264: Chronic Illness and Entrepreneurship with Nikita Williams

264: Chronic Illness and Entrepreneurship with Nikita Williams

In this week’s episode we discuss the intersection of chronic illness and entrepreneurship with our guest Nikita Williams.

Nikita is an award-winning Business and Mindset coach, Certified Professional Aromatherapist, speaker, and host of the top-ranking global podcast Crafted to Thrive. She was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2009 and Fibromyalgia in 2010. These diagnoses inspired her to use her previous entrepreneur, community, and corporate experience to jump-start her career as a business coach. She aims to help all entrepreneur women—especially those with chronic illnesses— share their stories and empower them to use their stories as fuel so they can be successful, create the life they deserve, and, most importantly, thrive.

One the show, Nikita shares her personal journey of managing endometriosis and fibromyalgia while building a successful coaching business. She also addresses the challenges and strengths associated with chronic illnesses, the importance of finding alignment in one’s work, and the appeal of entrepreneurship for those seeking greater agency over their time and energy.

You can connect with Nikita at the following links:

http://www.instagram.com/thrivewithnikita

http://www.craftedtothrive.com

http://www.thrivewithnikita.com

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264: Chronic Illness and Entrepreneurship with Nikita Williams

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Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome to the top global ranked and award nominated grad school femtoring podcast. The place for first gen BIPOCs to listen in on conversations about grad school, and growth. In this podcast, you'll learn about all things higher education, personal development, and sustainable productivity. This is Dr.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yvette Martinez Vu, and I will be serving as your femtor, providing you with tips and tricks and everything else you need to know to successfully navigate grad school. For over 14 years, I've been empowering first gen students of color along their personal and professional journeys, and I'm really excited to support you too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Fem Touring Podcast. This [00:01:00] is your host Do Torah, Yvette, and today we're gonna cover a topic that's near and dear to me, the topic of chronic illness and entrepreneurship. I was just telling our guests that those are. The two very, very common and important factors of my life.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And so I'm really excited to have our guest today who is Nikita Williams. She is an award-winning business and mindset coach, certified professional, aromatherapist, speaker, and host of the top ranking global podcast, crafted to thrive. She was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2009 and fibromyalgia in 2010.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: These diagnoses inspired her to use her previous entrepreneur, community and corporate experience to jumpstart her career as a business coach. She aims to help all entrepreneur women. Especially those with chronic illnesses, share their stories and empower them to use their stories as fuel so that they can [00:02:00] be successful, create the life they deserve, and most importantly, thrive.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Welcome to the podcast Nikita.

Nikita Williams: Thank you so much for having me. I am so excited to be here. Thank you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yes, yes. I'm happy to have you here today with us, and I would love for you to get us started by telling us a little bit more about you, about your background, your backstory, and everything that you're comfortable sharing about how you got to where you are today.

Nikita Williams: Yeah. You know, I was looking at the questions again earlier today and you asked a specific question about like, how did I get here? What's been my like career and education background? And it actually helped me have a link. This is also why I love podcasts, because the questions be given you some insights and, you know, things like that. Um, I am a, um, I have, I, I have a family who is amazing. I grew up with. [00:03:00] My brother and myself, and my mom, my dad, and my grandparents, and I'm gonna get to why all this matters. Um, and until like, literally thinking about this question about like what's my background with the career and college and school, and I was like. I kind of think my journey set off right when I left college, like high school. Um, my grandparents had a very successful janitorial business, and entrepreneurship has literally been in my bones since I was like probably 13 years old. I remember walking down, um, the neighborhood when, when I was younger with my grandmother, who would, at the time when they first started their business, they started janitor for like residential homes. And knocking on doors and letting people know, like the

Nikita Williams: old school way of marketing for your, your business. And that's how she got some of her clients. And then she moved into corporate, um, doing a, you know, doing cleaning for corporate buildings and things like that. And [00:04:00] so I. When I graduated high

Nikita Williams: school.

Nikita Williams: and went to college, both of my grandparents and spec, specifically my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. And we all live together. So I, I'm sure that a lot of your audience knows, like our families, usually we all live together. Like this is a thing

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: and I am so thankful for that experience. And so when I had decided to go to college at the time, um. My mom was working full-time job. My dad was working a full-time job.

