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Jessie Shedden: “Listen to your gut”

Listen to your gut — it’s seldom wrong and comes from a completely different angle than either your head or your heart. It knows things you don’t and can save you a lot of time and heartache. Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he […]

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Listen to your gut — it’s seldom wrong and comes from a completely different angle than either your head or your heart. It knows things you don’t and can save you a lot of time and heartache.


Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessie Shedden.

Jessie Shedden is a British-Australian chicken-loving, cult-escaping badass woman, who has been featured in the BBC, and The Sun Newspaper, is a sought-after speaker and inspirational author of Tomorrow’s Not Promised.

Jessie is a Girl Legend Revealer — helping women own their worth so they can discover their inner talent and create a life on their own terms. With bucketloads of first-hand real-life experience and a down to earth genuine approach, she shortcuts the route to confidence and success for ambitious women who seek freedom and independence and are ready to seize the moment.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was the youngest of 8 siblings, an afterthought, entering the world six years after my brother. I was taken out of school at the age of 7 and homeschooled until I started work at the age of sixteen. I lived a very insular life, and my days were filled with schoolwork and attending church meetings with time for little else. Because I grew up in a strict religious cult, where TV, Radio, makeup, jewellery, pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels, sporting activities and much more were strictly forbidden — where any fun in life was strategically stripped away. We were also not permitted to socialize or eat and drink with anyone who did not belong to the cult. As none of my family was into physical exercise in any way and sporting activities were out of the question, my one outlet was being able to keep a little clutch of five chickens, who meant everything to me. When I’d finished my home education for the day I’d go sit on the back step and they’d come running. Unlike the influences around me, my chicken’s love didn’t depend on me doing anything or being anything other than myself.

Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Tomorrow’s not promised, so make today count. Not only did the cult that I was in spend every waking hour certain that the ‘Rapture’ was due to arrive imminently and we were short on time to prepare for it, but when my mother was suddenly diagnosed with cancer at the age of 66, it brought home to me that I had no idea how long I had left in life and the life I was living was not one I was happy with. I realized that if I was lying on my death bed right now, there would be a lot of things I’d liked to have accomplished in life that I couldn’t do in my current circumstances, so something had to change and fast. By the end of that year, I’d invested everything I had to make way for a better life. This required me to plan a secret escape to a totally new life and to say goodbye to my family, my social circle, my home and my employment. In the void created by finishing one life and seeking to establish another, I was provided with a blank canvas on which to create whatever kind of life I wanted.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

My voice — I have never been a person that can keep quiet when they see something happening that’s not right. I will speak my mind and inadvertently find myself becoming an inspiration and advocate. In speaking up for others I speak up for myself and vice versus. When you care about others genuinely and from the heart, doors open for you in ways you could never imagine. My voice is the reason I’ve become a popular podcast and radio guest, where I am known for my straight-talking approach.

My gut — listening to your gut, is key because it can tell you the difference between a fabulous opportunity and an opportunity that is not right for you. Only last year I was offered an expense-paid 20-day holiday around the world visiting countries high on my hit list, but thanks to my gut I aborted after day 5, for reasons I could not put my finger on. But later realized that had I have not done, I would not have been able to move to a new house earlier than expected and would have been caught out by COVID19, which would have had massive implications on my mental and financial health.

My mind — the mind is a massively underutilized muscle, who’s capacity to learn and adapt is incredible, it has been my constant goal to continue to develop my mind and abilities for my higher good. However, when I look around me at others who have escaped from the same cult I grew up in, I see them stuck thirty/forty years on, unwilling to learn and heal. Had I not thrown myself into learning what I didn’t know especially when it came to relationships, I would still be stuck in a cycle of really detrimental relationships instead of enjoying the connection I now have with my soul mate and fiancé.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

My career in the past was very much a suited and booted, monochrome drab uniformed office existence. Whilst I had a diploma in business administration and frequently worked in managerial roles it lacked soul and frankly was boring and restrictive. A rat race of hardnosed competition and board meetings with blue-chip companies. I had an exciting spell working as a therapist and seeing firsthand how many lives changed as a result of us working together which was positively thrilling!

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

Finally, you have to listen to the siren call of your heart which you can no longer ignore, and in my case that involved planning to escape from the family home in which I was forced to live, deciding on my morals and boundaries after leaving behind those enforced by the cult in which I was residing, establishing new social circles, becoming exceptionally good at stepping out of my comfort zone over and over again. It involved starting from scratch and choosing to work on myself, and to choose myself. From here on out I was going to concentrate on all that was open to me and grab every opportunity that presented itself in my brand-new freedom filled world and being prepared to take risks and go all in without knowing every single last detail. With much brainwashing to unlearn and self-esteem to build, it was healing I was committed to. I’d made a pact with myself before leaving, that I’d frankly had quite enough sadness and pain in my life and that was something I wanted to leave behind.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

