Dunlap: We talk about it in my book of like this default to altruism for women of like, we condition women to be altruistic and then

[00:56:35] Ashley Stahl: Exactly.

[00:56:36] Tori Dunlap: not, when, when, they’re quote unquote selfish when

[00:56:38] they choose

[00:56:39] Ashley Stahl: You have to come on the U-Turn podcast to talk about this. I want to talk here about your book. Please come. Yeah, e exactly. So I think self discovery is about undoing a lot and looking at, are you really a service or is this just trauma playing itself upbringing and who you had to be? have a dear friend who thought her core skillset was service she lost her parents at a young age. She took care of her brothers. turns out it’s not service at all. You know, it’s Coordination which is another core skillset. Coordination is the people who cross the t’s, dot, the i’s. It’s the event planners, it’s the project managers, operations analysts. These are the people that make things move forward and thank God for them. It’s my lowest core skillset. And then I’d also talk about, what did I say? Words service analysis. You know, the analysts, the academics, the researchers numbers is another skillset. the number crunchers, the bookkeepers, the accountants.

[00:57:28] So these are pretty

[00:57:29] Tori Dunlap: or even the digital marketers that are making strategic decisions based. algorithms and data and all of

[00:57:34] Ashley Stahl: Exactly. And so kind of going back to my point with the therapist, it’s not about saying, this job is this skillset. It’s about saying, this is my skillset and there’s many different options that I can harness it through. And so where do I wanna bring this?

[00:57:47] Where sounds like the best fit? So once you look at skillset, then you can go into your interests.

[00:57:52] Like, you know, I’m interested in writing and I also, that’s your your thing. You wanna sharpen throughout your life. That’s your tool that you wanna carry with you and make a contribution through. Um, but maybe you, you know, look inward and say to yourself, well, I, I love wellness or I love fashion, so I’m gonna write for a fashion brand. You pair these things together, but just realize that your interest is a backdrop. It’s not the foreground.

[00:58:19] Hopefully that answers your

[00:58:20] question. I could go

[00:58:21] on

[00:58:21] Tori Dunlap: so helpful.

[00:58:22] Oh man. I want

[00:58:23] everybody

[00:58:23] to read your book. I wanna read your book. One, I alluded to this earlier of like, yeah.

[00:58:28] I’ll, I’m gonna take one at a time. First, for the people out there who maybe already know what their gut is saying about their career, about their relationships, about whatever, their life path, but they’re, they’re scared. They’re scared of failure. They’re scared of what people will think, they’re scared of blowing up their

[00:58:45] entire lives. How do you cultivate

[00:58:49] that

[00:58:49] intuition and

[00:58:51] how, how, do you get

[00:58:53] comfortable

[00:58:54] being uncomfortable?

[00:58:56] Ashley Stahl: Mm. I think the first thing is to get

[00:58:59] leverage on your mindset. you know, a lot of the times we think

[00:59:01] we’re stuck, but the

[00:59:02] only thing that’s

[00:59:03] stuck is really just what we think our thinking is stuck. Um, there’s so many times where I feel like stuck in my career, but then I look and, you know, every single day we’ve got people watching things I’ve put out there are, it’s like the seeds that we plant keep moving and sometimes we just feel stuck and we get stuck in that story.

[00:59:20] So I would say take a look at what’s going on in your mind when you feel like your piece is disturbed. When you feel off or scared, check in with what, what thought is going through my mind about this that’s causing me to be scared. A lot of the times I’ll feel uncomfortable and I’ll do this, I’ll, I’ll set, you know, an inner alarm off when I feel that discomfort and say, what am I thinking right now that’s making me feel uncomfortable?

[00:59:42] And I’ll think, oh wow, I’m just thinking that, you know, it’s. I haven’t seen that person in five years, and I wonder what they think of me. Okay. That doesn’t deserve me being stressed out, moving on. It allows you to get leverage on your thoughts and actually choose them. Um, we can’t choose necessarily our, what we think, but we can’t choose what we believe.

