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Episode #12 Transcript - The Road to Being a Badass with Jenn Cassetta

Kelly: [00:00:00] So welcome back to Thrive Unafraid. We are here today with what I like to say is a dear friend that I still haven’t met in person. Jenn Cassetta is an empowerment coach, author, and self-defense expert. Her mission is to help you feel strong, safe, and powerful from the streets to the boardroom. She is a nationally recognized keynote speaker, health and empowerment coach, and get this a third degree black belt hapkido, did I pronounce…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Heto, a brush with death on September 11th, 2001, three blocks south of the World Trade Center then fending off an attacker. Late one night, months later, Jen took a deep dive into martial arts training where she learned how to harness the power of mind. Body and spirit. So welcome to the show, Jen. After that bio, I’m sure our listeners are going to wanna hear a little bit more about your September 11th experience in New York [00:01:00] City. if you wanna start with that or should we start with the Ted Talk?

Doug: Well, I guess, how about this? So when, when I first started researching you coming on the show, one of the first things I did was go watch your TEDx talk. So tell us how that came about, and then in that process, kind of walk us through your, your nine 11 story.

Jenn: First of all, thanks for having me on. I’m excited to be here with you all. The TEDx talk came at the end of my book tour, essentially. It just so happened that it came at the end of the book tour, something that I had wanted to do for many years. So you’re given that opportunity, I decided to kind of take my. Book, which is also a keynote and condense it down into that very small time slot that you have, which for me was 16 minutes. and really share my story of September 11th because it is a pivotal moment in my life and [00:02:00] for many folks too, I think. Especially in New York and the tri-state area at that time, but really all over, I think the country and world, people were affected.

So anyway, it starts with that story. And then, the framework that I’ve because of the martial arts training that I’ve done, which is called the Art of Badassery. 

Doug: So you had, so prior to 9/11, you had started martial arts training, right? Because I…

Jenn: in.

Doug: Right. You were attending a dojo there. But there was a seminal shift that happened as a result of that event.

Jenn: A year in training and I showed up to work one morning, which I was an event planner for a space that hadn’t even opened yet, and got into the subway like just a normal Tuesday. Got out of the subway at Wall Street and realized that something massive was wrong, because I looked up and saw black smoke billowing out of the World Trade [00:03:00] Center.

And there are a few moments because you guys are all, the whole point of this show is really to talk about safety and awareness. There were a few moments on the subway, coming into the platform that were different. That definitely felt like something was off. It was stopping going, stopping stalling, and I’m like, what’s happening?

But not until I arose from the subway that I actually saw what had happened. Not that I knew what…

Kelly: Hmm.

Jenn: …actually happen, but that something was wrong. Made it to the place that I was working at. The doorman was very freaked out. Wouldn’t let me upstairs where my office was and instead just said, well, you can use the phone in the lobby if you’d like. So I thought, well, okay, who, who should I call? , like I, so I was like, I’ll call my mom because she’s probably worried, right? She knows I worked downtown and if this made the news, then she’s probably worried. She reminds me that I spoke to her in a childlike voice. So I called her, at her [00:04:00] work and I, and I called her mommy.

I said, mommy, there’s a, there’s a hole in the World Trade Center. logical, normal. Jen would not use those terms and, and not call my mother mommy at, 20 something years old. So I was obviously in a state of shock. fight, flight freeze had definitely set into my body. And to make a long story short, seconds later, the first tower fell and a swarm of people come rushing into the lobby.

The phone goes flying out of my hands. I get pushed into this closet, like a utility closet where everyone was hiding and looking for shelter. So I just remember being frozen. speak. I remember seeing… there was a police officer there with us. I kind of remember him telling me to shut up, which is fine.

I get it. but the good news is this lovely woman came over to me and put her hands on my shoulder, [00:05:00] asked me my name, which forced me to take a breath, right? And get out of that mode, frozen mode. Answer her, Jennifer, and she said, Jennifer, I’m Nancy. And the two of us, we’re gonna get out of here today. sure enough, that officer had evacuated us from the building right after that because I think he probably thought it was gonna come down on us. everyone scattered, Nancy and I just then ran, right? Like. South. We went south and just running from building to building, looking for a safe place. We found one, we got kicked out of there when the second tower fell.

So it was just chaos for hours until I thought, well, let me take Nancy to the dojo, which was in soho. So a little bit of a walk, but at least there I feel like we can get some, some calmness and some safety. So we made it there. Walk in, covered in soot and ash. And I remember the TV was on, there was a couple folks in there and able to drink water.

