05 | Use Your Fashion Design Skills And Move Into Fashion Technology #wearabletech | Sylvia Heisel
We are switch into tech tech resources to accelerate your career in information technology, monthly classes on tech topics. We offer free or discounted exam vouchers, scholarships for you to me courses, free events, free boot camps and more. You can find us at www dot switch into tech.org record on hey, there's at least Robinson with nobody wants to work though podcast and today I have Shara. She is a social worker. And she does Yeah, this fascinating business on the side, which that's how I found her on LinkedIn. So go ahead and introduce yourself.
Hi, everybody. My name is Shawna Ruff and I am a licensed clinical social worker by training. Former psychotherapist been in the field of social work for over 20 years. They got a look alike. But nonetheless, I am in a business for myself now.
I've been in business for about two years and had a lot of success with it, which we're probably going to go into so I am thankful to be here. Thank you for inviting me, Elise. All right, yeah, I didn't want to peg your age, but I was like talking cheap and they're doing that 20 years. That's crazy. Um, one question, what did you want to be when you you know, were a little child. I wanted to be at first, the next bar I carry because I thought it was saying, I bought after that I wanted to be an astronaut after that wanted to be a lawyer. And then I turned
to social work. So there you go. Gotcha. Most people have said that too. So that's a new one. Can you see? I can Yeah. Okay. Um, let's see, what did your
career begin what got you into social work? I would say it had to be maybe my sophomore year of college, where originally, I went from criminal justice to psychology and I'm in my advisor at a time, it's like, you got to see it. So, you know, intro to psych, I think you should think about social work if you want to go into private practice. And really what I didn't tell him that I was distracted by a boy in my class. And I was like, I was not paying to do nothing,
but But nonetheless, it was actually a good precursor because psychology is more science based. And I was like, I'm not gonna I just don't want it. So I was like, I like talk therapy. So he told me about social work. And the first thing
that came to mind was don't they take away people kids and that's that's the stigma of social work. So when I got it switched my major and never looked back. I love the field is soul transport is versatile in terms of what you can do with your bachelor's degree, what you can do if you're masters and if you get licensed, which is a must nowadays, it's it's very versatile of field beyond child welfare. So I I've loved it.
I've had many different roles. psychotherapist, medical case manager, working for a nonprofit working for for profit psych hospital. It's been mostly in mental health direct practice work. So that's where my passion, my first passion lies. And it eventually morphed. I knew I always wanted to do therapy. Growing up in a family where mental health, especially in the black community is not talked about often stigmatized, I grew up with that. So I always had an online passion for
wanting to understand people's behaviors, why they do what they do, but also wanting to understand myself. Which Social Work gave me a very heavy groundwork and being able to understand myself better. Gotcha. Um, what was the catalyst that made you go into your business your entrepreneur endeavors? Yes. So that is a big question that people ask me, especially on LinkedIn. So I have generalized anxiety disorder,
ADHD. I talked about that a lot. When I started out on LinkedIn in 2018. I was a berkhout social worker, and I was mostly talking about the military. I'm a former military spouse. I also grew up in the military. My father was in the Navy. And we have a long history of military in our family. And I start sharing
stories about the military. stigma and how misunderstood that community is talking about it from a standpoint of being a therapist, but also being a military spouse. Being a military child, I started sharing stories that are now back then with LinkedIn. Telling stories using articles was the thing, not as much anymore newsletters are right now. But
back then I started sharing stories about myself, I started being more personal when people were like, they weren't really doing that. And if it blew up is actually one of the first stories I ever wrote in, I started sharing more stories and trying to just break the stigma of a therapist and having all the answers which I didn't, a lot of mental health professionals go into it because they know what it is to have emotional plane, or they may be still working through that sometimes in an ethical way to their clients, which is not supposed to happen. But that's why people come into the field. A lot of times it's because of their own personal experiences around mental health. So I start talking about that more to gain traction. So LinkedIn was actually the probably the first
place where originally I was looking for a job. And it turned into so much more over the years for me, building it, learning how to connect with people build community, I became like literally obsessed with, with LinkedIn. So the story probably goes back further than just my current business. But if I can fast forward from 2018, to the last two years, when I started my business, it's called Journey to licensure, which helps social workers, from a holistic perspective, work on getting their license. Why? Because that was my difficulty. So on LinkedIn, I want to say back in 2019, I started sharing my journey that I needed to get my clinical license. Now for social workers. It takes two years. It took me literally 10 years,
