SEP Episode #61: How A Horse Can Help You Build A 7 Figure Business With Nafissa Shireen

Nafissa's headshot

 

Today on the show we have Nafissa Shireen. Nafissa is a coach for entrepreneurs and executives who have six figure businesses but just can’t quite break through to seven figures. 

But she has a really unique approach to finding out what’s holding them back, she uses horses. So she has a coaching method where she works with horses that she is going to explain a lot of on the show and how a horse’s sensitivity can reveal our emotions and the truth inside of us that we may not even be aware of. So it’s a really interesting talk. 

 

What You Will Learn On This Episode


  • Taking your six figure income to seven figures with the use of horses
  • Using horses to examine where you are not being honest with yourself
  • When traditional marketing isn’t appropriate for your business concentrate on networking

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode


www.nafissashireen.com

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe4wyXjkIZ5PWVWBOcVYkWQ

 

Transcription


Kyle Gray :

Hello and welcome to The Story Engine Podcast. My name is Kyle Gray and today on the show we have Nafissa Shireen. Nafissa is a coach for entrepreneurs and executives who have six figure businesses but just can’t quite break through to seven figures. 

 

But she has a really unique approach to finding out what’s holding them back, she uses horses. So she has a coaching method where she works with horses that she is going to explain a lot of on the show and how a horse’s sensitivity can reveal our emotions and the truth inside of us that we may not even be aware of. So it’s a really interesting talk. 

 

There’s one thing that I just have to give you a heads up about. It seems like she had some kind of problem with her sound card on her computer because even though we tried two different microphones, the sound started acting a little bit weird. I had such a good time on this interview that I wanted to keep going, even though there’s a couple of spots where it just sounds a little bit crunchy. So please bear with me, forgive me, and I hope that you can see the quality of the conversation beyond a couple of hiccups in the audio.

 

Kyle Gray :

So without any further ado, let’s hand it over to Nafissa. Nafissa Shireen, welcome to The Story Engine Podcast.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Thanks Kyle. I’m excited to be here.

 

Kyle Gray :

Now, Nafissa, will you tell me about a moment in your life that has defined who you are and how you’re showing up in the world today and what you’re doing?

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Absolutely. So this goes back quite a few years to my corporate days. I did the traditional thing of going to school, having a good job, having stability. And I had a really good job. It was near six figures and our company had gone into a joint venture with another corporation and they had a really good opportunity and I wanted to take this opportunity and it was really exciting to me. And so I applied for it and I was told no. So I asked again and I was told no again. So this went on for a while and I remember being told by senior management that I wasn’t qualified and this was too high profile a project to trust to somebody who didn’t have the qualifications. And I remember saying to them, “Yeah, but I’m qualified to get qualified. I don’t understand it.”

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And so I ended up being extremely relentless about it. And so they agreed, but it came with a really big condition. Now, at the time, I had a $450,000 mortgage. I had just bought a new car. My husband, he’s an entrepreneur, so at the time his business was not in the state it is now. I was the bigger breadwinner and they said, “Well, you can have this job, but you need to go work on site.” Which was in Alaska and I live in Vancouver, Canada. I’m married. “It is only a six month contract to test you out because our partners have to see if you can do this right and you have to go live up there. We’ll pay your living expenses, we’ll fly you back, but you need to spend most of your time up in Alaska. And if this doesn’t work out at the end of six months, this is a new contract. You are waiving all of your severance rights,” or whatever the word would have been like entitlements so it was basically a six month fixed contract.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And I didn’t even hesitate. I just said yes. And I remember everybody in my world thought I was crazy. What are you doing? And it was one of those things where I’m like, “No, I have to do this.” And so I did it. I had no way of knowing how they were going to respond to me, what the other partner was like in the joint venture. But all I knew was that I could count on me and I wanted this so bad. And so I did it. And not only did I last well past the six months and got put on permanently, had my base salary doubled with all the options and bonuses for the work I did, I ended up being a near seven figure earner in corporate.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Then the economic downturn started to happen. It was 2008 and everybody I knew said it was crazy. It wasn’t safe. I was taking too much risk. I had a good job, I had good benefits. I was so safe, and I realized when I was up there, like I remember getting the memo, everybody that had gotten laid off in one fell swoop. I was insulated because I was on that project and I realized that if I had made the safe choice, I would not have been safe at all. I wouldn’t have had a job.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Now, at that time, my income had gone up and I’d had the permanent place. And I still hadn’t reached the pinnacle of my success there and it just kept getting better and better and better. But what that decision, that one decision to say yes to what seemed like the craziest thing in the world to do changed my life. Because when the job was no longer palatable, I could just quit because I was financially secure. And it also taught me that when I count on myself, the results are going to be great. And also to remember that the safe choice sometimes is probably the least safe of all. And so that’s what’s really shaped who I am today and where I have taken my business today. There’s been other life experiences, but that I would say is probably the most profound one because when I think back and think about how crazy everybody thought I was.

