Episode 51 – Conquering Crisis with Faydra Koenig

Faydra dropped additional nuggets of sales and marketing goodness in the EXTENDED Interview. Be sure to click here to access all of our great extended interviews, transcripts and more within our Insider's Club.

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Amazon Best Selling Author, lover of iced tea, travel and snarky banter, Faydra is determined to shake people up about their mediocrity and stop living a half-life that is killing their spirit. Known in pop culture as America’s Crisis Coach™ Faydra shares stories of triumph and hope that make a lasting impact on people moving through their own crisis.

Take a deep breath. You have found a safe place to get help and work through whatever crisis is holding you back from the life you desperately want. No matter how bad things seem in this moment, the next moment is your chance to stand up and say Come at me Bro! No more pain, no more shame, no more loneliness and no more sadness. Crisis may be a part of your life today, but it doesn't have to define you. You may not see the way out, but I can. Let's be badasses together.

Podcast Transcription

Brian Basilico: Welcome, everybody to the Bacon Podcast and we've talked about a lot of different things over the last couple of weeks, but there gets to be a point where things go from being problematic to a crisis. Not everybody's business or life goes smoothly 100% of the time, so occasionally we have to deal with those bumps in the road. Today we're going to talk with Faydra Koenig, and Faydra has had over 20 years as a mental health specialist and now runs a business that helps people to deal with crisis in their business.

Faydra, how are you doing?

Faydra Koenig: I am so fabulous. How are you?

Brian: I'm outstanding. I love that.

Let's talk about you. Tell us a little bit about your story and how did you get in to be America's crisis coach?

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Faydra: Absolutely. Actually, I do have the 20 years in the mental health industry that you were talking about and about five years ago, I was pretty well-known in pop culture as “America's divorce coach.” That whole term of niche it down to an inch-wide and a mile deep?

Brian: Yes.

Faydra: And I had a personal crisis happen that really helped me know that it was going to be important for me to move forward. I was going to need to widen that niche. A lot of my peers and colleagues, they were giving me feedback that, “God, we love what you do, but we're not going through a divorce or we might not want to promote divorce. But we would really love to expose you, not like a germ, but a support to our people.” I just decided to widen that niche a bit and I rebranded as America's crisis coach. Divorce is part of a crisis, but there are so many other crisis out there and it just really has been a great fit.

Brian: Totally makes sense. Help us define. Okay, what's the difference between break out the mini violin and play it on your fingers and a crisis?

Faydra: I know. Well, part of it is the level to which it annoys me. No, just kidding. Everyone knows I'm very snarky, so if your people don't know that yet, they will know it by the end of this conversation.

Brian: I think they know it now.

Faydra: Well, the truth is it really is what is it to you? There are people who have been raised in bubbles and they've just never had anything traumatic happen to them. To be honest with you, a layoff could be a life-altering crisis, but then there are other people, maybe a little bit more greedy like me who weathered a lot of storms who really need something to be a big mighty powerful cataclysmic thing for it to be a crisis. So the truth is it really is what is keeping you from living life to its fullest and if it's an actual specific thing, it's most likely a crisis.

Brian: Totally makes sense. Now, crisis is something that happens to us. The way I look at it is you can take two different view points. You can either take the activist viewpoint, you can take the proactive viewpoint – actually three – or you can take the victim viewpoint. Is that correct and how would you define that?

Faydra: Yes, absolutely. Crisis definitely comes unwelcomed, unwarranted. I often say that good things happen to bad people with the same frequency that bad things happen to good people. We all think that if we eat our vegetables, drink our milk, pay our taxes, that things are going to go well for us. That's a delusion. Bad things are going to happen no matter who you are and how well-prepped you are for the Apocalypse. So it does matter how you look at it. Basically, I see you have two choices – the victim route or the victor route. Sometimes we all immediately start down the victim route because we get into denial and isolation when things hit us and because of that, we're not really ready yet to be the victor. But the truth is that we ultimately will make the decision and I find it incredibly interesting, the social scientist in me, how one event can happen and somebody might get in bed and never get back out, and yet somebody else might go out and make a foundation that brings a message from their mess. So yes, I see it as two different choices, really.