postgraduate Howard University to get that license. Why? Because I had life happening to me. So 2010 graduated from Howard. And then I ended up getting my first level license, I failed it the first time at three points, took it again, two years past it, and then I just went into the field of working. Surely after I became pregnant with my first child, my daughter ages she passed away. I gave birth as a hatter, seven months
a year old. The guy I was dating at the time, which became my future husband. He was really struggling because when I was pregnant with her, he was overseas. And during his 23 year career in the army, he had never been in an area that was war torn. He was in Kabul, Afghanistan when I was pregnant with her. And when I told him that I lost her he was just
devastated. We both were. And it was one of those things where I really struggled with depression. And the best way I did that was just it was unhealthy at the time, but I just fueled it into my career, I just became hunkered down and wanting to focus on building it. Life happened again, I when my ex husband came back from Afghanistan, I became pregnant with my son, Jaden was born with an abnormality where at six months he had to get have a very serious kidney surgery, that if he didn't have it, he might have died. He's now almost nine. Now in June, he has a clean bill of health, but back then it was pretty rough. Having him and then going through a divorce. My
ex husband had a baby don't America, which I found out about later. And after that, it was like a, it's like a blur. Now looking back, my son would constantly get sick. I work two to three hours away from my home, catching a bus or train walking hour and a half rain, sleet, snow, to make sure that I can provide for him because my ex husband wasn't doing that. So working as a therapist until five o'clock in afternoon, and then taking care of a sick medically compromised child, sometimes ending up in the hospital with him overnight and still having to go to work the next morning, sometimes barely any sleep sleep. I did that for five, six years. On top of trying to work and provide for him. I went through postpartum
depression, almost giving up for adoption because of my depression. Trying to figure out well how am I going to piece my life back together. So it was a whirlwind ride. And I shared a lot of that on LinkedIn. And then I took my first clinical exam after it taken 10 years to qualify. And I failed it miserably by two points. I was devastated. Why because it took me so many years to get my hours so many years of pouring into my work to get to that point. It it was one of those things where
looking back now I can smile and laugh because back then I was just that depressed about it. In our field, we need that license in order to go into private practice. We need it for career mobility and marketability. We needed to be able to practice in our field and also to have opportunities open for us. So
especially for black clinicians, there's not a lot of us. And it's because the clinical license, the license exams are pretty hard. And there's a actual, our board came out with a recent report saying that the people that don't pass the exams are people that are black people that are older test takers, or people that have don't have English as their first language, right? Those are using marginalized communities of people that usually need help. They need social work services. If we don't pass those exams, we can't reach those people. So when I share that story of when I failed, I took it again eight months later and passed it. When I shared a snippet of this
decade long story, what it took for you to pass the exam. It literally blew up to like maybe I think was like 150k in comments. Because I share with people the journey of how many things happened to me along that could have deterred me. So when I passed my exam, I ended up going to this app called clubhouse. clubhouse at the time was very huge two years ago, and I got on there and wanted to share with social workers what I did to pass my exam. So I started coaching social workers for free for the first six months. Now I have my license, I
kind of went directly into private practice. I did not. I still tried to figure out did I want to do therapy? I wasn't sure if I did. So I ended up coaching for six months on clubhouse free every Monday night consistently with a study group. People started passing their exams. Then I ran it to
work who would soon be my future publisher. He said, Hey, sure. What are you doing? You're doing something that works for people. It's benefiting? Why? Like, are you still are you monetizing this? I said, No, I'm just trying to help. He said, Okay. So I want you to think of it this way, you now have something that people want, that people need, and you're providing a service that's needed. It's an untapped market. I need you to
change how you value yourself. When he said that, to me, this lovely, white guy in Atlanta, it changed my mindset, I made my first $10,000 in July of 2021. As social workers, we're taught not to look at money, we're in it to serve others, which is true at the same time. What I've learned very early on is that the price that we set for ourself is a direct reflection of our value of ourselves. So I started pricing, slowly, learning how to build my community, learning how to leverage social media learning to build my brand. It took a lot
