Amber Nutter is a licensed clinical social worker, therapist, and advocate for mental health. Her primary focus is tailoring her services for the needs of BIPOC folks who have historically been excluded from the conversation around mental health. She operates from the belief that true strength does not lie in avoiding one’s emotions but rather in learning how to accept them as a part of our full experience as human beings. Her practice provides a safe space for Black women-identified individuals to be their whole selves without censoring, toning down their personality, or code-switching.
In our conversation, we discuss some of the intense emotions one can experience as an entrepreneur. We explore how our society has normalized work stress and why it is difficult to recognize when you may need professional help. This can be especially true for Black women who are continually conditioned to put others first and rarely allow themselves the time to prioritize their own mental and physical health.
We break down achievable methods for managing stress and also look at the concept of mental fitness and why a supportive community is so important. I loved having Amber on the show, and I’m sure you will find the conversation every bit as informative and thought-provoking as I did. For all this and much more, tune in today!
What You’ll Learn On This Episode:
- [00:03:19] Get to know today’s guest Amber Nutter, a licensed clinical social worker, and a therapist
- [00:04:32] The adverse effects of how work stress is normalized and how to recognize the mental toll that stress is taking in your life
- [00:05:58] How to identify your unhealthy coping mechanisms
- [00:08:41] The extreme range of emotions you can feel as an entrepreneur
- [00:10:36] How to recognize when it might be time to seek professional help for your mental health
- [00:11:11] The concept of mental fitness and why it’s a superior approach to treating mental health once you are overwhelmed
- [00:15:07] Amber’s advice for anyone struggling to leap into entrepreneurship
- [00:16:48] The importance of a supportive community in entrepreneurship
- [00:18:28] Why Amber decided to start her own business as a social worker
- [00:20:01] The growth that Amber has seen in the past six months of her new business
- [00:22:24] How the TRANSCEND membership community has supported Amber to grow and run her business
- [00:24:12] Amber’s current business goals and why she is keeping it simple
- [00:24:51] Why Amber wishes she had been more prepared for the intense emotions that are inherent to entrepreneurship
- [00:27:15] Amber shares her advice for budding entrepreneurs, including some inspirational quotes
[00:00:01] AW: Hey, there. I just want to let you know before we get started with this upcoming podcast episode that I am closing enrollment for Transcend, the membership community on October 15th. What does that mean for you? That means I’m not enrolling any new members in our business community after October 15th. October 15th is the last day to sign up at the current rate which is 147 a month. With that, you get weekly meetings on the first, second, and third Thursday of the month. You get a community of members, of BIPOC entrepreneurs who are working on building a business and leading a legacy. You get access to me for office hours once a month. You get my direct email. You get support in your business at a great rate of 147.
Now, if you wait until after October 15th, you will be able to sign up again come December 1st but it’s going to be a little bit more costly than it is now. If you are sitting on the fence, you’re waiting to start your business, you’re waiting to get that expert advice that you’re looking for, stop waiting. This is your sign, if you’ve been looking for one, to go ahead and join now because when I open up the enrollment again, it’s not going to be at the price that it is now. If you’re interested, go to transcendthemembership.com and go ahead and sign up and I’ll see you inside.
“AN: For instance, if you’re able to just take a quick 30-minute walk every day, that’s something that might even be considered preventative because you are managing your stress in the moment, so that it’s not building up because you’re not addressing it all.”
[00:01:39] AW: You’re listening to the Transcend Podcast. I’m your host, Asha Wilkerson, an attorney by training and an educator at heart. This podcast is all about empowering you to build a business and leave a legacy. Here’s the thing, the wealth gap in America is consistently increasing and while full-time entrepreneurship is not for everyone, even a side hustle could change your financial landscape if you’re intentional about using your business to build wealth. I’ve run my own law firm for over 10 years, and in that time, I’ve helped countless California businesses go from idea to six figures. On this podcast, we talk about what it truly takes to build a sustainable business and find financial freedom. Let’s dive in.
