Jasmine Escalera

The Illusion of Security: With Jasmine Escalera

There’s nothing more rewarding than having a sense of security, of safety. Right? And every time we encounter self-doubt, we get very, very uncomfortable, primarily because that self-doubt rubs up against our security, against our safety.. So, how do we move forward and get past that doubt? How do we avoid getting stuck? Are our beliefs involved in creating these situations of uncertainty? Are they preventing us from living the life that we want?

On this episode of The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast, I have the pleasure of coaching the brilliant Jasmine Escalera, Ph.D, Career Coach and Founder of Jasmine Escalera Coaching,  a company devoted to helping women and men of color create an authentic brand that helps them land a job they will love. Listen to her TEDx Talk on conquering workplace conformity as a woman of color here.

Jasmine is also the Program and Operations Director at Mount Sinai Parenting Center, where she helps develop and design programs geared towards resident education and parent-facing education, teaching individuals about early childhood development and how to help children grow and thrive using brain science.

“How can I feel comfortable leaving the security of my actual job behind? Does this mean I need to change who I am? How do I know that it’ll work out? Will it be the correct move? How do I jump in with confidence?” These are just some of the questions Jasmine asks herself (and me!) as we dive into the world of self-doubt and the insecurity created by the desire and/or opportunity to start new projects.

Do you feel trapped and stuck? Afraid to make a move forward? Do you experience self-doubt? Let’s talk! If there's a challenge you'd like to talk about on the podcast or privately, please reach out to me at:


I’d love to hear from you!

Episode Transcript

Kim Ades: [00:00:05]
Hello, hello. This is Kim Ades, and I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching, and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we welcome leaders from all over the world to get coached live and in person right on the podcast.

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce to you someone that I've had an eye on for a while. I've been following her on LinkedIn, I've been noticing some of her messaging, I noticed her incredible physical presence and her glow. And so I'm really excited to be talking to her. It's the first time we actually talk, her name is Jasmine Escalera, and she runs a coaching company called Jasmine Escalera Coaching.

Jasmine, welcome!

Jasmine Escalera: [00:00:46]
Hi, everyone! Thank you so much for having me on. This is so exciting.

Kim Ades: [00:00:51]
So, where are you located in the world? For people that have never spoken to you.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:00:56]
I'm in Brooklyn, New York, actually. I'm in my apartment in Brooklyn, New York. Born and raised.

Kim Ades: [00:01:01]
Got it. Amazing. And you run a coaching company, but you also work. What else do you do?

Jasmine Escalera: [00:01:08]
So I work full time at Mount Sinai Parenting Center, which is a component of a nonprofit entity, Mount Sinai Health Care Center. I am a Program and Operations Director there, where I actually help them to develop and design programs that are more geared towards resident education and parent facing education, really teaching individuals about early childhood development and how to really help children grow and thrive using brain science.

Kim Ades: [00:01:39]
Okay. Interesting. Do you love that job or is there something else you want to be doing?

Jasmine Escalera: [00:01:45]
I've always enjoyed project management and operations. My background is actually in biochemistry and pharmacology and when I was getting my PhD in pharmacology, I really realized that I wanted to do more in terms of my science to give back to communities in need.

So I've been working for 10 years in nonprofit management and leadership. Leadership helping nonprofit organizations build and design research programs. I do love it, but I do say that my passion is really empowering and inspiring women of color to beat down their confidence and self doubt and to really be able to own their careers moving forward.

Kim Ades: [00:02:20]
So what I think you're saying is, "yes, I have this career, but what I really want to do is this other thing full-time".

Jasmine Escalera: [00:02:27]

Kim Ades: [00:02:28]
Okay, so talk to me a little, what about your coaching company. How long have you been doing it? How do you grow your business? Who do you target? How do you coach? Give me the whole...

Jasmine Escalera: [00:02:39]

Kim Ades: [00:02:39]
...the whole thing!

Jasmine Escalera: [00:02:41]
So I started my coaching business two years ago and I actually started my coaching business because even though I was in very strict bench science when I was in graduate school and in college, and I made that shift into nonprofit management, I still stayed in the STEM field. So in terms of really being, you know, a Latina in STEM and being a woman of color in STEM, I have faced a lot of challenges in my career and really being able to advance my career and propel my career.

And I recognize that there were definitely external barriers to me being able to grow and thrive. But there were also a lot of internal things that I needed to battle. So when I first started in the STEM field, and I have a TEDx Talk around this, I conformed a lot to what I thought I needed to do to be successful in the workplace.