I took a shower and Nancy finally went home. [00:06:00] for the first time that day, I felt that security, that safety, and I believe that that planted this seed, you know, like a metaphor, like all I wanted to do was go to this safe place. In the weeks and months and then years following

Kelly: Mm-hmm.

Jenn: horrible, tragedy.

Doug: Real quick, what had made you decide to start martial arts training a year before that?

Jenn: Interesting enough. My father had been a martial artist for many years prior, and saw the change in him. He was essentially born to immigrant parents, grew up in the Bronx, NYPD. Little rough, little rough around the edges. But as he got older, he left the police force and went into real estate and he worked, he was obsessed with personal development.

So reading all the books, listening all the tapes, and then got into martial arts and even went even [00:07:00] more, like more peaceful, more calm. There was just like, he definitely had that hot head temper from time to time, but it was, was. Tampered, it was, tempered. It was…

Doug: Yeah.

Jenn: …control. And anyway, I’m living in New York.

I’m young in my twenties, had graduated college a couple years prior and living on my own, and I thought, I’m kind of bored with the gym. Let me try this whole martial arts thing and see how it goes. I had found the perfect instructor, the perfect in New York that was just welcoming and amazing, and I fell in love.

Doug: What made you choose hapkido?

Jenn: It wasn’t like I chose hapkido. I feel like the Dojo found me. It was randomly next office that I worked in, and my father’s Grand Master, who is an hour away, just happened to recommend this particular teacher that was next door. [00:08:00] Right. So it was like kismet. It just completely…

Doug: Sure.

Kelly: Yeah. Yep.

Doug: Well, and for our listeners, perhaps it’d be helpful if you described that, most of them are familiar with MMA and BJJ now, right? Because of the prevalence, some of them might remember karate and judo, but can you talk to them about what Hapkido is and particularly the philosophy behind it that kind of influences you today?

Jenn: The martial arts is called hapkido and literally translates to the way of, so “do” is always the way. “Ki” is your life force energy and “hop” is to harmonize. So in Korean it’s to harmonize your… the way of harmonizing your life force energy. It’s a very mixed martial art, not in the MMA kind of way, but a mixed meaning: we learn self-defense, we learn katas, we learn weaponry, we learn meditation. Really it’s an art form versus kind of the UFC or [00:09:00] MMA stuff that you see on TV, which is more of sport, right? So this is a true… I know it sounds so cheesy, but it really is. If you Cobra Kai, it really is like the Miyagi do.

You can tell it’s a way of living versus just a thing you do an hour a day and go home and don’t think about it anymore.

Doug: Great. So you went, got to do this TED Talk, right? And when you got that opportunity on the tail end of your book tour, what was success in that environment look like? What did you want your audience to walk away with there?

Jenn: I wanted the audience just to be moved to know that there are ways in life to reclaim your power, to feel confident no matter what is happening out there. And I think that’s the most important thing because I’ve been in periods of my life where I felt stuck, where I was in survival mode, [00:10:00] but I used the wisdom of the Dojo to really move me through it. And the wisdom is very holistic. It’s mind, body, and spirit. And that’s again why I wanna highlight here about martial arts, right? In general, and especially the Hapkido that I was trained in, it truly was a holistic system, not just a physical thing. It’s not just a – yes I was learning self-defense moves, but there was just so much more. So, yeah, that’s what I wanna leave people with. Just like a little framework, a little taste of this framework. And the ability to know that they can move through anything that life hands them.

Doug: Well, and basically you’re teaching, I guess the goal often as I interpret it, is you’re focusing on encouraging people to know themselves better in order to better be empowered to deal with whatever comes at them, as they walk about their life.

Jenn: Self-awareness is, [00:11:00] I think, the key to any type of personal development, right? You have to know yourself, your thoughts, and really be aware of how you move through the world.

Doug: Great. Thanks.

Kelly: Well, and with that Ted talk, , you’re talking about nine 11 a lot, but then

Jenn: mm

Kelly: …the attacker, that happened a few, was…

Jenn: Like a year later, I don’t know, in the same year, I could barely remember, that that year was very, a…

Doug: A blur.

Jenn: For sure.

Kelly: I mean, if…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …sharing a little bit with our…

Jenn: Absolutely. So I was, I went to a party, I took a taxi home to my apartment and instead of letting, of having the taxi drop me off in front of my door, I said, just let me off at the corner, because there was a friend in the taxi with me and he had to keep going uptown. [00:12:00] So, right. I mean, obviously.

