Look into my eyes. You are getting very, very sleepy.
But don't go under just yet. Or you'll miss reading about self-described "business hypnotherapist" Jenn August and her campaign to unblock the inner-businessman and -woman inside us all, clearing one cluttered subconscious mind after another.
The way the Pinole-based career coach sees it, what's stopping a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners from succeeding is not the recession or the competition or a lousy marketing strategy. What's really holding them back, she says, is themselves. More precisely, it's that "movie in their mind," first forged by some emotional catalyst during childhood, that erodes self-confidence and in the process hampers their bottom line.
Through low-cost public workshops and private individual sessions that start at $400 an hour, often conducted by phone with what she calls "solopreneurs" like portrait photographers and nutritionists, August eases clients into a relaxed state and then prods them to identify and disarm the psychic booby traps set up in childhood.
From recent interviews with August, here are her comments, edited for length and clarity:
Q: How did you ever get into this unusual line of work?
A: Growing up in Southern California, I'd always wanted to be an entrepreneur. But after working in graphic design and leading my own band as a singer-songwriter,
My whole life shifted when I met a hypnotherapist at a friend's book signing. He said, "I help people edit the movie in their mind so that it has a happy ending." I knew there was something inside that was really blocking me. So in 2005 I ended up doing five sessions with him and I believe hypnotherapy, along with music, saved my life.
Q: Weren't you a bit skeptical of hypnosis at first?
A: Sure. I didn't want to cluck like a chicken or have someone control me, which is what many people think about hypnosis. But in reality, you'll never do anything while you're hypnotized that's outside your value system.
I had my own graphic-design business at the time, but I wasn't making much money and wasn't feeling really good about myself. As I gradually gained more self-confidence through the sessions, I started getting more clients and tripled my income in a short time. I thought this was such a gift I'd been handed, and I wanted to help other people in business overcome their obstacles, too.
Q: So you got training to do hypnotherapy?
A: I did a lot of research. At the time, hypnotherapy was mostly used for things like helping people lose weight or stop smoking. There was no business application for it. So I trained at the International Spiritual Hypnotherapy Institute in Berkeley and learned the skills necessary to get someone into that relaxed state where they can start to explore the fears that are holding them back. I started my own business in 2006 and quickly built up a successful practice, helping 30 clients in the first two years.
Q: So how do you help these "solopreneurs" achieve success?
A: Eighty percent of what we do is controlled by our subconscious. It's our operating system, the hard drive inside us. We all have experiences when we're young and they sometimes give us the message that it's not safe to be who we really are and that we need to hold back. Some people are afraid to network, for example, or to do follow-up calls to potential clients, because something's restraining them. I work with people to try to clear this huge block.
Q: Can you give us an example of someone you helped?
A: I worked with a photographer who did family portraits. She was really stressed because she was working so hard but not making much money. And she wasn't spending time with her family like she wanted to. So I worked with her on increasing positive feelings about herself and her work and she started to change over time.
I talked her into a relaxed state, which is where my training comes in. I invited her to relax her body, her arms, close her eyes. The art of hypnosis is relaxing someone to the point where you bypass their conscious mind so they're able to get into their subconscious where everything that's ever happened to you is recorded. I try and then take them back to that first time where they ever felt the fear or the hesitation or the emotional confusion.
Q: And something clicks inside people?
A: Yes. Say a client for some reason is not making follow-up calls after a networking event and then feeling guilty about it. I had one client like that who'd meet people but then not call them. She was beating herself up over it, feeling she must have some fear of being successful.
I put her into that relaxed state and then I said, "When I snap my fingers you'll be back to that first time you ever felt fear of success. Go! Where are you?" She said, "In my parents' house; I'm 10 years old." You can see it like a movie. And then we found that exact place where the imprint was: Her father was very successful but was never at home. So she grew up associating success with abandoning family.
Her subconscious mind was protecting her, in a way, from abandoning her own family. We were able to close the loop and literally bring that little-child part of her into present time to meet her adult self, so that she was no longer scared. She learned that she could have both her family time and a successful business. She was able to double her sales and also spend more time with her family. Instead of one-on-one meetings, for example, she started to meet with groups. It worked.
Contact Patrick May at email@example.com or 408-920-5689.
5 facts about Jenn August
1. She enjoys nature and grew up going on rugged outdoor vacations with her family.
2. She's a singer-songwriter and uses her third album, "Dreams Alive," to raise funds for causes close to her heart.
3. She studied graphic design in college and is just completing her first children's book.
4. She loves to help people see how valuable they are and build a successful business around their gifts.
5. Her hair went gray when she was 17 years old, a genetic trait from her father's side of the family.
Birth date: Feb. 20, 1971
Birthplace: Tacoma, Wash.
Position: Owner, Beyond Business, a business-success training company
Previous jobs: Law-office manager, graphic designer, illustrator, professional musician, guitar teacher, line producer for animation
Education: Bachelor's degree, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; certified hypnotherapist through the International Spiritual Hypnotherapy Institute; certified life strategies coach through Ellis Institute.