Dolores Hirschmann On The Emotional Rollercoaster Of Leadership And Entrepreneurship
Do you have self-doubt in your capabilities to make positive impacts and be a successful entrepreneur? You don’t need to worry because it’s normal to have that emotional roller coaster and the fear of failures as a leader. The important thing is to shift your mindset and experience successful results. Dolores believes that ideas can positively impact the world and are passionate about helping entrepreneurs increase their visibility and realize their exponential growth. Dolores Hirschmann is the founder of Masters In Clarity and an internationally recognized strategist, coach, TEDx organizer, and speaker. She is also the author of Stand out the TED Way: Be Seen & Grow Your Business. Dolores joins Tony Martignetti in this episode to share the defining, pivotal moments in her life and career that have helped her evolve into the best version of herself.
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Dolores Hirschmann On The Emotional Rollercoaster Of Leadership And Entrepreneurship
Dolores Hirschmann is the founder of Masters In Clarity, a coaching company that offers programs designed to help entrepreneurs clarify their message, map their business strategy, and grow their influence.
It is my honor to introduce you to my guest, Dolores Hirschmann. She is an internationally recognized strategist, coach, speaker and Founder of Masters in Clarity. It’s a coaching practice that helps clients clarify their ideas worth sharing. She is the author of Stand out the TED Way: Be Seen & Grow Your Business. Welcome to the show, Dolores.
Thank you so much for having me.
We're going to give you a chance to share your story. This is a space for you. In that process, what I would like to do is to know the defining pivot moments in your life or career that have made you who you are now.
There are quite a few but I want to pinpoint specifically one. I was in a meeting and I was asked, "What do you want?" I was 38 or 39 years old and I started crying. I came home and told my husband about the meeting. He didn't say anything. He proceeded to show me over again that clip on YouTube of the movie, A League of Their Own, where Tom Hanks is telling Geena Davis, "There's no crying in baseball." It's a way of saying, “There's no crying in business,” but I definitely cried.
That question, "What do you want?" There's a lot of contexts there. For me, it was a before and after. The reason for that is that I was stuck. At that time, I'm a mom of four. I'm originally from Argentina. I was at a moment where I had decided not to start more companies. I had started a company every five years because I have a value of belonging and I wanted to belong to a team.
I decided to collaborate with a team part-time because I had a full-time mom job and I was unhappy. That experience, for whatever reason, there were many layers to it, brought me to my knees because I allowed myself to stay in a context and situation that was not conducive to my best self, personal and professional growth. Nevertheless, I got sucked into it. I had this feeling of being trapped and no choice, which anybody looking on the outside. It was ridiculous for many reasons.
Number one, I had a choice to work because I was sucked in income. I know that if I told my husband, “This is not working,” he'd say, "Stop and start another business." I had been an entrepreneur multiple times but there was something in the dynamic of the human relationship that's like a suction cup. It sucked me into a persona from my childhood where I was disempowered. This was all around the leadership behaviors of the people around me. There's no naming here.
There was just an ecosystem that, for whatever reason, brought the worst in me. That pivotal meeting was after 1.5-year in that situation, feeling what I was feeling and the other person recognizing that I was not happy and asking me, "What do you want?" For me to understand that moment that I wasn't a hostage of someone else's malicious situation, I was a hostage of my confusion.
Every single action reveals the next action.
You hit on something that I talked about on the show here which is called the flashpoint, the moment that changes everything and ignites you on a path to change something. The most present thing on my mind is, what now? What happens next?
I wanted to bring that moment because I could have brought a moment where I was diagnosed with a pancreatic tumor when I was twenty and almost died or when I met my husband three months later when I was living in the US. There were a lot of other moments that I would say it’s drastic. This was a simple meeting and question like, "What do you want?"
What came after was the realization that it was my confusion that was keeping me trapped. I got curious with myself. At the moment I did that, everything changed. I can't explain how but the moment I got curious with myself, I stopped blaming how I felt to a context that I thought I couldn't control. It was like, "Maybe there is some responsibility of mine in this."