Kelly: Like you’re at the time…

Jenn: Yeah, totally. Being accommodating the taxi driver and my friend, right? So there I am and then I decide to take out my phone and see, Ooh, I have a voicemail from the guy I was seeing, so I’m gonna check this voicemail. That’s really important right now. And next thing I know, there was just like someone up my dress grabbing me. So I. Again, the, the fight flight freeze. I can, I could feel it, I could feel this like whoosh of adrenaline just piping through my body. I spin around really quickly and again, I just, I usually tell this story after the nine 11 story because it’s a contrast in there. I was frozen and here just went into fight mode, like really quickly.

I just had this sense of like, how dare you. [00:13:00] me. How dare you…

Doug: Hmm.

Jenn: This is close to me even. And I just remember seeing his face go from like, like this Ugh. I’m gonna get you sinister…. Thank you. In case. Someone’s listening to the podcast, and then kind of like, oh, shit. Like I just messed with the wrong person. Yeah. And so I just started getting big and, waving my arms and screaming and cursing and he just took off running. was wearing stilettos that night and I remember just starting to run after him, which is a db idea, not something I recommend, but. But you know, it was just this anger and adrenaline and obviously he took off and I never caught him or anything like that.

But that again, now all of a sudden I’m going back to the dojo and I’m like, gosh, how did that happen? And I start to like play it over and over in my head. And I decided then to go even deeper [00:14:00] into my training because I also started to learn how often this happens to not just women in the area.

I was getting reports from women in the area that had the same type of guy. It might have been the same guy even, to then diving into statistics on sexual assault and awareness and all of that. So, When I started to hear the statistics, one in five, one in four college women, I was stunned.

It really shocked me.

Doug: When you looked at yourself that night and, and started to understand what had happened and how you got there, what were your takeaways?

Jenn: Definitely, like I said, if I’m getting in a taxi to go home, have it at least drop me off in front of my home. The second obvious thing is there’s no need to check a voicemail to check a text these days on social media, and have my head in my phone when. I mean, it’s the middle of the night, there was no reason I [00:15:00] could have just waited until I got in my apartment safely, et cetera, et cetera.

So are the takeaways. And the takeaways are there’s crappy people out there too on the street that don’t care, even if you were being aware sometimes.

Kelly: Mm-hmm.

Jenn: This is never to victim blame or blame myself even. But

Doug: Right.

Jenn: …good to go back and say, well, going forward now, I won’t do this. I’ll do this instead, et cetera.

Doug: Control the controllables,

Kelly: Right. Well, and I think a big thing that I like to point out because so often the sexy part of self-defense is having all the right moves or taking your stiletto off and jamming it in their eye. Okay, maybe that’s more gory, but the fact that you just so infuriated…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …how dare you and you weren’t going to…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: Scared. You were kind of like…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …this is what’s up. And [00:16:00] you came

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: ,,,force, or you channeled that anger, energy, that adrenaline rush into no, no, no. I am going to…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: I’m going to curse. How much of a lady

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: I am during the day, I am

Jenn: Fbo

Kelly: swear word. My mom would wash my

Jenn: totally.

Kelly: with soap when I was growing up.

That’s a big thing too, is I think so often for women, we forget how powerful the simple

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: of yelling.

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Using our voice

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: getting big. when I say get big,

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: your arms around, whatever, because that’s the last thing

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: expecting. You’re disrupting their Ooop now because they thought you

Jenn: Right.

Kelly: intimidated. They would think that maybe this person I’m targeting is going to.

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: Cower and instead by getting bigger and being like, what

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: and getting upset,

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: that changed and, and you don’t know, well, what [00:17:00] would’ve happened if

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: You can play the what if game all day long. But I think that’s a huge takeaway too for people is don’t be afraid to use your voice.

Don’t be afraid because, and there’s not, again, no excuse for what he did.

Doug: Right.

Kelly: But if someone’s walking and…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …their eyes are in their phone and they bump into you because they’re not paying attention, and you turn around and you’re like, “excuse me.” You know, like instead of just, because then if they had no ill intent, they might feel really bad, but if they had ill intentions now they’re like, oh,

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly:  …she’s aware of me.

Jenn: Right.

Kelly: She’s gonna make noise. And sometimes that’s enough for…

Jenn: Well, that was a big eye opening moment for me. Obviously afterwards when you start to think back. But, like I didn’t have to use any of those fancy hop techniques or, ice throat, groin even. I just used my, I think, primal, very primal, protective, almost [00:18:00] animal-like way of protecting myself.

And I know it sounds weird, but I have these visions of the next few classes that I’m gonna teach. I’m gonna be doing retreat style stuff, I want women like growling. I want them barking. I want them roaring. I want them coming up with any sound in their body that just feels scary and don’t you even come near me.

Whatever that comes, comes out like…

Kelly: Mm-hmm.

