Marsha Shandur is a former radio presenter at Xfm London and Xfm Manchester. She shows coaches, creatives, and entrepreneurs how to make an instant emotional connection with their dream clients, through storytelling on stage and screen, and effective and fun networking. She has been featured on Forbes, the BBC, Mashable, and The Muse.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would explain to her that other people’s feelings are not entirely her responsibility. I was living in London, trying to get back into radio (as a DJ) – but wasting HOURS worrying about what everyone else around me was thinking, feeling, doing.

Also, I’d tell her to go travelling for a year. I was convinced that, if I dropped the ball on my Radio career for a second, I’d lose everything I’d worked so hard for. I now know you can pause and come back without too much upset. By the time I figured this out, I had responsibilities tying me to one city.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

“Don’t talk about politics.” My feeling is, if you have a platform, not using it to mobilize people is immoral. I have for sure lost subscribers and potential clients because of talking about political beliefs and trying to encourage my community into action ­– but I’ve gained way more, plus I’ve kept my integrity and been able to make a difference.

If the main drive behind why you do what you do is service, but you’re not in any way addressing or paying attention to systemic oppression (especially, in North America or the UK, racism), then you need to check your priorities. 

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

After I moved to Toronto and decided to change careers, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, trouble making new friends, was struggling in my personal life ­– and, in retrospect, I was clearly depressed.

Before then, I’d always thought suicide was morally corrupt. But in that moment, I genuinely didn’t think anyone would be that bothered if I wasn’t around.

I got through it with two things:

  • The first was telling one friend what was going on, and coming up with a ‘Safe Word’ with her ­– I’d say it if I was feeling suicidal, and knowing that at least one person knew made all difference.
  • The second? THERAPY. Good therapy is everything.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Telling stories. I tell them online, in my blogs and social media, in my weekly emails, and onstage.

When you tell stories, your ideal people immediately understand that YOU get them. They feel a strong emotional connection to you, and like they already know you.

And, as my Sales Coach Kendrick Shope always told me (imagine the deep Southern accent), “All things being equal, friends buy from friends. All things being unequal, friends buy from friends.” Telling your stories turns strangers into friends.

What is your morning routine? 

On a good day, I’ll wake up, exercise for 30 mins (yoga or strength training using online videos), shower, meditate for 10-20 mins, then have breakfast while answering some reflective questions, the most important of which is, ‘Finish the sentence, ‘Today, what I most need to hear is…'”

On a bad day, I’ll meditate for 2 mins and nothing else. 

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Meditation meditation meditation.

It’s the best of all the self-care things I do. Even if I just do 2 minutes, it changes my day. When I take a few days off, I suddenly deal less well with everything in my life. When I do it regularly, I soar.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

I usually do a brain dump onto two pages of an exercise book. Then I go through and circle the most pressing things I need to get done. Then I write a list of the order I’m going to do them in.
Then, sometimes, I’ll draw a small drawing. I have no skill, but I find the act of it clears my head.

Also, it’s brilliantly written and a hell of a lot of fun.

What’s a book(s) that have influenced your life the most? Why?

If I could only recommend one book to anyone for the rest of their life, it would be Difficult Conversations by Stone, Patton and Heen. Unlike most of the hippy self-help books I love, it comes out of the Harvard Negotiation Project, has been required reading in the Whitehouse (clearly not this administration, and there is a copy on the NASA Space Station.

It has transformed my personal relationships – family, romantic, and work. It teaches you how to enter conversations that could otherwise become huge fights, and leave everyone feeling better off.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often? 

My favorite quote of all time is by Helen Keller. For years, I only knew the second half – “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” I interpreted it as YEAH! Be BRAVE! Be ADVENTUROUS! ­– and I identified strongly with it.

Then I did something really brave: I moved across an ocean, somewhat on a whim, and it was really, really hard. I bitterly regretted my tendencies to be adventurous. I wished that I’d chosen a boring, ordinary life – the kind of life I used to scorn when saying that quote – because I was in so much pain.

But I soon discovered the full quote, and it shifted everything. She says:

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

I understood that I could have picked the boring, ordinary life – but that wouldn’t shield me from feeling pain in my life. Hardship is an inevitability. And maybe, if you’re facing it head on by regularly being brave, you’ll deal with it better when it arrives unplanned.