Nikita Williams: I was working, um, I was also a full-time volunteer at that time, as well as going to college. And then my grandparents got sick, and it was the question of who's gonna take care of the family, you know, who's gonna take care of this business? Who's gonna support? And I'm the youngest. And I'm also, I'm, I'm the oldest, but I'm also the like, go-getter.

Nikita Williams: Like I can do it all right? And so. I was like, I'm gonna try everything. I'm gonna do it all. I went to college, I went to, um, I had my own [00:05:00] job, my volunteer work, and then I started running their business, doing a lot of their actual running of their business and cleaning and all that kind of

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Oh wow.

Nikita Williams: got burnt out really quickly and I had to make a choice.

Nikita Williams: And for me at the time, it was like, take a pause on school at the time and then, um, find where I was going to go with that. But I'm bit nervous. Like Unbeknowns. To me that was really the trajectory into how I even ended up here today, which is so fascinating because at the time I didn't have a chronic illness.

Nikita Williams: Um, and

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Hmm.

Nikita Williams: over the years of just really supporting them and being there for my family, um, I ended up getting married and then literally three weeks after getting married, having these really freaky, weird. Symptoms in my life and I

Nikita Williams: didn't know what it was. Um, and so I had worked in corporate, in the pharmaceutical companies. I had worked in community events and building [00:06:00] for our, like our little county that we were in. So I had a lot of experience working with people and connecting with people. But all that kind of like. Went quiet. When I started being really sick. I used to go to the hospital multiple times a month, multiple, multiple times a week sometimes, and it was just to a point that I couldn't work and I couldn't, I couldn't really function living at that time and. That's kind of where it led to where I am today. Um, we started getting some answers. It took some time to find some answers. Um, my first diagnose, my first diagnosis with was with endometriosis, which at the time nobody even knew what that was. Nobody

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I know.

Nikita Williams: about it. I know now we hear so much about it.

Nikita Williams: You know, if you're on social media in any shape or form, women talk about this often. You hear about

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-Hmm.

Nikita Williams: topics, there's hashtags for it. There wasn't an Instagram

Nikita Williams: when this was di when I was diagnosed with this, and [00:07:00] it was kind of. Lonely

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: experiences and not really knowing what's going on.

Nikita Williams: And my family definitely didn't know. Um, and so it kind of led to this trying to discover how do I support my family, create a livable income while dealing with pain, chronic

Nikita Williams: pain, and things like that. And a good friend of mine just reached out to me and she was supporting me through my health journey and she was like, you know, you could. Do something like health coaching, but for business. And I was like, what's that? Never heard of this. And she's like, you've always had a successful track record and all of the things that you had done, so it might be a good place to start looking into. And sure enough, when did some classes online, learned about it, got certified, and I was like, this is the best thing since sliced bread. And. doing it ever since. That's a little bit of like the story, but it's a [00:08:00] completely different angle than I've ever

Nikita Williams: talked about it because it just because of that question.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Wow, so many things stood out to me. Uh, first off, I am so glad that you mentioned that you are coming from a multi-generational household, , having to make very, very difficult decisions to support your family, not just yourself. And all of that came before you even got a diagnosis.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And then I. I mean, I'm familiar with endometriosis. I, I don't have a diagnosis, but I have had a long history of issues with, uh, uterus pain, pelvic pain, menstrual pain. I was that kid who was out sick. I.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: A couple times a month, every month, and every time being sent home as a child. Uh, and I know that I, I'm familiar with it, but can you very briefly define or just tell us what endometriosis is for the folks who just have no idea what it is?

Nikita Williams: [00:09:00] Yeah, sure.

Nikita Williams: Um, I will say what, it's not first because you will hear a lot about what it. Mistakenly and misconceptions have been said about it. It is not a bad period. It is not a reproductive only, um, immune chronic dis um, condition. It is literally the whole body experience of how the reproductive. Things

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-Hmm.

