Turning Your Life Around After Experiencing Trauma with Ellie Shefi

cancer coach coaching motivation resilience resilient trauma Jun 16, 2022

If you’ve experienced trauma in your life, it can feel like there’s no way to turn things around. But Ellie Shefi is living proof that it is possible to not only survive, but thrive after experiencing traumatic events.

Ellie is the very definition of tenacious. Having overcome a lifetime of adversity, including abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, cancer, and a myriad of other health issues that have seen her defy the doctors’ death deadlines for over two decades, Ellie has mastered mindset, resiliency, and resourcefulness. And she has dedicated her life to empowering others to do the same.

As an attorney, entrepreneur, best-selling author, award-winning speaker, strategist, media host, consultant, coach, philanthropist, and publisher, Ellie provides her clients with practical, actionable tools they can use to transform their lives.

If you’re looking for inspiration and hope after experiencing trauma, tune in to this episode of The Mel Robbins Show. You’ll learn how Ellie turned her life around, and you’ll come away with actionable steps you can take to do the same.



(The following text has been transcribed)

All right. Welcome back. Welcome to Kim Talks. I am your host, Kim Hayden, and I'm super thrilled to be here again today. What a blessing. Everyday we get a chance to do what we have a passion for. And my passion is finding women who are making changes in this world. Be entrepreneurs, coaches, practitioners, or just, you know, those every day leaders within the community. Well, today we have a leader. We definitely have somebody who is out there hustling at work in it and finding amazing stories herself. Shefi is the definite winner of Tenacious, having overcome a lifetime of adversity, including abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, cancer, and a myriad other health issues that have seen her defy the doctor's death deadlines for over two decades. Ellie has mastered mindset, resiliency, and resourcefulness. She has dedicated her life to the empowerment of others. Ellie is an attorney, entrepreneur, and a No. One international bestselling, award winning author, speaker, strategist, media, House consultant, coach, flair entrepreneurs and publisher who provides her clients with practical, easy to implement tools and strategies that generate results. Host of the Free by Design Television Show and your Not Your Star's Podcast. She is regularly interviewed in publications and other podcast and television channels, including NBC ABC, CBS, New York Times, Forbes entrepreneur Yahoo! News and L.A. Tribune. And Ted aired just a few. Just a few. Oh, my gosh. You know, Ellie, I am telling you, I am. I'm out of breath. Like, this is incredible. Everything that you do is mind blowing for me. Welcome. Welcome. How are you today?


I am outstanding. Thank you so much for having me. It is a pleasure to be here.


Awesome. So I didn't even get into the depth. We just did that. The hype of you like that scam like the brief. But can you share with us first of all, where are you? Because we're always curious. These are everybody's around the world and always curious where everybody's at. And share with us what you do.


So I'm currently in Southern California, sunny, southern California. And I help people to use their voice and stand in their power and live a life that they love. And I do that whether I'm helping entrepreneurs to launch pivot, diversify and scale their companies, or whether I'm helping women to find their voice and use it to stand in their power and really become the architect of a life they love, or whether I'm working with with speakers or in my nonprofit or all of the things, any of the verticals of my companies. It really is about showing yourself as you are amazing in the world.


Amazing. So how long have you been doing this?


So I have 35 years in education, 30 years in entrepreneurship, and 20 years in LA. And as you referenced, a lifetime of the real world in the trenches, experiences and so I love to just bring that all together when I am inspiring people or empowering people.


So okay, so you're in the coaching world and we know that over the pivot. So this pandemic pivot that we've all experienced, that they're anticipating upwards of 30% of women over the age of 40 will not go back to their corporate job. And they're all looking at you, Ellie. They're all looking at you. How do you do this? How do you navigate online? How do you make money? We know that statistically the average coach only makes 46,000 a year. So we know what the stats are out there. And I'd love to dive into this a bit more with you if you're good with that, because these are some of the people that you're talking to, speakers and entrepreneurs and such. So I'd love to leave them if you're open to this. Some tangible tips if they're year one or year or two or literally just starting tomorrow. You know let's let's Prater Avatar she is 46 years of age she has worked for the last 20 years within a job so she and now she's into entering into the terrifying world of no actual paycheck and entrepreneurship and we're not even going into the finances of how do you juggle paying bills when you don't have a reliable paycheck but where does she start. She has an incredible story, she has good work ethics but she's not in a world where she's heard of Clickfunnels and Russell Brunson and, and Greg Kirton and she's not been in this space. Where does she start?