Hey, community. I am really excited to have today’s special guest. We talk about what depression looks like, what are normal ranges of emotion as an entrepreneur, what are some of the wins that have been received from joining the Transcend community. I’m really excited to have Amber Nutter here with us today. She is a licensed clinical social worker and a therapist. She’s an advocate for mental health and her primary focus is catering her services to the needs of BIPOC folks, that means black indigenous people of color that have historically been excluded from the conversation around mental health. Amber believes that accessing joy is a must and finds ways to laugh and have fun every single day. All right. Stay tuned.
[00:03:11] AW: All right, everybody. We are here with Amber Nutter. Welcome, Amber.
[00:03:16] AN: Hi.
[00:03:16] AW: How you doing?
[00:03:17] AN: Good.
[00:03:19] AW: Good. Well, I’m really excited to have you on this podcast. You are the first actually mental health professional that I have interviewed on the podcast and I’m super excited about that, because I think it’s really important for us to talk about balancing our business, and also our brains and our lives in everything that we do. Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do?
[00:03:40] AN: I’m a therapist. I have a private practice and I am licensed as an LCSW, which means licensed clinical social worker. I see a variety of clients. I focus on working with black and brown folks experiencing a range of issues like work stress, depression, dealing with COVID, any number of things.
[00:04:00] AW: Okay. Good. Let’s actually just dive right into that. What are some signs of work stress? Because for whatever reason right now, I think my gut health is an issue and people keep asking me like, “Well, are you stressed about work?” I’m like, “Who the hell isn’t stressed about work?” Like what kind of a question is that? But how do you know what’s beyond the ordinary kind of stress that you can expect just from living life, just from having a job versus what is something that you need to address and deal with right now?
[00:04:32] AN: Yeah. That’s a great question because I think that work stress is so normalized, that people are pretty much numb to the toll that sometimes the pressure productivity can take on our mind. It really just depends on the person, but a lot of what people report is just feeling like fatigue, lack of motivation outside of work, feeling like they’re just sludging through their day, kind of just like vegging, watching TV, not having too many hobbies. A lot of those things have been normalized and it doesn’t necessarily flag for people that that’s not necessarily the most fulfilling way to live.
[00:05:11] AW: Yeah. I mean, all of those things, I think about people who’d say like, “I just come home and I just sit down because I’m so worn out from the day” or even me sometimes, I’m like, I don’t want to talk to anybody, like my brain needs a break. But you’re absolutely right, that kind of stuff has become normalized and so normalized that there are tons of memes about it, crawling into like our little holes under our blankets and stuff. But apparently, that’s not always the best way to cope, and I appreciate that you said that as opposed to that’s not normal. Because normal isn’t always healthy, right? We do a lot of things that are normal in this culture but it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. What are some ways – how would we know if it’s not healthy, if what we’re doing is not working for us?
[00:05:58] AN: I think a lot of times people know. I think if you have full days where you feel like you’re not getting much out of life, if you feel like you’re kind of just going from day to day and you just work and there’s not much else significant going on. If you have very few moments of like real joy. One that I actually just discovered is that, some people don’t have hobbies and it’s not because they don’t know what they like or what to do. They’ve never really had the time to really focus on like what do I just want to do for fun, because everything is so – I mean, we live in a society that’s about, you need money to survive so people are very hyper focused on that. Just doing things for fun or for pleasure is just out of the norm for people. Not having fun things that you can do alone or with, not having time or energy to socialize, not having time or energy to do things that you want to do or even very simple basic caring for yourself, like eating a healthy meal or however you define that or being able to cook for yourself, just different things like that.
[00:07:11] AW: Yeah. I can already hear people saying, “Well, I’ve got three kids and I’ve got a spouse that I’m taking care off and I’m trying to get this business off the ground, or I’m trying to keep this job.” Where everything else comes before taking care of ourselves. I will tell you, especially as women, women of color, black women, we tend to put everything and everybody else above ourselves and we have been taught to do that. That like, oh! You think you should just get the day off, I’m over here doing X, Y, Z. Why should you be able to take the day off? There is pressure, guilt, shame that comes from the outside that we end up internalizing.