Nikita Williams: work together, right? And so when those things aren't working well together, they can float and be in different parts of your body. So

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: um, endometriosis, there are certain lining they call them. Uh, the lining can be float, and I like to say float because there's not really a

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: and adhere to different parts of your body.

Nikita Williams: But ultimately it's a whole. Auto body experience that your body's

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: They have [00:10:00] found endometriosis in people's brains, lungs, liver, you know, gallbladder, appendix. It is not just. Located in your reproductive area,

Nikita Williams: but for the majority of the women that I know, it usually presents as, it's as an experience where you have quote unquote, really bad periods, but it's to a different level. So I'm like, you,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: I was in high school, nobody knew this. Like especially as a black woman. Especially as a black woman, like, oh, you're supposed to be in pain in your period. And I really do

Nikita Williams: believe I probably had it since I started my cycle. Um, but Yeah.

Nikita Williams: Right. And it caused so much pain where you were out of school, like you couldn't go to school or you couldn't go to work, or you had extremely heavy and huge, you know, um, like long periods, very heavy periods, even clots even, and

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yes. Yes.

Nikita Williams: They have [00:11:00] been told, and most women have been told, like that's just the woman's plight. That's just what you

Nikita Williams: have to deal with. Um, and it can affect your bowel, it can affect your bladder, it could affect pretty much every part of your

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: Um, and it is a really intensive pain. Um, I, a chronic pain condition to my, for me and for some women, they could have endometriosis and have literally no pain.

Nikita Williams: They only know that they have it once they're trying to have children. because of how it's, where it is in their, in their body, it can create some trouble with that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: So, it's really not a one and done statement of saying that it's just, you know, a reproductive issue. It's really a

Nikita Williams: whole body, um, autoimmune disease.

Nikita Williams: It

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yes.

Nikita Williams: been classified as that as of yet. Um, but it's interesting if you follow, um. Endo Coalition, if

Nikita Williams: you check that out, it's called [00:12:00] Endo Do um, dot co. They are an organization that talks about endometriosis and talks about how if you ever were to try to apply for, um, what am I looking for? What's the word?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Disability. SSI, uh,

Nikita Williams: yeah, exactly. If you were ever to apply for disability, all of the symptoms that you experience with endometriosis is covered, but endometriosis is not, which is ridiculous. So

Nikita Williams: it is a very ex, like, it's a very painful experience. And for me it definitely was.

Nikita Williams: I mean, I was in the hospital multiple times. Um, and it's not something as of now that people can, like the doctors can find on.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: Like an X-ray, like you have to have surgery, exploratory surgery

Nikita Williams: for it to be seen. Um, there are some other ways that I have found just in my own journey of living with endometriosis of learning that there are actually other signs that give you more, [00:13:00] um, kind of ideas that it could be endo,

Nikita Williams: but if you have any of the symptoms, I just said, you should say this to your doctor

Nikita Williams: and say, I'm experiencing these things and I've heard of endometriosis is what can we do to consider this as an option?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's so tricky. I'm glad that, so thank you for demystifying and debunking that myth that, oh, you just have painful periods. And that's it. Uh, thank you for also calling attention to the fact that it's like a whole body multi-system disease that can affect all of your body depending on where. The lining of the uterus kind of goes outside of

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: your uterus. It just like can spread everywhere. Um, and. Yeah. Thank you. Just, just for, for telling us also that it can be tricky to get a diagnosis, like you said. Right now, the only, like the dominant way to get a diagnosis, which is why I don't have a diagnosis, even though I have a lot of overlaps. Um, with what you've shared about endometriosis, a lot of, [00:14:00] uh, overlapping symptoms

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: is that you need that exploratory surgery.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You need to get laparoscopic surgery. Not everyone can just. Have a random surgery, just

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: schedule it in no big deal. If we had, maybe if we had accessible, uh, healthcare

Nikita Williams: Right?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: uh, understanding accommodating workplaces,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: maybe. But, uh, that's a whole other conversation for another day. But thank you. I just

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: wanna say thank you for talking about that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: 'cause this episode is about chronic illness and that is a big part that is, you know, not the only thing. I know you mentioned the fibromyalgia piece. That's a whole other. Condition.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I know a lot about chronic illnesses because there's a lot of them have, um, they're like co-occurring conditions. So if you have one, you have a bunch.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So I'm, this is like my side,

Nikita Williams: Yes.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: my side passion is like doing research on on chronic illnesses and watching all the documentaries and, you know, staying on top of. The the research too, which

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: you, you're right on point. I [00:15:00] think I found that there was a recent article that proved that endometriosis is a multi-system

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: disease whi, which like anybody who has had those symptoms knows.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Duh.

