For many years, performer and singer Kerstin O’Shields found herself privately dealing with abuse at home, all the while living a very public life. About five years into the marriage, when she asked for help from family, the message was disheartening, “You’re married, you need to go fix your marriage. It’s not about you.” Even law enforcement believed the lies that her ex-husband was telling them. Questions would mount; when do I count? How am I not part of that equation? Why is my safety not being taken seriously?
After years studying body language and performance, she realized she was betraying her body’s own message of what acceptable treatment was and what she was allowing in her own life. She knew better. As much as she wanted to get him help, she was doing it at her own detriment. When he moved from threats to killing the cat to abusing her oldest daughter, she knew she had to leave no matter what the cost.
That eventual decision led her on a path to create the Body Language Strategy Academy where she teaches individuals about personal safety, body confidence and how to truly be proud of the story their body tells the world around them.
Today, in light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Kerstin joins the podcast to share her story about leaving an abusive relationship, finding her purpose, and building her business empire.
Overcomer Playlist Recommendation
Pearls of Wisdom
- Why you’re never stuck, no matter what the situation.
- Keep moving. The more you move, the more opportunities you’re going to find.
- It’s not about showing up perfect – it’s about stepping into your purpose.
- Why it’s important to dive into your purpose.
Tweetables“Your presence is the permission you give for how people interact with you.” - @kerstinoshields Click To Tweet “When you show up with purpose, people want to understand it, and they want to pull into it.” - @kerstinoshields Click To Tweet “If you don’t like it, it’s not yours.” - @kerstinoshields Click To Tweet “Reliability does not come through perfection. It comes through those things that make us human.” - @LIFEwithArwen Click To Tweet
- Kerstin O’ Shields
- The Body Language Strategy Academy
- You Are a Badass
- Think and Grow Rich
- She Handled It, So Can You!: An Inspiring and Empowering Financial Guide for Women
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Connect with Arwen Becker
I've been trapped in the room for hours. And I think the last time he did it, I was in the room for six hours. And finally, a family member came over in that moment, and she's going, whoa, this is illegal. he can’t do this.
Arwen Becker: Since we're covering a pretty heavy topic today, I thought I would start out with a little something funny just to lighten the mood.
A little bit over a decade ago, a girlfriend had come over to my house to visit and she had brought her infant daughter. And so, as she was getting ready to leave, we went out to her truck in order to put her daughter into the car seat. So, she's getting her all strapped in and my 4-year-old, Ashton, he runs up to me and he says, “Mommy, Mommy, I need to go to the bathroom.”
And I guess, a little bit, maybe to my husband's frustration, I kind of thought… I only had one sister. So, I thought that as a mom of boys, every once in a while, you could just send them out into the bushes to go pee, right? So, I just motioned over the bushes that were just kind of up the sidewalk and I just said, just go over there. And so, Tia and I continued to talk back and forth as we were standing at her truck.
And then all of a sudden, I saw this look of surprise on her face which drew my glance. About 50 feet up the sidewalk, that's where I saw Ashton. He had proceeded to pull his pants down to his ankles and he tried to get as little buns as close as he could to the bush that I had motioned to him to go to the bathroom in, well, needless to say he needed to go poop.
So, we stood there and we were hysterically laughing as we were watching him try to do his best to get those little buns as close as he could to this prickly bush and he just ended up going to the bathroom on the sidewalk. And I guess, what I learned from that day, is that you need to ask your kids what kind of “bathroom” they need to go before you send them off in the bushes.
So, truthfully, I don't have any sort of reasonable transition from that story into my next guest. But I am so excited and thrilled and honored that she decided to join us today. In light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, today's show is going to talk with my confident and powerful, wonderful guest, Kerstin O’Shields about her experience of leaving an abusive relationship and how out of that tornado, she found her purpose and built this brand-new business empire she now has.
Kerstin O’Shields is the CEO and Founder of the Body Language Strategy Academy. It's a training system for learning to communicate leadership and executive presence the way that you show up through enhanced body language and expression, messaging, and leadership skills. Kerstin works with international speakers, bestselling authors, real estate professionals, and business executives that are with Fortune 500 companies.
She speaks and trains internationally on body language strategy for business and has performed many keynote speeches and workshops for organizations like Google and eBay and the National Women's Council of Realtors and the Miss Washington program. And most importantly, she is the proud mom of two teenage daughters, Moira and Kyla. Welcome my friend to the show.
Kerstin O’Shields: Well, thank you so much for having me today. I'm very excited to be here.
