Well Woman Weekly: Scout Sobel on Entrepreneurship and Mental Health

Every Friday, we send out a weekly roundup of what’s new on Blood & Milk along with articles you may have missed from the archives. We also include an interview with an inspiring woman and this week we’re excited to Scout Sobel. To get the newsletter, sign up here.

Scout Sobel is the founder of Scout’s Agency, co-host of the popular Okay Sis Podcast, and the bestselling author of The Emotional Entrepreneur. She is a trailblazer in the media industry for utilizing podcasts as a powerful form of PR. After starting Okay Sis, which focuses on female guests, Scout fell in love with spreading women’s stories and identified the rising popularity and influence of podcasting. She started Scout’s Agency with an emphasis in podcast PR for women entrepreneurs, podcasters, and brands. In 2.5 years, Scout’s Agency has become the leading agency for getting women as guests on podcasts. Scout has also lived with bipolar disorder for the last 15 years. She was once unable to function in society but after finding entrepreneurship and taking radical responsibility over her emotions, she is now able to live a life of purpose. Her debut book The Emotional Entrepreneur provides the mindset and emotional tools she learned from managing her mental illness that have helped her succeed in business. The Emotional Entrepreneur hit #11 on Amazon for Women in Business and the Top 100 Charts for Entrepreneurship. 

Scout Sobel

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started as an entrepreneur?

My back story is a non-linear tangle of detours and pit stops and successes. I always say my story really started when I was 14 years old and I experienced my first depressive episode. I stumbled through high school experiencing emotional paralysis, anxiety, and depression accompanied by months where everything felt fine, even great. It wasn’t until I received my formal bipolar diagnosis at the age of 20 that my story with mental illness was really solidified. My symptoms had expanded from anxiety and depression to extreme paranoia, psychosis, catatonia, and suicidal ideation. I dropped out of college. I couldn’t hold a minimum wage job—not as a gelato scooper, not as a hostess, not as an intern at C Magazine. I was aimless and sinking in my early twenties until I found entrepreneurship. 

At the age of 22, I was sitting at a coffee shop with a friend flipping through an indie magazine when the thought popped into my head to start a magazine. Suddenly, the girl who could not hold a minimum wage job was getting to work. That magazine changed the course of my life with its three-issue run, the third issue sold in Barnes & Noble locations across the country. Suddenly, when the creation was in my own hands, I was unstoppable. 

Since getting that first taste of entrepreneurship, I spent my twenties in this forever pursuit of finding a venture that would be successful. I started a blog, a social media agency that was alive for two months, a podcast, etc. I tried everything and anything but could never find longevity or monetization within my business pursuits. 

And then, I started Okay Sis Podcast with my sister. Through Okay Sis, I fell in love with the podcast medium to such a degree that Scout’s Agency, a female-focused PR agency that specializes in getting women as guests on podcasts, was born. Both Okay Sis and Scout’s Agency are the businesses that light me up, support me, and challenge me daily. 

Through the guise of entrepreneurship—and a legitimate run of it this time!—I wrote my debut book, The Emotional Entrepreneur, the emotional guidebook to entrepreneurship fusing my experience living with bipolar disorder and running Scout’s Agency into a multiple six-figure agency. 

Today, I am an author, a business owner, a mental health advocate, and a podcaster. 

Do you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Not many people can say that they have gone through so many challenges in their life. 

Living with, suffering from, and managing my bipolar disorder has been the greatest contribution towards my resiliency bank. For many years it was just suffering and once I decided to take radical responsibility for my emotions, it became managing. Within that management, I overcame a lot of hurdles I did not think I was capable of. Each time I survived an emotional response, a fire at work, a relationship challenge, I made sure to log it as evidence that I was strong. I believe we often look towards the “failings” of our life without logging the successful moments as evidence of our strength. From being admitted to the hospital under a 51/50 order to now running my own business and claiming the title of bestselling author—that transformation experience, which took an entire decade, has contributed to my resiliency. 

Now, when I am feeling uncomfortable within my human experience through anxiety, depression, or sadness, I remind myself that I am safe in my emotions and can pass through their gates with my head held high. 

Let’s talk business. Being an entrepreneur is hard but then add in mental health, it can really be a daily struggle. How do you handle all the highs and all of the lows that come with this business? 

I actually believe that because I live with bipolar disorder, I am the most suited for entrepreneurship. Bipolar disorder comes with high highs and low lows. Entrepreneurship comes with high highs and low lows. I understood its dance the moment I got into it. But it is true—probably the biggest and least understood or integrated truth—that being an entrepreneur is hard. Every day, you wake up and take on challenges. Every day, you wake up and take on the responsibility of the ecosystem that is your business. It will simultaneously put your zone of genius on full display while shining a light on your insecurities for all to examine. 

When I started Scout’s Agency, I knew that I had to up my mental health game or else my business would swallow me whole. My morning routine is the most important part of me regulating my emotions to show up fiercely in my business. I don’t look at my phone for the first 1-2 hours of my morning: I journal, move my body, meditate, take a nice shower. Carving out space for me to just be me, void of stimulation and the endless to-do list of work is the most important daily exercise I implement. 

In my book, I cover 24 other emotional lessons that have helped me manage being an entrepreneur within my emotional landscape, because regardless of whether or not you suffer from a mental illness, this shit is hard and you get to have the emotional support to walk through the fires of entrepreneurship.

Do you have any tips for anyone else struggling with getting themselves out there as an entrepreneur but struggling with their mental health? 

I would write down what hasn’t worked for you in the past when it comes to work. Then, write down the opposite of those things and meditate on the realization that you get to implement a schedule, a work culture, and a daily infrastructure that works for you and your mental health. When you run your own thing, you get to create what that thing looks like from the hours you work to the people you surround yourself with. That realization can help you start in an empowering way. Your business can support your mental health.  

What do you do when you are feeling low and struggling with self-esteem? What advice do you have to others struggling with this? 

When I am feeling low, I do not fight it. I allow the emotions to rise to the surface. I give them the floor because they clearly have something to say. Once I let them dance for a bit—five minutes, half an hour, an hour, eight hours: whatever it takes—I then return to the truth of the situation. I rotate my thoughts from the impending doom that feeling low brings about towards a more supportive internal narrative. I say things to myself like, “I am so proud of you,” “You are capable,” and “I love you for being you.” Whenever I have a thought that tears down my self-esteem, I like to challenge it and then provide five reasons why I am great, worthy, and strong. Give yourself the space to feel what you need to feel but always return to the truth: you are worthy, talented, competent, and prepared to handle life. Be aware of how you talk to yourself. The thoughts you feed your soul permeate into your perceived version of reality. 

What advice would you give someone who is trying to be an entrepreneur but thinks their mental health will hold them back? 

I would say that entrepreneurship can provide you the framework for your mental health to thrive within. For me, it is the only option. Entrepreneurship is hard but so is managing your mental health. You might as well manage your mental health while getting the best ROI in the game: your purpose. 

In podcasts interviews, we’ve seen titles like “the emotional entrepreneur,” “Bipolar & Mani”, “You mean being bipolar can be a blessing?” How do those titles impact you? 

I am grateful mental health is being talked about so openly! Ten years ago, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it was crickets when it came to mental health content (or really content at all!) For me, if we are coming from a loving place where we are ready to be vulnerable, offer support to others, and inspire emotional resiliency…I am all game. It is amazing to open the podcast app and see my name next to titles like “The Emotional Entrepreneur.” It means we are opening the lid to talking about these experiences and the intersection between mental health and entrepreneurship. It is a beautiful thing to get the opportunity to remind others every single day that they are safe in their emotions. 

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