And I conformed a lot to those around me. I tried to really act the way other people acted thinking that this was going to be the way that I was going to be successful. And so I recognized that I was losing a lot of my authenticity and a lot of myself, and that was actually causing a lot of challenges in regards to my career. So I--

Kim Ades: [00:03:53]
Can you?-- Sorry, I'm very interested in this.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:03:55]

Kim Ades: [00:03:55]
Can you give me an example or two of what you thought was required and how you behave that wasn't aligned with who you really are. So just... I'm really interested in that.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:04:08]
Yeah, so, I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, New York. So I have this very vivacious, very big personality. I've just always been like that. And so oftentimes when I would try to bring that level of energy into the environment and into the room, and we're talking about rooms that were filled with predominantly white men, they saw that as too much.

So I often got told, I remember even my-- one of my PIs when I was in graduate school told me, "Oh, like speaking with your hands makes you actually look really unintelligent, so don't do that". So like that's one, you know, thing where it was, like, I felt like I couldn't bring that component of myself into the space. Like, I like to speak with energy. I like to speak with my body. And that was something that I had to definitely, like, stop doing, but in order to stop doing that, it meant that I had to actually change my form of communication.

So, I stopped actually speaking, because I didn't really want to be speaking inauthentically. I didn't want to sound unintelligent as he was telling me I was sounding or looking. So I just started to really cower within myself.

So I really just thought that, you know, if I don't look smart, then I must not seem smart at all. So maybe I just don't say anything. So it was really kind of that flip-flop in my head that if I bring my authentic self into the space, they're going to see me as this way, so I might as well just not do that.

So that was a lot of what I was experiencing, where other individuals telling me how they thought I should look or act and me feeling so conflicted between, like, should I really be doing this? Should I not be doing this? And so I just shut down.

Kim Ades: [00:05:49]
So, is this the case still at Mount Sinai?

Jasmine Escalera: [00:05:54] No.

Kim Ades: [00:05:54]
The same kind of thing?

Jasmine Escalera: [00:05:55]
No. I went through so much of a transform-- transformation within myself, where I just said, "I frankly, am never going to deal with that BS ever again". So, although every position in every job has its flaws, I have told myself that me, myself, will always be my true self within the environment moving forward. And that's something that I teach my clients.

You cannot be you if you can't bring you to the workplace, and that's going to be an extreme challenge. So whether you're on a job search or whether you're looking for a position or you're in the role, you really have to focus on your authenticity and bringing your true self to work every single day.

And that means your cultural identity, who you are, where you came from. That's all a component of you and your story.

Kim Ades: [00:06:42]
So you coach people part-time and your clients are all women of color or are they just women?

Jasmine Escalera: [00:06:52]
Women of color. And I also do have clients who are also men of color.

Kim Ades: [00:06:56]
Okay. So of color is the key. Okay. And how do clients find you or how do you find them? And what is the coaching process like?

Jasmine Escalera: [00:07:07]
Yeah. So I'm very active on social media. I find social media to really be the space. LinkedIn, Instagram, now clubhouse is a huge thing. I found all-- I find all of these spaces to really allow me the opportunity to be able to speak my truth.

And that's what I really use these different forums as. They never really be-- they never really started as "I want to find clients". They mostly started as, like, I tell my clients, like, in order to be comfortable being you, you have to speak you every day. So I almost started using these platforms as a way to really represent my authenticity and my message and my branding, just so that I could start becoming more comfortable with who I am.

And it just naturally flowed into individuals really gravitating towards the message because they're experiencing it as well. So a lot of my clients really come to me from those forums because that's where I feel I can be my most authentic and tell my truth and tell my story.

Kim Ades: [00:08:05]
Got it.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:08:05]
And in terms of working--

Kim Ades: [00:08:07]
And... Yeah, I think you're doing a great job. That's how I kind of...

Jasmine Escalera: [00:08:10]
Thank you!

Kim Ades: [00:08:10]
I noticed you that way. I'm like, "who is this person?" Right? Yeah, I did a double-take...

Jasmine Escalera: [00:08:15]
Thank you.

Kim Ades: [00:08:15]
So you're doing a great job. So sorry I interrupted you.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:08:18]
Oh, no worries! Yeah, and then in terms of how I work with my clients, a lot of the work that I do with my clients is a lot of the work that I also did with myself, you know, of really understanding where are the origins of this doubt that you're having. Where are the origins of these feelings of imposter syndrome, or like, what's your story around this?

And then helping you to identify how to really rewrite that story or change the narrative or become more of your authentic self, and understanding how you can do that within the framework of your career.

I'm very much about professional competence. This concept that you can be confident within the workplace, but that really comes from within. It really comes from that inner work of knowing who you are, loving who you are and representing that person every single day, and that you can use that professional confidence to then spearhead and make the moves that you want to make within your career.

But I found that for me, I couldn't make those moves because I didn't believe in myself and I didn't have that confidence. So once you have that, you can do it.