Nikita Williams: Like you can have pain that reaches to your pinky toe on your foot. Something is, it's gotta be more than just in

Nikita Williams: the girly parts. Like we got some more stuff

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yes. So I wanna kind of go back to, 'cause you told us a little bit about your, your personal background, also your educational career trajectory. Uh, and you mentioned that there was someone who told you you might wanna consider doing the health stuff, but from a business

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: perspective, so can you. Tell us a little bit more about that journey of becoming a business coach and also maybe some, some, challenges, like

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: how have you navigated these challenges?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I know from my lived experience, it's being an entrepreneur is tricky in and of itself. It's just like all learning curves upon learning curves. But

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:16:00] then on top of that, with the challenge of navigating chronic health issues, like tell us a little bit about how you navigate that.

Nikita Williams: It is not easy. Um, you're so right.

Nikita Williams: It's interesting. I just did an episode on the fact that entrepreneurship alone with an able-bodied normal life is hard. With a capital H it is hard. Okay? Like it is so hard.

Nikita Williams: And then you add living with. Maybe one, but most of us do, we have at least two to three, sometimes six other chronic illnesses.

Nikita Williams: And then that's just our bodies. It's not mentioning like partners, spouses, children, life, you know, we're not even talking about those aspects of things. And so, you're right. When I, my friend told me about this, the reason why it was so interesting, because she shared this with me. 'cause I, I asked her a question.

Nikita Williams: I'm like, how are you one at the time she was. Um, volunteering in her ministry [00:17:00] full time. She was running this really successful health coaching business, also living with endometriosis and aosis, which that's a whole nother condition,

Nikita Williams: connected usually to an, uh, endometriosis and fibroids. And she was just happy go lucky.

Nikita Williams: And I was like,

Nikita Williams: girl, what are you

Nikita Williams: doing in your life

Nikita Williams: and how

Nikita Williams: are you like?

Nikita Williams: contributing to your household? That was always my. Thing. I'm, I'm a very go-getter. I'm half Jamaican. Um, I love work. I love to work, I love to be around people. And I was like, this is a really hard challenge of trying to figure out how to grow a business.

Nikita Williams: At the time I was do doing digital marketing services online for clients. Um, I was figuring out a way to do stuff, but what was the challenge was doing it. Where I wasn't always reliant on other people's time frame, right? So you're starting a business as a [00:18:00] provider, oftentimes you're putting a part of your time into the hands of someone else. And I found that to be extremely challenging for the uncertainty of what my life was at the time. And so she mentioned to me and she's like, well, you know, just like you've been kind of going into my portal and creating a call at a time that works for me and how I do my business, it's very based on like what I put out there and my clients work with it. And I was like, I love that. Like let's do something like that. And. I took some courses. Like I said, I took some courses online on like business coaching specifically. Like what are the things that my clients would need to know? All of that logistics great, wonderful stuff. Needed it. Absolutely. But what I didn't find was how to do this with chronic illness. I

Nikita Williams: didn't find that, and so I, I, I would say for about five years. I fumbled on figuring [00:19:00] out how to figure this out, right? So I tried different models, different systems, different processes, until I realized that I was getting information and advice from people who were not forthcoming on how were they doing this thing and their business during a flare up during multiple medical protocols during. Um, multiple visits to doctor's appointments, physical therapy, changing medications that make your hormones and your emotions go all crazy. All of those different things, and nobody was offering that advice. So I really took some time to like sit with. It can work. Obviously people are doing this like it can work, but how does it need to work?