of work. My first year, I ended up in Business Insider, within the first five months through LinkedIn, I ended up my first book, it's called Nine days of prayer, it hit five time Amazon bestseller within 72 hours of the launch. That was last January, I became a while this year, I became a LinkedIn advisor to LinkedIn platform, the only African American social worker that has that title. So a lot of magical things happened at this past year, close at 150k in sales, which is about $30,000, more than what I did last year. It took 20 years to do what I didn't to. And
that's what I tell a lot of my social workers, it was a long road. The things I needed to do, how I needed to market myself how I needed to build trust and community over time. So people, a lot of people like them would see that success. But I'm constantly reminding them through my story, sharing it over and over again that it took a long time. I tell my social workers that, you know, they can do exactly what I did. No, no, I
can't do that. I don't have the skills I need just like yes, you do. It's about what you do well, showing social proof of that building community and knowing that's going to take some it's going to take some grind. But if you stick with it and you're
consistent with it, it will prove its dividends. So that's a summary of the story of what I do. I'm now launching two other services of what I do but a lot of I guess what has helped my business be successful is that building relationships with my clients, they relate very much to my story. Two years ago,
almost three I was broken on food stamps for three kids. And even after I started my business for first six, seven months I was broke. April 2022. I made my first $24,000 in a month. It wasn't till the end of December that my Cows, like, you know, your business is expanding, right? And I'm just like, I'm just gonna grind, I'm just trying to help. If you go in with intention of making money, you're in trouble. If you go in
it with the intention of serving others, you'll always be your fruit. And I'll pause there, because I noticed that a lot of is heavy. And it's inspirational at the same time. I didn't mention to you when I did my introduction that I lost my mother, and that was the that was a catalyst for me. So yeah,
I totally understand all the blockers that go into life. And that's another reason why I wanted to do this podcast because things take time. And you have blockers. You have ups and downs. You have the hills and the valleys then, and yeah,
I mean, I don't know what else to say on that. But um, congratulations, condolences. I mean, you, you are doing it. Let me see. I didn't hear Can I did mention to you. We talked about blockers. And you talked about the death of your mother. Last
February, February 17. It'll be a year next month, my eight year old brother was killed six blocks away from where I lived. And he's, I'm the oldest of five now for when I look at the year that I had last year, in terms of the success of my business, I would trade it all just to see him again. When I was in the throes of working, he had got done down. And so when I'm
thinking about the bears of what I've been able to do in the in the year, still still the grind of you know, going in trying to implement resilience within the framework of also making sure that I take the time out to remember why I'm doing it in the first place. So wanted to share that with you. Because when you say Karina Italy thought of my brother Samir, definitely, definitely I told you my introduction that I've moved to another country, Mexico, and my mother had never left the country, she always wanted to travel and do these things. So, you know, I do it partially for her and partially because I enjoy it. But um, yeah, I mean, it. It changes you, hopefully for the good, but I mean that it just changes you forever. And what did you have support when you wanted to pivot and do these things? What did your babies say? And, you know, your friends, your family, you know, they consider you to be crazy yes or no. I felt like I kind of got lucky in a sense that I over
time. A lot of people when they go into business, they're building, they're building a business before they build their community for it. For me, I had already built a community. It was just capitalizing on it. For my family, they saw out I have a funny story to tell you about that. For my family, they were just happy to support me to a degree. But I'm a first
generation college graduate first generation to get a master's degree first generation to be author and first generation to have a business a successful one at that. It's one of those things that I've kind of had to roll with the punches with my family. It wasn't until they saw me actually the money part of it that they were like, okay, because I did have some pushback. My mom was like, Okay, well, you're gonna get a job like, and it wasn't until I'll tell you a funny story. And I, my mother, I took her I remember my first year in business. I
think that around the time I made like 10 grand, and I took her to a xhale store and I spent like a couple grand and I don't remember, and I took her to go get her a brand new iPhone now. When I was in my popup days, Nigel will be on a payment plan. Okay, so and I just bought a trade off. So I called a mom. She's like, Wait a minute. She's like, you spent about a couple 1000 hours without blinking an eye. Are you doing drugs? That's what she said to me. Okay. That's what she said to me. And