So I think there's a few really foundational things. First of all, most of us that you are describing have lived our lives either on autopilot or we have lived their lives so far based on the expectations of others. So we've done the things that they've told us to do, right? If you go to high school and you go to college and get a job and you build your career, then you're going to arrive at this magical Shangri-La and there's going to be unicorns and rainbows, then your life is going to be perfect. Right. This is the story of how we're conditioned. And so we've gone along our life doing all the things they told us that we needed to do to reach this place of happiness. And what many of us haven't done until this great reset is what do we want? What do I want? What are my values and what are my priorities? What does success look like to me? Because my definition of success may not be your definition or their definition. So if you are in that situation, ladies, where you're like, I'm not going back to how it was, but I don't know where to go from here. The first thing I would invite you to do is to come home to yourself. And so that's where you are in your life right now. What do you value? What does success look like to you? What does joy and happiness look like to you? What does the purpose look like to you? If you were on your deathbed and you had minutes left to live, what's that message that thing that's inside you that you must share with the world that you could not die without expressing? How does that fit in with your definition of success? With your values, with the life that you desire for yourself, with what happiness and joy is within you, where you are right now. That's your first starting point, because without that clarity, you don't have a destination in your life. So once you're clear on that, then you can say, Okay, well, what do I know? What do I love? What am I really good at? And then look for just make lists without the sticky notes or start making lists and look for the intersection of what do you know? What do you love? What are you good at? So you find the intersection of that and then pull up the values. This is your definition of success. That initial part that we just talked about, where's the overlap? Where's the alignment? That's your starting point from there. If you want to build a business where you want to enter a coaching space or anything like that, now you know kind of what your superpower is, your aligned super power. And then it's, Well, how can I use that to meet a need in the marketplace? What is a problem that I can solve using that super power that then gives you the direction of, Oh, okay, now I know the thing that I can build, the way that I can serve, that is in alignment with who I am and my values and my definition of success and the life that I want. Harnessing my own superpower, my strengths, my skills, my knowledge, my experience. Your next step then is who needs the solution that you're offering? Who has the problem that you want to solve? Those are going to be and then you can dove into your ideal client avatar. So I think that is a really good trifecta of where to start, how to figure out what you want to do and who you want to serve.

You know, we hear a lot about imposter syndrome and a lot of women, they get excited about this and then they go and then once they start investigating, which smart women do, we start looking at where we're going. It's why we crush the coupon craze like this. Like we look when we figure out we go deep and then they go, but everybody else is doing it. So what do you say to that? Because I hear that a lot. Everybody else is doing it, so maybe I shouldn't do it.


Here's the thing. I would love to say that we all are this incredible genius that's a total innovator that's going to come up with some Life-Changing thing that's never been done or said before. But the reality is, most of us are going to enter a space where there's someone else. And here's the thing. If nobody else is doing the thing you want to do, there's probably a reason for it. They probably tried, and it didn't work. So you actually should get excited when you want to do the thing that lots of other people are doing because you're like Yahtzee. There's money in that. There's a need for that. There are people who are serving that need. Amazing. So then what you do ends up you're celebrating. The fact that you're onto something is how can you show up differently? So I'm a firm believer in vibration and frequency and attracting your ideal, your ideal client. And that's why I start everything from that place of value, your values and your definition, and then going through your own experiences. What are you good at? What's your knowledge, your skills, your passion? Because guess what? There's only one you. Yeah. And we may have similar stories. You and I have some similarities.


