Clarity on your vision and your big “why”. As an entrepreneur, if you aren’t super clear on your big vision and purpose, it can get really hard to stay inspired during the emotional lows. Your “why” should be so deep that going back to it will pull you out of the lowest lows. There have been a few times in my career where I felt burnt out, uninspired, and defeated, but the one thing keeping me going was reconnecting with my purpose and my vision for my life and the life of those I serve.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How to Successfully Ride the Emotional Highs & Lows of Being an Entrepreneur,” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Shay Haddow, an expert coach and speaker on confidence and mindset for female athletes. After overcoming her own struggles with confidence throughout her youth and collegiate soccer career, Shay knew that it was her life’s purpose to provide female athletes with the mentorship that she wished she had when she was younger.
She has worked with hundreds of youth female athletes and college teams from across the country; supporting them in building unshakable confidence so they can live and play to their fullest potential — in and out of sports.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Although I always thought it would be appealing to start my own business, I never in a million years would have thought that I’d be in the position that I am now as a business owner, doing what I love.
Growing up, I was obsessed with sports and was the epitome of a tom-boy. I started playing soccer from the very moment that I was allowed. I was an incredibly talented and confident athlete- it came easy to me. But when I was 12, I had a devastating injury- I tore my ACL and meniscus and had surgery at the age of 13.
That’s when it all started. After nine months of sitting on the sidelines, the self-doubt started to creep in and consume me when I played. I lost the majority of my speed and started to question every decision I made. I no longer played free and played for fun- instead, I played afraid.
These confidence issues didn’t stop during my college career either. So even though I was playing at a high level, I still didn’t know how to really believe in myself.
When I finished my Master’s degree I moved from Utah to Sacramento, CA where I began my soccer training business called Alpha Girl Soccer Academy. I quit all of my other jobs and went full-time into running my own business.
Well after a few years of doing this, I realized a few things:
- The girls I was working with were struggling with their confidence just as I had, and they weren’t getting any help.
- Being a soccer trainer wasn’t my passion and it also wasn’t a scalable business
- I need to be that person to fill the gap, be their mentor, and build a sustainable, scalable business
So in 2020, I quit training and went all in to online confidence coaching (COVID gave me the extra push I needed to pivot), and now I’m living in my purpose while building a 6-figure, impact-driven business.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
As I was coaching girls soccer players, I noticed that so many of them were lacking confidence- even the super talented ones. I started noticing that they were struggling with the same thing that I was when I was their age (10–17 years old), but as a coach to 18 girls, there was no way that I could give them mental coaching, let alone help them on an individual level. After seeing these common trends among female athletes and noticing that nothing was being done about it, I knew that there was an amazing opportunity for me to make a difference in these girls’ lives. It started off with 1on1 confidence coaching via Zoom and now it’s transformed into an amazing group coaching program, a book, a podcast, and an online course!
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I was not a natural-born entrepreneur. I wasn’t the kid selling lemonade on the sidewalk because I was too shy, and I hated asking people to buy something from me. I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur, and it wasn’t until college that I realized I never want to work for someone else. I always felt so trapped and out of alignment in my jobs so I would find myself sneaking away on lunch breaks to do research on how I could start my own business. And even when I started my own business, I knew nothing about entrepreneurship- I was just really good at taking fast action. The more I got into it the more I fell in love with learning about personal development and how to be a successful entrepreneur. Now I can’t imagine living my life any other way.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
I’m particularly grateful for my very first business coach, Ben Nabers.
Although I initially hired him to help me grow my soccer coaching business, he’s been there through it all with me and is still my coach to this day.
I remember getting emails from him back in 2017 when I was just starting to think about starting my business. Before I became aware of him I really had no idea what was possible. After soaking up and implementing all of his free content, I finally got on a call with him- and said no. I had no money and didn’t yet believe in the value of a coach.
After months of trying to do it alone (and having some success). I reached out and told him that I was ready for his help. On that call he challenged me to quit my other jobs and go full-time into building my business. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would have had the courage or belief to take the leap and then later write my book.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from him is that “done is better than perfect.” It doesn’t have to be perfect for you to put it out into the world.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There are a lot of coaches who help athletes with their mindset and overall performance, but my mission and purpose is to help my athletes transform their overall self-worth, self-belief, and leadership skills so that not only can they become confident, but so they can help others around them to become confident. My community is all about creating a ripple effect where confidence and positivity is being radiated from them to the people they come in contact with on a daily basis. Sports is just the vehicle that will help them to build confidence, discipline, and leadership skills, which will allow them to be successful in their lives as future leaders, founders, and changemakers.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The first key to my success is my willingness to learn and always have a student mentality. I know that my business will only grow to the extent that I do as a person. If I stop learning, then so will my company. You could even go as far as to say that I’m obsessed with learning: how to get better at business, how to improve my mindset, how to be a better leader, how to optimize my energy, and the list goes on.