Arwen Becker: I'm so happy to have you too. So, I know before we get into a heavier topic, that you have a sweet song that I've already added to my overcomer playlist. So, tell me what the song is and what it is that you like about it.
Kerstin O’Shields: The song is Salute by Little Mix. And I'm going to actually jump between two songs here because there's a song I've been singing for a really, really long time, back since I was a teenager, back in the early 90s when En Vogue was really big and they did a cover of Yesterday by The Beatles. And that it's talking about the strive of what you're dealing with and I love their cover.
It's, Yesterday, hey, hey, all my troubles seemed so far away. Hey. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday. Oh, yeah, I believe in…
That’s in a lot of people are experiencing right now. We're smack in the mix of feeling all those feels, but I think it's important to really prime yourself still and keep your focus towards what you want. And I think as women, that's so incredibly important, especially in these days that we're experiencing of how to balance everything and all of this craziness. And that's one of, even though there's more breaths, I'm not going to sing this.
Arwen Becker: I was going to be impressed if you pull that one out because I mean, your opera background, and I'm like, she can pull this one out, everybody for us.
Kerstin O’Shields: But I think it really speaks to, you know what, just step up and do it. The words are Ladies all across the world. Listen up, we're looking for recruits. If you’re with me, lemme see your hands. Stand up and salute.
This is my favorite part. Get your killer heels, sneakers, pumps and lace up your boots, representing all women, salute. And that's just like, girl get up and make it happen, that I'm listening to that song in the morning all the time to get me up and moving and like, Yeah, let's do this.
Arwen Becker: That was the first one that played on my playlist this morning. And I love that same frame that you pulled out because it's funny, because in my book I said almost the same thing in a sentence, it was like, get your high heels, your sneakers, or your hiking boots or something like that. And it's just like, however, you're going to get there and we all do it differently, but we're all powerful. And I just love that.
It speaks so much to what I know is the heart for you, of women really being empowered and these linking arms together, what is it that we can do to become more powerful and united as women, but still in our own differences. And that song is awesome. So, but thank you for singing. I was hoping that you would.
Well, as I mentioned at the start of the show, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month here in the States, and you and I had talked a little bit in the past, but this is something that you have had personal experience with. So, can you paint a little bit of a picture for us as to the woman that you used to be?
Kerstin O’Shields: There's definitely a woman I used to be. I would say it started from a very young age growing up in an alcoholic family, so it's a very volatile environment to grow up in. And what was really communicated to me and that the programming that comes in with that is, Kerstin, you're smart enough to know that this isn't okay, but don't say anything. And I know that message was said to me, honestly, for my own safety, to keep me from being a target of all that volatile environments and everything that was going on.
But it stuck with me for a long time. And it's something I carried with me of how I was approaching life, of really stepping into being the people pleaser and not actively standing up for myself as much as I should have. And that leads into so many different parts and with so many different people and relationships and definitely went into how things happened in my marriage, and not looking for those opportunities for things to go haywire, but they still, I think when you're looking at the world through that lens, you start to give space and without understanding in the moment, you start to allow some space for things to start getting volatile again.
And I definitely did not give permission to be in an abusive relationship, even though it happened. And I was very, very happy in the first two years of my marriage. As time started going on, things started to change. When we started to argue about what… Every marriage, you're going to have an argument. That's part of the growth process. That's part of two humans living underneath the same roof, trying to figure out how you're going to make this work.
And the disagreement started to move more into a violent space. He got physically abusive with me once, and my tactic which I had learned young was if things started getting volatile, just walk away. Don’t stay in the environment, leave. Get out of the target zone. And so, when I started feeling that, those things were coming up between us, I would start to walk away and he grabbed me by the back of the neck and tried to control me and then tried to throw me down and he learned that wasn't going to work.
I was very, very blessed. And this is a message I've taken very deeply in, when I was 19, I was working at a restaurant and all the waitstaff in the wall hang out after, go out and we all get to know each other. And one of the guys that I worked with is a little bit older, he was in the martial arts. And he came up to me one time, he took me aside.
I think he could sense like, I was really that people pleaser type of person. And he said, “Kerstin, I want to have a talk with you because you're a pretty girl and not all men treat pretty girls the way they should.” And “if you're cool with it, I'd like to show you some self-defense stuff and just talk about that a little bit.”