You and I are very similar. And yet we approach things through. You've come through, you have formal education, you have that attorney background, you have you have more of the systems and stuff, whereas I'm more of the, the sell side, the entrepreneur side. I've never had a paid job. And the reality is, I am the type of person that would break apart the toaster to try and re-engineer it. So we say message. I always tell people there's two things. I'm definitely absolutely sure you're not that special and yet you are that special. You're not so special that you're the only person thinking that there's a need there and you are special enough that you're the only person that speaks in your voice.


Yeah, you are the only you. So it's so important when you show up in the world as.


You are.


Not doing the things they told us to do, not doing the things, not showing up as as the persona that you think your client would want. But when you just are aligned and you show up authentically in your voice and your power through your values and your experience will end when you show up in the world as you. The people that should be working with you or buying your product or engaging your services, their little honing beacons go up and they're entertained adding, That's my person, that's my person, that's my person. And we've all seen it. There's a million shoe designers out there, but yet you gravitate towards certain ones there's a million clothing designers out there, but yet you gravitate towards certain one. How many kinds of potato chips are there? It's that potato it's some, it's some. So whatever. There's a million brands, but either you're a Ruffles girl or a Doritos girl or a ladies girl or whatever the case may be. So as long as you are showing up authentically as you are, your ideal clients are going to resonate with you and they're going to flock to you, they're going to want to work with you. So just be you. Everyone else is already taken.

Absolutely. I think Shakespeare said at best that there's only seven original storylines. Yep. And yet look how many books and movies and they are all the seven standard storylines, right? The villain, the hero, the damsel, the rags to riches. Like there's seven. And so you and the reality is, if Shakespeare was to take a look at your story and my story, we would be in a very we would be in the same storyline, right? And yet we have different parts, which makes our voices different. Even though we have similar experiences, we have different paths and I think that's the big thing. I know that this journey can be hard, and sometimes women feel that they're in a silo. They're working on their own. So what are some ways that you can pull them out of like ways that you encourage them to connect or find that grouping or you follow what I'm saying? Ellie Okay. So I'll leave that to you.


Milo. Do not work in the silo. Success leads to clues, and proximity is power. And now and especially during the last two years, things have just exploded. There are Facebook groups, free Facebook groups for everything are memberships for everything. There are meetup groups for everything. There's no LinkedIn groups for everything. So gone are the days where there was no online, easy online way to find like minded thinkers or to find people in your niche or to find fellow entrepreneurs who are in the same stage of their journey in the same industry. Now, it is so easy. Log on to Facebook. Search groups, put in the topic that you want. I promise you you're going to get a list of a million different groups. You're going to be able to see how many people are in it, how many posts per day or per week are happening. So you're going to know whether it's an active group and you can request to join. Some may be tied to a program, but there are so many out there that are free. And now that things have opened back up, you can go to meet ABC.com and do the same thing. You can find groups in your local geographical area and you can find online groups. But proximity is power. And when you get into proximity with people doing what you want to do, you're going to learn more. You're going to go further, faster with more clarity and ease. You're going to avoid some landmines and some big landmines and the common mistakes. And you're going to find support. You're going to find encouragement, you're going to find people that you can partner with or that you can collaborate with that is going to help you grow, help you want. So, you know, get in circles. Do not work in a silo, ladies?


Absolutely. You've mentioned money and such, and a lot of women, they don't understand kind of the investment into brand and the and we won't even go into brand identity and brand confidence in this one. I would actually love to do a follow up with you at some point. So I have a feeling that we could really work through a lot of this and create some incredible insight for women but I want to talk money because women I hear this too often. Yes. Oh, I'm so passionate about this. I would do it even if I wasn't being paid. Well, the bank doesn't like buttons, so let's talk money investment into your company. I read a statistic recently that said companies should invest 7% of their forecast or projected where they want to go receiving new into their company for growth. So this is into education and promotion. So if you want to make $100,000, you need to invest $7,000. And yet, on the flip side, I hear all the time women saying, I don't have money. I've got to ask my husband. I'm not sure. I don't know how to work this. I'm not sure about technology. If they're investing money, which they need to be, where would you suggest they start?