Nikita Williams: And that's where I came back to that whole, and it sounds like so fluffy when I say it, but it's real, the whole mind body alignment thing. And I was [00:20:00] like, what I, I need to figure out, there has to be an alignment within what I'm doing. And the alignment at the time was I was just helping anybody and everybody.

Nikita Williams: Um, as women and their businesses, mostly creatives 'cause I love a creative person. But what I found was they didn't understand it either. They didn't understand growing a business, living with chronic illness, and when I needed to reschedule or when I, they they appreciated having the space of being, if they needed to reschedule or if their life happened. But I was like, this is probably a niche that I hadn't discovered. I hadn't really tapped into, and I was like, if there was someone like me who could give me the permission, and also like, here's how you can still show up in your business, even when you're sick, even when you're

Nikita Williams: in a flare up. Wouldn't that be golden?

Nikita Williams: Like, wouldn't that be golden? Wouldn't that be sweet? And so I really worked [00:21:00] with my clients to create some frameworks around how to do that. And so a lot of the work though, was transforming the way I viewed myself with chronic illness instead of viewing it as. This limitation as this

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm.

Nikita Williams: that held me back, I had to see where were the strengths that

Nikita Williams: I've learned because of living with chronic illness.

Nikita Williams: I had to think about where were the strengths outside of just my chronic illness that I was not tapping into, which was my resourcefulness, which was my determination, also, my experience in other areas. Something that's really interesting. When you live with chronic illness, you tend to doubt yourself more than the average person. On top of feeling

Nikita Williams: the pressure of trying to prove your worth to everyone else. And I found that that was the biggest thing I was doing and I was trying to do, was trying to prove that I could do this like everyone else, and I literally could not,

Nikita Williams: I [00:22:00] had to do it in a way that worked for me and I had to do it in a way that gave me the flexibility and the capacity, and so that would be. My first thing, for anyone who's like, how do you do all of this is like you have to do it on your terms. It cannot be on anyone else's. You have to accept, to a degree, a part of your challenges as also being a springboard for creating the life you want. In those challenges. And that's what I do. That's what I do with my clients.

Nikita Williams: We sit down, we look at it, we, we face the ugly things sometimes and we accept, and then we find a way that works for you. And that's really how I've kind of grown this business is just accepting. Like, I don't wait for the flare up to happen. I know it's gonna happen at some point. Right. So I've designed my business to support me when that flare up comes. And how does that work? [00:23:00] A lot of times it's through systems. A lot of times it is having someone in your business to help you and you giving yourself permission to say it's okay to take a break.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah. Wow. That was, I feel like I needed that message.

Nikita Williams: Oh, I love

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: that

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: was really, really, yeah. Um, I, I am a hundred percent in agreement with everything that you said. I am definitely on a similar path, uh, myself of, um, you know, you support entrepreneurs, I support students, undergraduate students, graduate students, and I do think, I know, I think. We mentioned before starting the recording that you know, uh, I don't know like to what extent does this fit into the platform, you know,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: to grad school?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Femtoring and I do have a lot of first gen bipoc undergrads and graduate students and early career professionals who are listeners. [00:24:00] But more and more people are reaching out to me because of me speaking out more and more about my chronic illnesses. And so there I, I don't have the numbers, but just based on who's more vocal and who reaches out, I have a good amount of folks who listen,

Nikita Williams: Right.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: need that kind of support,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: who need to have that support from someone who has lived it, who has gone through.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Through it, who has tested out what works and what doesn't work? Who has struggled with that internalized ableism of like, I have to do the things the same way that everybody else does. I have to prove my worth all the time, even more than people

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: who are able-bodied or non-disabled or not chronically ill.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Um, so yeah, I just wanna kind of echo that for you, that I appreciate you. And what you offer, and that there's a lot of people who are in need of this kind of support to try to figure it out for themselves.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Now, the next, the next question I have though is about why entrepreneurship? Because there are a [00:25:00] lot of people who are trying to find jobs and who are trying to find, um, workplace settings that are hospitable and that are a accommodating, and you're laughing, okay, now know where gonna go.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I know what direction it's gonna go.