And so, I was very blessed. And that was God’s like going, honey, you need this for later. Really, that was such a blessing because the thing that really has saved me in this aspect of being in an abusive relationship was, he goes, you're never going to win a fight. When somebody is coming at you, whether it's a stranger, whether it's someone you know, they're way ahead of you. Mentally, in the fight, their body's already playing because their adrenaline's already up, because they're already getting the sense of making the decision to come after you, so they're way ahead of you.
It's the whole process of fighting because you're never going to win that fight. But he goes, make yourself a hard target. So, the number one thing to do is keep moving, don't stop moving. No matter what the situation is, do not stop moving until you can get away. And that is what saved me hugely because that's what I did. When he grabbed, I kept moving and pushing him off. And he realizes like, oh, wow, she's going to fight back. This isn't going to work.
So, he never tried that with me again after that. But there were instances where, and of course, I told him that was absolutely not okay. There's no way I'm going to put up with that. He went into counseling at that point to “fix it.”
He had been married before me. And it was my first marriage. And there had been some aggression in that marriage and he wanted to blame it on, Oh, that's how we were. I don't care.
Arwen Becker: If he had those issues in his prior relationship, how early on in your relationship with him do you feel you were starting to see these red flags?
Kerstin O’Shields: I would say about a year into our marriage.
Arwen Becker: And how long of a relationship had you been in with him at that point?
Kerstin O’Shields: We were together about a year and a half before we got married. So, that was again, about two, two and a half years in. That's when he started punching walls. That's when he would headbutt walls, which I thought was really weird. I was like, What are you doing?
And then, there was one instance where again, I was doing that, okay, he is getting too ramped up in our argument here. I started to walk away and he grabbed one of the cats and threatened to kill the cats.
Arwen Becker: Oh, my God.
Kerstin O’Shields: Yeah. And that's when I was like, Okay, this is not okay. Definitely not okay.
Arwen Becker: As you're looking back on this because all the times that I've been with you and certainly, this is something that I know that you've said from stages that one of the biggest things that people compliment you on is your posture. And it's really this more so than just the posture, it's how you enter the room and this presence that you have that it’s so stunning and it's so confident and it's so self-assured. Yet, I think, what can be so surprising and I'm an example of that, too, of how somebody can believe that they can take advantage of somebody who even to the outside world appears to have it all together.
And I think that's a lot of what you teach and you help to train other people because what appears to be confidence and what we allow people to do or to start to do or how we present ourselves really is a reflection of how we see ourselves, too. How do you reconcile a woman like you who is that confident, but still, there was somebody, he thought that he could do that to you?
Kerstin O’Shields: And that's hugely 100% what you said it, I'm so passionate about teaching that because of exactly that. Back in that moment, as a singer and as a performer, I had still good posture but I, unfortunately, have what I call the disease, which is the benefit-of-the-doubt disease.
And I guess, I was giving too many chances. I kept saying, This isn't okay, but then I would give another chance. And then, Okay, it's not okay, but then I would give another chance. And what I was really doing was betraying my own message. I wasn't standing behind it. And my thought process at that point was, Why care about this person? I want him to get help, which I did. Desperately. Unfortunately, I was doing it at my own detriment.
Arwen Becker: One of my other guests we talked about the same thing, too, and it's the same thing. I mean, she just said, at what point there would be this honeymoon phase where he would be aggressive and abusive, and then it's like, oh, my gosh, I love you, I'll never do that again, whatever I need to do to keep this together and draw her back into this cycle that just continued to perpetuate and perpetuate. How old were you during this time?
Kerstin O’Shields: I got married when I was 26. So, this was in my late 20s that this was happening.
Arwen Becker: Late 20s. So, if you were talking to yourself back in your late 20s, what would you have told yourself at that point when these things were occurring?
Kerstin O’Shields: Leave.
Arwen Becker: It seems so simple and easy.
Kerstin O’Shields: Well, it’s hard, and I think this is the part that's not talked about as much. About five years into the marriage, I went and asked for help from family, and the message was when you're married, you need to go fix your marriage. And so, inside it was such a turmoil because I'm like, oh, when do I count?
And it wasn't even in my marriage that I was being told that. I didn't count because I was being abused. And then, I go outside for help and I'm still being told, well, it's not about you, it's about your marriage. How am I not part of that equation? Why is my safety not being taken seriously?
Arwen Becker: So, how did you finally get to the point where you recognized that it didn't matter what family or professionals were saying that was contrary to the way you felt, lack of safety at home and the lack of respect and all of the other pieces that went with it? What was the time period where you finally said, this is not going to happen to me anymore? I am worth more than this? No.