It's not that I started listening to the signs because at that point I would know what that meant but somehow, signs showed up. The first sign was that we went out for a family dinner with extended family and someone mentioned the word studying coaching. This was in 2012. I was like, "What is coaching?" I didn't even know that it was a word and an industry. I came home. I happened to be talking to my sister the next day and said to her, "Have you ever heard about coaching?" She said, "It's funny that you mentioned because my husband went into a coaching retreat with his company."
I followed the crumbs. I called my brother-in-law and asked him about it. He said, "He was an Argentinian coach." I called the coach and chatted about it. He said, "There are these programs where you can get certified." It was a whole following the crumbs all to find me in January 2013, sitting in a room in Boston at the Hyatt by the airport in my first three-day weekend on the CTI, which is the Coaches Training Institute, in their certification. That begun the new beginning for me.
I love that because one of the things that you laid out is for people who are in those moments of like, "I don't know what to do with this new-found information." You started taking steps and found more information. The more information you found, you follow the breadcrumbs.
I always say, For whatever reason, we are happy to drive 60 miles per hour on the highway every night. All we have is our car headlights to show us the way and we trust that, “I don't even know how far does the headlight show us, a quarter of a mile or 1/10.” I don't know how much depth of vision do we have but in every second of our driving, the vision is revealed. It's the same when we are in search of our past. Every single action reveals the next action. That's why at Masters in Clarity, we have a motto of, "Clarity. Action. Impact."
Clarity alone, what's the use of it? You get clear on your head but if you don't take action, who do you serve? What impact do you have if you never show up? It's that breadcrumb and I've learned to love the reveal. Meaning that every single one of these steps or processes that we dare and have the courage to follow, trusting that whatever is on the other side is going to be clear and actionable. Every one of the steps reveals the next step.
One of the things I'm taking in from what you said and I love the way you put it. This is why you're good at what you do is replacing fear with curiosity and then the element of reveal and then act. Before you know it, you look back and say, "Here I am. I've made those steps. That's what I've become." You make it seem a little bit easier than it is. Tell me more about the journey. When you started coaching, what was it like to step into this new world?
It can sound easy. In hindsight, it all makes sense. When you're in the soup or in the middle of the dance, sometimes you see everything as mountains of challenge. There are a couple of layers here. That January 2013, when I was sitting in that room, I felt like the beginning of a veil was removed from my eyes. I was able to start seeing the world for what it was and not for what I had experienced. There was such depth to everything around me. Whatever I was feeling, it wasn't that feeling. It was founded on beliefs. There was a whole world opened up.
There were a couple of things that I took action on right away. It was at the the third month of my coaching. Every weekend, I would come home and my husband would brace for impact. On the third weekend, I was asked, "What would be your bold action? What would you do if you could not fail?" At that point, I came home that weekend and I said, "We're moving to Argentina." My husband was like, "What?" I was asked what I would do if I could not fail.
I always wanted my children to go to school in Buenos Aires even if it was just for half a year. At that time, my oldest was entering eighth grade. I thought, "If I don't do it now, once my kids are in high school, it's going to be harder." That was March 2013 that I had that weekend. On July 18, 2013, my birthday, I was on a plane with my children to Buenos Aires.
We moved and lived there for six months. The kids went to school there. It was a whole experience. As with any experience, someone would say, "What a lovely experience." I don't know why they would call it lovely. I think it was an experience. An experience has probably all of the emotions of the rainbow like my husband didn't come full-time. He came and went. It was a whole emotional layer there for the children and me. Also, my grandmother passed away but it was part of the choice of being there for that. There were many reasons why we ended up going, not just because I got crazy.
As I started that journey of becoming a coach, coming back from that trip and adventure launching my business, I remember the first client. I was charging $25 an hour. Right before I would hop on a call with her, I wanted to throw up. I felt a fake and fraud, "Who am I to be listening to someone's confusion or thoughts, helping sort them through and take action?"