I said, No, Mom, I have arrived and I walked off. And she didn't say anything else after that. I think when it comes to family, especially if you know they love you and they care about you. Sometimes you kind of got to show patients and leave them where they They are, you have learned that you can't take everybody with you. And sometimes that's family and you got to leave them where they're at. Until they're able to, you know, accept what you're doing. Or you just let your behavior
and let your actions speak for themselves. Not everybody's gone standard grind. Even now, my father's like, oh, you work so much, but yet you need help with your bills. But yet, how do you
think I can help you like, my dad was homeless over the summer, and I got an apartment, and was able to get him what he needed, and be done. Being able to do things for my family, financially, has been a blessing a godson to be able to do that as having a title as a social worker, because again, that societal stigma is there. So I'm constantly even now fighting the stigma of that social workers don't make money or they're working for somebody or they're in private practice. I'm not in anyone else things. I'm in private practice. But it's not a therapeutic practice in the sense that it's not therapy, it's coaching. I'm just using my skills in a different way. But going back to your question, it took, it did even now sometimes, like, even though they see the money coming in, and it and they were like, do what you gotta do, I'll talk to you later, they understand that, you know, I got, I'm doing stuff, but it's still a fight, you're working too much. You're doing this,
you're doing that. I don't have a regular nine to five job. So I have to, I have to be visible, I gotta grind, I have to. And I love my work. So it's not just me working, the passion for what I do shows. And that's the other thing I tell entrepreneurs, social selling is the way to go. It does take longer, but it always pays dividends. I have a sales coach that actually really
capitalized on that with me, because one of the things he says is that people don't call people like if you ever have consultations and people will call you it's like you checking up on them, either. They don't respond. If they're listening, they may not respond to you right away. But they I've had so many sales from building relationships with people that even if they said no initially, because I consistently care, because I can simply showed up for them. Even if they return
it, it pays us dividends, it takes time, it takes patience. On LinkedIn, I see a lot of people just cold selling cold calling. And they wonder why I'm so successful because I listening to the needs of the people I'm serving, listening to their pain points in generally wanting to help them without selling, sharing, being vulnerable on that platform and sharing that I'm not human. A lot of people feel like they
know me because they see me constantly, they'll see Jaden, my son on there, or I remember one time at deep fried turkey on LinkedIn on Thanksgiving, I've gotten engaged on LinkedIn share that video, like sharing pieces of my life, for me is is very much a posing of what I did as a therapist. So learning how to connect with people for me has been, I guess, my superpower, I won't say superpower. But having a mental health background has definitely helped learning how to be patient with people. And they may you know, you're not for everybody. But you're for
somebody. So I'm gonna stop here because you know, I could just start reading all day. So I know that I dropped some gems. Yeah, you dropping gems? Definitely, definitely. Um, I don't even know what else to say on that, you know, I've read that you have to build your community before before you start selling. And that's what I did with with my own business this time around is that I built a community before I started selling to them so and that took that took about six months.
Yeah, I totally get it. Um, and you know, tell like being being human like you said and telling your story where you come from and how you got there because I don't know I don't want to say there's not a lot of stories out there about that. But there's not a lot of stories out there about that because me and my friend go back and forth about it my mom entrepreneur friend and we're like okay, well how did they get there? You know, they say they're making all this money and stuff like that. But what was the journey? I want to know the journey here No, I don't want to know details on Oh, well, you check this box and did this and talk to this person. But I mean, what what
you know, how did you get there? You know, no one just started off, hey, I made you know, $200,000 this year, like how did you get there? So I can appreciate you you know, giving the background and the story and you know what you do to get there and you know, generalizing it to a to a certain detail but but yeah, um, let me see what else we got. Oh, Hmm, what are some of the positives and negatives of being, you know, in this in this coaching business? Oh, we're gonna start, okay. So I'm positive, I'll start there, being able to control my schedule, being able to have freedom, being able to set my own boundary, and reinforce them as needed. But also growing in confidence, I did not start out