The second character trait which has contributed to my success is my consistency. I may not be the smartest or most talented person in the room, but I will always be the most consistent. From the moment I started my podcast back in 2018, I made a commitment that I was going to post a podcast every week- and I’m proud to say that I haven’t missed a single week since the day I started. The consistency of my podcast alone has been a huge part of my success.
Lastly, one of the most important character traits that any entrepreneur can have is their ability to take action despite their fear and self-doubt. This is something that I pride myself on and is one of my best strengths. As soon as I have an idea, I take steps to put that idea into action- even if it’s not the best idea. But there’s really only one way to tell whether an idea will work or not, and that is to take action on it as fast as possible.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
I can’t say that there was any advice that I wished I never followed, because had I not followed the advice, I wouldn’t be able to learn anything from that experience.
Looking back there were times when I would follow advice from my mentors about how to run my program or market myself and that didn’t always work for me. It’s something that took me awhile to learn but this experience taught me that just because something worked for them, doesn’t mean that it’s going to work the same way for me. Now when receiving advice, I am always appreciative of it, but I’ll only take action on it if I feel like it’s in alignment with my brand and energy.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
I love this question as burnout is something that I just personally worked through. When I first started feeling the signs of burnout: uninspired, unmotivated, tired, comparing myself- I didn’t know that it was burnout. I just thought that something was wrong with me. So, the first step in preventing burnout is being aware of the signs of burnout- and that may look different for everyone.
Once I realized that I was dealing with burnout, I started journaling and reflecting on why I was feeling this way, and what was causing the burnout. Just putting my thoughts and feelings onto paper was extremely helpful and gave me a lot of clarity that I didn’t have previously.
From there, I realized that I needed to give myself some space and time away from work, so I took half the day off and spent time in nature doing something I loved. After being aware of the triggers, reflecting on them, and then giving myself space to just “be” I felt re-inspired, I had more energy, and I started feeling in flow again.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Before anyone can build trust, credibility, and Authority, you first need to provide massive value to your audience. I think a common misconception is that successful business leaders became an authority overnight- and that’s hardly ever the case.
Provide consistent value and serve your audience without expecting anything in return- and do it from a place of love and service. That’s how trust is built- it doesn’t happen overnight.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
We live in an age where we are always being “sold to”, and no one likes to be sold to. Whether you’re walking down the street and see a billboard, scrolling through social media and see an ad, or even just checking out your friend’s profile who’s marketing something- it’s always there.
So, by providing value first and foremost, you are helping people. When people see that you can help them and that you’re actually making a change in their lives, that’s when they’ll trust you and therefore buy from you.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The most common mistake I see with CEOs and founders when they first start a business is that they’re full of amazing ideas, but they don’t take action on them. They just sit on this idea for months and months and then it never goes anywhere. It’s easy to think of ideas but it’s not as easy to actually execute on them. Success comes from execution and action.
One way around this is to obviously force yourself to take action, but another approach is to hire out for your weaknesses. We all have different strengths, so if a founder is more of a visionary and less of an action taker, then hire someone who can carry out your ideas. For me, I’m really good at taking action, but not as good at coming up with new innovative ideas- so I turn to my mentors when I need help with new ideas.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about entrepreneurship is that it’s like riding an emotional roller coaster- not just day to day but hour to hour and minute to minute. One minute you could get an awesome text message from a client talking about how much you’re helping them, and the next you could get a message from a client who wants a refund.
There can be so many highs and so many lows in one day- and to be honest, it happens to entrepreneurs of all levels and experiences. Just because an entrepreneur is successful doesn’t mean that they don’t experience highs and lows- they’re just perhaps better at managing their emotions around it.
The difference between managing the emotional highs and lows at a “regular job” versus being an entrepreneur is that you can’t just clock out and leave your emotions at the door. The livelihood of you, your business, and your family rely on the success of the business, so the emotions that go along with it are even more heightened.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Last year, during the start of the pandemic, I got a phone call on my way to the office from my former college soccer coach. She was reaching out because she wanted me to serve as the team’s mental performance coach while they were off-campus and couldn’t train together. It was the first time I had been asked to work with a college team and to hear my coaches believe in me to coach their players were so amazing. After that call, I remember blasting my favorite song in the car and dancing with so much excitement and joy due to this new opportunity.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
One of the lowest moments as a result of my business is when I lost the opportunity to work with a really awesome family that I thought was going to join my program. I’ve been told “no” plenty of times before, but this one stung even more for a few reasons:
- I had an amazing connection with them over our zoom call and I was sure they were going to enroll in my program- so the expectation was high.
- I was having a dry spell with enrollments into my program during that time
When I received the message from them, I broke down and started crying (and I’m not a crier). The self-doubt started to make its way in and I couldn’t help but think if I was good enough.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
The first thing I did after that low moment was talk about it. I talked with my fiance about what had happened and then I immediately booked a call with one of my mentors. The biggest lesson I learned was that it’s okay to be bummed when I’m said “no” but that in order to not get so low, I have to remain unattached from the outcome and not take it personally. Whenever this happens, I just have to remind myself that “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be”.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Having a support system or mentor(s) is a must for entrepreneurs in navigating the emotional highs and lows. Being an entrepreneur is one of the toughest things that anyone can do, and without having a support system, it’s even tougher. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t turn to or seek advice from my support system- whether that’s my family who supports me, the members in my mastermind group, or my mentors. As an entrepreneur, it’s really easy to get stuck in your own head with all of these different emotions, so I’ve found that just being able to talk to someone about the good and the bad is extremely powerful.