Kerstin O’Shields: Unfortunately, I was married for 12 years. So, it was a very long period. I accepted, Okay, I'm stuck. And I just found out that frame of mind for a while, and then it escalated into he would trap me in room. And I've been trapped in the room for hours. And I think the last time he did it, I was in the room for six hours. And finally, a family member came over in that moment, and she's going, whoa, this is illegal. he can’t do this.
And that finally gave it like, Okay, finally someone sees this isn't okay. And I even have a cop come. This is the one that made me crazy. Even that a cop come to the house in one of these instances, or I'm talking to him on the phone. And my ex-husband had talked to him first. And then I get on the phone with him. And he's like, Well, here's the thing. You guys got to work this out because I got the real story from your husband.
So, there were so many different places I was getting this message of, you don't matter, you don't count in this. And it finally got to the point when I caught him being abusive with my oldest daughter, Moira. That was it. That's when I was done. And I know this is a big spot for you. Women feel stuck financially in marriages. And that was one of the huge things like, I can't get help from other people. I don't know how I'm going to do this on my own. To truly leave, I have to do this on my own fully.
And when it got to the point where he’d kind of being abusive with Moira, I really had to get to that place where I would rather live in my car than live in this marriage anymore. If that's what it takes, fine. It is not emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, financially worth it anymore. I’m done. I don't know what that looks like, but I know what this looks like. And I can't do this anymore.
Arwen Becker: I heard the exact same thing from Jessica Conness who her episode ran before yours, and it was that same, I mean, she stayed so much longer because she wasn't working, she had a baby. And yet, for years, the abuse went on severely. And it wasn't until her daughter was threatened. What does that say about us, as women, here, we're willing to put such enormous value on our children and their safety and their protection and do absolutely like you said, anything, I will live in my car, I will do whatever is necessary, it does not matter. It does not matter, I will figure this out.
But it was only until your daughter was now threatened, yet your own life, not valuing it the same and staying so much longer because you said you were recognizing these things within the first year of your marriage but yet, we're talking a 12-year process or 11-year process after that. And that's the thing that I hear over and over, as I'm having these conversations that will put so much higher value on other people, women just do this, will advocate and they'll still stress and they'll strain a little, do whatever it is to help protect other people, but what's our value in that?
Kerstin O’Shields: Exactly. And why does that not matter? Why are we giving space for that? Why are we letting those messages still permeate many, many parts of life, many, many aspects of who we encourage to be in our lives, different things that we choose to participate in. It's still like, Well, you know you're the mom. That particular phrase and the way it’s said, Well, you know you're the mom, is automatically said in the, well, you don't care as much, so you just have to deal, which is what again, the message of, well, you're just going have to deal. That sucks, but you're just going to have to deal and that's, Wow, that’s just crap.
I just want to say, and I realized that as soon as I got out of this awful situation, and literally, life is like, Okay, you got to figure it out right now. Part of what I really actively put time and thought and energy into was, what's the message I want my daughters to get from this? It really hit me so hard in that moment. I am the example of what this looks like. And I'm going to be intentional about that.
Arwen Becker: Because what you allow, they will allow in their future.
Kerstin O’Shields: It's what permission I give is the permission I'm giving them to give, too.
Arwen Becker: So, what did happen? I mean, what was that like when you finally said, it doesn't matter, whatever I have to do, was it truly as bad as you thought it was going to be when you finally made that break?
Kerstin O’Shields: It was scary because of that big unknown. It was the biggest sigh of relief I have experienced in my life. I had many people, are you having a hard time with letting go over the relationship? By that time, I was like, no. Scratch that, it was not. Absolutely not.
And I think, it was interesting, I didn't give myself space to hide from what was happening. Purposely, I didn't watch TV because I didn't want to numb out. I had music going on in the background. Music has been my companion for a very, very long time. And that’s when I started to get into the self-development books, that's when I started diving into more of my faith. What does that look like? I got more involved with my church.
And I would say it was about a three- to four-month turnover where I was finally like, okay, we're not going to be living in the car. Now, I'm not joking, there were months where I was literally searching through the car, ripping up the cushions in my couch trying to find pennies. I mean, I really remember having in every single account I own, I had one account that had three cents in it. I literally had three cents to my name.
And I was very blessed to getting more involved with church. I got involved with their group things and through that, one of the people there gave me an invitation to meet one of their friends who's a corporate business person and a financial coach. And so, that's when I started getting exposure to, what does financials look like? I'm like, well, we have zero to work with, so what does that look like?
