You can say a lot of things about Ashley Zahabian; she’s smart, beautiful, incredibly passionate and one hell of a public speaker. You might even be able to say that you own a pair of Manolos or a Fendi clutch that’s older than this millennial luminary. But to stop the accolades here lands just shy of why this 22-year old economics major (yes, she’s still in undergrad) is owning the motivational speaking landscape.
She’s already shared the stage with serial entrepreneur millionaire and Snapchat investor Gary Vaynerchuk, who is most famously known for his hit Internet series Gary V.
Ashley is our cover powerhouse for our March issue. Click the image to access our current issue.
Companies from around the globe have sought out Zahabian’s kinetic message on developing emotional intelligence – where individuals learn the value in developing a handful of fundamental tools that will connect them to better decision making processes.
And I know what you’re thinking — how can someone with practically zero corporate experience tell me how to make better decisions in my day job? A hell of a lot more than you might expect if you think that age and experience has anything to do with why you aren’t killing it in your field.
Here are the top five reasons why Zahabian just might be the guru your career has been looking for.
- She’s Already Hit Rock Bottom
To feel the inspiration of Ashley is to know exactly where she is coming from; she grew up with that North Jersey / New York City nook of the world where affluence and access give you Broadway shows, late night delivery and plenty of warm summers along the Jersey Shore. It was a childhood that many could hashtag off as #livingthegoodlife, but for Zahabian, it was anything but.
When I was 14 years old, I developed anorexia. And I had no idea I was developing it, but I was losing so much weight. I lost about 45 lbs over time and I was down to skin and bones, but I still didn’t see it. So when I finally went to the doctors, and they told me ‘You’re about to take your last breath. You’re very, very malnourished. And you either do something about it now or you’re going to die.’
And that was like my wake up call. I remember looking at myself in the mirror like, ‘How did I get here? What put me on my death bed? How did I really get to this point? Because it’s not like I went through a terrible break up. I have a very wonderful family, they’re financially stable. I went to a great school. So I was like what is it? Your mom and your dad are crying every night, why are you so numb to that? You’re hurting people — why are you so numb to this?
- She knows how to do the work
In order for Ashley to survive, she knew she had to get serious. And in order to gain sustainable, long term results for the healthy life she wanted, she had to make changes that were both physical and spiritual.
I had decided I was going to live and was definitely not was not planning on dying. I was hospitalized in and out for four years, and was homeschooled in a hospital and everything.
I realized it was all just emotional intelligence. Or a lack of it. It was not knowing how to deal with the stresses and problems of life. I wasn’t a good problem solver. I reacted instead of responded correctly. It was a lack of emotional understanding and awareness and it put me in a place where I suppressed things for so long, and reacted in a way that build up anxiety and anger. And all these different things just led me to a place that was all bottled up and I lost control of myself. And in turn, I started to use the control of the gym, and eating to feel in control again. It was a very false solution.
And so with the help of the doctors and a family that supported her, Ashley says she began to do the hard work. She spent her time in recovery focusing on the tools she shares with audiences today: talking about her feelings, becoming aware of them, monitoring them, managing them, recognizing other people’s feelings and, most importantly, delaying gratification