Brian: When crisis happens, a lot of times we're stunned, we're caught off-guard and we're trying to figure things out. What are some of the most basic things that people need to think about if a crisis happens to them? And again, a crisis can be a lot of different things. When I ran my recording studio way back in the '90s, my crisis amplified itself, but the basic crisis started like this – we happen to have the recording studio in the basement of the offices on the first floor and the owner of the building was having some work done outside, broke a pipe and flooded the entire basement with raw sewage around all my equipment and shut my business down for three months.

Bad, but at that point, you're just so stunned, what the heck do you do? What are some of the things that people need to think about when they're faced with a crisis to help them get their arms around it?

Faydra: The favorite thing that I like to talk about – and this is definitely going to be a part of the freebie that people can get after they're done listening to us today – the thing that everybody needs to know is that no matter what the crisis is, you're going to go through the cycle of grief and loss. One you know the five steps of that cycle, you can identify where you are on it and you can know that, “Oh my god, I'm actually moving through it.” So when you talked about that initial – what I call the WTF, What The Faydra just happened? When that happens to you, you're in denial and isolation. You just don't even know what's going on. After that, you're going to move into anger which is you're pissed at god, you're pissed at your ex, you're pissed at whatever is going on; and then you're going to move into bargaining where you will just do anything if this doesn't happen, “Please God, or please X that's walking at the door.” And you're tearing at their shirt so they don't leave. You're in bargaining and trying to assert yourself, assert your will on this thing that's pissing you off.

The next phase that you're going to go into, people think it's the first phase, it's actually almost to the end and that's depression. That depression is when you've tried everything you can do, you've been as angry as you can be, you have begged them, pleaded and bargained, everything you know how to do and none of it is working and you actually give up the control. That's when you can get to the final stage which is acceptance. In answering your question, the sooner the people understand the cycle of grief and loss, it empowers them because you can't get around it, it happens to everybody and that if you realize that it's a thing and it's legit, then you can just be in it. It doesn't mean that your time line is your time lime. I can't tell you that you're going to move form anger to acceptance in a day, but it's possible. It really is, but your timeline is your own timeline. I really think that if people can grasp that concept, it is the number one thing that helps people.

The other thing is you have to give yourself grace. You have to allow yourself to say, “This sucks! This totally sucks!” And a lot of times we don't allow ourselves to honestly be there. Believe it or not, the extension of depression is really not allowing yourself to say, “It sucks.” It's the avoidance of saying, “It sucks.” So you just keep in depression. Or, people who don't ever actually acknowledge that something bad is in fact happening, “Oh, it ain't no thing. Oh, I don't worry about it.” Neither one of those are giving yourself grace. Knowing the grief from loss cycle and giving yourself grace are the two first things that I have everybody do, or encourage everyone who's in a crisis situation.

Brian: Awesome.

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was about forgiveness and the way I learned about forgiveness was – one of my pastors actually said this. He says, “Harboring anger toward somebody else is like drinking poison and hope they die.” Because all it does is eat you from the inside-out. Then after you get that concept, then you have to figure about how to give yourself forgiveness for letting this happen. Because once you learned to forgive other people, then you can learn to forgive yourself and I think that's one of the biggest challenges that people have to go through. Don't you think?

Faydra: It absolutely is a challenge. I deal with people who's family members have been murdered and the thought of forgiving somebody who brutally murdered a loved one, it feels unthinkable. When I think about the things I've been through, one of my issues is that I was severely abused from the time I was three until I was 13. On my 20's, the concept of forgiveness and humanizing my abuser, it was virtually impossible. Now 46 and after heck of a lot of work, I've been years of being able to see that person as a human with all their strengths and all their weaknesses and all their poor choices. And by forgiving and showing compassion to somebody who does not deserve it, it makes it very easy for me to forgive when I choose to eat a brownie instead of eating a carrot.

Brian: So what is your best advice for h helping to meet their crisis head on? What's the best thing that people could do when they get into a crisis?