I encourage people who are in that situation who feel like you don’t have hobbies or that you don’t have time to really sit down and take an inventory of what the priorities are and readjust them. Because especially if you’re an entrepreneur, you have to take care of yourself just as much as you take care of your business. My next question is about really about entrepreneurs. I’ve been in the entrepreneurship game for like 10+ years now. I joke around but it’s actually true. You can experience, you do experience a range of emotions as an entrepreneur. They could be really, really high and they can also be really, really low. Do you have advice for us as entrepreneurs who are going through that range and is that normal?
[00:08:41] AN: Yeah. I think experiencing range of emotions with entrepreneurship is super normal for a number of reasons. It brings up a lot of feelings. It’s something that you’ve never done before. You want to do well at it just because that’s probably the mindset that you’re entering into it with, but you also want to do well with it, because it’s going to be based on your income, i.e., your livelihood, i.e., your survival. It makes sense that a lot of strong emotions and attachments come with that process because you want to do well. Not only so that you can make money, but also, so that you can prove to yourself like, “Hey! I said I can do this and I can.”
You might experience a range of emotions like hopelessness, maybe anger, maybe defeat, maybe joy when you get something right, maybe guilt when you’re like, “Ah! I didn’t know that, but I did it anyway and I shouldn’t have.” It’s all about just allowing those, emotions come in waves. It’s all about just allowing those emotions to come, feel them and then just let them go. Just going throughout the process.
[00:09:45] AW: Yeah. I’ve been learning a lot more about emotions lately, just different studies and stuff that I’ve been doing, different classes that I’ve been taking. Emotions themselves aren’t bad, they’re just information about what’s going on inside of us. If you are an entrepreneur, I mean, you can experience all of those highs and lows in like a 15-minute period. Right? Like your proposal gets accepted, a client drops out, you don’t know what to do next for marketing. Then like a check comes in the mail, you’re like, “Oh my gosh! Roller coaster. But again, that is sort of part and parcel of the process of being an entrepreneur. That is not abnormal, but it sounds like – if you were feeling like you’re unmotivated, hopeless, don’t know what to do next, don’t have any desire to try again, that might be a sign that you need to get some help. Did I sum that up okay?
[00:10:36] AN: I think it depends. I think if it is like connected to like an actual event. Let’s say you’ve been trying to get your business off the ground for like two years, and it hasn’t worked out in the way that you wanted to, so you feel a moment of hopelessness. That’s a normal part of the process. If you’re feeling like hopelessness in conjunction with feeling also fatigued, more fatigued than normal, feeling more or less hunger than normal, feeling other cues that are both chronic, and emotional and also physical. That might be a sign that you might want to talk to somebody.
[00:11:11] AW: Okay. Good to know. I think often times, we also think about mental health here as something we address when it gets bad. But how important is it and actually, former football player, Brandon Marshall has an awesome fantastic gym in Florida and they have a whole day on Wednesday. I think it’s called like Mindfulness Wednesdays or something like that. He really talks about mental fitness. If we think about mental health as a fitness, like being physically fit, being emotionally fit, being mentally fit, then from his perspective, that changes the game. We’re not addressing things once they have gone wrong so to speak, but we are addressing things to be as fit as possible in that sense, like sort of a proactive, continuous work out for our minds, for our emotions, for our bodies. Is that – I don’t know. I guess, what do you think about that or what are some of the things that people can do to build their mental and emotional fitness as they are building their businesses?
[00:12:17] AN: Yeah. I think he’s absolutely right. I think it’s absolutely something that you should be focused on, just like you would focus on the health of your body, the health of your mind intellectually, the health of your social relationships. You should be internally focused on your mental health just the same. I think that there are a lot of suggestions and things going around the line about what is going to be the best for your mental health, but I also think that it can also be a lot more simple and it’s really just about making those everyday decisions to just take care of yourself and that’s the beginning.