Arwen Becker: You're really going up from here.
Kerstin O’Shields: We are literally starting from scratch. So.
Arwen Becker: What are things that you said… Actually, there were two things that you said that so resonated with me. One, you didn't hide. So often and I'm certainly guilty of it, too, when we're feeling guilt or shame about something that we feel like, people won't understand, we hide.
You brought it out into the light, you talked about it, you got support, and then you went and you sought support from a support network which again, a lot of times, we don't want to face these pieces. And so, you found that from your church.
But then you also didn't numb your way through it because any sort of grief, the loss of a relationship, the loss of an idea of what this relationship was supposed to be, the amount of people are like, this is your marriage and you need to go work it out. And marriage is tough, and marriage is hard. And it's like, well, then I must suck because I couldn't somehow fix it and make it work.
So, the grief that you experienced from that, but you allowed yourself to walk through it and to feel it because you have to, you can't avoid grief, you have to be willing to let it flow, and go through it and recognize the sooner I let this kind of these waves come through, there'll be less over time and I'll find myself on the other side of it if I don't numb it with alcohol and drugs and Netflix or work or whatever it might be. And so, I just so admire you, I just wanted to make sure that those two things are really pulled out because I think that's really important.
Kerstin O’Shields: Thank you. And they're not easy to do. They're really, and you have to be dedicated to it. You have to do it with attention. It was interesting, I remember getting just a ridiculous amount of advice from everybody once you get divorced. Everybody's giving you advice. This is how you make your life better, this is how you make your life better for your kids, oh, blah, blah, blah.
And now, I'm dealing with my kids gone every other weekends. And you never envisioned that type of thing. And I remember the silence just grating at my bones, but the energy and the shift in the house of just, because you get used to that kind of chaotic energy. And people don't talk about that a lot. That grief part is actually getting used to calm and stepping into, Okay, what does it mean to have peace because I don't know what that feels like? That's another huge scary unknown.
And I think women struggle with, well, I'm trying to do this, but it feels like the peace actually feels hard because it’s so different. And then, I think, that’s part of why it's not talked about. It's like, well, you're trying to make peace, shouldn’t you feel better? And you're like, well, I'm freaking trying to.
Arwen Becker: But this just doesn't feel normal to me.
Kerstin O’Shields: Yeah, I don't know what how to do with this.
Arwen Becker: When you're in survival mode for a long time and then all of a sudden, you find yourself not there, I think there is such a huge tendency to kind of be on pins and needles going, when is it going to get bad again? When am I going to go back to that feeling again?
Kerstin O’Shields: Waiting for the shoe to drop. Yeah. And you just stay in that survival mode. And that's one thing that I really learned for myself and that really brought into my practice is, if you want things to be different, they need to feel different, they need to be different. And you have to step into dig and remind yourself, okay, this is different. It feels wonky, and that means you're moving towards something different, not what you want,
Arwen Becker: Different is not bad.
Kerstin O’Shields: Different is not bad. The more intention you give it, the more you're going to get to the different thing you want. That’s where I started to learn that process. I had to think differently in my head. I really had to learn to think differently in my head. And I normally don't swear, it’s right to be the first time I've ever used an F-bomb live.
Arwen Becker: Yeah.
Kerstin O’Shields: But, you’re like, yeah, bring it. But I call it the F-bomb story because it really had such a pivotal change for me. I think I was divorced for about six months and we went over to a friend's house and I had the girls met over there. And these are friends I've had since college, and we got into the, Okay, Kerstin, really, how are you doing? And these are my people. So, this is where we're getting into the real deep conversations.
And I was struggling, I was right smack in the middle of that, like, I'm trying to find peace. It's so hard because I don't know what this looks like. I'm trying to figure out how to make this happen. I'm trying to get some of my own. I'm trying to support the household. I'm trying to be a mom now. I'm trying to raise my girls by myself. Now, I'm back into dating, which is not cool. That's a whole big nightmare, especially as a single mom.
And God bless my friend who was like, okay, well, let's look at this a little bit differently. And I'm like, What do you mean? And he goes, Well, you're the only adult in the household now. You have full say over everything that happens. You don't have to argue with someone else over the rules for the girls in the house. Again, he was trying to give me that shift of difference.
Arwen Becker: Reframing.
Kerstin: Reframing, and I was really resistant. I can go, but I'm doing this by myself and it's so hard. I was so in that space. And he goes, Kerstin, you know that voice you hear in the back of your head that when you're going through this and tells you're not good enough, you're not pretty enough, this is so hard. And I'm like, Oh, yeah, I hear her all the time. And he goes, What's that fucking bitch ever done for you?