Faydra: Just own it. You've got to own whatever your deal is in that, and then acknowledge that there are things that are beyond your control, but within that are choices that are within your control. You can make the best of the available choices and not everybody sees that they actually have choice within these situations. I have an example I'll use. There's a neighborhood here where we live and it was flooded. A lot of the people living in the neighborhood were on my Facebook. Facebook is such a wonderful social experiment. It really can tell the true nature of people by what they post. Different people are posting different things and you could see the people who were just so pissed off that this happened to them. Even though people swept in, we had almost an entire community literally walk in and help people take out the sheet rock, salvage whatever items were available and there was one girl in particular that no matter what good things were coming, she still was pissed, and she couldn't let it go, and she couldn't accept the fact that there were some good mixed in with this negative.

Now, I've driven through the neighborhood recently and most of the homes have been refurbished, people are living back in them and yet here is her house and it still got stuff all out on the front, the repairs are not being made and I just think that her insistence that it's not fair that she didn't deserve it is really keeping her from getting the closure and getting the success that she needs out of the situation. If people can just move through the denial and isolation part of it, at least in anger, you're taking action. If you can move past that poor pitiful “me” part and start to make the best of whatever those available choices are, it will actually be really, really empowering.

It's a good time to put yourself in check. Do you have a victim mentality? Do you have that personality type that needs constant reinforcement and constant outside support? Or are you intrinsically able to say, “This is not ideal, but you know what? I'm going to figure it out.” If you see that you're one of those people that constantly need outside propping, then you need to do some checking about your inner dialog and your inner man's stuff and see if you can change some of that, so you are actually more receptive to not only helping yourself, but to receiving the help that others are trying to give you.

Brian: Great stuff, great stuff.

Faydra, you've given so much great information and I think the key thing that people need to get their arms around is we all make mistakes as we're going through things. We'll either reach out to the wrong people, or we'll mentally beat ourselves over the head, or we'll do stupid things like take up drugs, I don't know. There are all kinds of things. What have you seen people do when they get into a crisis that have been some of the most common mistakes that you've seen?

Faydra: Some of the common mistakes is that they don't recognize that their home life, their private life has everything to do with their business and entrepreneurial life. They try to act like the two don't matter. It's kind of like having a mistress and being married. Okay, if I keep them separated, then I can walk in both worlds, but god forbid if the two meets and they really don't know that the things that are keeping them up at night personally are actually affecting the willingness that they will take in their businesses and they get really frustrated. That's an example. You're absolutely right, though. Abusive drugs, abusive food, abusive power, not taking action which is actually a choice – all those things are symptoms that I've seen people who are entrepreneurs do that sabotages their success.

Brian: And I think part of that, too is there's a lot of – because they've gotten into that crisis, they get into some self sabotage and kind of that mental thing where, “I'm not good enough. I'm not smart enough and darn it, people don't like me.” Stuart Smalley talk. Right?

Faydra: Yes, for sure. They compare their insides to people's outsides. One of the interesting things for me is I've become pretty well-known as snarky Faydra. You can pretty much tell me anything, you're not going to surprise me and more and more people that I've met who are seen as Uber-awesome, they're hiding their own stuff. Really if you peel back the curtain, which is what I love to do, we find out that people struggle at the same rate. Just like you say, people put their pants one leg at a time, people freak out in the same way, too. It happens to everybody. The more transparent people are willing to be, it actually helps others. When these new up and comers are coming along, they think that their deficits are just huge. But the truth is that the really successful people have just learned how to either embrace their deficits or manage them.

Brian: Good point. So what would be some of your best tips? You say we're approaching the crisis, we're in the middle of a crisis, we're at the end of a crisis – what are some of the best things that you can tell people to think about, to do, to whatever?

Faydra: Well, the main thing really is just get real so you can heal and I know that sounds cliché, whatever, but it's the truth. The more honest you are about your situation – yesterday I put up a Facebook statement. I do this thing called “Faydra facts” and I put in there, I'll paraphrase it, “Obesity is actually a buy-product of depression.” Boy, I got a lot of people who either agreed or strongly disagreed and they're really defending their ability to be fat, “You know, I have hormone problems.” Just whatever it took to make it okay and I realized that these people are using those excuses to justify. So they're not getting real so they can deal with it and heal with it.