 

Kyle Gray :

Yeah, I love it. It’s a big leap of faith and that’s a common theme I’ve seen in many entrepreneurs journeys. There comes a time where, yeah, you can’t make what appears to be a safe move or you just don’t have enough information to know, Oh yeah, this is all going to turn out. And I’m all about doing your research and knowing as much as you can. But yeah, there’s just these moments and they come all the time as an entrepreneur where you just have to make a big leap forward.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And so I got warmed up in the corporate world and that has been the, I mean, everything in my business has been a big risk. Everything. Until this point. So, yeah.

 

Kyle Gray :

That’s amazing. So tell us, what does life look like for you now and who do you serve and how have you taken this experience in corporate and your other experiences and how do you use that to help people today?

 

Nafissa Shireen:

So I work primarily with entrepreneurs who are kind of hovering around that six figure level and can’t seem to break through to seven figures. Or maybe they have a little bit, but they’re still living paycheck to paycheck. So we get to a point where the strategies and systems and steps we took in the beginning of our business will get us to a certain point. But when we start to have a pattern of continuously not breaking to a certain level, it’s not our tools that aren’t working anymore. It’s something’s going on inside of us. And so I’ve worked with entrepreneurs like that. I mean I bring all of my business experience, but I primarily work with them on the mindset piece and the belief piece to help them break through that because they do have to make those kinds of leaps of faith.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And where I am now, I mean, my husband and I, we recently, a year ago, to expand the business, we made massive investment in buying a horse ranch because I worked with horses as well. That was a massive risk to be able to grow my business. Huge. And so, I try to model what it is I work with people on. I don’t necessarily encourage clients to take that huge of a risk that I took with buying a multimillion dollar property, that’s a huge one. But sometimes it can feel like that, the moves that you have to make. But sometimes just hiring the right team member can feel just as impactful to somebody who’s kind of hovering around six figures and still hasn’t paid himself properly, now they got to pay somebody else. It’s just as impactful, that fear is the same.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And so when I’m working with entrepreneurs I help them take those decisions and start thinking like that seven figure or million dollar CEO who actually has a pretty good salary for themselves. That they can take those risks. And so I always like to say I consider what I do to intersect the woo with the work. And I tell people like, “Don’t be afraid of the woo because it has various forums. It’s really just all about digging deeper, removing the emotions that get in the way of your strategies, finding out the beliefs that aren’t serving you and really carving your way to create what’s absolutely true for you and your business because I also believe your business is a great path to self actualization as well.” So I bring all that together and I do it here whether through Zoom like this with clients or when they come here for their VIP days, we work a lot with the horses and some other muscle testing and techniques that we work with.

 

Kyle Gray :

I want to hear about your new equine therapy and how you’re working with that. This is interesting to me because my mother is actually a world champion endurance horse racer and so she ran Arabian horses in Spain, she’s raced the King of Malaysia and one of her horses, she donated to the National Ability Center in Utah as an equine therapy horse after he was no longer racing around.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Cool. That’s really exciting. So then you must be quite familiar with how horses interact with us a little bit, right? Or a lot, right?

 

Kyle Gray :

Yeah.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

I’m a little bit of an accidental horseman. I just was taking riding lessons and then I ended up adopting my lesson horse 11 years ago or 10 years ago. And as I got into the coaching world, I never actually thought I was going to bring horses into it. But as I started to transform through my own horse and overcoming my own fears, I started to get really interested in the transformative power of horses. And I stumbled upon a book by a woman called Linda Kohanov. You can probably see right here, I’ve got one of her publications right there, The Way of the Horse and she’s a pioneer in this field on equine assisted learning. I don’t do the therapy aspect of it because I’m not a therapist. But that’s kind of where it started, was in the therapeutic realm. And it has now started to really transcend and come a lot more into the mainstream for helping people in leadership and in coaching and helping them understand a lot more about themselves.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And so the way I use it in particular is to help my clients really understand how they’re showing up in their business. And also to help them to get to the truth of who they are. Horses are prey animals, as you probably know, and how we show up with our energy, for them it’s a life or death thing. They have to be able to read energy. They need to know whether that bear walking by us hungry or did he just eat?