Doug: …has heard me talk about a teaching I do called The Rule of the Stupids. Right? Don’t do stupid things with stupid people in stupid places at stupid times of the day or night. And without, as you talk about without getting into victim blaming, right? Learning how to use that decision rubric for how we make the choices.

Like we see kids today walking down the street at three in the morning after coming out of a bar with their heads stuck in their phones, getting them to [00:19:00] change. Break outta that. How much do you think your reaction that night was actually influenced by the experience you’d had on 9/11 and what you learned about yourself through that negative experience?

Jenn: What’s the word? Like, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I do now…

Doug: Cog? Yeah. Cognizant of the connection.

Jenn: …at all at the time, but I think, after having like that I worked it out on the map somehow and, all,

Doug: Right,

Jenn: …all through the movements getting strong in my body, sweating it out, leaving it on the mat somehow. Me in the next situation. Tell you what the connection is or anything like that, but I definitely know there are people that are locked in their trama so they might have…

Doug: Right.

Jenn: …another frozen response, [00:20:00] but by the grace of God and my training, that’s all I can say is I think it was just the training that helped.

Doug: I would say that the linear connection to me is looking at the fact that you took positive steps to take ownership and understanding of it, in order to process the trauma rather than retreat into yourself. And, and just, just hold it there. Cause I do think you’re right. People that face one traumatic experience, they’re gonna go one of two ways out of it.

They’re either gonna repeat the same thing or they’re gonna respond in a better form or fashion if they’ve gone through that learning. So it feels like that’s probably what happened there, and that creates a cycle that you can teach from to others as well.

Kelly: Right. And I love the physical aspect that you talk…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …leaving it on the mat because I do think for me, and I know that there’s really smart people out there who can talk intelligently about the connection, but for me, if I am stressed, if I’m angry, if I’m sad, if I’m [00:21:00] having any hard or heavy emotions…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …I need to sweat, I need to work out. I need to push around some heavy weights. I need to do some sort of an endurance cardio building exercise. And that…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …helps me.

Jenn: Yeah. And there the book, the Body Keeps the Score is all about how gets locked in our bodies if we’re not actively processing it, not just by talking, but through movement and…

Kelly: …right.

Jenn: Breath work and all the kinds of things that exercise normally has us do. That’s neat.

Kelly: And I have not read that book just yet, but I think we should. I’ll definitely put that…

Doug: A link in the show notes. Yeah.

Kelly: Yeah. So…

Jenn: I’m in the middle of it, just so…

Kelly: …are you…

Jenn: Yep.

Kelly: …the body keeps the score.

Doug: In fact, what we’d love for you to do is give us maybe two or three books that you think our listeners should listen to in addition to yours, of course, that they [00:22:00] should listen to or read, and, to help them kind of be better prepared for the world that they walk into every day when they leave their house.

Kelly: Yeah, because you’ve written other…

Jenn: Sharp women.

Kelly: Sharp women. Thank you. But I was gonna say, you’ve written…

Jenn: I did, I wrote a book called Hear Me Roar: How to Define, Defend Your Mind, Body, and Heart Against People Who Suck. I wrote it at the time for really college students. I was on the college circuit speaking a lot to, mostly sorority women. So that’s really who that book was for.

I even took it down from Amazon. so it’s not even available anymore. So yeah, nevermind. So we’re going.

Kelly: It’s scratched.

Doug: I was gonna get one for my daughter who’s a sorority girl.

Jenn: I might have some extra I can send you, but do you wanna know why do you want me to be completely honest with you? And you can keep this in or not,

Kelly: Yeah. Yeah.

Jenn: There’s a couple lines in there that I wrote that I don’t feel so good about anymore. and it essentially has to do with a kind of [00:23:00] personal responsibility and I still believe in that a hundred percent.

Like we need to, we all. Can take more responsibility for all our actions. but I happen to say something about, if you’re walking down the street with your boobs hanging out and you’re, you’re skirt up your ass, you’re kind of, you’re not asking for it by any means, but I said like, just be prepared that you might attract negative energy, whatever that looks like. Right. So, That’s just the world we live in. I don’t like that I, Anyway, that’s what I don’t feel good about the way I say it, but I…

Doug: Sure.

Jenn: Stand behind that message of, look, you can dress however you’d like. I do, sometimes I’m like, I’m going out in little booty shorts today, but hey, I’m gonna make sure I have sneakers on in case I gotta run.

I’m gonna be aware of [00:24:00] my surroundings. I’m gonna make sure I’m practicing situational awareness. And I also know just living in a woman’s body for 40 plus plus plus years, I understand that there are men out there that kind of are like hunting sometimes for, and they’re gonna throw negative comments.