With a good coach? Absolutely. Because here's the thing. If you're trying to figure it out on your own and you're not good with tech or you're not good with copy or you're not good the point of building or you don't understand high conversion copy or funnels and you don't understand the process and you don't know what to lead magnet is and you are going to struggle and flush money down the toilet and time and energy and get frustrated if you're trying to figure it out on your own. If you invest the money in a good mastermind or a good mentor or a good coach who's got the resources, who knows, they can tell, you know, you're going to get this and we're going to set it up together or we're going to might be the most ended up for you. There are so many benefits to finding the person who's already done it, who knows what needs to be done. They're able to guide you and teach you and get things done. You're going to actually spend less money in the aggregate because you're going to get it done right the first time and you're not going to have to build it, rebuild it, rebuild it, rebuild, and you'll be able to generate revenue much faster. So I am always, always, always a good coach who can help you with the right systems, with the right people, get the right pieces in the right order because so many of us think, Oh, I need to do this. I need to build out an entire website before I've done anything else. No, there's a smart order to things where you can be generating revenue along the way before you're reinvesting and building out more complex things.


Absolutely. So out of curiosity, how many platforms, apps, APIs do you believe that you implement in a single week?


A crazy amount because I'm at that point in my business, I don't think you need to start that way, though.


I think that's a big challenge for a lot of women. I've talked to some women that like, say, coming from corporate America. And, you know, because we're in the space, we know who all the players are. We know who to listen to. We, you know, everything from just great reading like James clear atomic habits through to the cells lingo by Brant Carton, you know, to listening, you know, to following Mel Robbins and listening. You know, we know who is kind of at that top and who can help lead the leaders. Right? Where's a good place for these people for the new emerging women, the women who are afraid but have incredible messages and stories and offerings, what's a good place for them to go? You mentioned Facebook, but are there any conferences? Are there any books that you love? Like these are like tangibles that they can go to because as we know, the African proverb, if you want to go faster alone, but if you want to go far, go together. So you know, some places that you hang out.


So I have quite a few coaches and I'm part of quite a few groups because I drink my own Kool-Aid. I know that in order for me to reach the next level, I never want to be the smartest person in the room. I don't want to be the most successful person in the room. I always want to put myself into rooms with people who are further in the journey so I can learn. So right now, I mean, the list is pretty, pretty substantial. I work with Jack Canfield and Patti Aubrey and Lisa Nichols. I work with Berry and Blue doing virtual events over at Sage Productions. I'm still McLaren, I'm with Rachel Miller and I'm with Tony Robbins, of course. And think about the Ozzie and Anthony track and I love Mel Robbins and Jamie Kern, Lima and the list goes on and on and on and on and on. I mean, I could spend 10 minutes just talking about all the different programs that I have because it's that important. And you mentioned investing and sometimes. Oh, I would do it even if I could do it for free. I started it with what are your values and aligning the business. So, yes, you're always going to do something in the vein that fuels your cup, that fills your cup, that fuels you and supports you. However, money is a vehicle for impact and an empty vessel has nothing to give. So if you don't build a successful business, you can't help people. You may be able to help that one client that you did for free. But imagine, look at Jamie Lynn Lima, look at Mel Robbins, look at all of the players. Look at Tony Robbins and how many billions of people he helps, not just in the coaching space, but in the meals that he does that he donates to the children that he can rescue through Operation Underground Railroad and all the other causes and supports because he has the financial resources. And when you understand that sales is service and yes, we have heard that ad nauseum but when you understand that you are serving powerfully, then you receive so that then you can scale your impact, you can give even more. And it's so, so, so important to also understand ladies. And this goes to a fundamental thing that so many of us struggle with. And you mentioned imposter syndrome and it kind of ties into that. So, so important. Ladies, if you are willing to invest in yourself, why would anyone else invest in you if you are not willing to charge someone and if you don't think that you bring enough value to the table to really be able to serve them powerfully, then why would anybody hire you we pay for things that we value. We buy things that we see value in that we think are going to bring us a return on our investment. Whether that's we buy the shoes because we love the shoes and we feel powerful and we've got our swag and we feel beautiful in them. We don't need the pair of shoes.