And here's the thing, he's a man who is very, very well spoken. He’s VP in these top Fortune 500 companies, very chill, cool, again, very much in that reframing, how to be very positive. It's pretty sad that I felt like I got slapped across the face. It just caught me so off guard.
Arwen Becker: Yes, indeed.
Kerstin O’Shields: Yes. And it really hit me. It's like, gosh, she’d never done anything good for me.
Arwen Becker: She is a bitch, get rid of her.
Kerstin O’Shields: She’s a bitch.
Arwen Becker: Tell her to shut up.
Kerstin O’Shields: Right. And I remember a couple weeks later, I was in my kitchen and it's one of those weeks where everything's going wrong and all those voices were starting to come up in my head again. And I'm an opera singer, I have a big voice and at the top of my lungs, I was like, stop it. And everything went quiet, outside and inside my head, like, stopped. That's when I realized all the self-development stuff I've been reading like, Holy smokes, I do get to, decide what I think.
That was the first time I really, really full on experienced. I have full control of this. This is not just her and me going back and forth and whoever wins, wins. This is me actively and that really changed everything. And I remember after that, again, having another very hard week, sitting with my financial advisor who's now a very good friend of mine. And I'm just sobbing literally in the middle of the coffee shop, having a hot meltdown. And I stopped and she's like, are you okay?
And I will never forget this conversation for as long as I live. And I said, “I think so’” and she said, “So what do you want to do?” And I said, “First, I'm going to go in the bathroom and I'm going to clean myself up. Second, I'm going to go get another cup of coffee. And third, I want to figure out my financial life because I'm sick of being broke.” It was so funny because every time I said that, she was like, Okay. Okay. Okay. All I needed was that permission. That's all I knew, reflect, Okay. That's something that's doable.
And it was in that moment, she and I sat there and strategized. She had grown up in the performance world as a dancer and singer. So, she understood my skill sets in the performance world, but she's also in the corporate world. And she was the one who said, my friend, Leah, she said, “Your presence, the way you show up on stage is so desperately needed in the business world.”
And I said, “Honey, I can get business from Soccer Moms, for kids who take voice lessons.” So, I was starting to bring in enough money to support us, but I was never seeing my kids. So, I've got to figure out something else, this isn't working. And so, with that, she said, “Okay, let me give you some exposure to this. Why don't you come to a mastermind that I'm a part of, just get a feel for the business world, and then we'll talk about it a little bit. We'll sit down and strategize.”
So, I got all dressed up, that I know how to do, and showed up to this mastermind. And there was about 10 of us there and we're all taking our turn introducing ourselves at the beginning of this meeting. It was my turn, I stand up.
And I said, “My name is Kerstin O’Shields. I'm the owner of O’Shields Studio, which is a voice studio and teaching kids and adults how to perform on stage. And I'm looking now to start a new business and take that same skill set and to helping people in how they're showing up on stage for their business, whether you're an author, business person, entrepreneur, whatever that looks like for you, but how to really show up dynamically, engage more people about your business. And the guy next to me put his hand down, he goes, Well, I'm really glad to meet you, because I'm your first client. And I went, I’m really glad to meet you.
Kerstin O’Shields: And so, I freaked out a little bit after that first meeting. I talked with him, if you don’t have a client right now, I don’t know what to do with him, I have no idea how to do this. And she said, just do a discovery, get a feel for what he's looking for, what you need, or what he's looking for and help, and then we can start to tailor around that.
So, I met with him, and I think it took maybe 5 to 10 minutes, and I went, Okay, I get it. I see it. I see what that transfer looks like for what I've done my whole life, it's how I can help other people and that was the birth of Body Language Strategy.
Arwen Becker: How long ago was that?
Kerstin O’Shields: It'll be eight years ago in February.
Arwen Becker: Wow. And it's amazing because there's a lot of people who have great ideas of businesses and things that people are constantly telling them, gosh, you're so good at that. And yet, we minimize it because we have our own internal dialogue, that woman on your shoulder that you had to yell at, who's telling you all the things that you're not, but it's so incredible when you finally take that step of faith and you believe that this gift that you have that everybody keeps saying as a gift, that you're willing to accept your value and not give it away for free.
Do you think anything that you went through in the past was a piece that ended up framing you choosing to go that route and build that company?