I know it’s not easy to do all the time, but exercise is really fantastic for your mood. For instance, if you’re able to just take a quick 30 minute walk every day, that’s something that might even be considered preventative because you are managing your stress in the moment, so that it’s not building up because you’re not addressing it all. It definitely can get complicated, but sometimes it can also be simple. Just do what’s best for you and implement simple things every day to take care of yourself.
[00:13:29] AW: Yeah, I really like that. When I get stressed out sitting at this desk, this very desk that I’m sitting at right now, lately because classes have started up again, so I’m teaching again and still doing my own thing. There is a lot of responsibility that requires me to be right here and a lot of things that I’m doing all the time. When I get to that point where I’m like, “Oh gosh!” I just like, “Baaaa!” I just need a break. I will go outside and I will take a walk. As soon as I take like 10 steps outside my front door, I already start to feel better. There’s something about movement allowing that stress to release and allowing those emotions to flow through. Because if you keep sitting there and keep pushing, you don’t have anywhere to put those frustrations, or those fears, or those emotions that you’re feeling.
I like that. A solution or a practice could be as simple as getting up and taking a walk. That’s awesome. I want to know a little bit more about – as entrepreneurs, I feel like, especially black women, Latinx women, sometimes there is a lack of confidence that comes along with putting ourselves into the market as business owners and probably not just us, but we are so overdetermined as people in this society. Telling us what we can do and what we can’t do. Do you have any advice for somebody who is trying to start their business or move through their job, they’re feeling some lack of confidence, not sure like what to do, but they need to get that mental piece right? Do you have any advice that you could offer them?
[00:15:07] AN: Yeah. I think that it can always be difficult to take a leap. I mean, of course, the obvious answer is to just do it. But the answer with a bit more – like more steeped in reality is that, you have to take a moment or it would be helpful to take a moment to, like Asha said earlier, those emotions are information. If you’re feeling emotions like insecurity or uncertainty, it would be helpful to take a few moments to just like maybe write out what you’re experiencing and what you’re feeling to really see it on the page. Sometimes that gives us more, a better ability to – seeing it in black and white, it gives us a better ability to be able to make it concrete, and sometimes it helps us to release that fear. Because you see it on the page and it’s not as scary.
Because when we get in our heads about things, it inflates and inflates and becomes this really large balloon. But sometimes, if you just say those fears out loud or you write them down or you tell them somebody else who you know is going to tell you like, “Okay, girl. You know you can do this.” It helps to pop that balloon of fear that we have. I think just examining and addressing those fears and getting them out. Then making a concrete action plan with small manageable steps will also help with releasing some of that fear. Because if you start something with something small, it will make it more likely that you’ll achieve it and then you’ll be able to keep going because you’ve seen that I’ve done this thing before and I’ve done this thing. Now, I can keep doing it.
[00:16:48] AW: Yeah. How important is the community that you surround yourself with, for individuals but also for entrepreneurs? What about that?
[00:16:56] AN: Yeah. It’s really important. I mean, you have to have people that are going to – or it would be helpful to have people that are going to believe in you, that are going to speak life in you, that are going to help you to quell your doubts by just offering an encouraging word or just reminding you of times when you’ve done something hard in the past. That’s not to say that everybody in your life is going to be supportive. You still have to be your number one fan, because even when you encounter somebody who does have doubts in you, because that might happen, you still have to be the one to tell yourself like, “Okay. I hear what they’re trying to say and I’m still going to do what I’m going to do anyway.”
The community is very important and you also have to make sure you have that, at least that ability to pretend you have confidence even if you don’t in the moment, which is totally normal.
[00:17:46] AW: Right. Okay. Good.
[00:17:48] AN: But you don’t always.
[00:17:49] AW: Fake it until you make it. Yeah. We don’t always do it but you got to start acting the way that the confident CEO would act and eventually, you will realize that you are doing everything that the confident CEO does, then you realize that you are the confident CEO. But sometimes you have to trick yourself into that or ease – I won’t say trick, but ease yourself into that role. I appreciate that. Speaking of community, you are also a part of Transcend, my membership community and you joined I think back in April or maybe May. First of all, why did you decide to start your own business?
