Ever thought about how the relentless pursuit of profits often devalues people in the business world? I've been there, and I'm here to share my journey. From being a shining star in the corporate arena to feeling tossed aside as a new mother, I've seen the dark underbelly of business ethics gone wrong.
This week, I recount one of my many experiences, and how it (in part) inspired me to break free and create my own business... but what ended up happening was something else.
As an entrepreneur, I've witnessed the struggle many women face in the online business sphere. Still jacked up by corporate programming, we equate value with productivity and hours spent, and success through the lens of financial gain. But what if we redefined these outdated beliefs? Let's unpack the concept of Corporate Rehab as a tool to help women build successful businesses that honour their autonomy and individuality -- and aren't just clones of their corporate experience, only this time, with them at the helm.
I want to challenge the traditional business paradigm because so many of us are feeling trapped and tired of the hustle. Let's explore ways to create a business environment that celebrates authenticity and freedom, and not just superficial standards, while still honouring the importance of building sustainable business models. I'm on a mission to disrupt the norms and create a business landscape that changes the way it's been done. Join me and let's redefine what business success looks like, together.
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The Business Blasphemy Podcast is sponsored by Corporate Rehab® Strategic Consulting.
Corporate Rehab® is a fierce ally for ambitious ex-corporate moms who refuse to be restricted by outdated work (and social) norms. We challenge the status quo, empowering you to lead from your truth. Forget the empty hustle and build a legacy of success your way. The key? Our distinctive 4-part framework, The Audacity Factor™. It's not just a strategy, it’s a groundbreaking shift in how you approach your goals. Sarah, a seasoned strategist and advisor, not only helps you craft a path to long-lasting success where smart, deliberate actions replace the weary treadmill of hustle and grind — she walks beside you as you do.
Schedule a no stings "Let's Talk Business" call today and find out what small shifts you can make to work less and double your profitability....
Welcome to the Business Blasphemy podcast, where we question the sacred truths of the online business space and the reverence with which they're held. I'm your Sarah Khan, speaker, strategic consultant and BS busting badass. Join me each week as we challenge the norms, trends and overall bullshit status quo of entrepreneurship to uncover what it really takes to build the business that you want to build in a way that honors you, your life and your vision for what's possible, and maybe piss off a few gurus along the way. So if you're ready to commit business blast for me, let's do it. Hello, hello, blasphemers. All right, you know it occurred to me that I never really shared the story of corporate rehab. Now, corporate rehab is the name of my business and it's also a philosophy that I've kind of been running the business from within. Does that make sense? It makes sense, whatever. You know what I mean. It's the philosophy that I hold and what I've really brought to the business, and I realized I haven't really talked about where it came from and I want you to stay with me because this is going to actually carry into a discovery that I made recently and just how the business itself and how I want to do business overall has kind of evolved Okay. So when we look back, let's start kind of at the beginning. I'm going to leave out a bunch of stuff that you don't need to know today. I might come back to it at some point later on in the podcast not today, but at some point. But basically when I started in the online space, I was coming from a 20-plus year career in corporate environments and they weren't all necessarily corporate as in, like you know, big fortune 500 corporations. I did work for two very, very big professional services firms they were two of the big four firms and I worked for them for quite a while. And then I moved into the private sector. I was kind of, you know, headhunted into the private sector. I did a lot of project management and I had kind of moved up the ranks. And then I was headhunted into the education space, particularly higher education, and actually that story is very interesting and I will tell it one day. But long story short, the corporate space at that point had just really neglected my needs as a new mom and I just I couldn't work in that environment anymore. So when an opportunity came up for me to move into the education space to be a teacher. Essentially, I thought this is perfect because you know they will understand it. Haha, spoiler alert, they did not. But the thing I noticed about higher education so I was teaching in both college environments and in university environments they kind of still have a very corporate structure. You know, they have boards of directors, they have, you know, massive HR departments. There's a very corporate feel to the way these higher education institutions are set up and if you've ever experienced them as a person on the inside, so like somebody who works for them, or even as a student, I think you kind of feel that you know that. Now, when I was in higher ed, I did have the opportunity to see it from both sides. So I was a professor, slash instructor and I was also at one point, part of the administration. So I did see what it looks like from both an employee perspective and from, you know, the side of people making the decisions. And the thing