I use myself as an example. I have what's called PCOS, which is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, so I have a very severe hormone disorder, I have degenerative disease – I totally sound like a trainwreck, I promise you on that, and I have a very low functioning thyroid. So by all accounts, I should really be a big fat girl. Ten years ago, I actually lost 100 lbs and I did it the old-fashioned way. It was really a mindset thing. I realized, “Oh my god, I didn't know there was so many calories in Mountain Dew and Snickers bars.” So when the lightbulb went off, I just stopped eating them and literally the weight literally fell off.

Well, the last two years, I've been flirting with some weight gain and I've gained about 25 lbs and I was doing all that justification, “Oh, I'm getting older. Oh, I have PCOS. Oh, my thyroids doesn't work.” And I was telling myself that those were the reasons. But then a friend of ours, Nicole Dean, she did the whole 30 project and it really inspired me. I thought, I got nothing to lose except for weight and I did the whole 30 and I've lost 20 lbs in a month with PCOS, with a low-functioning thyroid. So, I really recognized that I was giving all these excuses to myself and as soon as I got real about it, I was able to deal with it and now I'm healed. I'm loving life. I'm a meat-eating, vegetable-eating, fruit-eating girl.

Brian: All right. That means you like bacon, so you're okay with me.

Faydra: I eat a ton of bacon.

Brian: I think one of the things that a lot of people – and I've seen this in all walks of life in all different kinds of things, and I don't care whether it's crisis, I don't care whether it's business, I don't care whether it's personal, is they just don't know how to ask for help.

Faydra: It's so true. It's so true. It's that whole comparing your insides to other people's outsides. We think that everything is easier for other people. Look at the people who make really awesome graphics on Facebook, or people who have podcast and they just crank them out. Whatever it is that you make up in your head that they are so much better at, and because of that, we think, “Well, they don't want to help us. We would just be a pain in their butt.” Or, “The only way to get help is to pay for it and people's rates are so high.” Or, “It would be embarrassing to admit that I don't have it all figured out. People will think I don't have any credibility.”

So we go ahead and we tell ourselves that we'll figure it out on YouTube, or we'll go get a book, or whatever and the fact is we don't ever take the action because if we knew what to do, we would have already be doing it.

Brian: It's so true and I see so many people that say, “I don't want to pay to play. All this information is free all over the place.” Rather than realizing that you're going to spend hours, and hours, and hours just trying to find the right answer. I went through this with [inaudible] for remote control yesterday. I went through two hours of trying to get the thing to program to turn off my tuner – because I got a brand new one because it broke – and then I called Comcast and spend an hour on the phone with them and still didn't get the thing, but I was like, “I was not going to call Comcast. I'm not going to do it.”

Faydra: You're a man.

Brian: I know.

Faydra: That symptomology of your gender.

Brian: Exactly. But even when I called them, it just validated the fact that they didn't know how to do either, but the key thing was just like, I fought, and fought, and fought, “I'm not going to go get help. I'm going to figure this out. I can search it. Google is awesome.” No. If I probably would have went in and called them right away, I probably would have saved myself two hours. It still wouldn't work, but it was just that pride thing.

Faydra: Well, let me give you another example. I can be a little transparent with you, right?

Brian: Sure.

Faydra: I can open, peel back the curtain?

Brian: Amen.

Faydra: So you know how excited I've been about launching my new podcast Coming Out of the Fire. I'm going to tell these amazing stories about people who have gone through cataclysmic crisis. We're talking bit by sharks, people who have been at tornadoes, all kinds of crazy stuff. That is in my wheel house, talking to people – obviously I have the gift of gab – but I have been so stuck on the tech part, telling myself, “I'll figure it out.” I even ordered books off Amazon, I watched freebies and I got into podcasting groups and flirted a little bit with people about, “Hey, is this as easy as it seems?” The truth was, I was not getting anywhere.