Nikita Williams: Okay. Uh, yes.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And I think there are some places, although those are hard to find. But yeah. I'm curious in terms for you, like why entrepreneurship as opposed to having a nice, steady, stable paycheck and also what are the pros and cons of entrepreneurship because we know there are pros and cons, uh, to it for anybody, but what are the pros and cons to entrepreneurship?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: For you as someone who also navigates dealing with chronic illnesses.

Nikita Williams: Such a good question and you're so right. Um, you're so right. There are pros and cons to each thing, as I mentioned. Um. I'll share from my experience and then I'll share what I have found with [00:26:00] some of my clients to be true for them. But I, will say in my beginning stories of like unearthing what chronic illness look like in my life, which from anyone who lives with chronic illness, you know, there is this ebb and flow of not. Sometimes you feel good,

Nikita Williams: sometimes you don't. Sometimes you get a diagnosis and sometimes you're like, this can't be that diagnosis. Like

Nikita Williams: there's more. Right? And so it's not really necessarily a firm. I am Well now. I know, and I'm all

Nikita Williams: good. That's not usually how the chronic illness warrior's journey looks like. When I first was dealing with all of this, I was working in corporate, I was working in a pharmaceutical company. I always had my side gig. 'cause like I said, that's just me. Um, but as, as accommodating as they could be for that situation, I felt. [00:27:00] As a person. Okay, as a person, I felt like it played into the mindset of being unempowered, unable to make. True choices that would give me the capacity to do and live my life beyond just being sick. And so for me, that was a challenge. That was also, my husband will say, that's probably been your challenge just in general because you don't like getting told what to do, which I don't. But it, for me, it was just, I never, it just never felt like a really good fit where I could find the, the, the balance or the harmony between. Allowing someone else have more control over my time and my capacity than I had for my own. And you are 100% right? Some of us are not met for [00:28:00] entrepreneurship. Like we have no desire. My husband's one of them. It's like the hardest thing. And I'm just like, you wanna start a podcast? Let's do a podcast. And he is like, that sounds great, but oh my gosh. Like it's a hard thing. Right?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-Hmm.

Nikita Williams: but. There are companies out there that I know, 'cause I have some clients that have jobs that are so supportive and is also so in line with their purpose as a person that it works really well. And I will say, those of you who have a chronic illness and you're like, there's no way I wanna be an entrepreneur, find a job that connects more to who you are and what you wanna be bringing into the world.

Nikita Williams: And that to me is what will help. You find the empowerment, find the words to say when you do need to ask for help or. FMLA and not feel like you're taking away, it feels more in alignment with you. I think

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-Hmm.

Nikita Williams: is important, important for anyone living [00:29:00] with chronic illness because our energy and our capacity is so contained oftentimes within

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm.

Nikita Williams: lens of what we can and what we can't do. And you don't wanna put yourself in a situation where you're constantly fighting with, you know, outwork. Conversations a want you can't do when you

Nikita Williams: just want options. And so that's how I feel about corporate. There are jobs that are there that are amazing for the, for those, um, that are looking and that are looking for that purpose.

Nikita Williams: And they like thrive off of that, right? Like they're just excited and they find the right people to support them in that journey. But in entrepreneurship, there's a different side of that journey. You do have more options. You do have more. Time to figure out what works for you. Um, but the, the, I would say the con to entrepreneurship is that it takes a bit more patience.

Nikita Williams: It takes a bit more effort at times. Um, it [00:30:00] also takes your willingness to connect with other people. And that's one challenge I find for those of us living with chronic illness. We like to live in pain and privacy That one little thing though is why I also encourage people to do entrepreneurship because it helps you find your community.

Nikita Williams: I can, I can truly say I don't think

Nikita Williams: I.

Nikita Williams: would have the tools or the know-how for living with chronic illness in general. I. Just in general, not just in business, if it weren't for the rooms that I decided to walk in because of my business, and it's given me the tools in order to manage living with chronic illness on a holistic level. Um, more completely.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I mean, that's kind of how we even were put in touch.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I, if I remember correctly, it was. A [00:31:00] friend who was part of a similar network that you were part of for podcasters who happened to tell

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: me, Hey, Nikita needs a guest

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: who you know has this experience. I was like, I'm signing up

Nikita Williams: yes, yes.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: and yeah.