is I was actually already doing some consulting part time on the side. I wouldn't even call it part time, it was really sporadic, but I was doing it on the side throughout when I went into the education sector because, after being laid off after my first pregnancy yes, I had a baby and then I was laid off. I needed to have some kind of secondary income, like I knew that. And then it happened again nine years later. Right, I was laid off again during my second pregnancy, during mat leave. This time not even, you know, they didn't even wait for me to come back, they just laid me off when I was on mat leave. That really started to change how I was feeling about the job. Now a lot had happened in those nine years as well, and those are all stories for other episodes. But the thing about this teaching job is that I really loved it, like I really really loved it. It was a job that had brought me so much joy for so many years, so much so I was actually one of the highest rated performers in the department for a number of years, consistently getting really really good student evaluations and my you know, my immediate supervisors really loved working with me and it was something I just I loved being in the classroom. I loved watching the lights go on in people's eyes when they had their aha moments or they understood concepts. It was a really wonderful job and to be what I felt was, you know, casually tossed aside, that really hurt. It did hurt, along with all of the political kind of stuff that was going on on the surface. There was also just how hard it was becoming to do the job because the focus became more and more about profits and not the people how much tuition money can we make and not the students and how much they were struggling. I'm not naive enough to think that it's not always been like this in some way, shape or form, because we live and work in a capitalist society. So let me just say right off the hop I am not anti-money, I don't have money mindset issues. I love money. What I don't love is money at the expense of my humanity and the humanity of other people. And it was lonely to feel that way, because for a long time it really did feel like I was the only one, or at least one of very few people, that felt that way, that there had to be a better way of making money while still treating people like human beings. And my bosses made me feel very quickly that that wasn't the case, not just in the education sector, but in the corporate sector as well, and whenever I tried to talk about it, a lot of my co-workers were just like you know what. I'm just here to do the job. Now let me pause here and tell you a story of one of these many, many instances that made me feel this way, that people were not nearly as important as profits. I remember I was working for a private event and design firm and we were getting ready for a massive music festival out in the middle of nowhere. I was on site I think it was day two or three of the build, so we hadn't you know, the music festival hadn't started. We were in the build phase of it. We had about a week and a half to two weeks of building the you know, the entire structure of the festival and I was sitting in our management trailer and I received a phone call and the phone call was from my doctor. They had found cancer and obviously that was a bit of a shock because I was also newish to that particular role. I'd only been working for the organization for about a month at that point. I was in shock. When I took the call, I called my husband, you know. I went home, I drove home it was about an hour drive to go home and basically the story was I needed surgery and I needed it very, very quickly. They had actually scheduled me in for surgery the following week. It was kind of urgent, and so I went and had my surgery and, thankfully, everything went well and I was in recovery and there was no trace of the cancer left. I was in the hospital, I believe, for about six or seven days and then they sent me home. But they made it very clear that I needed at least a month of recovery time at home, and so I got home, I got situated so that I could, you know, rest and I had all my needs taken care of. And I got in touch with my employer and I had to get my surgery done and I said to them so this is the advice from the doctor, I'm going to need a month off to recover and recuperate. And I'm not lying when I tell you that the very clear directive that came back was this you can have 10 business days, otherwise you won't have a job to come back to. I will never forget those words. It was a shock to me but, being the person I am, 10 days later I was back at the office, neck heavily bandaged, still drinking through a straw, eating through a straw. I could not eat any solid foods. I still felt like my head was gonna fall off because of the way my stitches were, like it was a really bad situation. But I was back at work and that's just one of many examples where the company won out because, guess what, you need a job. And I'm just gonna pause here and say for all of those people whose immediate advice is well, you should have just gotten another job. If it was that easy and I think I've said this before we'd all be working in jobs that we loved and where we felt respected. Jobs are not that easy to come by, particularly when you have bills to pay, when you have a mortgage to pay, when you have food to put on the table. It's not as easy as that, and if it was easy I would have done that, but I couldn't. I needed the money. That's the story most of us, I think, can relate to. So that's just one of many stories. But it was really hard to feel anything other than stuck right, and the pandemic only exacerbated those feelings of being alone, of being stuck, of not fitting