[00:18:28] AN: As a social worker, I have worked in a lot of nonprofit positions and I found them to be incredibly stressful and unsustainable. I wanted to continue to work with people, but I wanted to be able to do it without worrying about like funding sources and what funding sources wanted, doing things that the funding sources wanted but I didn’t want to do because I didn’t think it was the best thing to do for the clients. I wanted to be able to do things on my own terms and I also wanted the freedom and the flexibility of time. I decided to start a private practice and see how that worked out.
[00:19:06] AW: Yeah. Are you enjoying it so far?
[00:19:08] AN: It’s pretty cool. The freedom and the flexibility is really unmatched.
[00:19:14] AW: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s why a lot of people start businesses and that’s one of my goals for everybody inside the community, is to find that freedom, that financial freedom, that time freedom, that flexibility so you can really shine and run your business in a way that you want to so that it gives life to you and you’re not just giving your entire life to your business. That’s really important. You are now in month six of running your own practice. There had to be a decision point when you said, “All right. I’m going to do this and I’m going to run it like a business. I’m going to do it for real, for real.” Can you tell us where you were when you started compared to where you are now? What has changed? What have you seen grow six months into running your own business?
[00:20:01] AN: I think the biggest thing that I’ve seen grow is my ability to set boundaries. When you work with people and you want to do the best for people, at the beginning, you find yourself making certain compromises like around your time or around what type of behavior you will accept different things like that, that you run into working with people on your own without the backup of an institution. There were a lot of things that I was allowing that was only to my detriment. I got to the point very quickly where I saw that I was going to have to start setting some boundaries saying no and doing things on my own terms, and just letting the people that you know were on board, be on board. If they’re not, they’re not. It’s been 98% fine so far. I realized that it was more of my own stuff that I had to work through.
The other thing I would say that has been building a lot more over time is just my confidence and my skills and abilities as a therapist. Also, I’ve noticed like a decrease in some of the impostor syndrome that I was experiencing at the very beginning, where I was like, “Why are you doing this? Can you do this?” A lot of impostor syndrome. I’ve noticed, the more that I’ve done it and it’s just gotten better and better. It’s just like anything else, just like practicing the skill. You’ll get better the more you do it. If at the beginning of your business, you don’t feel super confident about what you’re doing, just know that repetition builds mastery and so you just have to keep going and just keep practicing.
[00:21:41] AW: Absolutely. It’s so true. I mean, I think a lot of people start out and you have this dream, but the confidence isn’t quite there yet. It doesn’t mean that you don’t move forward. It means that you do move forward and you also trust that you are going to get more comfortable, you’re going to get better. Because I think all of us, our businesses don’t look anything like they used to when we first started out. We grow as people, our businesses grow, we change the clientele that we want to work with, maybe we change our offers of how we want to work with people. But give it time, give a consistent effort and your skillset and your confidence will certainly grow.
Again, I want to ask you a little bit about joining Transcend. How has that help you in your business in the last six months?
[00:22:24] AN: That’s helped me a lot, because one of the things that – as a therapist, we’re not really very well trained about like the business side of things. We know a lot about the clinical side of things and how to work with people, but we don’t know like how to get a business license, or what you need. There are different requirements even by different city. I thought it was by state. No, it is by city. Not knowing all those different, the business side of things really was added stress, so being able to join Transcend and being able to email you and ask questions about the business side of things has been really helpful. Then just the meetups on the third Thursday where you can just talk to other people that are also trying to figure out how to run their business and just be able to have that support and talk to people that are in a similar place as you was really helpful.
[00:23:21] AW: Yeah. That’s exactly why it was designed, because we all start our business because we love what we are doing. That’s our passion. But we have to learn how to actually run the business. Even as someone who – I got an MBA a couple of years ago; they didn’t teach us how to run a business. It was all textbook stuff and I realized that I knew so much more from actually just doing it than I did, and I ever could have learned in school, except for maybe like learning how to do the accounting, but I don’t need to know how to – I need to know the language but I hire out for that. But there’s so much experience that you gain by being in the right community with people, being able to ask the questions and just by going through it. A lot of stuff you just have to go through.