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And so they respond to the energy we put off and or put out. And emotional congruence is really important to a horse. If you are not emotionally congruent and to the listeners, what that means is if your insides don’t match your outsides. So let’s just say, you’re not having a good day, but you’re pretending that you are, they’re not going to feel safe, they’re going to feel safer if you just admit your feelings and own your feelings because they know that’s what’s actually going on.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

So when I work with clients, there’s a couple of things we do. A lot of times, actually I shouldn’t say a lot of times, just about everybody I’ve worked with has had at least one part of their business that’s maybe sucking their souls dry, but it’s paying the bills but it’s not in alignment with who they are or they’re not absolutely clear or doing exactly what they want to do. And when we work with the horses and we work in reflective state, they’re able to really tap into their subconscious mind and uncover things that are hidden and the truth for them a lot easier than they could in any other environment.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And part of the reason for that is when we are at our most relaxed, that’s when we are at our most creative and at our most truthful and we allow ourselves to step into a feeling mind versus a thinking mind. And horses actually help us get there. There was a study down by the HeartMath Institute that showed how horses can actually affect our heart rate variability and help us to get into that rest and digest parasympathetic state. So reflective sessions with horses really help bring that out.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And what’s amazing is the horses know when you’re there, they’ll always tell you because especially my pony is so energy sensitive that he can’t handle any form of incongruence and he will stay as far away from a person as he can but he relaxes them. And then when they go, you know what, I think this is it or whatever comes through for them because I just stay out of it. I let the horse do their work. You’ll see him come up. I had him lick one client literally from head to toe because she got into her truth. She dropped down, she sat down and she just realized she was doing the wrong business and it was a very emotional moment for her. And when she had that realization, the pony who was at the other end of the arena just walked over and he just literally licked her up and down from head to toe. It was so incredible to watch this happen. And then there’s other ways that we work with them too in terms of boundaries, again, emotional congruence, leadership.

 

Kyle Gray :

I’m picturing a scene where you are probably standing in the middle of a circular arena and you’ve got somebody like an executive on a horse and then you ask them a question that something makes them pretty upset inside and then all of a sudden you see it in the horse.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Yeah, absolutely. And the only difference to that is that there’s no writing in the work I do. It’s all on the ground. A lot of it’s at liberty. Sometimes it’s for safety and for the client’s comfort, they might be haltered. It depends on the exercise that we’re doing so, but it’s exactly what you said. I will be going into coaching them with the horse there to witness it.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And the other thing too is horses are mirrors. The horse that shows up for you, the horse is showing you the you that has showed up that day. How they respond gives us a lot of insight into how we’re showing up. And I’m always blown away when I have a retreat or more than one person in here because the same horse can show up for a person differently. 

 

But our thinking minds can attribute a lot of different things to a different day, different weather. The horse was tired, he’s reacting differently. The exercise was different. But when we have exercises and you have five or six people together at a retreat and they’re all doing the same thing, and the horse is responding differently and mirroring their energy, it’s amazing to watch. And the other people when they’re holding sacred space and they’re witnessing what’s going on, they can see how the horse is uniquely responding.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And horses have no agenda. They live in the present moment. So if they’re not feeling safe with you or they’re not respecting your boundary, or they’re thinking that they don’t have to respect you or follow your leadership, they’re just being honest, they don’t mean anything by it. And so as humans, we can take that feedback and feel really safe about it. Whereas even me as a coach, I have an agenda. I have a client in a relationship with me that’s in a financial relationship and I want them to have results. We do have that. Horses have none of that. And so it really helps a person to feel safe and to get to their truth.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And the other thing too is I live with four horses, so I sometimes forget what it’s like for somebody who’s not used to being around them. If you’re not used to being around them, it’s a really different experience.

 

Kyle Gray :

It’s a really big thing that, yeah.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Yeah. Your reptilian brain, your subconscious mind, all those different parts of you don’t know the difference between an imagined threat or a real threat. So if picking up the phone to make sales calls, terrifies you. Whatever’s driving that fear is the same fear or belief that’s going to show up when you’re in front of a horse, like that pure terror. Except in front of the horse, it’s showing up in a way that makes sense and then we can dive deep and say something like, “Well, what’s going on here? What were you afraid of? Or what showed up? Or why didn’t you have that boundary? Or where were you hesitant?” And we can start to see how somebody’s energy is showing up. So it’s amazing.

