Sinclair: Ashley, you accomplished a lot in your 20s (managing high level programs for the Pentagon, running a global threat intelligence team, to name a few). What led you to say yes to those opportunities?
Ashley: Being able to say NO to so many opportunities is what translated into my spaciousness to say YES to my career in this chapter of my life that was so important to me. Often, we live in a distracted– and complicated– world with lots of options. It’s difficult to stay SIMPLE, and FOCUSED, and that’s what it took for me to hone in on growing my network, building authentic (and mutually supportive) relationships and taking care of myself.
Sinclair: What is CAKE Publishing and what inspired you to create it?
Ashley: It’s a house of ghostwriters, copywriters and publicists– all of whom support entrepreneurs/companies/influencers in expanding their impact, whether it’s through writing a book, blog posts, email sequences, or pitching them to be on TV. I was inspired to create it because I love WORDS and writing. Connection is my deepest core value and I find such a profound connection to people through writing.
Sinclair: What do you hope CAKE Publishing will be one day?
Ashley: I’m currently focused on taking it to its next level, from a team of 5 to a team of 10 in the next 12 months! The bigger my team, the more people we can serve in being who they truly are in the world, and that is what great writing is all about! I want to be a business of inspiration that moves the clients who walk in and the writers who support it as employees.
Sinclair: What was one of the biggest challenges when trying to launch the company?
Ashley: Finding top notch writers. First of all, they’re a creative bunch! Sometimes managing them feels like managing the wind. Everything starts and ends with the talent you have. There are too many entrepreneurs that are GREAT at sales, but who are forgetting the customer after the invoice is paid! I’m in love with writing and supporting my writers, and a lot of that means being a powerful presence from start to finish.
“Connection is my deepest core value.” – Ashley Stahl
Sinclair: You have a master’s in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. How does your degree currently inform your work?
Ashley: It makes me a more conscious leader who is committed to bringing my masculine energy (action, implementation) in cohesion with my feminine energy (collaboration, wisdom, softness). I put my team first and care about them most, because I know that, first off, I can enjoy work better-– and secondly, they’ll do better work when we have a connected relationship.
Sinclair: What are your unshakable values and when did you become clear on them? Also, when was a time that self-doubt was at its worst for you while on your career and life journey?
Ashley: Connection, achievement, freedom, humor and growth! I’m crystal clear on my top 5 core values and I have a values guide on my website I often turn to as a way to check in with myself and make sure I’m living life on purpose.
Self-doubt was massive early in my career, and continues to rear its ugly head. But to me, doubt does NOT mean Don’t. So many people think doubt or fear is a sign they shouldn’t press on, and I’ve questioned that belief for myself. In fact, fear is welcome– it means I’m on an edge for myself and I like to grow!
Sinclair: Who are some badass entrepreneurs that folks should follow?
Ashley: My friends @amandabucci, @Sarahannestewart, @libbycrow @thelaylamartin, @nataliemacneil, @alyssanobriga… So many more! They inspire me and stretch me into the best self I could ever be– thank GOD for them and their patience, understanding, and love.
Sinclair: What advice would you give to others looking to build their own business?
Ashley: Pushing won’t work forever. Don’t burn out. Honor yourself, create spaciousness for your creativity to come through, because only 16% of your best ideas (studies indicate) will come through at work. You need space to keep that source of creativity alive inside of you!
“Fear is welcome– it means I’m on an edge for myself.” – Ashley Stahl
Sinclair: As someone who is out here crushing it on many things, how do you know when to say “no” to opportunities?
Ashley: Based on how my body feels when I think about them– the body knows all.
Sinclair: Imagine that all your life’s work disappeared and you only had 1 minute to tell the world what you believe to be true. What would you say?
Ashley: Feel everything. The best leaders and inspirations are people who don’t avoid pain, but rather move towards it.
Ashley’s a counterterrorism professional turned career coach, entrepreneur, podcaster (You Turn Podcast) and author. She runs CAKE Publishing ghostwriting house, and helps entrepreneurs inspire others through their words.