[01:00:00] And sometimes when our mind isn’t right, we kind of have to say to ourselves like, mm, I’m not gonna trust my mind today, which is kind of counterintuitive. People always say, you know, on Instagram graphics like, trust yourself. Well, it’s like, mm. Some days I look in the mirror and I’m like, whoa, I am not myself today, so I’m not gonna trust what this mind is

[01:00:17] Tori Dunlap: Yeah, it was so, it was so impactful. About a year ago,

[01:00:24] somebody told

[01:00:24] me like, you don’t have control over your thoughts. Like you don’t truly, you don’t. And that was such a permission slip because my mind thinks some really mean or awful things sometimes, and I’m like, am I a mean and awful person? And it’s like, no, there’s sometimes where I’m driving down the road, I have no interest in dying whatsoever.

[01:00:42] Especially right now. I am trying to live as long as I can, but my brain just goes, what if you just turn the wheel a little bit and just like hit that next car? Like what if you just

[01:00:49] do

[01:00:49] it right? And we call

[01:00:50] ’em intr
usive thoughts, of course, but like, of course, I’m not that thought

[01:00:54] like,

[01:00:55] and it was

[01:00:55] so

[01:00:56] freeing

[01:00:56] to realize.

[01:00:58] Yeah. And I want you to repeat that. What, you’re not your thoughts, you’re your

[01:01:00] Ashley Stahl: Oh, you don’t, you can’t

[01:01:01] choose your thoughts, but you can choose what you, which ones you believe. Mm-hmm. for

[01:01:05] sure. I kind of th see our mind like the NASDAQ ticker. I don’t know. I’ve just been in New York for too long at this point

[01:01:11] where it’s just,

[01:01:12] Tori Dunlap: I mean, you’re on the right podcast to bring that up. Oh, it’s constant and terrifying and goes up and down all

[01:01:18] of the

[01:01:18] time and,

[01:01:19] Ashley Stahl: And you just can become a witness. There’s something so much bigger watching you and, um, I think there’s a wisdom to watching the thoughts go by and deciding if you’re gonna let them, cause the

[01:01:30] feeling you’re feeling.

[01:01:32] Tori Dunlap: Yeah.

[01:01:33] All right. My last question for you. What’s something that someone who is thinking about a transition or a career change, what can they start doing right now to move towards that or feel out if it is the

[01:01:44] right thing for them?

[01:01:45] Ashley Stahl: I think the networking conversations are huge, like really talking to real people. And not only that, but LinkedIn is a place where people describe their jobs in a way that you might not see on job postings. So

[01:01:56] I guess I’m just obsessed with LinkedIn at this point because I think it’s so useful for people to get new information on what people are doing. Um, but don’t underestimate the power of conversations. Don’t underestimate, you know, I had a mentor who once said, if you want better relationships, ask better questions. So really thinking about what questions can you ask someone that is really gonna help you understand if this is the right place for you.

[01:02:16] Tori Dunlap: Ashley, so impactful. One of my favorite

[01:02:19] episodes

[01:02:19] I think we’ve ever done. We launched right into it. That was so good. Where can people

[01:02:23] find

[01:02:24] you? Plug away.

[01:02:25] Ashley Stahl: you so much for having me. You’re so fun. I really hope I catch you when you’re in Miami. In a couple of

[01:02:29] Tori Dunlap: I, I wanna get drinks or

[01:02:31] Ashley Stahl: Let’s, let’s freaking rage. Um, as far as where you can find me, ,I, my book is everywhere. Books are sold. You-turn. Y o u turn. It’s two words. Get on stock, discover your direction, design your dream career. my podcast is the same. Name You-turn podcast. Tori, you’re gonna come on. We’re gonna get so weird on there and talk about your book and, um, I absolutely love the podcast. It’s my passion project. So if you want any more content from me, that’s where you can go.

[01:02:57] Tori Dunlap: Thank you for being here.

Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

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