- Clarity on your vision and your big “why”. As an entrepreneur, if you aren’t super clear on your big vision and purpose, it can get really hard to stay inspired during the emotional lows. Your “why” should be so deep that going back to it will pull you out of the lowest lows. There have been a few times in my career where I felt burnt out, uninspired, and defeated, but the one thing keeping me going was reconnecting with my purpose and my vision for my life and the life of those I serve.
- Detaching your self-worth from your business success. If your self-worth is tied into your net-worth or your business success, then your self-worth is going to be all over the place as you’re experiencing the highs and lows that come with entrepreneurship. When I first started (and it’s something I’m still working on), the number of clients I had and the results they were getting were directly tied to my self-worth- and that brought on a lot of self-doubt and self-pity which ended up affecting my energy with my clients. It was a vicious cycle until I learned how to detach my self-worth from the success of my business and my clients.
- Having a journaling practice or a way to step back and reflect has gotten me out of a lot of emotional lows on my journey. As I mentioned earlier, it’s far too easy to get stuck in your own head as an entrepreneur. In addition to using your support system, having a journaling practice or other reflection strategy is one of the simplest and most effective ways to get out of your head and back into reality. Just recently, I was dealing with burnout and the first thing I did was write in my journal about exactly how I was feeling. So not only does journaling help you to organize and make sense of your thoughts, but it also is a fantastic way to release negative energy that otherwise is hard to let go of. I would highly recommend also having a daily journaling practice for acknowledging your highs and the things that are going great in your life and business.
- Belief that you already have everything it takes to be successful. With so many highs and lows from day to day and hour to hour, having belief in yourself and your abilities to bounce back is vital. When you truly believe in yourself, you trust in your ability to bounce back and come back stronger from this experience. The more often you bounce back from the lows, the more belief you’ll have that you’ll always come out of it and be better because of it.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
For me, resilience is the ability to get up and keep going after getting knocked down- and the last year has been a huge test of our resiliency. If I had to narrow down a few of the most important traits of resilient people it would be: self-awareness, trust in themselves, discipline in taking action, and the ability to stay calm in tough situations.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Looking back at my story, it was a series of ups and downs that I’m so grateful for because of the resiliency it’s instilled in me- but there’s one part of my experience in particular that stands out. Before the age of 5, I suffered from seizures and the doctors never could figure out what was causing them. After the age of 5, it appeared that they went away on their own, but the experiences of those seizures really took a toll on me mentally and manifested itself as anxiety and panic attacks. All through grade school, middle school, and high school, it was a constant battle- mainly because I was fighting it alone and didn’t know how to talk about it or label it. My experience with anxiety has helped me to build resilience because I know that if I can overcome that, I can overcome anything.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I would like to believe that most of the time, I tend to keep positive during difficult situations. I’ve learned that rarely can you control a situation, but you always have control over your attitude and response to those situations.
The longer I’ve been practicing meditation the better I get at practicing equanimity, which is essentially a state of mind in which you remain calm and composed in difficult situations.
It’s not always easy so it’s something that needs to be practiced, just like any other skill. A great way to practice this is to not get upset or frustrated next time you’re sitting in a traffic jam. Instead, realize that there’s nothing you can do to make traffic go faster, so just enjoy your music, podcast, or time to yourself in order to make the best of an undesirable situation.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
All energy is contagious, whether it’s positive or negative- and this is especially true as a leader. One of my mentors once told me that your client’s, prospect’s, or team’s heart rate will match your heart rate, so bring the energy! I know for me; the quality of my coaching calls depends on the quality of my energy. If I show up to the call with low energy, or I’m in a bad mood, or even if I’m faking positive energy, the person I’m talking to is going to match that energy. I recently had a call with a group of college students, and it was one of my best calls ever because I just showed up with so much passion and energy. I didn’t have any slides; I just spoke purely out of passion and it showed in the way the participants engaged and changed their body language to match mine.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
The quote that I always try to live by and have hanging up in my office is “Real change, enduring chance, happens one step at a time.” — RBG
I think most entrepreneurs (myself included), get caught up in wanting to make a change, more money, and more impact NOW. There have been plenty of times when I feel so overwhelmed about the change I want to make, and then I don’t take any action at all. But the reality is that the biggest changemakers are the ones that take consistent action every single day- and it doesn’t have to be life-altering to make a change, you just have to take that one step.
So this quote reminds me that if I want to ignite real change, it starts with just one step. Helping one person. And if I can do that every day, I know that I will inspire enduring change in this world.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Follow me on Instagram @shayhaddow
Of course, they can visit my website at www.alphagirlconfidence.com
And they can check out the Alpha Girl Confidence Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!