 

Kyle Gray :

Does the horse need any kind of special training? 

 

Nafissa Shireen:

The horse isn’t certified and I can tell you’re used to horses by asking that question. So you have to make sure the horse is suitable for work. I can’t train them in terms of what they do with the client. I always say, “We’ll set an intention when we go into the arena or the pasture.” But the horse is going to figure out what that person needs. But I do make sure that the horses I work with are trained to be around people at liberty, to respond to me when I tell them to knock something off right away, that they can be trusted. So they have to have a lot of experience with people.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

So for instance, the horses that I have before they moved here, they lived a lot of years at a boarding center. And so if they were not out in their paddock, they were in their stall. And if they weren’t in either of those two places, they were working with the human either tacked up or haltered up. So they weren’t at liberty. So I had to teach them how to let people just walk around them and be comfortable with that. Some of the work we do involves sitting with the horses or doing a guided meditation. So I’ve had to teach the horse how to respect a person’s space when they’re sitting. So there’s things we do and not all of my horses are suitable for everything. 

 

Kyle Gray :

They’ll try and eat your hair.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

I mean, you’ve been around horses so you know some are bomb proof and others spook at their own farts. So the latter, you probably would not leave him alone at liberty with somebody. You would have to have them on a halter or do a grooming exercise in a contained area like a stall. So it’s really about knowing your horses and knowing what they can handle. But yeah, there is some training involved so that they don’t freak out if we’re doing an active exercise with them like, what is this person doing? If we’re trying to lead them through an obstacle course in a session with a client, that’s not the first time I want the horse to ever see the obstacle, let’s put it that way.

 

Kyle Gray :

What are some of the common patterns that you seem to uncover in the people that you work with best with horses? Where are they really the best at telling the truth and what do you learn from them and then how do you work on that after?

 

Nafissa Shireen:

I don’t know that there’s a common pattern because everybody is so unique, but I would say that, I guess if we were to say like a thread, it really comes down to a core belief. What that belief will be is different for each person. But where we can see that there’s something that shows up for them with the horse and then we can dig down and find out, it’s showing up everywhere in their business.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

So if we discover there’s a trust issue and that happened with a client and we didn’t even know we were going to be working on that, we were going into the arena to work on having this horse represent the upped up level client and it turned into a trust issue. So it was really fascinating. And then we found out what was really holding her back and we were able to drill down to different areas of her business.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

It could be boundaries. And I did one exercise when I had my last retreat here where we put a bucket of treats in the middle of the arena and the clients had to keep that horse away from this bucket of treats for 10 seconds. It’s not as easy as it sounds. And I know it doesn’t sound easy. And one of my clients who was there, she’s newer in business and she’s a bit nervous with the sales conversation. She’s a bit nervous about asserting herself, but she’s brilliant at what she does. And you could see this. She just was so timid about asking this horse to just stay. And so that helped me as her coach to understand that she still doesn’t have that belief in herself.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

So it’s really about what comes up in the session is where we’ll find a current theme in their business. But what shows up for everybody is something totally different.

 

Kyle Gray :

Wow. And what else do you combine with these sessions, or are you working with people? You mentioned this is a lot in the mindset and how are you helping them in kind of strategic ways?

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Strategic ways, well. So every client is different. They don’t follow a signature system or a 10 step formula rate. They’ll work with me generally for a year. And so the horse is part of it, they’ll come for two to three VIP days depending on their program. And so in that VIP day, again, it depends on their intake. And so sometimes we’ll be out with the horses and other times we’ll be in applying the strategy. And then throughout the year we have our regular coaching calls. I provide optional community to all of my clients because I know how important that is. And I also know how important it is not to be the smartest person in the room. So when we have a group of entrepreneurs that get together and mastermind and they’re all successful in their own right, but in different businesses, there’s a lot of value there. So we bring that together and then we have group retreats for all of them to get together.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

So with community, with masterminding, with coaching, with business strategy. And then sometimes I just give them a kick in the butt too. There’s a little bit of that that that goes on.

 

Kyle Gray :

Absolutely. So you’re working with large groups of people and these are definitely a premium and very high level service that you offer. What are you doing to attract people and get the word out and get people to come out to the ranch?