They’re gonna say things and hopefully leave it at that. But, that’s the world we live in, especially if you live in a big city.

Doug: Again, back to that controlling the controllables, right? Doesn’t mean that you’re gonna not bear consequences whether they’re fair or unfair at all. It’s just the reality of this world we live in. So, yes, this woman should be able to wear whatever she wants to wear wherever she wants to go, and guys shouldn’t take advantage of or hunt.

And like everybody can agree on both of those [00:25:00] statements and also recognize that those statements being true doesn’t mean it’s not still gonna happen, that that conflict point isn’t gonna occur.

Jenn: Sometimes things are taken out of context these days and it’s like…

Doug: Sure.

Jenn: …on that one sentence versus the rest of the book, where the message is empowering.

Doug: Yeah. Right. So how do you say it better, do you think? I don’t… it’s a tough one.

Kelly: Yeah. 

Jenn: Hmm…

Kelly: This is a good one. This is one that I wanna scratch.

Doug: Because I think this is like, I actually think learning how to say this better for a large part of our listener base would be important, right? Learning how to say, Hey, this, be aware of the ramifications of this choice you make. And it could be clothing, it could be where you go, it could be who you hang out with.

It’s not just about boobs hanging out.

Jenn: I have gone through a bit of an evolution in my teaching over the years. I [00:26:00] did have an incident at a college campus where one of the students was in the room and did not like that I was teaching self-defense. She was angry. She was tweeting at me.

She wouldn’t stop that. She was a victim of this assault then domestic abuse and on and on and on, and I’m like, okay, I hear you. And I also wanna keep teaching self-defense because I think it’s really important. So where’s that balance? So what I did from that moment is I put a disclaimer kind of in the beginning of my talk and just to tell folks that, look, if you are one of these statistics, one of four college women, one of five US women, that have been a victim of sexual violence, no, it is not your fault, right? Assaulters choose to assault,

Doug: Mm-hmm.[00:27:00] 

Jenn: …abusers, choose to abuse. Going forward, right? So whatever happened in your past that’s in the past going forward, I wanna give you the most tools, right, that you have going forward. So you can avoid danger whenever possible. Is everyone on board with that? Is everyone cool with that? Right? And then I just get buy-in from the crowd before I move on. I never want folks to think that teaching self-defense or safety for that matter, is ever.

Doug: Is a judgment on the past, right?

Kelly: Yeah.

Jenn: Do the best we can with what we’re given in the moment.

Kelly: And when you think about the statistics and I don’t know if I necessarily believe statistics, because…

Jenn: Yes.

Kelly: …so much goes unreported. I think so many inappropriate gestures, comments, touches, go unreported. Go don’t make it in those [00:28:00] stats because I know so many women, and maybe you’ve had this too, when I’m out teaching or training or meeting people, that I’ll

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: up to me afterwards or

Jenn: Totally.

Kelly: …afterwards and it’s, they’re still…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …of it.

They’ve never shared it. And so that is one thing I noticed when I’m teaching out in the crowd is because I don’t have a disclaimer, now you’re making me think. I’m like, Hmm, maybe I should…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …again, context…

Jenn: It’s not formal just…

Kelly: I can see, right? But I see those faces… 

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …about a certain thing, I see, and we talked about this in one of our recent episodes that just dropped, but the tells, if somebody’s looking at me, looking at me, and I can tell their face are really, and then all of a sudden I’m talking…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …their eyes are down…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …their face drops, like, I feel like, oh, they’re…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …a memory right now.

And I don’t, I haven’t had someone come up and…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …you’re victim blaming or you’re saying this, you’re saying that, that is a very thing that I’d kind of like to[00:29:00] 

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: The next segment is how to know what people have experienced. And just because someone looks in social…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …on paper, , when you see them walking every day that  they’re successful, they’re bright, they’re funny, they’re wonderful humans, doesn’t mean that they’re not experiencing some sort of…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …challenge in their life or not, that they’re not going through some sort of an abusive situation or a controlling situation. And I’d like to, if you’re comfortable, talk about the situation with your…

Jenn: Yes.

Kelly: …that was from New York, you had all these signs that you could see later that things were not right. But of those things that we so often do, also to speak from my perspective as a female, how many signs I will write off or will my shoulders at because I’m in…

Jenn: Totally. [00:30:00] Absolutely. And I’m happy to share. Look, just so, when I was writing this book, I never thought that I would be telling any of that story. And here I am, and then, you sit down to write and you don’t know what’s coming out, but it came out. So in chapter one, everyone I share a quick story.

I don’t get too involved in it, but I was in a relationship…

Kelly: Yeah.