You have to be willing to experience the full range of emotions when you’re a leader or entrepreneur because that is where the gifts are hidden.
At CTI, which is a program I trained with, they're a little different than others. You cannot graduate unless you have a certain amount of paid coaching hours. I wasn't even certified. I hadn't passed my exam. You didn't have to charge a lot of money but I had charged something. For me, even $25 felt like I was stealing money for some skill that I didn't know that I had.
I make it sound easy. If I play it as a movie and in two minutes, I tell you my story, it's very easy. If you come in and hang out in any of the scenes of that movie and those moments like pictures, each one of them had a whole level and layers of emotions, feelings, ups and downs, mood swings and self-doubt. I don't think there's anything more challenging for a human being.
One of the most challenging endeavors you can hop on is building your business, specifically, building a personal brand business where you are the product. Talk about self-doubt, lack of confidence and building the muscle of confidence. Nothing dramatic happened. It's not like someone told me that I was a fake. Imagine, if something were to happen, I don't know how I would take that. Even in a normal, uneventful startup phase of my business, it was such an emotional roller coaster. I had a lot of tears.
It's funny you say that because I was thinking that in my mind about the rollercoaster that startup founders go through but also leaders. Leadership is an emotional rollercoaster that is not for the faint of heart but when you do sign on to do it to become a leader, that takes on that mantle. It's important to understand that the more you do it and engage in a full range of emotions, you become more adept at it.
You said it like the willingness to get in the ring and experience the full range of emotions because that is where the gifts are hidden.
It’s the whole arena concept which hearkens back to Teddy Roosevelt.
"If you're not in the ring, you have no authority to give me feedback."
What would you change if you could look back on your path?
It's easy to say now but what I would change is this nagging voice of perfection and judgment. I have a gift that I've underestimated but now I'm grateful for it. I have equal parts of judgment and self-doubt as I have of kamikaze and just do it. They're consistently at a fight but this one tends to win. There's something about me or my past that forces me to take action even when I'm in complete fear. All the action that I've taken has not always been pretty but it has kept me moving forward.
I'm going to give you a specific example. When I first started, someone said, "If you're going to build a business, you need to talk to your market and nurture your leads." For me, it was like, "I need to create a way to communicate with my mailing list on a consistent basis. I will write out a newsletter every week." It's simple and so I did for a few months. I have a dear wonderful neighbor.
She is twenty years older than me and we used to work together many years ago. She is the sweetest lady. She emailed me one day, "Dolores, I admire the work you do. I love the courage that you have and how you're putting yourself out there. I love you. Can you please let me edit your newsletters because you have typos and grammatical errors?"
I said yes and grateful. She was kind about it. That's one example of many. The truth is that if I had not done those newsletters with my typos and I had waited for having the money to pay for an editor or learn better English. I don't know what I would have done. Those emails would never have gone out and the action will never have been taken to grow the business. That's a simple example of sometimes progress over perfection.
Do you find that that's still something that shows up from time to time? It doesn't go away.
That's how I operate. It started to go away when I started building my team. I now, at any point, am leading between 9 and 10 people in my team. Many of them are contractors but still I have people that work 40, 50 or 60 hours for Masters in Clarity and growing into employees now. When that happens, it's like a flip in the brain where you started looking at this a little bit more objectively and you understand that, "I'm no longer growing a company named Dolores Hirschmann.
As soon as the world becomes bigger than ourselves, now we're talking and now we start becoming unstoppable.
I'm growing a company named Masters in Clarity." I was in a meeting with them because we're in the middle of changing our brand. I said to my team, "Watch what we're doing on Instagram. I want to hear from you guys what you like and don't like because the Masters in Clarity brand is us. It's not me." When you're starting to self-doubt, you have a whole team that's reminding you what you're doing.
You have clients that are tapping into you and reminding you of what you're doing. Self-doubt is a growing pain but what happens is you start realizing that the work that you're doing is bigger than the fear, self-doubt, lack of self-worth or whatever is the emotion, which it still might be there but it no longer has the power to stop you as it used to.