Kerstin O’Shields: Absolutely. I think a couple things, that one piece of advice that I got from the friend who was a martial artist, just keep moving, no matter what. And I gave myself permission to do that. Stepping into this idea of what would that look like to take my gifts and use it in a different way and really be willing to let that continue to grow.
I will say the learning curve was not a curve, it went straight up. There was zero curve in that learning, which was a lot. And then that I had to keep moving and figuring it out. And that's the beauty of this process is that's nothing stopped and it shouldn't. That then stepping into that and understanding that is part of the joy of growing and learning in the business and where now I have the academy, that's what got me to this point.
Arwen Becker: Yeah. And now, you get to see how the work that you do impacts other people in their own life, how they get to show up in a much more powerful way, not only to be successful, I mean, success whether monetarily or accolades or whatever that might be, but coming back to the core of what you experienced, just overall safety, just how you show up in the moments that you're walking through Starbucks, the moment that you're out at the gas station, these are the things that you teach women especially and are so, so valuable to their overall daily safety. And I think that that was one of the things that I really admired when I saw you speak for the first time.
Kerstin O’Shields: Well, thank you. And that's something and this is my selfish part, my joy meter just goes through the roof when I watch somebody go from, like you said, those really protective hands crossed or head really to the side, going into that very submissive, giving up their power kind of body stance for the purpose of them stepping into their gifts, really fully standing in the balance and the center of that, standing proudly in that, standing confidently in that and then, it’s that that candle lights of candle. When that person is like that, you're now giving other people permission to do the same thing.
Arwen Becker: Yeah, absolutely.
Kerstin O’Shields: It up-levels every single room. And so, watching me going through that process with somebody, oh my gosh, my joy meter is off the chart.
Arwen Becker: I bet, I can still believe it. So, when you look back, when you think back to all of these years now that have gone by, what are some of the things that you really learned in that process that you would just say, you know what, this is what I took away from going through that experience?
Kerstin O’Shields: I think one of the biggest messages is, you're never stuck. No matter what the situation is, you are never stuck. And again, that idea to keep moving. The more you move, the more opportunities you're going to find, and let people see you moving, don’t try to hide it. Allow people to see you actively moving in to your greatness. And it doesn't have to be perfect. By all means, please don't be perfect.
Oh, Lord, that's one of the biggest things I preach at the BLS Academy is this is not about showing up perfect. We do not want to create Stepford Wives. That is 100% to know. It's really about stepping into your purpose. And I think, especially as women, we get really, really caught up in that idea of we need to show up perfect. And that's what creates all those little pockets of shame and guilt. And that's what pulls us back into one’s backyard because I'm not perfect and I can't get out of this.
It's so important to really dive into your purpose. And I think that starts to open the door and opens your own vision into clarity of what does that look like, what needs to be a part of that. And you get to choose what that looks like. You get to choose what that looks like. You are not stuck, that yours is going to be processed, you better believe it. Yours is definitely going to be processed, but you're never stuck ever.
Arwen Becker: Yeah, absolutely. Anything else on that topic?
Kerstin O’Shields: I think back to my grandma a lot. A lot. Very beautiful woman. She had eight kids. I think there's 18 grandchildren, many, many great grandchildren. And I have never once heard her yell at anybody. She was such a lady. She always wore pearls. I wear pearls all the time in remembrance of her. And she used to say this all the time when something frustrating was happening. She would go, well, I just don't know why a person would do that. And you're like, Oh, well, yeah, I don't know either. I’m sorry.
Kerstin O’Shields: That was such a shining example, to me, of your presence is the permission you give for how people interact with you, of the environment that you create around you. And so, that's something that I think about a lot is, me just walking into a room. What's the permission and the purpose that I'm giving with this? Before you even say hello, what does that look like?
And again, it’s not to look perfect, but when you show up with purpose, people want to understand it and they want to pull into it. And perfect has that really like that nasty taste in your mouth, especially when we’re to service ourselves so much trying to be perfect.
Arwen Becker: It's the relatability. The relatability does not come through perfection. It comes through those things that make us human. And that's where people, just like you said, when you're still in your purpose, even though you're kind of going, you're traversing this road trying to figure out exactly where your calling is and kind of going back and forth in the center line, but as long as you're going somewhere, people at least can respect that versus I'm terrified to do the wrong thing and fail.
So, therefore, I'm just going to stay here where it's safe and I won't look stupid and I won’t make a mistake and people won't think less of me or whatever. And people are going to think things about you one way or another, whether you're doing right or wrong.
