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Business coach Bershan Shaw talks surviving cancer and defining success

Photo provided by Bershan Shaw

How did you get into your business?
I started my international speaker and coaching business because of my breast cancer journey. My doctor asked me one day to speak at BJ’s because she thought the patients and their families would love to hear from me. She knew that my mindset was all about living and not dying. I didn’t care if they told me my cancer was terminal. I was going to live. I would come to my chemotherapy sessions and wear a fur coat, heels and some red lipstick because I wanted to vibrant and I wasn’t going to let cancer take me down so I came in over the top.

I told my doctor yes I would speak at BJ’s. She said it was going to be in front of a large crowd of doctors, therapist, and patients. At first, I was hesitant and then I took the offer and even though I was extremely nervous I accepted. I had so many emotions going through preparing for my speech but then I thought to myself ‘this is my journey what could be so difficult’ After speaking to a room full of about 500 women, I cried, laughed and told my story and my journey of my life with cancer. At the end I told the audience things they could do that could prevent breast cancer and how to deal with being a caretaker or being the patient, I got a standing ovation. Someone came up to me and asked me could they hire me for their event. Another woman asked me was I a therapist and could I work with her family member. I had a line of women wanting to speak to me more buy books or have a way to stay in contact with me. Because my speech wasn’t about cancer. It was about what is the cancer that’s hurting you in your life that’s stopping you from LIVING. I told them don’t let anything hold you back from greatness.

How do you handle stress in your business?
Because I travel so much at least three times a week whether it’s internationally or locally every Tuesday I take me time. Every Tuesday at 11 a.m. I get a massage and do acupuncture. This has been in my routine for over ten years. Because I know stress can be deadly and I’m running and running and not taking care of myself but that one hour of my spa day every Tuesday works for me. And I meditate and pray in the morning, which gives me joy and relief.

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome since becoming a business owner?
Trying to stay afloat. In the beginning of starting my business, I didn’t know how to get clients or keep them. I didn’t realize I had so many skills myself. I had raised a million dollars for a restaurant I had owned. I had over 25 employees that worked for me. I managed and lead the team and it was all me. I had to realize that I was enough. I got a Master’s degree and I went to NYU for executive coaching I was super qualified but I didn’t realize it.

Because I felt like I was always out working trying to get new business but what I didn’t realize was I wasn’t giving great value to the clients because I didn’t believe in myself. I’m in the transformation business and that takes time, effort, energy and long time learning. You can’t learn to speak with presence, energy, and dedication overnight. It takes time. Just like I can’t business coach someone in Corporate America or in the entrepreneurship endeavors overnight. I was only doing three sessions and letting them go but the clients weren’t getting what they needed. So, I was letting them down and letting me down. So, I needed to learn that I had to push them, teach them to support them and encourage them on a long-term basis to get results. So, now I don’t work with anyone for less than 12 months unless its certain circumstances. And once I realized that I was enough and I had the skills to coach and team people everything I knew my business started to blossom. I had to overcome the fear of coaching high net worth individuals and that started with my mindset.

What is the biggest achievement you’ve accomplished with your business?
Growing a very fruitful and successful business internationally. I have extremely high net worth clients, corporations, executives, and celebs and that makes me happy. A girl from Fort Washington, Maryland, has turned her business into a cash cow and I can’t be thankful enough.

In your opinion, what is the key to success?
The key to success is never giving up. It sounds cliche and it sounds like you have heard it before but its the truth. Once we hit a roadblock in life we stop. Once our finances get tight we stop. Once we start having ups and downs we stop. The ones who truly become successful never stop until they achieve success.

The best business tip you can give a prospective person who is looking to merge into your field? Find a role model, mentor or coach to help guide you. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out things on our own and not getting help. Ask for help. Seek help and get someone to show you the ropes. No one does it on their own. Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins and Lisa Nichols all had business coaches and you should too. It’s “expensive to be cheap.” That’s my motto.

What is a quote/mantra that motivates you?
“From your biggest challenge in life will be your biggest learning experience. Learn from it. Grow from it. Now go and get what you want.”

What advice would you give your younger self about growing up as a woman in this world?
I would tell myself to take action and stop procrastinating. I could have been here years ago if I didn’t procrastinate. I was waiting and telling myself that other people were motivational speakers and other people were coaches and others and other people were better than me but what I didn’t realize that other people weren’t me. I was in my own lane and it didn’t matter who they were because I was different.

If you were the first woman president, what would be your first order of business?
Education. I would put more money into our public schools in urban areas and after-school care. Education is key. When you are educated you have the knowledge and with knowledge and information, you have power. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different.

What was your last Google search?
How to keep your mindset positive during very difficult times.