Ashley Stahl: Life Advice From a National Security Professional Turned Career Coach

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Ashley Stahl: Life Advice From a National Security Professional Turned Career Coach

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Ashley Stahl

Ashley Stahl is a counter-terrorism spy turned career coach. At 23 she had what John Mayer would describe as a "quarter-life crisis." She wasn't receiving the fulfillment she had hoped for in her career. Faced with turning her back on the career she spent years preparing for and thousands of dollars in college tuition, she course corrected.

Ashley decided to change her career. When she re-entered the workforce she found herself more fascinated with the job hunting process than the actual job. It was then that she realized her true calling in life. She was meant to be a career coach.

Since coming to this realization, Ashley has been on a whirlwind path to success. Her new found passion-filled career has exploded thanks to hard work and determination.

Ashley has been featured in the following publications: The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Mashable, Self and The Huffington Post. She's also been a speaker at TedX Berkeley.

Q: Many young people struggle to find a career vs. "a slew of jobs." What advice can you give to those who are trying to figure out what career path to take?

A: Clarity comes from engagement, not thought. At one point or another, marinating won’t serve you in finding your purpose. You have to get out there, be it through taking a job, or simply reading a book, or even networking! Limbo is a powerless place to be, and it’s key people find their path through trial and error.

Q: Your journey that took you from counter-terrorism spy to career coach is fascinating. What gave you the confidence to turn your job hunting skills into an actual business?

A: I've written articles about this idea that work experience is overrated. What I mean here is that who you are is so much bigger than the coffee you fetch as an intern and the years you spend doing less challenging work to 'rise to the top.' In 2011, I hired a mentor and that's honestly what shifted my dreams into reality. With her, thought could become form in my life; we took dreams and turned them into plans. I knew the people who professionally inspired me were leaders, and the first step to becoming one was hiring one to show me the light.

Q: Reports indicate that a gender equality gap is still present in the workforce. However, things are rapidly changing. What's your advice to women in the workforce?

A: Realize that you're losing out on about $500k in income during your life if you don't negotiate-- that's income for your family and for YOU. Moreover, people respect someone who negotiates and knows their worth; in fact, employers see negotiators as someone who will truly deliver. I think negotiating is so much bigger than the person doing it when it comes to women and this generation. It's not about the micro level.. It's about the macro. Negotiation is a movement, and I hope women especially use this period of growth in history as a time to learn the art of negotiating. It's something I teach in my courses, and it makes SUCH a huge difference for the employee and the people in her life who learn about how she stood in her own worth. It tacitly gives people around you permission to do the same.

Q: Any advice you could offer to people looking to monetize a skill or passion they have?

A: Understand that you know something right now that people would pay you to do-- even if it's as simple as your language skills. Believe it or not, it's not about having something that MANY people want as much as it's about niche marketing. Do some research and get true numbers or estimates on how many people need what you have. Next, look at other service providers who are out there monetizing it. Realize your mindset may be telling you to play small, and success is a choice. As John Assaraf says, "When you're interested, you do what's convenient. When you're committed, you do whatever it takes."

Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment thus far and why?

A: Being true to myself during all of this exciting abundance has been an accomplishment that I'm incredibly proud of. I've read lots of Brene Brown's teachings about authenticity and how it's truly a daily choice and practice. The fastest route to resenting your work in the world is through acquiescing to the social pressure to be someone else, and I am completely committed to stepping away from that. I catch myself in an ego moment sometimes, wanting to appear bigger or better... Those are the moments where I check in with myself, honor myself and stand in who I am and where I am.

Q: Any exciting plans for the future?

A: Yes! I am expanding my signature job hunting program, the Dream Job Intensive, which is my ultimate gift to the world. I also plan to offer a free webinar training series to help job hunters everywhere who want to stand in their worth and get more job offers. I'm currently in talks with different TV networks to host television shows about job hunting, and trusting that whatever is in my highest good will happen! Overall, this work continues to bring me to tears in the joy I receive through doing it.


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