as coffee confidence I did now I had to kind of grow into that growing into pricing. Asking, right, not assuming that people are going to know my value, but showing them and being able to ask for what it is that is of value to them, and seeing how I can work with them learning how to be flexible. Now price ranges, you know, being able to gauge pricing, learning how to sell, you know, learning how to close a deal. And also allowing patients with people when they come to you and may just be at first just for advice. They may have been something they saw on a post. But there's a reason why they came to you foster that
relationship. Even if it doesn't end in a cell right away, stay connected to them. Because calls go a long way than just email. I've call I text I check in with people, even if they don't ask for my services right away. Because if they call me I let them know you're stuck with me. So I'm gonna check in on you even if you're not like needing help with your license right now you call me for a reason. So if I can be a support to you, I'm
going to try my best to do that. So learning how to sell how to be a business woman. It that's like the grind the negative, that's the self sabotaging part of imposter syndrome. Learning
that I am a value. That's something I've had to fight with with myself. So ensuring that vulnerably on LinkedIn like gal made all this money, but I still have thoughts that I'm not good enough, I still have thoughts that this could be better. Like
I'm always trying to figure out how I can serve my community better. The pitfalls of sometimes I'm on the grind, and I'm missing things with my family. So making sure that I'm spending time with my fiance spend time with my kids spend time with my family, self care, I had an incident and yours that was very negative actually shared about it on LinkedIn, early post that I ended up in the ER, right before New Year's because I had I get debilitating migraines. But with the migraines for the last two weeks, between Christmas, even New Years, it was happening every day, I would get up with a migraine go to bed with a migraine on one side of Miami. Now, when I went in to see the doctor, they gave me a migraine cocktail. After IV they did a CAT scan and nothing was there which told me it was more stress and psychosomatic trying to be everything to everybody I cannot my family looks at me as the go to I'm the go to person, the person FIX IT person, what I've learned is that I cannot be everywhere. Nor should I be
expected to be everywhere. And I've had to set those boundaries with my family. Even with my soon to be spouse, and having to learn that self care has to be a front where I can't pour into anybody, I'm no good. You know, people don't want pieces of me, they want me as a whole rounded person. So I constantly have to remind myself of that which can be positive and negative, right.
But it's what you do with the insight, you know, to implement action that's going to mitigate that you know what the outcome could be. So negative things, you know, learning that as you grow, as you become more visible, it's going to attract various types of people. Me and my girlfriend, talk about this all the time that we always yelling the drink shots are no new friends. And the reason why is I've learned the hard way
that some people come into your life to take some people coming into your life for a reason that you may not know. And because of the money that I make, now, I it draws a lot of attention. So I now have to be very cognizant, and very careful because I wear my heart on my sleeve, how I connect with people and really figure out what someone's intention is. Now I'm not saying I'm not going to distress you know, just trust every person I meet. I give you my trust and so you break it, but it is one of those things now that I have to be very cognitive and how I move because you never know who's watching. I've had an incident happened to me where My Book was copyrighted on like, not only LinkedIn on Amazon, by somebody in another country, six different covers with the same content. And it was hella high
water for me to get it off another incident where my Facebook account was hacked, and my Instagram account was hacked in it, I lost like half my community. But the good thing was I was on variety of platforms and had an email list. So I still made up fine. So learning that then there's
negative and positive, there's tons of things I probably could say. But the one thing that probably sticks out the most, is making sure that I'm okay, like everyone wants a piece, not everybody should have a piece and that time is the most precious thing you have. And to make sure that people value it that they respected, and that you respect your time, because it's something you can't get back. That's something I've
really had to learn and not to overextend myself, because you know, at one point, the people pleasing girl comes out, then I gotta check her like, No, you told me to them for an hour set that boundary there. They didn't do what they were supposed to do not your problem, you told them what to do, like, just making sure that those boundaries are set, and I'm constantly adjusting them as I go. But also checking you have myself to make sure I uphold them. Because that people pleasing, wear my heart
on my sleeve, it doesn't go very well in business. And people when they realize you know that they will take advantage of it. So just try to be really cognizant of of that. So I know I gave another. So it's perfectly fine. It's all about you. Yeah, three things. I used to have terrible migraines, too. And I got a daith piercing.