Leather shoes. You can absolutely be 110%. I know that if I, when I go on stage and I just, you know, my whole schtick, I am far better like comedic relief that I am a keynote speaker and I still have the memory of a goldfish man, memory of a goldfish. But I, but, you know, I keep being asked to, to speak. So when people are asking things of you don't give it for free. They're asking because they see value in it, right? So that is, I think, the greatest challenge because we raise our children for free. Yeah. We volunteer at the school for free. We do all the housework for free and we're so programmed and conditioned that good girls are nice girls. Well, there is nothing wrong with being a nice leader. You cannot lead if you cannot afford to lead. So I know myself. I just thought this shirt I love White House Black Market is my favorite place to go when I come down. And I know it's not a you know, I could go cheaper and go to Target or I could go more expensive. I have a comfort space and I like the way this company cuts their clothes and makes room for everything, including that and did I need to spend that $200 on a new shirt?


No, if you love it and make it.


I stand up taller and feel better because it doesn't matter how much we do. I've done over 70 half-hour episodes of television. I have sat down with some of the top celebs. Like when you sit with when you get an opportunity to sit with people like Elizabeth Vargas, who has been in the news casting and journalism world on a&e and 48 hours like this woman is iconic, and you get 10 minutes face time with her. Guess what? I still have the feeling of imposter syndrome. I'm still here listening to everything you're saying. Elegant. Oh, well, I think I need to hire Ellie because I'm ready to go to the next level. And, you know, it was interesting. I interviewed the gal who was the wrestling gold medalist for Canada for the Rio Olympics, and she said the coach she started with is not the coach she went to the Olympics with, but she went to the Olympics with a coach.




And she's, you know, this is a woman that coaches around the world, top teams, top performers. And yet she still has a coach.


Yeah. Everybody has a coach. Even Tony Robbins has a coach. Everybody has a coach. Presidents have cabinets of advisors. That's NFL teams. The Super Bowl winning NFL team has a coach. Right. They have a team of coaches because you can't see when you're in the fishbowl. You look at the external perspectives to see your blind spots and you need a coach that's going to call you on your stuff. That's not going to allow you to make excuses when the going gets tough. You need a coach that's going to see your blind spots and help you get from where you are to where you want to be. I mean, to your point, exactly what got to say. Egypt is not getting you to the promised land because every level has new challenges. You learn and you assign. And then now you're the new kid on the block at that level and you need someone to navigate it so that they can say, hey, take my hand, come on, I got you.




At the next level.


And I would think as a coach, honestly, it's funny because I think we almost killed our last editor. We were on such a tight timeframe for this TV show. Well, it's just brutal. Poor guy. It looked like a vampire buffet by the end of the day. But the reality is I always believed I pushed hard. And my goal is that you get so good that I can't afford your services. You can't afford your expertise. Wouldn't it be amazing to be on somebody's journey like that? So I always tell people that coaches are a reason this season, a lifetime.




And knowing that and allowing space for that. And as a coach, knowing that and knowing where you're at within the space, I know that in real estate I've done 22 years of real estate and I coach new agents or failure to launch agents. Agents are going. I don't get it. Why am I not getting it? And I work with them to go in and get listing levels on. We're talking guerilla warfare. We're talking about how to word your door hangers, very low level. Can I teach you how to run your lead gen platform with conversion? No, I can't. You've got to go to another coach for that, but I can teach you how to create your persona. So this is okay. It is okay to move real. And I think that's one of the things people dislike. They don't even want to start down that road for fear that they're going to hurt somebody's feelings or that they're not going to be true to something. But, you know, I guess that's just my, you know, that's a bit of a diatribe.


But I think it coaches you. You only want to work with the coach until you have navigated that and you're on the other side and coaches should expect that. I don't love my clients. They are raving fans. They are friends. They become family. They stay with me for years, but not in the same capacity. Yeah, well, you look at it. If I'm a coach and you're working with me long term on in the same capacity, on the same thing, then I failed you because it's my job to equip you with the tools and strategies that you need to outgrow me to get to the point where you don't need me anymore. And you can fly and you can fly on to the next person or the next level of your business or the next product you want to launch. It's not my job to keep you. It's my job to get you ready to soar.