There was a number, and I described my mother’s sudden cancer diagnosis as one of them, another was being in a pretty much music-less environment, as we weren’t allowed any pre-recorded music and didn’t have TV’s and Radio’s — and hearing Idina Menzel’s rendition of Let It Go. I realized it was never going to be who I was expected to be, and I couldn’t pretend any more, I also heard her Defying Gravity and together they became my war cry as I chose to burst forth out of the restrictive bubble, I was being kept in ready to unleash my creativity and skills and talents into an unknown world.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

My year of saying yes to everything helped me to experiment and see what I enjoyed, what lit me up and kept me awake at night pumping with ideas and what was interesting but didn’t fill up my soul. It took a lot of listening to my gut, and at times I got lost along the way. I spent a year in modelling and realistically it wasn’t for me, holding poses and going long periods without food or drink were at odds with my medical conditions, plus the emotional stamina required to work in what can be a degrading environment was not appropriate for me either. But it allowed me to see that what I’d been told all of the previous 30 years about being ugly wasn’t true and allowed me to heal that piece in myself. It took me time to realize that it was not only safe but important for me to be entirely myself and claiming my love for country and western attire, my chickens and my writing were a unique blend that made up who I was and who people loved best.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

I didn’t tell anyone anything about my past, (until 2020) spent a year saying yes and took risks I look back on with astonishment! There were highs of receiving a years’ worth of compliments through modelling and purchasing my dream car of a GT V8 Mustang Convertible, and there were lows of loneliness at Christmas. When fear showed its ugly head, I reminded myself of how almost nothing could compare to what I’d already done in my escape.

Last year I released my memoir Tomorrow’s Not Promised, right now I’m working on the sequel Make Today Count and also on a new book series Fluffybutt Love which is the Jack Canfield equivalent in the chicken world, only a lot less soup and a lot more chickens! The response to all of my writing has been fascinating and fantastically received, in the same way as my modelling was. More than anything it’s been inspiring other women to step into their power and believe that they are capable of achieving absolutely anything they put their mind to and to do so in a way that is authentic for them.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes, my fiancé, Dai has been the biggest catalyst to change and healing for me through his unconditional love and constant support and belief in me. For the first two years after embarking on my new direction I, on reflection, simply survived. It wasn’t till my third year when I met Dai that I was able to finally stop having to prove my worth and found safety and security in which I could open the box containing my past and work on healing from it. Which has allowed me to fully claim all that I was and am and create my authentic identity and continue to show up and speak out and be an inspiration for empowerment in the female world.

Dai and his family have taught me that love doesn’t depend on what I do, or who I am. I am loved just exactly as I am right now and out of that place, I can become a better person. Because no one runs into the arms of a prison warder.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

The most interesting thing for me is that I never for a moment expected that women who’d escaped the same cult as me many years before, would take inspiration from someone so who came so many years after them. Seeing them find their voices and be inspired to stand up for themselves is not something I ever expected. Additionally, neither did I expect that current cult members would read my memoir and seek to make the transition that I did, yet that has also been happening. I didn’t want any current cult members to get their hands on my memoir, fearing that it would bring repercussions on me. Never for a moment did I think that through it they would feel seen, heard and understood and as a result take bold brave action.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Often, and to some degree, I still do in certain areas. I seek out mentors in many area’s and tap into their teachings, I reach out and ask for help, I remember that many have been through worse and lived and I remind myself of all that I have achieved. I also now know that there is no such thing as failure and instead choose to see things as lessons, not mistakes.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

This was almost impossible to do, however, I did reach out to a counselor and despite every moment of my time being accounted for I came up with excuses that allowed me to attend appointments with him. I also confided in my osteopath and a couple who were on the local council that I’d had a few dealings with previously and together they did what they could to support me when I fled.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

Practically everything I did was way outside my comfort zone, living on my own for the first time, applying for employment outside the social circle I knew, meeting new people and attempting to develop new social circles, looking at new hobbies to fill my time, figuring out how to take care of my utilities, establish new boundaries and principles, visit new places. I remember entering a pub/bar for the first time. This quite honestly was petrifying. I had always been told how bad these places were and that they would be filled with intoxicated smokers, so being able to sit down and enjoy a lovely meal was a new experience, and the same was true for the first time I went to the cinema — I ended up in floods of tears as the film felt so real.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Listen to your gut — it’s seldom wrong and comes from a completely different angle than either your head or your heart. It knows things you don’t and can save you a lot of time and heartache.

There is no such thing as failure — everything can be learned from, sometimes we need to take the lesson more than once and that’s fine.

Don’t wait, take imperfect action — perfection is overrated, life is constantly a work in progress, you have never arrived.

The moment you feel like you deserve better, you do, so be the one that makes sure that happens, don’t wait for others to do it for you.

Stop waiting, start doing. There will never be a perfect time so just get started, once you get momentum going everything starts coming together.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Empowering the women born into cults to escape, heal and discover their true identities.

Right now, I use my story to empower women to step into their power and create a life on their terms, usually while having a chicken on my shoulder (as I do currently!).

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Ben Carson, I have loved reading his books Gifted Hands, Think Big and finally Take the Risk — I was reading the latter as I escaped and have never finished it, instead, I left the bookmark exactly where it was at the time.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessiejshedden

Website: https://www.jessieshedden.com/book

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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