 

Nafissa Shireen:

I’m not a heavy online marketer. I would say I’m an online networker a little bit more than that because what I sell is really not conducive to buy now button. So I need to build relationships and so through Facebook Lives, through things like this, like podcasting, going to events, meeting people and good old fashioned picking up the phone when I meet people and building a relationship and it works. I have my YouTube channel as well, which does bring people in and I have attracted some high end clients through my YouTube channel. But again, there’s a conversation that has to happen and so it’s really about building relationships with people I meet in different ways. So I would say it’s online networking, that would be my biggest lead in for clients.

 

Kyle Gray :

Do you think you have some unique ways to connect with people or is there something that you’re doing that really makes that work for you?

 

Nafissa Shireen:

I don’t think this is unique, but what I do is I try to take it offline as fast as I can and have a conversation. I think a lot of people sometimes will tend to shy away from having that conversation because they don’t want to come across as pushy or salesy. But I never look at it that way because I would say 80 to 90% of the people that I talk to are not actually ideal clients for me and I’m not an ideal coach for them. But I can help them. I can be of service to them, I can connect them or I can just create a champion.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

So I always try to approach this of how do I get to know people, how can I help these people? And if I can help them through a program or a service, then I will. One of my clients came to me because I was her client. I was sponsoring an event, she did my booth and I was like, “I think you need some help.” And she’s become a long term client and it just worked out that way. So it was six months after we met in person and had a relationship. And just about all of my clients except for one who was directly through YouTube, I had met them all personally some way before they became clients.

 

Kyle Gray :

This is very similar to me. Though I do have an online presence and an online following and I’ve found most of my clients for my agency and for the high touch work, I do a lot of speaking and presentations and then stay at the events and meet people and make a lot of connections. And I’ve found that, yeah, just the level of trust you can build in person is pretty significant.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Absolutely.

 

Kyle Gray :

Yeah.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And with, with the horse stuff, from a year long clients, this is part of their program. But I also do standalone private client retreats anywhere from one to three days or group retreats. And so these are people that might not be working with me for a year, but they want to work through something that they’re stuck on or come to an understanding. And so they can do that and still work with their other coach. And so part of it too is building relationships in a way that A, either they’ll get referrals or B, if somebody does come to me in that situation that their other coach doesn’t feel like I’m trying to skip their client or something, they actually understand what I do because I believe there’s enough to go around for everybody. And so I think having those relationships just helps meet the people, build referrals, create champions, and it’s worked for me. So my business is a little bit more, it’s not a brick and mortar business, but I’ve applied some of those principles to building it.

 

Kyle Gray :

Absolutely. It’s good to know and it’s good to be reminded just how valuable and maybe even more valuable a personal human connection is. And for such a personal physical business that has this element really real physicality working with a horse, I think meeting in person makes a lot of sense even… Yeah.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

And here’s a little controversial thing I have to say too. The emotional safety of my horses is number one. So I also have to be very choosy that I feel like I can bring this person in because A, they’re also coming to my home

 

Kyle Gray :

Yeah, yeah. That’s important.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

I don’t want to just put on the internet, “Hey, come to my house.” That’s kind of crazy. So you want to meet people and know that there’s that synergy there. And the emotional safety of the horses too. Even if there’s somebody that I would personally trust 100%, if I feel their energy is just way too much for the horses, I couldn’t in good conscience sell them something or make them an offer because their physical safety is at risk if the horse’s emotional safety at risk. You understand that as being around horses. So I need to know the people that come here, that’s…

 

Kyle Gray :

Yeah.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Yeah.

 

Kyle Gray :

Nafissa, it’s been such a pleasure exploring this totally different approach to coaching. And do you have any closing thoughts for us and where can we go to learn more about you?

 

Nafissa Shireen:

So if I was going to offer somebody a closing thought, I would just say to get to that next level in your business, you’re going to have to do something different than you’re doing right now. Because whatever got you here is not going to get you there. And I know it’s scary and I know that it can feel like you’re putting all your cards or eggs in one basket, but don’t let that stop you from getting what you want. I think that goes back to my original story.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

If people want to learn more about me, they can come to my website, which is nafissashireen.com or my YouTube channel, which is Nafissa Shireen and all my stuff is that handle except I have a behind the scenes Instagram page for the ranch, which is @believeandseeranch and it’s not a business page but you can just see daily living. I call it city girl in the country, so yeah.

 

Kyle Gray :

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us on The Story Engine Podcast.

 

Nafissa Shireen:

Thanks Kyle.

 

Kyle Gray:

Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned on this episode and every other episode at thestoryengine.co. If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book, Selling With Story: How to Use Storytelling to Become an Authority, Boost Sales, and Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Audience. This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations, both online and offline. Learn more at sellingwithstory.co. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

 

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