Jenn: …it was. I’m gonna call it a Lucy Goosey relationship for years. Kind of like in and out, in and out. Like not, we weren’t living together or seriously, , talking about the future marriage or anything like that, just to kind of set the stage.

I was young, this person was much older. He was kind of that Guru-ish type of folk, right? So there’s that whole dynamic going on. So, Young Me didn’t realize a lot of things I had. There were signs, et cetera. But anyway, one [00:31:00] day I found out that he had just had a child with another woman, when I had zero clue. So that was pretty shocking.

Kelly: Yeah, and you talked about like you, one of the things that. Cracked me up because I could totally see myself doing this as you saw a playlist on his phone. What was…?

Jenn: There was a playlist on his, remember we had iPods? Yeah. iPods. And the playlist was called, active labor.

Kelly: I’m…

Jenn: So I’m thinking like, oh, this must be when he’s like working actively.

Kelly: Doug is like, oh, no. But

Doug: …still stunned that any man would actually develop a podcast, a playlist called active labor. Like, I mean, at one level, hey, he was invested.

Kelly: But that, but at this, [00:32:00] no, that’s the type of stuff that you look back at later and you’re like…

Jenn: Right?

Kelly: …blatantly obvious. But at the time, just your perspective, the way you’re viewing things, it’s really easy to try and make it make sense. I mean, why do people who are in….

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …controlling relationships justify behavior.

Jenn: Yes.

Kelly: That’s a…

Jenn: Yes.

Kelly: …episode, but there’s things like that I…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …to bring…

Jenn: Right.

Kelly: …why we have this podcast…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: The real talk is…

Jenn: Right.

Kelly: …nobody’s perfect, nobody like there is, I have yet to meet someone who is, oh, I’ve been…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …five years. And Nope.

Okay. They’re controlling. Yeah, I see it. I can’t go out with my girlfriends without getting…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …about when I’m coming home. But, we’ve been together so long and like you write off things that…

Jenn: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: …red flags, that are definite, like, is that sign? What…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …what is this telling [00:33:00] me?

Because we’re in relationships because…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …the benefit of the doubt. And I think that’s one thing…

Jenn: Right.

Kelly: …about women’s empowerment, self-defense. The realities that women face is we do

Jenn: right.

Kelly: not because we’re dumb, not because we’re stupid, but because we’re trying to give the benefit of…

Jenn: Well,

Kelly: …the person we care…

Jenn: mm-hmm.

Kelly: …what makes leaving hard.

Jenn: Yeah,

Kelly: …that final call.

Jenn: You’re also getting something from it, right? You’re getting something from that relationship, whatever that is. So for other people it’s different. For me at the time, I can look back now, I’ve done therapy and I’ve got it. I understand I wanted that male attention from this older person and all these people look up to blah, blah, blah, blah. I was craving that and I got it. People in relationships may stay there for financial security. There’s different reasons, but they’re getting something because if they really were getting nothing out of that [00:34:00] relationship, nothing, they would leave or they wouldn’t have started in the first place.

But they’re getting something. So I think, again, bringing it back to self-awareness, when you can really look at yourself, we can really take personal responsibility. I say it in the book, the things that I am responsible for in this, in that relationship, like I can be clear on like that. I wasn’t planning for my future.

I wasn’t thinking about marriage and kids and blah, blah, blah. I was just kind of going with the flow and I was craving this attention and I got it. So all the other stuff I just like ignored or let it go until it was so blatantly obvious that until there was…

Kelly: …there was…

Jenn: Yeah, exactly.

Kelly: …the picture. wasn’t from you, right? Yeah, and again, for our listeners, I’m obviously not making light of a very difficult…

Jenn: It’s okay.

Kelly: …your life, Jen. It’s now, it’s one of those things you can’t help but [00:35:00] make a little bit of light of it because otherwise the crushing of constantly reliving it as…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …heavy negative, I…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …is not healthy.

Doug: But one of the key lessons I’m picking up on Jen and how she is able to teach about empowerment is that she is so willing to learn from failure. So willing to learn from difficult times and struggle. Failure’s a better teacher than success every day of the week if you’re willing to learn.

And so I think that her frankness in addressing this is really getting to the heart of her ability to teach and empower others. What.

Kelly: I’m, no, you didn’t notice the

Doug: Now I see it.

Kelly: …up? Situational awareness…

Doug: What?

Kelly: …it’s so…

Doug: I was just listening.

Kelly: …cat, Beatrice…

Doug: It does look like Beatrice.

Jenn: mm-hmm.

Kelly: I was like, wait, Beatrice, did you…

Jenn: Yes.

Kelly: …from screen to screen?

Jenn: Yeah.