Um, you know, I was trying any and everything. And I was like, Well, let me try this and see if it works. And it actually did, I don't, I don't have them at all. So maybe try to try the Dave piercing in your ear for that. And number two, the giving
yourself away and people wanting to be all up in your business and mix. And I call it I call it people want to touch me. That's what I call it. When I moved to Mexico, you know, there's not very many people there that look like me, right? And so everyone was curious about, you know, the black woman in Mexico and things like that. And I was like, they just want to touch me. That's
what I call it. They just want to talk to me and know more about me. And I'm like, Well, I have all these resources over here already. I don't I don't want to talk to you personally, you know, like, go watch a video or read my blog or something like that, you know, so I totally get you on it. And the
third thing about the negatives of telling people Oh, yeah, this is what you were supposed to do. And they didn't do it. I referred someone to Microsoft. I mean, what the one of the largest tech companies on Earth, right? And about three months after I referred him, he came back and was like, Yeah, I didn't fill it out. Like, can you refer me again? I'd have
left it on red. Like, why would you squander an opportunity like? So? I get you I do. I'm kind of touched on it a little bit. But what do you think are some of the traits that someone would have to go into social work? Um, I mean, you could talk about social work. And you can also talk about, you know, the type of business that you're into, um, in terms of social work, because I get questions like that on LinkedIn all the time, because social workers are very visible on LinkedIn. I'm still trying to teach a lot of my colleagues. It's a very powerful platform for networking, not
just resume. You know, that's what it was when it first started was so much more in terms of building your community building your brand before you need it. So really, I would probably have to say for social work, you gotta be willing to talk with there's some of us are introverts. I am by nature, you
probably like No, she's not an introvert I am. I'm very introverted, but there's the other part of me that has to be extroverted or I'm not going to be able to give my gifts. So, so social work, you have to be versatile in the sense that you have to love working with people. You have to be willing
to be flexible. And you have to be willing to get support to social workers, just like any other profession, especially you're in the direct service field. I believe that social workers should have therapists I was a therapist. I had a
therapist because You got to know what it's like to be on the other side of the seat of being vulnerable. You're asking someone to bear their bearings in, you don't know what that feels like. So how are you going to help somebody in that position, you've never been there. So there are a variety is
I could say about social work. But I do think that it's a beautiful field is evolving. Always. There's traditional social work, where there's case managers, there are people that are politicians, there are people that are head of organizations, professors, there's people that are educating up and coming social workers. Me I'm one more side, I
would say, We're the coaching aspect, I am directly not in social work right now, I do give clinical supervision to social workers that are needing hours in Pennsylvania, because I'm in Philly, I do give professional development to social workers who are trying to learn how to build a brand, how to use LinkedIn how to maybe wanting to be a best selling author, learning how to build a brand, that can be that can work to their benefit, but also provide them with more opportunities than just a job. Learning how to if you're a direct practice worker, learning how to build your clinical tool bag before you need it. That's something I teach a lot of my supervisees is, when you're first starting out in the field, it is low pay, I mean, that's when anything, right unless you're like in tech or something. But it's all about how you use your place of employment, you know, adding value to an employer going beyond your responsibilities and give you a good example of that. When I was a therapist for about 10 years, about 22 specializations that I have on LinkedIn are from that one job.