Kim Ades: [00:09:25]
Yeah. I mean, I'm listening to you. You're extremely well-spoken and you definitely sound intelligent and it sounds like you've overcome a lot of that... The indoctrination that you started off with. So what is your current greatest challenge? What's the thing that you're saying, "Hey, if I could only blank".

Jasmine Escalera: [00:09:49]
I think my current biggest challenge is there's still that component of overcoming the fear of, like... I was taught as a Latina, as a young girl, I was taught that you have a specific path. I grew up in the projects, so every day my dad would say, "Look at that. That's not what you want for your life. You want more". And he taught me the key and the path to that was education and hard work.

But that path took a certain form, right? Like, you go to school, you get a job, you get the retirement package, you get the 401k, you get all of that stuff. And that you stay within the realms of that space. And I think--

Kim Ades: [00:10:31]

Jasmine Escalera: [00:10:32]
Yeah, and I think my biggest challenge is almost kind of, like, breaking out of that mindset of you don't have to have this traditional style of work. You can follow your passion and that passion can reduce to something completely different. And, you know, as kids, we're not taught entrepreneurship, we're not taught how to start a business.

So that's something I feel like I'm just learning as I go, and it's very challenging to break down that mindset of what you expect your life to be versus, like, when you're living it, what you truly want it to be.

Kim Ades: [00:11:06]
So, it sounds like you have one foot at Mount Sinai and the other foot is in this new land. And it sounds like you love this new land. And so, tell me, how are you growing your business? And like, I'm trying to translate what I'm hearing a little bit, and it sounds like "how do I do this full-time and feel comfortable leaving the security of my job behind, and how do I kind of completely jump into this new world and do it with confidence".

Jasmine Escalera: [00:11:41]
That's exactly 110%, what it is. I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head. It's almost kind of like, how do you go against what you've learned or what was ingrained in your head your entire life and take it that plunge, even through the uncertainty. And I heard this amazing-- I was on this cycling ride this morning with Angela Manuel Davis, and she's such an inspiration.

But she was talking about confidence through uncertainty and it hit me in that moment of "sure, I'm a very confident person. I know I can do anything, but when the path is very uncertain in terms of like, do I leave the security of this thing, where I know I'm going to get a paycheck every two weeks, and I know what that paycheck is going to look like?

Or do I take the uncertain path where everything, the onerous is 110% on me to be able to make this work. And that's a very challenging sort of mind shift to make of now the onerous is 110% on you. You have to find the clients, you have to get the people you have to be out there. And it's very challenging in this world because there are a lot of great coaches and a lot of great things. So how do you stand out as a presence?

Kim Ades: [00:12:50]
Okay. So there are lots of things that you said, like, words that you use that I want to talk about and address is that cool?

Jasmine Escalera: [00:12:57]

Kim Ades: [00:12:57]
Yeah. Okay. So first of all, I want to talk a little bit about this whole idea of uncertainty. You know, how do you leave the security of your current life and go into an uncertain place? The truth is that we always have the same amount of uncertainty and that security is a bit of a fallacy, right? So, we're all secure, suddenly COVID hit. Now what?

And so, we're all in the same game in terms of how secure things really are and how uncertain they really are. And when we feel like they're uncertain, in a way it's a bit of a trick, right? Like, it's a bit of... what's the word? Another word for fallacy. It's a bit of a... A mirage. That's the word. It's a bit of a mirage.

So, things are never really certain. Never. They're just not certain.
The other day, one of my greatest friends, a long time client, I was working with her for eight years. I found out that she died suddenly of an aneurism.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:14:01]
Oh, my goodness.

Kim Ades: [00:14:02]
No security, no certainty. Just total shock. Right? So we don't know what's next and we never know what's next. And so when we say we want security and we lean into a direction that feels secure, it's an illusion of security. So that's thing number one that I really want to talk about. So you want to ask "what illusion of security do I have right now? What do I think is creating security?"

The second thing that you said is, you know, "do I take the plunge?" And you know, when we think about plunging, we think about being safely on the side of a pool and then just diving in, where there's no safety, right? We're in the middle of the deep end and it's scary. And what I want to say is that taking a plunge, first of all, it doesn't mean you have to dive into the middle of the deep end. It could mean that you're taking a step into the pool and you're holding onto the side and then taking another step and another step and another step.

And so my question for you is it sounds like you have been doing that as you are growing your business and when something is highly uncomfortable, like, I don't want to turn off the tap of this revenue stream and suddenly turn-- you know, try to turn on this other one, which is my coaching business. The question becomes what gradual arrangements can I take to move myself away from the side of the pool?