Absolutely. Okay. So, Ellie, on that note, what does it quote that you live by? What is something that speaks to your soul?


To have them these have been my literally, my northstar guiding light. Life happens for me, not to me. And it happens through me. That's the first one. And the second one is to change your story, change your life. And what both of those allow me is know that I can always control the controllables. I can control my language, my perspective, the meaning I assigned things. I can choose a positive, empowered lens through which to look at something. So it doesn't mean that an event or circumstance didn't happen because it happened. And that's the way it is. But I can choose how I look at it. I can choose that. That's the framework that I use. So life happens for me, not for me, and it happens through me as my reminder to find that good in everything, to consciously look for the lesson and the growth opportunity in everything and to find the blessing in everything. And then to live in gratitude, in flow as a light, as a vessel for change.


Beautifully said. Beautifully said. Ellie, where can people find you?


So you can obviously connect with me on social media, but you can also go to my website, which is Ellie Sheffield dot com. So head to my website and send me a message. I would love to connect.


That is you are an outstanding woman and you're, you're, you're singing to the choir here. I am so glad we have had this opportunity to connect. And I actually see future conversations because there's such a synergy. So, folks, thank you so much for joining me and, and, and giving us your most valuable resource, your time, sharing us, sharing your space with us. I really do truly value this and Ellie, thank you again. Be sure that you like comments, share and subscribe. Your support in those simple ways will continue growing this forward and getting this message out further and getting it further and further. And we can make a change in this world. So until then, you know what? Next time I look forward to seeing y'all, I'm Kim Hayden and this is Kim talks.


Ellie Shefi is the very definition of tenacious. Having overcome a lifetime of adversity, including abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, cancer, and a myriad of other health issues that have seen her defy the doctors’ death deadlines for over two decades, Ellie has mastered mindset, resiliency, and resourcefulness, and she has dedicated her life to the empowerment of others. 

Ellie is an attorney, entrepreneur, #1 international best-selling and award-winning author, speaker, strategist, media host, consultant, coach, philanthropist, and publisher who provides her clients with practical, easy-to-implement tools and strategies that generate results. Host of the Free by Design™ television show and You Are Not Your Scars™ podcast, she is regularly interviewed in publications and on others’ podcasts and television shows, including NBC, ABC, CBS, the New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Yahoo News, the LA Tribune, and TED Ed, to name a few. 

A heart-centered, impact-driven leader who facilitates change, Ellie helps entrepreneurs to bring their business to life; authors to get their book out of their head and into the world; and speakers to amplify their message so they can scale their impact. Her signature programs—Free by Design™ and You Are Not Your Scars™—empower participants to claim internal freedom and create a joyful, abundant life they love. 

Additionally, Ellie is founder of Made to Change the World Publishing and is the publisher of Sisters Rising™, a book series that provides women with a platform to tell their stories, showcase their businesses, and raise awareness of their work. She is also the founder of the Made 2 Change The World™ Foundation (made2change.org), a nonprofit organization that equips and empowers the next generation with the tools, resources, and strategies they need to create the lives, communities, and world they envision.

Ellie is a member of the National Academy of Best-Selling Authors and has received a Quilly Award for her literary work. A #1 international best-selling and award-winning author, Ellie’s books include: Unlocking Your Superpower: 8 Steps to Turn Your Existing Knowledge into Income; Sisters Rising: Stories of Remarkable Women Living Extraordinary Lives; The Authorities: Powerful Wisdom from Leaders in the Field (which she co-authored with multiple New York Times #1 best-selling authors Les Brown, Bob Proctor, and Marci Shimoff); Women Who Shine (which she co-authored with multiple #1 international best-selling authors); and SuccessOnomics (which she co-authored with multiple New York Times #1 best-selling author Jack Canfield).

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