Nikita Williams: I, and, and, and, and I think part of the reason why that's happened for me in this business is because my business literally is to support people like

Nikita Williams: me, like who are living with chronic illness. But you create. It is easier to talk about what you're going through

Nikita Williams: when someone else is in a similar journey.

Nikita Williams: And in the corporate world, we're almost afraid to speak about what's going on in our personal life because we can, and I personally experience this. You can be sideline, you can

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: you can. Literally lose your job because of talking about some of these

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-Hmm.

Nikita Williams: literally have no control over, but is our life. And so that [00:32:00] is the other reason why I feel like entrepreneurship is such a great tool for those living with chronic illness in order to get some more agency

Nikita Williams: in

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah.

Nikita Williams: So even if you have a a nine to five, I still encourage, um, um, like I said. Half of my clients have nine to fives, and they're doing a business on the side because of one, they have a greater mission. Two, they see that they have greater capacity to tap into their agency as a person living with chronic illness in their entrepreneur business, in their world, versus what they can do in a job.

Nikita Williams: So that would be my kind of like picture, if you will, of corporate versus

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah. And I am glad that you mentioned too, that if someone's like, Nope, I'm never doing entrepreneurship. It's not for me. I know for a fact I used to think that about myself. Ha. Because I grew up. It's like, uh, entrepreneurship is also in my blood. Like my [00:33:00] mom was always, she has a, a botanica, so she, she has a, a store where she sells like religious and syn and all kinds of real, uh, items.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And so I grew up, like in swap meets. I grew up like just being around a bunch of people selling stuff. Uh, I just grew up around entrepreneurship and I saw how hard she worked and how much she hustled, uh, and how it provided for the family. And I thought to myself, that's a lot of hard work. I don't know if I wanna do it.

Nikita Williams: It is a lot of hard work.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: But now I see why she did it

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: and all the opportunities it afforded her as a single mom of six.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So, but they just saying, I wanna go back to like for the folks that are thinking that entrepreneurship is not for them one. It might be useful to reconsider it, but two, if you know there's no way at all that you would ever pursue entrepreneurship, and you're definitely gonna stay in a nine to five.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I wanna go back and reemphasize what you said about finding a place that is in [00:34:00] alignment with you and about how. A lot of us with chronic illnesses, uh, have, uh, an energy envelope or like a, a delimited amount, what some people call spoons,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: like a limited amount of spoons or energy every single day. And what I've found in my work is that there are some parts of my work, actually a lot of them, but not all of them.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: There are parts of my work that feels so good

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: that even though it's work. It energizes me.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It restores me. It replenishes me. So that's why I think that alignment is super duper important. I'm glad that you mentioned it because. Not all work is going to drain you or is going to exploit you or is going to

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: deplete you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Um, so just keep that in mind as you were, as you look, I'm telling the audience, like, as you're lurking for jobs, if, you know, entrepreneurship is not for me.

Nikita Williams: Mm-Hmm.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Okay. We're getting close to, to wrapping up. I have another question though. I, I am curious what [00:35:00] advice you would give either to your younger self. Or to anyone who is first gen person of color, maybe they're in college, maybe they're taking a break from their education journey, but they're trying to figure out how to live life and navigate this world with chronic illnesses.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: It's tricky y'all. So what advice, what advice would you give to your younger self? The one that was like, here comes every month, I'm gonna have these issues.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: You know, and not just every month, but like. You know, at least every month I'm gonna have some major pain or, or some hiccups or some, you know, some things that are gonna come up and get in my way of doing things the way everybody else does.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: What advice would you give to yourself and to others listening right now? I.

