Invisible Stories Episode 11 with Erin Weed
On today’s episode I speak to Erin Weed, creator of the DIG process, which helps people share their story and find their truth in it, and distill their entire life purpose down to one word. She is also the author of Girls Fight Back!: The College Girl’s Guide to Protecting Herself
In this episode we discuss:
- We can move our pain. Through our story, and through sharing our story with other people, and finding meaning in it, we can transmute pain.
- Having a dig word, a truth that you are operating and acting within creates a different vibe even if the topic is the same. By acting within the bubble of your dig word, you can add all new meaning to a topic you are speaking or writing about.
- You as you are, are never going to exist again. That’s the coolest thing about my job is extracting these operating systems from people and getting to their truth and just knowing, this is never going to happen again.
- Having a safe space where you can let your guard down, be vulnerable, and create and share, is a prerequisite for writers.
Enjoy the episode!
Girls Fight Back! by Erin Weed
You’re leaving for college and the family minivan is packed to the gills with your stuff. On the brain are good times, parties, new friends – and oh yeah, classes too. College is a blast, but it’s a good idea to get informed on how to stay safe and strong while on campus.
Girls Fight Back will show you how to trust your intuition, avoid bad situations, and if necessary, defend yourself. You will learn practical and empowering strategies for walking on campus at night, dating, partying, traveling and living on your own.
* How to secure your dorm, apartment or house from break-ins.
* Everything you need to know about date rape drugs, cyberstalking and how to have a safe spring break.
* How to recognize and escape from violent confrontations using your voice and if necessary, self-defense.
- Timestamp: 1:00: I definitely identify as a person who never really wanted to write a book by any means. In 2001 I had recently graduated college, I was living in New York City, and I had moved there to be a TV Producer. I had always really been into documentaries and that whole truth in communication thing is my jam. And I was only working in documentaries for about a year when one of my best friends was murdered at a college campus that we both went to in Illinois. And it was just one of those situations where I realized that my world looked very different than before I had gotten that news. So it kind of started this whole quest of mine to learn how to live safe, to live strong, to defend myself physically, and also how to empower women. And about nine weeks or so from the day of Shannon’s murder, that was my friend who was murdered Shannon McNamara, was 9/11 in 2001. And I was living in NY, and I was commuting to the world trade center every day. And it was just one of those situations where it was like, Ok, yeah, you have a murder, you have mass murder happening in our country, and my nervous system was wrecked as was many peoples. And so learning about how to be safe how to be strong, how to thrive, how to move forward when just everything has fallen apart became kind of the quest of my 20s. And so I started a company called Girls Fight Back which was named after my friend Shannon because she fought back when this guy broke into her apartment in the middle of the night. And she ultimately because she fought back that she captured and convicted her killer and he is now life in prison. So I was running that company for twelve years total. I ended up selling it ultimately but I published a book about halfway through. And my journey was a little maybe unconventional, I’m happy to go into detail if you want to about it. But the book itself was about how to stay safe and strong when you are at college, and yet still live your life. That was always one of my big positions. I didn’t respond well to all the campus cops that are like “You ladies, just don’t dress like a slut so you won’t get raped.” And I’m like What? That just doesn’t jive with me at all, I don’t think that’s empowerment. And so we were always champions of how can women live the life they want to live, dress the way they wanna dress, be who they wanna be with, make the choices they wanna make, and not be raped or killed. I think we can do it!
- Timestamp: 4:36: When I started Girls Fight Back, I started speaking. Really what the core of Girls Fight Back was was a 90-minute interaction one-woman show that I would take to high schools and colleges and we’d do assemblies essentially. And after a while, I started doing a bunch of media interviews. And this is the early 2000s. So Social media didn’t really exist. I was actually one of the first people to have a Facebook account who was a non- college student because all I was doing was talking to college students. So I got a college email address so that I could get on social media. But most “grown-ups” were not on social media. I did a lot of traditional media, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and one magazine named Cosmogirl, which is now out of print, but was kind of the hit teen magazine of that time. They basically said, hey would you want to write a column? So I went from them writing about me all the time to writing an actual column in a national magazine, which was really rad. Because it was the first column that was ever dedicated to Women’s Safety. And so that was awesome. And then the editor in chief and I became friends, and she was like, hey, what if you did a book through Hearst Books? So Hearst was the parent company over the magazine and they also had a book division. So I was like, ok, cool! Now mind you during all this, I was running around the country, and leading this very unsustainable crazy lifestyle as an activist and crusader and teaching women to kick ass for a living. And it was wild, and I was harassed by people, and I mean trolls and… So it was like standing ovations and death threats. It was just like a really intense time. So when someone came to be and was just like ‘do you wanna do a book?’ I was like great! And so I wrote the proposal and I pitched it to a bunch of executives at the publishing house. Theyloved it, and they basically gave me a contract. Which is pretty unheard of, to go straight to a publisher and get a contract. I didn’t have an agent. I didn’t know what I was doing. I actually worked in reverse, and I got an agent so that she could negotiate a contract. Which, getting an agent in itself is a whole process. I don’t even know how I pulled that off. Well, the agent I got was not good. I will just tell you that right now. But basically what happened was I went out on a speaking tour as all that was happening. My agent was directly in talks with the publisher, and they came up with this deal that they thought was amazing, and I thought was horrible because basically the deal almost made me like a ghost writer… It was almost like those books that magazines put out and they put the magazine masthead on it, but it’s written by a person. So it was a branded book for the magazine, which I love the magazine, but I was like, this is my story. This is my friend’s murder story. This is my work, and I don’t want this to be treated like a ghostwritten book that I don’t have any control over. So basically I walked away from the deal, and I think I was like 25 or 26 at the time. It was pretty stressful, I had neve been in any kind of negotiations like that. Well in an interesting twist of fate (this is the real unconventional part) I told my agent we need to find another deal, we that wasn’t going to work for me and thank you but no thank you. And I felt great about that choice. Until my book agent sued me. Because I signed a bad deal with an agent—p.s. Don’t’ ever sign any agreement without getting it looked at by an attorney. Period. Great life lesson—But I basically signed an agreement with her that essentially consented to signing any deal she got for me, and it didn’t really give me the right to say no. I ended up having to pay her thousands and thousands of dollars to basically settle out of court so I didn’t have to go through a trial.
- Timestamp 8:38: Now at this point, you guys, I am done with publishing, like done with even wanting to share my story. What I did after I took a few months off was I got really introspective about what is the book that wants to come through me, and how do I want to tell this story? And how canI do that? And this was at a time where there wasn’t people like Jenn Grace out there being like “I am going to shepherd you and protect you through this entire publishing process and make it all ok.” Like, if you had existed, this wouldn’t have been an issue. You did exist, I just didn’t know you did. Anyway, after a lot of introspection I realized the book I want to write, I need to be in full control of, and I want to write it full on with the cooperation of Shannon’s family, and anyone who cared about her, and I just need the buy in of important people and the message just has to be sensitive and kind yet also raw and true. And I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that through a publisher. And so I self published in 2006. And self-publishing was not a thing in 2006. I actually was on the phone calling a printing company in Michigan to like print out my book. Talk about direct, you know? And I had a distributor, I worked directly with Ingram. I had to figure out every single aspect of publishing, which I do not recommend to anyone, as you know Jenn. Let someone like you do it for them. I figured it out, though. I ended up putting out several editions over the years. Ultimately when I sold Girls Fight Back, I also sold the rights to the book so they could keep updating it as well and continuing putting it out as well. So that’s kind of my weird book story.
- Timestamp: 11:26: This presents almost a different challenge. I was so focused during that time on all the mechanics that I had to figure out in order just to get a book out there. I don’t feel like I was afforded a whole lot of time and space to really be with my story. I don’t feel like that whole era of Girls Fight Back that I really grieved. I don’t feel like the book experience was one that can be an incredibly cathartic one. I know the way you take people through in your Academy [Getting Started for Authors] is like therapy with a book at the end. Because that’s what telling our story is, it is cathartic for self and others. And I didn’t really have that experience. And I am currently attempting to write my second book, and I say attempting because my attention span is somewhat of a challenge, but I do think it’s gonna be a very different experience this time around, because of all I’ve learned.
- Timestamp: 13:06: You know what it was for me? Crazy story, but, about almost 8 years ago, I ended up giving birth to my daughter who had a due date of like early June and I ended up giving birth to her on Shannon’s birthday, which was June 21st. And so she stuck in there for a while, and I’ll never forget that night of just being in labor for 12 hours and having this baby girl be born on my murdered friend’s birthday. Something about that night and that synchronicity was for me kind of like a release, a release of the trauma, of the tragedy, of the… even just that time in my life. And it’s almost like the universe was just saying “You’re free now. It’s complete. Thank you. And here’s this incredible, angelic little child, that you can now go raise.” So it felt to me kind of like a completion, and I did feel very cathartic about that. And releasing the company and selling it to a woman who is a survivor and was my agent for a year or two leading up to that, and she had just done incredible things with it was also very cathartic. I have always been very transparent about everything that happened in the company, and why I was letting it go. Which really wasn’t a business decision as much as it was that I needed to move through that piece of my story, and I say that because I know that probably some people listening, especially when you have been through hard things, you feel like sometimes it’s permanent. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we can move our pain. Through our story, and through sharing our story with other people, and finding meaning in it, we can transmute pain.