Because I was an outpatient therapist, they oftentimes needed different types of specialties. Some of my clients had schizophrenia or psychosis. Refund loss was something I saw that was a untouched need. So I became a certified grief counselor and provided that to them. They needed it play sandtray Play therapy, I became certified that want my own supplies provided it to them. What it did was it also trained
social workers that were new as I became a see seniority in my position, I trained other social workers. So I taught of teaching other social workers, how to take the positions that they're in, and gain their value through experience. But also investing in themselves is something that we're not taught to do. So. And when I begin by investing, licensing certifications, experience mentorship, I tell a lot of my colleagues that what took me 20 years do guess what you can learn from me faster and get there faster than I did than 20 years, skip my mistakes, you know, align yourself with people that you know, wherever it is that you want to go, that you, you know, you're around them, you are what a certain percentage of the people that you hang around. So just really trying to be versatile in social
work, but teach people that just you know, being a case manager or a therapist, nothing wrong those positions because I've done them. But know that there's more of a social worker than just traditional child welfare, or working in social services, that you can really build your career in a way that can be beneficial. A lot of my colleagues like I just they see the money, but they don't always see what it took for me to get there. So that's why I do a lot of sharing on LinkedIn. About how I started out, it was, you know, if I had to go back 10 years, I would never have thought I would have got to where I am now. Without being in private practice, working from anywhere, being able to go to Disney World with my kids. And a couple days I'm spending on the computer, but yet the bills are getting paid. Things are looking good for me now. But it wasn't
always that. So again, I know that was probably a really powerful, but in social work, we're told that were the backbone of society. When we are oftentimes society looks at us, and we're not valued as much, hence the little pay. Hence, the licensing discrepancies that are there, especially when it comes to marginalized communities that need social workers the most. It's a struggle right now. They're actually revamping the
licensing exams because of those discrepancies. But it's not happening soon enough, which is where I come in to try to support as many social workers no matter what they look like or where they're from. I've had many success stories that simply come from people that were like me struggled with neurological disorders or were busy parents demanding jobs, anxiety, depression, or really just have life happened to them, because they can relate to the story. worry that I tell they ended up coming to me. And I'm more relatable than a self care like
a self study program that they go to, or our program like that. Sorry, that was my mama, I thought I turned my phone on vibrate. But yeah, so I gave you a mouthful, but it's a very versatile field, I love it. I'm just helping social workers from
the extinct now that from my own experience, to me is more valuable than just working in an office that in a building, where path of people that I would serve when I was a mental health therapist wouldn't even come in. Definitely. You touched on so much. I'm introvert too, when people are shocked. And I said I become extroverted when I want
to get my money. Yes, yes. Right. Like, I'm gonna get my money for the day. So I stepped out of myself. And like, I guess like Beyonce becomes I forget Yonsei or something like that, like, I become a totally different person. So, but yeah, I get you on that outside of that. Are there other like
services that are doing what you're doing? Because I find that, at least in tech, there's all these boot camps and schools and things like that, but like you're saying, you know, it's not something where you're literally being handheld, you know, a lot of times in order to pass these exams, and, you know, the experience portion and things like that. So, um, I want to say what differentiates you from from something else? But I'm curious to know, because I'm not familiar with social work outside of the you have to get 2000 hours, I think it is and a master's degree, like, you know, what type of coaching and services do they have like, like, I guess more so like the the bar exam for lawyers and stuff like that, they have a whole bunch of stuff for that, too. Yeah, so I can actually talk about that a little bit more. So
with my services on a journey to licensure. I'm like a self study program, where you're stuck, they, you know, you're given a book, and you just kind of got a half at it on your own. My services are very much holistic in their personalized to the person at the time, there are many self study programs that I usually get end up getting the clients from those self study progress, because they're either don't know how to study, they're overwhelmed. They're, they have an underlying diagnosis that they don't even know that they have. Or they take the exam so
many times that they're frustrated, and they're stuck in this defeatist mindset. And because of what I struggle with, a lot of people relate to my study end up coming to me than just going to a self study program. Or if they're in a boot camp, boot camps are usually a, which is a group program, usually one or two days, here's all the things you need to do, go do it. See you later. My program is about seven, eight
weeks, which is unheard of. I like to see my group members through their study process, I like to build their study process for them, make sure they have resources. But being a clinician, the other piece is having a holistic view of the whole person. And not just on the exam portion of it, which
separates me because when I meet with my clients, you've probably seen a whole bunch of testimonies of people that are passing most of those people either have anxiety, ADHD, a neurological disorder, or they're really struggling with how to study for these exams. And there is a tutoring part to it, of course, but it's more so the structure, the emotional support that they get, I'm pushing them, I'm giving them tough love. But I'm also nurturing and patient, where a tutor is only going to be with you in an hour, I'm meeting with people daily, they have my number, my personal number, have virtual office hours with that they call me and we talk through their mindset, their fear, their anxiety. So it goes a lot deeper than just an exam. A lot of the programs that are out there, it separates me the sense that they're getting a handle on life instruction, but they're also getting someone that professionally is a clinician. So when it comes to diagnosis, or stress or anxiety, I'm more equipped to deal with that than someone that's just a tutor. Right? So, which probably
accounts for my success. I've had over 325 social workers so far pass their exams within two years by myself. So it's it's been quite a ride, but when I think about what to bring chase me when people call me, they're like, oh, I need tutoring. I'm like, if you need tutoring, this is a unit so I let them know how my system is built. I either work with people in 12 weeks or 16 weeks, and then I'm going to kind of be their motivational on call coach. partner throughout their entire process, yes, they'll get the tutoring part, the structure the tools needed, but they're also going to get the support because a lot of times, especially when people fail, they're finding themselves. I've done that so I can recognize it and hold the
space in a different way than somebody that's just, you know, going back to the normal practice questions. So, hopefully it kind of gives you a better understanding. The give you an example of the type of people I've worked with, I had one lady who was deaf. I didn't know she was her and I didn't know she was deaf at all. Her name is Shannon Shriver. She's
actually on Instagram. And Shannon Shriver contacted me through Facebook. Now, I'm thinking this lady I'll never forget. It was like May of last year, she was just like, hey, I need some help. Are you past people's like, cool, cool, cool.