in, because you had a different mindset of how you wished things were, and it was the lockdown that made me realize that I couldn't thrive or survive any longer in cultures that were so corporate, because we're sitting here in the middle of a global pandemic, lives are being lost all around us and I just couldn't do it anymore. And the cancer story, like I said, it's one of many instances where I was made to feel like put up or shut up, and again, you don't always have the option of throwing your papers up in the air and walking out. So, during the pandemic November of 2020, that's when I went full-time into my business I turned my sometimes consultancy into a full-time thing. I won't talk about the evolution of my journey in the online space from then until today, but suffice it to say I've fallen prey to many of the tactics and the ways of doing things the ways of doing business in the online space that I now just rail against on a regular basis. I'm human and that was how business was done. I've done the bro marketing, I've done pain point marketing, I've done hustle culture. I've done all of those things because, again, that's how business is done. But I was able to tell myself that because I was an entrepreneur and I was working for myself, it was easier to treat people how I wanted and that was the important thing and it was to an extent and at first, corporate rehab was born to help women who had moved from the traditional workplace, to help them unlearn the corporate programming that kept them from building businesses and just had them building new jobs as business owners. We talk about time freedom and I was seeing women coming into the online business space to become entrepreneurs and they were still sitting at their desk from eight until four or eight until five every day. They equated time spent with productivity or worth or a viable business. I was still seeing women coming into the online business space and seeing money as the benchmark for success. It wasn't just about earning what you desired. It was like I have to make six figures and buying into that hustle culture. I was seeing women coming into the business space online and really getting stuck about when they could leave to go out and see their kids, when they could say no to a client, like there was just so much of this corporate programming that was keeping them stuck, that was keeping them from really stepping into the potential truth of what it means to be a business owner and to have that autonomy, and that's what corporate rehab was born to do. That's what I helped women with. But the longer I operated in the space, the more I saw that it wasn't just how we operated within the confines of our own businesses. For so many years, I have struggled with a lot of what's taught in the online space and the practices that people engage in. I talk about it all the time on the podcast. If you've been listening, you know what I'm talking about. If you have no idea and this is your first episode I invite you to go back and listen to the 39 episodes that come before this. Over the last year, I've really felt a pull away from wanting to sell anything, but knowing that I have to sell in order to have a viable business, I still tried. Every time I did, I lost the excitement around what I knew was a really solid offer that people actually needed. I would build this offer out because I would see these needs that people had in the business space. I would get really excited and I would launch them, and then immediately I would lose interest. Not because the offer was terrible, because I created them from my vast pool of experience and knowing the needs of entrepreneurs in the online space, but I couldn't figure it out. Why was it that I was launching these offers and then feeling like I don't want to do this anymore? I kept telling myself what coaches had told me before and what the common rhetoric in the space has told me that I was just shitty at sales or I had blocks of some kind money blocks, mindset issues, abundance, I don't know freaking blocks, or that my offers weren't strong enough. But it's finally starting to dawn on me that that's not it at all. What's actually going on is I'm struggling with everything because everything still exists within a very limited paradigm. For example, if you're selling a mastermind, well, a mastermind is structured in a very specific way and you have to sell it that way because that's what people know. If you're selling a coaching program, it's structured in a very specific way. How many calls a week do you have? How many calls a month do you have? How long are they? What are your deliverables? I mean, there's a very specific way of doing strategy sessions. I get it. I do. I understand the psychology of sales. I know that people are tired. There are so many people that want something different, not just online, but in the wider world of business too, but so many people are struggling to really put their finger on what that is. All I know is that people want change. They want change, they want it to be different, and so that is what corporate rehab is becoming a place for change. I don't know what that change looks like just yet. I just know that I want to do things differently. I'm tired of being made to feel like I have to look and speak and post a certain way. Do you remember when there was all that backlash against the curated pics on Instagram and everyone said get authentic and get vulnerable? But then the authenticity and the vulnerability was also curated? You're also fucking afraid to be the real us. And yes, I realize that that journey takes time, but when you're focused on building a business the way they've told you, it's all still a distraction. There is still so much