- Timestamp: 15:55: Right after I gave birth to my daughter, I knew my whole life was going to change. Within that year I ended up selling Girls Fight Back, and getting a divorce. So basically my entire identity was obliterated. Everything I was known for was completely gone. Which is liberating and terrifying. So what I started to do was to volunteer. And I volunteered with TedEx, TedEx Boulder specifically. I was just speaker coaching because I knew how to be on stage, that was the one thing I knew how to do. And some people started going viral, and it started to become like a thing. And then I was like, okay, maybe I’m doing something here that is different. And I don’t think I am the best speaker coach in the world. But I am really good at helping people distill down big ideas into simple truths that are completely resonant with their soul and help them put words to that. And I think it’s because of that, these people were able just to shine. So enough people that happened with that they started telling people about me. And next thing you know I started a company called Evoso, which focussed on helping people create authentic talks and speeches. And so I have been doing that really ever since. But I think what’s made Evoso speaker so impactful has been this process that I mentioned, in the beginning, called the dig. Where I get someone’s life story and I extract their operating system, like all these truth words that work together in some kind of system within you. And I extract from that the one word that is most resonant with that person, because you can talk about any subject matter you want, but if you put an energy bubble around it, it changes the whole feeling. So like if you go to a conference and you’re seeing somebody give a talk about finance if there’s an invisible bubble around it that is about abundance, and you’re learning about finance through the lens of abundance, that feels totally different than if you go to another finance speaker and they are also talking about finance, but the bubble around it is safety. That’s a very different vibe. It’s the same topic, a different vibe. I have learned that every single leader has that one word, and if you can really hone in and bring conscious awareness and attention to the one word, then you can create the bubble and the vibe and the message around how people receive you so you can match with the people you really want in your frequency. So the dig is my sole work, and it’s now where I’m focusing my time and attention because I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface on how dig we can deep in the dig. How deep we can dig in the dig. A little tongue twister.
- Timestamp: 23:30: That clarity is a superpower. And that is the reason I created the dig. I will tell you, for all those years that I ran Girls Fight Back, I struggled a bit because I didn’t want my identity to be just this ass-kicking woman that is the first person you think of when you see someone get raped or murdered on television. And that’s what it was really turning into. People would just send me Facebook messages all the time, like, did you hear about this? Did you hear about this? And I was like, am I bad news girl now? Because this is depressing and I don’t think that’s the essence of who I am. And it caused a lot of identity turmoil, so after I moved on from Girls Fight Back and discovered this dig process, I discovered that my dig word is authentic. And then I discovered the whole reason that I started Girls Fight Back, it wasn’t about avenging Shannon’s murder, it wasn’t about empowerment frankly, or equality or a lot of the things associated with feminism, which I am a feminist, it’s just not part of my operating system. For me, it was about authenticity. And what enraged me in the aftermath of Shannon’s murder was looking around in my circle of girlfriends, and seeing how we were all making shifts to our authentic life plans because fundamentally we felt unsafe. We weren’t living alone, we weren’t taking that internship downtown Chicago because it’s in a sketchy neighborhood, we weren’t traveling Europe by ourselves because that’s dangerous. And I was like no frickin’ way. Nope. We’re just not doing this. Because that to me was another layer of tragedy. And I think Shannon would agree with that, because she was not that kind of person to make decisions stemming out of fear, which is one of the ultimate inauthentic things we can do. And so for me, that was a trigger point, and that’s why I started the whole movement. Once I discovered that that was what was driving me, now that I can apply to anything else. So I was a TED speaker coach. Great, that worked really well. Now I’m really going into the purpose work. Now, authentic works there too. It’s always going to be the lens no matter what I do with my life and how I look at it, and so when you have that, that clarity turns into confidence. And when you feel clear about —in speaking to your listeners— when you feel clear about that message that wants to come through you, all of a sudden, all these blocks that you might currently have they’re going to be gone. Because that confidence just turns into connection. You just want to connect with people once you are clear on it. So if you start with the clarity, you are going to be on fire.
- Timestamp: 30:35: It’s such an internal journey, that whole imposter syndrome. My dig brain gets turned on around like, people really struggle with worth and value and contribution and I’ve done a lot of digs on people who have that really big in their system and it’s something they are working through in this life, and I have so much compassion for them because I see it so clearly. I don’t even have to see your listeners to know that they are being pulled to you, Jenn, for a reason. And my guess — and I’m curious if your listeners resonate with this — but my guess is that they are pulled to you because they feel safe with you. And they are pulled to you because they feel a compulsion, even if they don’t have clarity yet, they feel a compulsion to share something. And they’re not sure how, they’re not sure when, but my guess is that they’ve chosen you is because they feel safe. And that safety is a prerequisite for us to really let our guard down and be vulnerable and to create and to share. I guess the only thing I would recommend is just to tell the listeners that just knowing Jenn personally, this is a person you can be safe with, this is a person you can relax into, this is a person who can hold your truth and won’t get scared. And when we create that space for ourselves and for each other, anything is possible, so lean into it.