We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki Eisenhauer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikki, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I began my business in 2009 at 29 years old after experiencing a lay off. I went back to New Orleans after a 4 month evacuation to Austin for Hurricane Katrina to help the city recover; I was a brand new baby counselor specializing in addiction and trauma. The beginning of my career was a sort of baptism by fire. I felt energized and purposeful in my work while also frustrated and stifled with management. My frustration forced getting to know myself better, to dig deeply within myself to decide what I wanted out of this one precious life. I started to see myself as a creative free-thinker who needed to become her own boss to be empowered to work with the clients I wanted in the ways I wanted. I moved to Houston after the lay off, took a yoga teacher training, and rented my very 1st office to begin my Private Practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor. I hustled. I worked multiple part time gigs to get my business off the ground. I made it my priority and I gave it my all. I practiced resiliency to be able to bounce when I hit walls as I learned the ins and outs of running a business. I incorporated mindfulness and yoga mind-body awareness into my mental health work. I witnessed people grow and heal. Maybe it’s the line from the movie Field of Dreams that I’ve learned to lean into in business, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ By my 3rd year, I had a full practice. My business has experienced multiple rebirths and obstacles since 2009–a failed yoga studio, a failed and terrible business partnership, 3 break-ins to offices, a move to online and a move out of Texas to Colorado, and now, a mental health podcast that has hit the top 10 in mental health. All of these experiences and challenges have grown me, expanded me, and have taught me that I’m a go-getter, that in having integrity to do my own healing, I can take clients deeply and fully through their own healing. I began this business because I intimately know the power of walking the seeker’s path to wholeness and I wanted to share that wholeness with others. When I began my business I had a hunch that healing was exponential; now, I’m convinced, and proud of myself and all the clients who have shared their powerful vulnerability and process with me. As corny as it sounds, I believe we heal the world, one person at a time, and it starts within. This is why I created my business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve felt like an odd ball as a psychotherapist/counselor since the beginning. Entrepreneurship has been a seeker’s path of finding myself and accepting myself as a therapist as well as a creative healer. For many many years I followed best practices of sharing little to nothing of myself with clients. I did a lot of my own healing in that time and began sharing my story not with clients at first, but with other professionals. I have taught education workshops for therapists on grief and loss, healing childhood trauma through improv, and the superpowers of highly sensitive people. As I shared more with professionals I began to share more with clients and found the work wildly beneficial. Counselors are people; to appropriately share with clients empowers clients–instead of sitting in the professional’s chair like the all-knowing Wizard of Oz-sharing my own healing journey helped normalize the human experience, which helps all of us accept our wonky wacky humanity, and the human capacity to grow, change, heal, evolve. The journey of entrepreneurship and becoming whole has not been easy, but has at times, been wildly beautiful, even when painful. I believe in re-birth, that life invites us to reinvent, to evolve, and just like actual human birthing, it’s messy, screaming is usually involved, and pain is part of the process to get to the exuberant, beautiful, joy. Entrepreneurship and life felt like an endless cycle of rebirthing, both tiresome, exhausting, unavoidable, vulnerable, intimate, real, and rewarding. Each re-birth showed me that despite my fears, I am strong; despite my fumbles, I recover; despite my doubt, I make my life happen; despite exhaustion, I make the choice to move forward, over and over again. There is a saying in healing that the healer can only take someone as far as they’ve gone themselves. In embracing my work on the human and spiritual planes, I’ve taken myself farther than I ever thought I could go, and this helps me hold space for others as they rebirth themselves, too. I started the podcast Emotional Badass: Where Moxie Meets Mindful in 2017 with the love of my life, professional podcast producer, Chris Iacono. I wanted to produce a podcast before I met him and had no idea how. We call this kind of cosmic meeting, ‘alignment.’ It was aligned that we meet. Chris supported me when I received very upsetting news Jan 2nd of that year. I found out my adoptive father was being released for good behavior from prison 6 years early, a sentence that was supposed to be ineligible for early release. I panicked, I tried to get information and media attention, I and my support system made countless calls to government agencies, news and media outlets online and off, up to the governor’s office. I was shut down at every turn. I didn’t know why but I kept saying out loud during that time, ‘I don’t know how or when but something good is going to come of this.’ It was less of a wish, less of a hope, and more of a stubborn declaration. When I was 22 I broke the silence of the secret of incest within my family. As is true in many deeply dysfunctional family systems, the secret-breaker is often the person to catch angry backlash instead of 3 cheers for ‘doing the right thing.’ I was then, and still am, the family scapegoat or black sheep; I am no contact with a large family, except for one cousin. These are harsh familial possibilities when we decide we will be the one to name the elephants in our living rooms. On top of this news about my dad, our landlord gave us 5 weeks notice to move so he could sell. Chris looked at me and said affirmatively, ‘We are not letting this push the podcast back, we are doing this!’ Surrounded by boxes, feeling supreme levels of discombobulation, we recorded our 1st 3 episodes of Emotional Badass, scheduled them, and packed up our equipment, and moved. I was hoping for 25 downloads. By week 3 we had thousands. We hit the top 50 on the iTunes Charts within the first weeks. I sobbed. A lot. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned and continue to live by is in trusting that small, intuitive voice, that knowing-whisper, that is available within all of us. My little voice said, as if from the mouth of the Universe, ‘This is the good thing that was coming—you can spread a healing message instead of a painful one.’ And a sea of calm satisfaction washed over me. Life has never really stopped sending challenges my way. I used to fight that. Since that phone call a few years ago, I’ve lived in a way that no longer resists what I can’t control, even when I despise what’s happening. This doesn’t mean I don’t feel, rather, I allow myself to feel it all, to move through to the other side of the pain, instead of resisting. The Buddhist acceptance that ‘life is suffering’ is an actual freedom button. The more I’ve learned to allow instead of resist, the more quickly I can get to the other side of my pain, the more I have the energy to do the work of getting to the other side of any obstacle, to have more life force for solutions and joy than problems and pain. I want people to know that real, deep, healing is possible; I want people to know that walking a seeker’s path, listing to the intuitive voice that is inside us all, doesn’t just make healing possible, it makes it probable. I am most proud today that I feel happy, whole, balanced, and self loving. I want people to know that healing, no matter what the struggle, is truly available.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I fell in love with Denver the 1st time I visited and now it’s home! If you visited me for a week, I’d take you to St. Mary’s Glacier for a picnic in the mountains. If you were up for it and it was summer, I’d take you backpacking for 2 nights and 3 days with my standard poodle, Gusto, because the night sky at 11k feet invites you to stand inside of the milky way–or at least it really feels like it! I’d take you to the Molly Brown house in the Capital Hill neighborhood near downtown for a bit of history, and the nature and science or history museums. And instead of going out to restaurants, I’d book an in-home cooking class with Sarah Dawson from Denver Cooking classes and we could learn to cook something brand new, and break bread together.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am most grateful for the love, support, encouragement bestowed on me from Lisa Tahir, author of The Chiron Effect, soul friends Troy Gremillion and Julia Buckner, soul mate and podcast producer Chris Iacono.
Becca Fogg Photography for the one professional shot, me Nikki for all the others