Jenn: Well, and yeah, and one more thing, Doug. So there’s the learning from the failure and also just trying not to take life so seriously. Like I can laugh…

Doug: Hmm.

Jenn: …how, you [00:36:00] know, silly. It’s the story sounds, the active labor playlist, like I might mean I put that in the book so I so other people can chuckle, so I can laugh about it.

Because at the end of the day, if we don’t learn from our mistakes, then really what’s the point of all this?

Doug: Right.

Kelly: Right. Right. And we had talked a little bit from your book that you based each chapter on a belt test, a colored belt test, so you’re a third degree black belt…

Jenn: Right.

Kelly: …start out that way. You start, and I’m not even super familiar with all the…

Jenn: They change.

Kelly: …the stages, but, so that’s one thing.

Yes. But that’s one thing I wanted to bring up because, I love Unleash Your Mojo with the Wisdom of the Dojo and of the listeners or people who have followed me know I have zero…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …you know, I joke that I learned how to physically…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …wrestling with my brother growing up [00:37:00] so there was no martial arts in my background and I think sometimes women might see it like Oh, well I don’t have a martial arts background, so I might not understand Jenn’s book or the principles and how she builds on it. And for one, I’m here to say, mm, you don’t have to worry about that. Anyone who doesn’t have martial arts background…

Jenn: Good.

Kelly: …perfect sense to me. And I don’t have that martial arts background.

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …briefly, because then there’s a couple other things I have a chicken or the egg…

Jenn: Okay.

Kelly: I wanna make sure I get to, but can you… Why did you choose to build your book off…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …the belt test of martial arts, which is pretty typical in all martial arts, correct?

Jenn: Usually yes, the colors change usually, but usually white is the first and black is the goal. The colors in between can change. Yeah. So I mean, I…

Kelly: Okay.

Jenn: …had this keynote where I called it the Art of Badassery years ago, and I just had like five [00:38:00] points and went through the five points and it was good, embrace the suck and blah, blah, blah.

But then when I started to sit down and write the book, it all of a sudden came to me. I was like, oh gosh, this is like… the lessons that I learned kind of in the order of when I learned them, when I was on the mat doing the martial arts training. So all of a sudden it became this cool framework. And then, writing a book, I mean, it’s all about the hook, spin,  your framework. So all of a sudden it just had a little more, I don’t know, for lack of a better word, pizzazz.

Kelly: Yes. Well, you have the hashtag…

Jenn: …so at the…

Kelly: …belt test.

Jenn: Right, so in martial arts, you move from one belt level to the next. In my case, white to yellow, orange, green, blue, red, with the goal of black belt and beyond. But before you move from one belt level to the next, you have to take a test. Now I’m going into my keynote, not, [00:39:00] which is not just a physical attest of your physical skills, but of your mental, emotional and spiritual skills.

What as well. So back to the book, isn’t that a bit like life before we’re cruising along, we’re climbing these ladders right? In life. And before life hits you with a pretty difficult test. Not just physical. Sometimes it could be physical, like a diagnosis or a financial hardship or lost your job or whatever, right?

And we get knocked down. But these belt tests in the book help you move from one belt level to the next. And it usually, and it’s either like a written, journaling prompt or something that you can go do in your life to essentially help.

Kelly: It’s actionable. So often I read books like, this is so good, but I don’t wanna stop reading. Whereas yours is very easy to follow and actually do. And I talked to you about that when I was reading your book is, I’m actually going through the prompt, so it’s weird for me because I’m not. Just reading it…

Jenn: Right.

Kelly: …little cover to cover, and I wanna say in the episode key for this podcast is we will have some links because I noticed on your…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …have some handouts, some journal, other journal prompts, and even a free…

Jenn: Yep.

Kelly: So anybody who wants to get those items from you, or we’ll put those in the episode…

Jenn: Great.

Kelly: They can find ’em right away.

Definitely follow Jenn on Instagram, @JennCassetta.

Jenn: Hmm.

Kelly: …chicken or egg question that I…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …wanted to get to [00:41:00] is we talk a lot about enforcing boundaries, recognizing your boundaries when it comes to…

Jenn: Hmm.

Kelly: …safety. Whether that’s mental, emotional, physical, I mean, really if you Google what types of boundaries, there’s a…

Jenn: Yeah.

Kelly: …of different perspectives on that. Do you think, and Doug, you could answer this too, should you focus as an individual? Should you focus on enforcing boundaries with the energy vampires in your life who are draining you, and then work on yourself, or work on yourself so that you feel strong enough to enforce boundaries? With the…

Jenn: Great question. Doug, do you wanna go first or do you want me.