Finally, I was transparent enough to reach out to you and say, “Look, this is never going to happen if I don't take massive action.” Your attitude was, “Absolutely! Here, let's sign up. Let's do it.” Now we have the time, I'm so excited because I had gotten embarrassed. People were reaching out to me saying, “Hey, I heard about your podcast. I know somebody to be a guest.” Or, “I'd like to be a guest. How can I go sign up?” It got to the point where it's almost embarrassed because this product is here, these people are coming and I was denying it to the world. I'm America's crisis coach, I don't do that, so I had to really get real about it. That's another example.

Brian: That's a great example. That's an absolute great example. And in by allowing yourself to say, “I need help. I'm going to get it done faster. I'm going to get it done better and I know I've got support.” I think that's really one of the key things that what you don't realize is when you reach out to people, that you not only are getting the help that you need, but then you're getting support afterwards because nothing ever goes exactly the way you expected. Right?

Faydra: Totally and let's be honest, we're all in this for monetization. My heart, my passion, God has actually gifted me all these stuff that I can do to help people, but I also need to monetize and by not actually putting the recordings out there, I was denying myself income needlessly and a lot of people are doing that. There are people who don't know how to write copy so they don't put anything out on a website. There are people who are so petrified to record themselves. I think you know, I'll record myself in any way, shape or form. I don't care what I look like, it's about the content and I've moved past that inner man that says, “Oh my gosh, you don't look great. You probably wouldn't be great for your brand.” I'm like, “Heck, no. I'm not going to not deliver because of something as trivial.” It's a mindset shift and it has those payoffs that you're talking about, but it's also about the money.

Brian: And that leads me to my final question, is when we're in a crisis, how do we measure success? How do we know that we're working through it? That we're making progress? That we're finally going to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train?

Faydra: Yes. When you start to wake up in the morning and feel that there is a sense of possibility, that is a real indicator. When you let people in and actually seek to solve problems, not to just commensurate, then you're really headed in the right place. When you start to see some traction and you get those outward signs from the universe that things are going to be okay, that's when you're there. When you come to that place, I said of acceptance and you're willing to just lay it all at godspeed or whomever you're subscribe to, you can just go, “You know what? It's going to be what it's going to be and I'm going to be okay.” That's when you know. I say that the light at the end of the tunnel looks like a train, but we all just get to an illuminated new tunnel.

Brian: That's awesome. So, Faydra, you've got a system that's going to help people work through their crises. Tell us a little bit about what you had to offer?

Faydra: I'm so excited because I only talk about this on podcast. So, people have to hear me on a show or listen to my new show to get this information. But if you go to Crisiscrusher.com, I have about an hour's worth of really awesome content. I talk to you in detail about the grief and loss cycle, you can even get a print out where you can actually put it on your wall so you can measure every single day where you are on the cycle of grief and loss, then I talk about one of my favorite things on the planet, the heroes journey. Every epic journey, if you think about Star Wars, Harry Potter, even the Bible, it's always the heroes journey and I deconstruct that for you because you are going to create your own heroes journey and you get your own printout journal where you can actually forecast how you're going to manage your crises so you can actually can see that light at the end of the tunnel…

Brian: …that's not a train.

Faydra: It's not a train, it's just an illuminated new tunnel.

Brian: I love it.

So Faydra, if people want to get a hold of you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Faydra: Yes. All you have to do is go to my website, it's Americascrisiscoach.com. What's really cool there is there's a video that tells my story, which really qualifies, “Who's this chick and why can she even talk to me about my crisis?” And then on every single page of my website, there's one call to action, “Contact me.” If you're going to be an amazing guest for my podcast, I want to know about you. If you just need a question answered, let's talk and you can actually even get 30 minutes of free time with me, which is really cool, up until the point that I'm so well-known that it's just not a possibility.

Brian: Well, Faydra, thank you so much for joining us. This was fabulous. I feel calmer already. I really do. I just feel nice and zen, so I really appreciate that. You've been a great guest. I'm sure my audience is going to totally get a lot out of this podcast.

Faydra: Oh, thank you so much. It has been a total blast.

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