Kerstin O’Shields: Exactly. I mean, people are going to make up their own stuff. Don't worry about what they're doing. And I think the other message I really got from my grandma's and she was so funny because she's like, we'll, I'm just going to bring my happiness whether you want it or not.
Arwen Becker: I like your grandma. So, in the last few minutes, rapid fire three questions, so best piece of financial advice that you've been given, or wisdom?
Kerstin O’Shields: Step into it. Your plan is never going to be the same. The whole point is it continues to move, but unless you're stepping into it, you don't know what to do with it.
Arwen Becker: That's good. And then a book that you would recommend, and why?
Kerstin O’Shields: Oh, my goodness, there's so many. I love an audiobook, You Are a Badass. I love those books so much. I prefer them on audiobook way more than reading them because the vocal tone that she uses is exceptional and so funny. Think and Grow Rich, any of those are so key. I'm a big fan of Brendon Burchard books. Just again, very intentional, learn the intentional side of your lives.
Arwen Becker: Definitely. And then, what is a favorite quote of yours?
Kerstin O’Shields: Oh, my goodness. My favorite quotes, I'm trying to remember who, it’s an anonymous thing. If you don't like it, it's not yours.
Arwen Becker: If you don't like it, it's not yours. Yeah, I get that. That’s deep. That's simple and deep.
Kerstin O’Shields: Yeah. If you don’t like it, It's not yours. Why are you spending so much time worrying about it then, it's not yours.
Arwen Becker: I love it. That's so good. So, how can we get ahold of you? Anything that you would like our listeners to look up of yours? How can they follow you? Give us all the goods.
Kirsten O’Shields: Oh, I would love for people to contact me. You can always go to theblsacademy.com and/or you can contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. And again, I get so much joy, a ridiculous amount of joy from helping people to step into their greatness. So, I want to get your listeners with a five-day body language online challenge.
So, walking through five different days of five different areas of life. And really, the hashtag that we have for the Academy is, how are you showing them. And that's how we're looking at each one of those days. And so, in each day, you're receiving a video training, you're receiving an actual success tool, like, here's that training, here's how to put it into action. We're always doing the tangibles. This is something tangible you can put into your day right now to start showing up with more purpose. And then, you can take each one of those and step it into the next day. So, that will leave a link for that to connect to.
But again, the main thing is, there's many, many courses that are out the Academy, the BLS Academy. For specific areas of where you feel like you're not showing up the way I want to, I want something different, and how people are responding to me and more importantly, how I'm responding to them. Body language strategy is about how are you proactively showing up, not reactively.
What's the proactive side? Where you can step into a room, you can create the environment with your presence and pull in the reaction you're looking for, because our big mantra is what you reflect out is what is reflected back to you. That's the focus of all of it.
So, I invite everybody into this five-day challenge, an email sent to you each day with each new challenge of how to step into it. I love hearing which one is your favorite challenge. I love hearing so by all means, send me an email or you can send comments right there and the challenge of, oh my gosh, this was my favorite because and this was the… I totally see how this shifted, how people and how I'm creating purpose in my life. And we absolutely love getting those messages.
Arwen Becker: Oh good. Well, we'll make sure that we put all of that in the show notes. Kerstin, actually, she worked with my trainees for my training company LIFE with Arwen, where we were working on body language. This is what she does. She is very professional at it.
So certainly, take her up on the offer. I was mesmerized when I saw her do a three-hour training at an event I was an emcee. I couldn't believe I was like, who can mesmerize an audience for three hours of training, and this woman can.
So, you're not going to be disappointed, I guarantee you. So please, a lot of times we don't put emphasis on things that are “free.” But I'm telling you, you will get so much out of that. So, make sure that you go click on the link and you get what it is that she's able to offer you.
Kerstin O’Shields: And those trainings are going to happen virtually also. Now that we're in this phase, I'm doing those trainings all over the country and all over the world now virtually.
Arwen Becker: Yeah, I love that. That's so good. Well, thank you, my friend, for joining us today. It means the world to me. You have been such a blessing to me in such a short period of time. And I mean, I really have been amazed at how much I gleaned from you in just the two personal interactions that we've had.
And you are such a light to the life around you and the people and women especially to be able to show up in this powerful way with strength but grace and poise and the world needs a lot more of what you have to offer. So, thank you so much. And thank you for your honesty today.
Kerstin O’Shields: Thank you so much for the blessing of being here. And I feel truly blessed to have you in my life and I am very much and so appreciative of our connection and our time together every time.
Arwen Becker: Thank you
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