Doug: Sure. I’ll go first. I think it’s a little bit of both at the same time. I think…

Kelly: You can’t. Yeah, no. Chicken…

Doug: But that’s the way the… Okay if I’m forced into choosing which one is literally the first, it’s gonna have to be working on yourself because you won’t have the ability to enforce a boundary at [00:42:00] all. But I think you have to work on yourself a little bit before you can take that first step.

And then that first step’s gonna allow you to work on yourself a little bit more and so on. And they’re gonna, they’re gonna build well together. but it’s, it’s gonna be an iterative process, rather than, than, than sequential.

Jenn: I mean, I would go, I would say the same exact thing, but if you go back to this book, it is about working on yourself first, because black belt level is really about leadership, mentoring others, coaching people, and helping others rise through the ranks. So until you fill your cup, Right. By setting boundaries, taking care of yourself, practicing self-care, using your voice, sticking up for yourself, all of those things, then it’s much easier, right?

To pour from a full cup, to pour from the saucer, right? The overflow even, for other people. And I [00:43:00] think so many times with women, especially, as a coach now for almost 20 years, right? Women come to me, depleted. Deflated, almost defeated sometimes because they’ve been pouring, pouring, pouring from an empty cup.

Kelly: Mm-hmm.

Doug: And….

Kelly: …so interesting.

Doug: I think it’s so difficult to serve others if you don’t have that self-awareness and even in serving others by shutting off those energy vampires, so to speak. I’ll get it wrong, but I saw something online that was talking about, from a BGA perspective the white belt knows nothing but knows he or she knows nothing.

And the blue belt is dangerous because they know a little bit. They really still know nothing but think they know something and the Brown Belt is in a healthy place because they know something, but think they know nothing. And then, the black belt is that ability to help serve others through that process.

Jenn: Nice. Yeah, [00:44:00] and a black belt lesson is always also, this is not the end, right? It’s just…

Doug: Right.

Jenn: The work is continuous. So I think the same with life, like personal development, learning. Life is gonna keep throwing you all those lessons and you’re just always working on yourself, and that’s okay.

Kelly: Mm-hmm. And that kind of goes back to the full circle of self-awareness, really is so foundational to every aspect of life. You have to know yourself, know, Ooh, where do any repeated patterns? Then you need to start looking at, well, I’m the common denominator, so what don’t I know about myself consciously? That I’m maybe sabotaging good things in my…

Jenn: Yes.

Kelly: Where is that coming from? Why, why does that continue to show up? because I’m a believer in, if you haven’t learned the lesson, God will keep giving you it right…

Jenn: Yep.

Kelly: …making you take the…

Jenn: Yep.

Kelly: …you pass, and you can [00:45:00] move forward…

Jenn: Mm-hmm.

Kelly: …on to the next level of life or learning or whatever that may be. But as we wrap up here, is there any, Doug, is there something you wanted…

Doug: No, I was gonna ask her if she had any other specific tips for empowerment or badass read that she wants to leave our listeners with.

Jenn: Specific. I mean, there’s just so much. There’s so much. But, I would just… I’ve been, I’m creating this keynote for Saturday, that has to do with women’s wellness. So I’ve recently done all this research on the state of women’s wellness right now, and it’s not great. So it’s just, yeah, between depression, anxiety, burnout in the workplace, women taking, on most of the unpaid labor in, in double income homes, look… at the, at the end of the day, I just wanna remind you, not in a bad way, but no one’s going to take that, no one’s gonna take that load off for you.

No one’s going to come and [00:46:00] rescue you. There’s no prince charming coming on the horse. So we need to begin to do all the things in the book by setting the boundaries, using your voice, sticking up for yourself, taking care of your self care first. be because no one’s gonna do it for you. Love you.

Love you all. No one’s gonna do it for you.

Kelly: Right.

Doug: …is coming. It’s up to you.

Kelly: I love it. That’s very wonderfully said. And Jen, thank you for coming on the show today, taking time out of your day.

Jenn: Thank you.

Kelly: Doug and I to our listeners, thank you for coming back episode after episode to listen. We hope you’re loving every conversation that Doug and I get to have with our wonderful guests. Again, don’t forget to go to the episode key. Where we can get all the links so that you don’t have to worry about whatever you’re doing right now as you’re listening to this podcast, driving, walking, [00:47:00] doing whatever. You don’t have to stop and make notes. We have that all for you, right on thediamondarrowgroup.com website under the podcast tab, and thank you.

Special shout out to our partner on helping make this podcast happen. Mace. So we are doing a fantastic promotion right now with Mace specifically, that runs all year long for our Thrive Unafraid listeners, so get more of that information in the podcast key as well. Until next time, thank you and Stay Sharp.