This happened a phone call. I was very confused. When I found out it wasn't mean. That was what I was on the phone with. Because I was like, Excuse me, this is not shaming, like, Oh, this is her interpreter. I was like, oh, and in my mind, I was like, oh, Lord, I'm not gonna be able to help her. I don't do American Sign Language. This is just, and I just start putting myself in a box. And she says, No, I think he can help me.
Let's work together. I pass my practice exam. I just I'm really nervous is my first time taking the test. We've worked together for six weeks or interpreter. I'm nervous. I was like, I don't know if I'm going to be to help her. I do it. Anyway, she texted me at 10 o'clock at night. So she passed her clinical exam, which is the highest license you can have. She was in Boston,
Massachusetts, what I didn't know about this lady. And I didn't find out until later. Look at her Instagram, her husband died during a pandemic. from cancer, she had two small boys she was caring for. So she was a recent widow, on top of the fact that her job was pressuring her that if she didn't pass, you probably lost her job. I had no idea until I
looked because I didn't know her story. But when you talk about impact, those are people that I think of. And another guy, his name was Jimmy Ruffin, we're not related. Six kids lack male social work, which is rare, right? Because social workers predominately predominantly women, even rarer for black clinicians, especially males, there's not a lot of them. And I remember he came he said, I need some help, I need somebody who's going to be on me, he's a busy parent, six kids has a heavy job. And we work together for about 12 weeks twice a week.
Along with building a structure for being a busy parent, some people need more prioritizing. Some people need more support, emotional support, he passes that exam with flying colors. But it he said it was because he has somebody that he knew he had to check in with every week. And I was on like white on rice.
Sometimes people need that push, but they also need to feel supported, to know that someone else has been there before and that they're not alone. So when I think about what differentiates me, are probably sad to say more so looking at the person for what they need, and trying to do my best to hold the space for them, if they cannot see themselves passing the hole, that vision for them until they can hold the vision for themselves. So trying to have a nurturing space where they can, as they're building confidence that they can go through the process and have someone there that can support them. So I know you've run tech world. But in terms of for social work and licensing, it's it's been pretty rough. I mean, when people take those exams, a lot of times is based off of book knowledge. If you've been at school a long time, it it's
it gave me rough, because you're working from a brain of what you know in the field and not from a student point of view. A lot of students who come out of school and take their exams right away, they do better than people who have been out longer. So there's a lot of things changing with the Social Work license exams at this point, but it fully won't, the changes won't fully be in effect for two years. In the meantime, you have social
workers that still have families, they got to provide they got bills, they got student loans, they have to pass those exams just like a doctor would to get, you know, just because he has his medical degree and he still has passed his medical boards. A lawyer you mentioned has to pass the bar exam to be licensed as a lawyer. It's the same thing for social workers and most people don't know how hard our licensing exams are, despite how undervalued we are paid in the field. So so so enjoy this. Thank you sir, for coming on the show. Any last words? Tell us where to find you.
Um, you can find me on 5g platforms, you can find me on Tik Tok. You can find me on LinkedIn You can find me on Twitter, YouTube, clubhouse and Facebook. I have a personal page and the business page that you can find so on. If you Google journey to licensure or Shara Ruffin, I'll pop up there. All
my stuff is public. So I'm pretty visible. All right, yeah. Thank you for listening and or watching. Nobody wants to work though. My name is Elise Robinson and please subscribe and I'll see y'all next time.