It's almost like the responsibility and what you owe to the people around you becomes a power unto itself that overrules.
That's the beauty of the work that I do and the people that I work with. We are here to get our work to be bigger than ourselves. As soon as the work becomes bigger than ourselves, now we're talking and we start becoming unstoppable.
I think of that quote, "When you have a powerful yes, it can overcome any no." That's cool that you've got that, "I'll figure it out in the businesses in that stage." I would love to shift gears and see if we can talk about what are some lessons that you would share with somebody who is a few steps behind you and not ready to commit to making a change, jump out and go on their own to start a new adventure. What would you tell them?
Stay there. Don't take action. Keep on walking until the blister in your shoe starts bleeding. I want people to know this. There is such thing as, “Shifting to worry.” There is a sweet moment where the situation you are in is no longer sustainable. You said it, Tony, the feeling the range of emotions. You got to be uncomfortable to have the courage to shift. I'm going to give you an example. You might not like it but it is a true story. I don't know if I'm proud of it. I can be very straightforward and clear. Sometimes, that's great and not so great.
My best friend growing up, we've known each other since the third grade. She's my son's godmother. I'm her daughter's godmother. She was struggling. For 1.5-year, we would have conversations once a week about how she hated her job. It was whole plenty of how her life was miserable. One day, I had it. I said to her, "I need to ask you a favor."
She was like, "Sure." She would do anything for me. I said to her, "Go outside, open your car door, put your hand between the door and the car and close the door." She was like, "What?" I said, "Do that because you haven't reached the depth of your pain yet. I want to explain the process because I can't stand it anymore." She got it.
This was talking to her resiliency of staying. Her fear of a shift was deep. The blister wasn't just bleeding. It was deforming her foot and she was still staying stuck there. My invitation was like, "Somehow, there's something that is allowing you this masochism because it truly was. Let's expedite another layer of pain. Maybe you'll wake up and you start shifting."
She did. Within months, she quit her job and started shifting, shifting more and growing her wings. I'm being sarcastic when I say, "If you are uncomfortable where you are but you're not willing to change, don't do anything," because it's my call to action of like, "Stay super uncomfortable and then change." If you recognize yourself in that space then maybe I can give you a little bit of hope to say, "Maybe you don't have to be that blister and you can take action now."
Probably many of you have read it. I don't think it's unique. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is a must for me. Me and my mom are Austrian. I'm Argentinian-Austrian. Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychologist. He talks about, “Living your purpose independent of the context.” His context was Auschwitz. In my coaching, I always say, "If Viktor Frankl could live his purpose inside of a concentration camp then you don't have to switch jobs, get rid of your children, spouse or move to find a way to honor your purpose."
This has been such a pleasure. I want to give everyone a chance to first of all know where they can find you if they want to reach out to you.
They can go to MastersInClarity.com and you can go to Start Here and hop on a conversation with my team.
Thank you for coming here and sharing your story. It's amazing. Thank you to the readers for coming on board with us.
Thank you, Tony, for having me.
- Masters in Clarity
- Stand out the TED Way: Be Seen & Grow Your Business
- Instagram – Masters in Clarity
- Man's Search for Meaning
About Dolores Hirschmann
I work with Speakers, Entrepreneurs, Authors, and Executives to CLARIFY their message. My clients gain the CLARITY they need to communicate and engage their audience, teams and stakeholders. My clients shift from talking about what they do to talking about what they stand for. They lead the conversation. They become THOUGHT LEADERS. Thought Leadership allows my clients to realize the financial and impact goals they envision.
As a Coach, I believe in aligning my clients, with what makes them flow with the strategy that the project/company needs. I bring to the table my academic business background, entrepreneurship experience, my skills as a TEDx Organizer (one of the largest TEDx in the East Coast) & my training as an Executive Coach. I align the person, to their message and the action.
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