Nikita Williams: We all have strengths. We all have them. I, I, I, I don't care if it's you have a gab ability, like you can talk to anyone at any time. You could [00:36:00] be the most quieted, introverted person who reasons and are super like analytical in your brain, your strengths. Everyone has them and don't discount them. I think that's the biggest thing I would tell myself as a, like a younger version, me being like, don't limit yourself because you don't believe in your strengths. Right. It's, it's easy. It's so easy for us to see all of the reasons why we're not enough, So easy. It takes a really active, audacious, courageous will to see what is good in you. What is your strength? What is your, like, if you were to ask five of your best people around you, like what makes you tick? And they say this thing and you're like,

Nikita Williams: no, that's [00:37:00] probably the thing you have discounted. And I would say as a woman living one with multiple chronic illnesses, black and my spiritual heritage often comes into the play of this. I'm often discounted. I am often dismissed. I better not do that to myself and

Nikita Williams: neither should you.

Nikita Williams: Like I'm saying that just because it is, you have power. When you take the power you have and you wield it like it's the magic genie or something like you can wield it. And my power,

Nikita Williams: and I've really learned my power is,

Nikita Williams: I

Nikita Williams: love people. and I also

Nikita Williams: have this determination in me that.

Nikita Williams: you can't keep me down.

Nikita Williams: You just can't. You just can't do it. And I'm determined to figure it out. [00:38:00] I am going to figure it out no matter what. I'm going to figure out whatever the problem is, and sometimes that can get me in trouble. But it's also the reason why I am so successful in so many different areas of my life. So whatever your strengths are, discover them, find them, work to do that, and don't ever let anyone tell you different.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah. Thank you for that. For folks that wanna learn a little bit more about your work, your services, I'm happy to have you share a little bit more about your services and also like how others can reach you can find, you can connect with you.

Nikita Williams: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, first of all, for having me on this. It's been such a fun and enlightening conversation.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Yeah, I feel like I can just keep talking to you, just on

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: and on and on.

Nikita Williams: this is so good. Like, I'm learning, you know, I, I, I'm learning. So I learn so much by doing these kind of, um, interviews where I'm being interviewed. 'cause I've got

Nikita Williams: over 160 [00:39:00] something episodes on my podcast, but often I'm like, oh

Nikita Williams: man, I.

Nikita Williams: love that question about me. Like, I need to think about that.

Nikita Williams: So thank you for

Nikita Williams: having me

Nikita Williams: and yeah, my

Nikita Williams: coaching business is a holistic approach,

Nikita Williams: to growing your business.

Nikita Williams: Whether

Nikita Williams: you

Nikita Williams: live with chronic illness or not, some of you may, um, have thoughts of having a business, but you

Nikita Williams: don't have a chronic illness, but you got life hurdles is what I call them. And you're like,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-hmm.

Nikita Williams: capacity to do my life along with starting a business?

Nikita Williams: My approach as a chronic illness warrior is very helpful to them. Very helpful to them. And so what I

Nikita Williams: would say is,

Nikita Williams: um, I

Nikita Williams: work with my clients. Usually on a six month to a year, um, program. And it just starts with a call. It starts with a call and we jump on the call and we really talk about what it is that you're looking for, what you're looking to do, as well as if you wanna learn more about me, you can go to Thrive with Nikita on Instagram [00:40:00] and you can go to Craft to Thrive for my podcast where I talk about all things entrepreneurship with chronic illness, and I have guests like Yvette, you can find our episode on there. Um, and so many other women along with just some solo episodes for me.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Wonderful. Well, I wanna thank you once again for being here, for sharing your I I love that I got to hear more about your story 'cause I do listen to your podcast. I'm one of your listeners and I hadn't heard that side of you. So thank you for sharing your story.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and just thank you for sharing space with me today.

Nikita Williams: Thank you. Thank you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thanks so much for joining me in the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. If you like what you heard, here are four ways you can support the show. The first is to make sure you're subscribed and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. [00:41:00] If you email me a screenshot, I'll send you a surprise freebie. The second way is to get your copy of my free Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school. You can access it at the link in today's show notes. The third way to support my show is to follow me on social media. You can find me on Instagram with the handle at grad school, femtoring and on LinkedIn by searching my name.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: The last way to show your love is to order a copy of is grad school for me. My graduate school admissions book for first gen BIPOCs. Thanks again for listening and until next time.

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