A couple more questions. What are your big business goals? What are you working towards next?
[00:24:12] AN: With private practice, the primary way that is set up is that the goal is to just like have a full practice. If I were to think outside of the box, I would think about other goals that I have, but I’ve just been focused on maintaining my client load. That is honestly enough for right now.
[00:24:32] AW: That’s perfectly okay, perfectly okay. Is there one thing that you wish you would’ve known about business or running your own practice before you started that you had to learn along the way. If you could go back and give a piece of advice to your earlier self, what would it be?
[00:24:51] AN: I think that I wish I had known – the thing like you talked about, like all the emotions that come up. I did not realize like how much I would like learn about myself, like how many areas I was still working on in terms of – maybe people believe and I’m not sure. It’s probably what it is. Working on that and not even realizing how important it was to set boundaries in ways that I thought I was already doing that. But I realized very quickly that I was not setting as hard boundaries in my life as I needed to. That was the main thing. Just being prepared for how much you’re going to learn about yourself that seemingly has nothing to do with business because that side seems very concrete. But because you’re a human being, it brings up a lot of human emotions.
[00:25:39] AW: Absolutely! I mean that’s why there’s so many mindset coaches now and while a lot of coaches including myself do some mindset training and coaching because business is an extension of us, especially in the beginning when we’re getting it off the ground. It may grow to be this conglomerate or this huge corporation. But in the beginning, it is an extension and a representation of you. It’s like holding a mirror to yourself. It’s kind of like being in a relationship. These things that aren’t a problem when you’re single or when you’re not running a business, they don’t show up. But then when you have these boundaries, these things you’re wanting to do, your idea versus somebody else’s idea or effort that’s not being met with the reward that you think it should be. It calls up a lot of stuff in you.
Entrepreneurship will be one of the hardest yet most rewarding things that you have ever done in your life. You will feel empowered, you feel like you can do anything else in the world. But it will also test you. It will take you to your knees sometimes. It will make you question everything you’ve been taught in school, why is it relevant or not relevant now. You just go through a complete transformation. I want you all to feel who are listening, to feel supported in that because it’s not unique. It feels like it’s just about what you’re going through, but it’s what we have all gone through, so definitely find yourself a community. You can join Transcend or find yourself your friends, and some coaches and some advisors that can support you on that journey.
Before we close out, do you have any advice for entrepreneurs coming behind you?
[00:27:15] AN: I’m a big fan of motivational quotes. Some of them can be cheesy and cliché, but there are some that I’m just like, “Okay. I don’t really – this isn’t my style.” But I love meaningful motivational quotes. Because they help you to get your head. If you’re in headspace where you have a lot of doubt and insecurity, but you see a quote and it just lights something in you that’s just like a reminder of what you know was inside of you, deep down inside. It just helps you to get to that next step. Eventually, you’ll see that you’re at a place where all the things that you knew you could do are coming to fruition. But sometimes, just seeing that external reminder can be really helpful.
[00:28:02] AW: Absolutely. I love it. Yeah, set yourself up, find the support that you need, people, motivational quotes, therapy, journaling, taking a walk, doing all of those things. They are all important and will all play a role on your path to success. Thank you, Amber, so much for joining me today. If people want to come check out your website, I know you said earlier, you’re not accepting patients right now, but people may want to follow you, and keep track and see when you are. Where would they find you?
[00:28:31] AN: Yeah. My website is, first name last name. It’s www.ambernutterlcsw.com. I’m not accepting clients right now like Asha said, but the contact form is always there, so you can always check back and just reach out and let me know.
[00:28:49] AW: Sounds good. Thank you, Amber. All right, Transcend community, we’ll see you in the next episode.
[00:28:54] AN: Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:29:00] AW: If you want to learn more about how you can build a business and leave a legacy, check out our online community where we dive deeper into these concepts. I literally pull back the curtain to show you how I help entrepreneurs just like you build a sustainable business that leads to financial freedom. You can find out more at thewilkersonlawoffice.com.
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