privilege within the current paradigms, within the current ways that business is still done and, honestly, a lot of online business feels performative. It feels like in order to be seen as a business a viable, legitimate business you have to show up a certain way and you have to sell a certain way and your why has to be acceptable, because otherwise your mindset is shit or you don't have a viable business. I'm not here to build a business of clout or have that hashtag laptop life, because even the rhetoric of time freedom and money freedom and location freedom is superficial. It's surface level and it's what we are told we must aspire to, because that's the beauty of being an entrepreneur, but, honestly, it distracts us from true freedom. Think about it. How much money is enough money to allow you freedom? Is it the eight figures everyone says is the benchmark, which, by the way, used to be seven figures and before that, six figures? The majority of entrepreneurs never hit even six figures of income. That's the truth. How much time freedom do you need to feel free? Is a four hour work week really something to aspire to? Is it possible? The majority of entrepreneurs are still working more hours per week than they did in their jobs. That's the truth. How much location freedom do you need, especially in an economy where travel is expensive as fuck and the airlines are shit and the climate crisis means everything's on fucking fire? Chasing these freedoms is surface level, but it will keep you stuck in the very same rat race you were in when you worked in a JOB. So by now you're listening to me rant and you're probably thinking okay, sarah, so what the fuck do we do? What are we even doing? I don't know. That's the truth. I don't know, but I'm working on it. I just know that so much of how business is done sticks in my throat because it's still rooted in their way, in a capitalist, narrow-minded, tunnel vision, patriarchal way. I want, honest to God, freedom. Everything feels so stuck and I'm not naive enough to think that having a business is going to suddenly change or alleviate all of the struggles the vast majority of us are currently experiencing and will probably continue to experience, because that's life. But I want the business to feel like an extension of me rather than just one more thing I have to worry about. And don't get me wrong, businesses require work, they require dedication, but it's the hustle culture and the lack of understanding and misinformation that is also keeping people feeling trapped. That is the liberation I am talking about Having the basics in place, the foundation, knowing that my plan is solid, knowing that I can take time off to be with my family if they need it, and not constantly stressing about the business stuff, not constantly having to be in launch mode or selling or hustling, or feeling controlled by or addicted to the business, because that's what business feels like these days. So what is my goal now? What is corporate rehab all about? Stripping away all of that. Let's do business how we want to fucking do it. And if you don't know what you want or how you want it, that is where you start, because the truth is, most of us don't have the context for knowing business any other way. So now, corporate rehab and the philosophy that I've embedded in my business and in my work is to go back to basics, and that starts with you. It starts with really understanding who you are, what you want and what you want, what you want and why and I don't mean the superficial start with why that we all know and love I mean your golden thread, your core truth, your singularity. If you're an astronomy nerd like me, what do I mean by singularity? A central, immensely powerful guiding principle that fundamentally shapes everything around it. That's where we have to start, because it's not enough to do business the way we've been doing it, seeing the structure that exists and trying to fit offers and marketing and our own goddamn identities into those structures. It's to figure out who we are and build the structure to support that instead, and I will help you learn the really fundamental pieces all businesses need, so we can stop being distracted by the noise designed to keep us in a state of lack of, not good enough of shit that always just feels just a little bit out of reach, because that's what I was feeling. I know business. I've been in it for like three quarters of my life. Why the fuck was everything so hard? And when I stopped and went back to my core truth, my singularity, everything became clear. Everything cracked wide open. I don't have all the answers yet, but I do have a shit ton of questions and I'm going to keep asking them and if I don't like the answers, you're going to continue to hear about it. So if you are ready to do business in a fundamentally different way, starting with you at the core, drop me a DM book, a call, let's talk. All the links are in the show notes, you know where they are, because things are shifting and I really feel like the entire world is primed for the change it needs. We just need to be brave enough to take those first steps, and I will walk those steps with you, because you can have success without all this BS, and it's time we started putting our money where our mouth is. I'll talk to you soon. That's it for this week. Thanks for listening to the Business Blast for Me podcast. We'll be back next week with a new episode, but in the meantime, help assist her out by subscribing and, if you're feeling extra sassy, rating this podcast. And don't forget to share the podcast with others. Head over to businessblastformepodcastcom to connect with us and learn more. Thanks for listening and remember you can have success without the BS.