And sometimes we think about that as a light switch. On and off. And what I want to always emphasize to people is it doesn't have to be that way. We believe that when we start a business, we have to take literally a plunge or a dive off of a cliff into this vast unknown with a high likelihood of crashing and burning. And it doesn't have to be that way.

So, as you're growing your business, you might say, "how do I extricate myself a little bit more from this business that I'm in at Mount Sinai? How do I just pull back a bit? How do I go from maybe five days a week to four days a week? How do I then go to three days a week? How do I change my responsibilities? How do I teach people what I need them to know? And while I have this extra free time, how do I grow this other thing?" So that there's a transition period, as opposed to this plunge that you're talking about, that sounds very scary and painful.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:16:25]
Yeah. It's so interesting that you say that because just recently, like, that was-- it's-- I tell my clients all the time that, you know, I'm never gonna, like you said, make you just jump. It's gradual baby steps, and with each step you gain additional confidence to be able to move to the next level. It's so hard to turn that within yourself inward, right?

Like, that's one of my biggest issues, is that I can empower and inspire and motivate others. But when I try to turn that within myself, it becomes so complicated. And it's interesting that you say those kinds of small gradual things, 'cause it was-- it became like a light switch for me where I was like, maybe I should just follow my own advice.

Kim Ades: [00:17:07]
Well... And here it is, right? Like, you know, it's very interesting. I don't think of my role as a role of inspiring and empowering. I don't. The reason is because I think inspiration and empowerment comes from within you.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:17:20]
It comes from within. Yeah.

Kim Ades: [00:17:21]
I can't give it to you. And if I try to give it to you, then you're not actually empowered. Right? Then it's me giving you the power and that intuitively it doesn't make sense. Right? And so, the question becomes, what beliefs do you have that are preventing you from living the life that you really want to be living? And you have a few, right?

One is, "well, I've been taught that this is a better route. It's a safer route. You know, I've worked my whole life to this point. I've got a PhD, for God's sakes! I've been on this track. How do I leave that track?" And so, that's another piece is that we're not asking you to leave anything. We're asking you to grow what you have, right?

So there's no departure from your past. There's no departure from who you are and what you bring to the table. There's a leveraging of who you are and what you've done and your experience and your education. So that thinking is a little bit different as well.

So when I think about my career, I think everything that I've done in the past leads me to this point and leads me to a state of expertise that is driven from the past. Driven from my past experience, my work experience, my education, my failures, all of it, my life experience, that brings me to this point.

And so think of it like that, as opposed to "I'm turning my back on something". You're not turning your back on anything. You bring yourself wherever you go. Right? So, that belief kind of slows you down a little bit.

The other belief that slows you down is this whole idea that, "Hey, this is safe and secure and it will be safe and secure, you know, in the foreseeable future". That's not necessarily true, as we see with the world today. And so, you know, when we look at what is safe, what is safe is knowing that you can handle what comes your way.

What is safe and knowing is that you have resilience, that you can bounce back, that you can grow something because you have the fortitude, the intelligence, the personality, the passion to do it. And if you lean into that safety, as opposed to the safety of the Mount Sinai institution, that's a different game that you're playing right there, right? Yeah.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:19:37]
Yeah, that's-- it's such a brilliant way to see it. And it really is so true that it's... You have to be the one to recognize that, like you can overcome any challenge that comes your way. And I've always been the style of person to say, like, I have a high degree of determination, like, I'm determined to make things work. And--

But sometimes even with all of the knowledge I know about confidence and with all of the ways that I can really empower myself, there's always, like you said, those systems and those beliefs that are so ingrained in you, that you have to work to overcome each and every one of those things.

And I feel like I've done so much of that work in so many aspects of my life. And the most beautiful and amazing thing about life is there will always be another stone to overturn. And that can be like, some people can see that as like "well, it never ends". And I see that as like, you know, it doesn't ever end, like there's always great work to be done.

Kim Ades: [00:20:40] Well, this is the thing. And you hit the nail on the head, whatever the word-- expression is. But every time we encounter a moment of self doubt, we can look at it as the feeling of being shut down or the feeling of opportunity for growth.

Okay. Oh, I recognize it. I feel a little weird. I feel a little uncomfortable. I feel a little sense of self doubt. I can step into it and grow, or I could step down and shrink. I have an option. But once I recognize that it's an opportunity, I have a choice.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:21:16]

Kim Ades: [00:21:17]
Right? And...

Jasmine Escalera: [00:21:18]
That's beautiful.

Kim Ades: [00:21:18]
The whole idea is to have choice and make decisions. And to me, that's where you are right now. It's kind of exciting.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:21:27]
Oh, it's thrilling. I'm very... it's thrilling and there's also that, of course, that level of fear, that's like, the natural thing. And I-- you know, coming from a science background, I always tell individuals, like, you can't ever get away with-- you can't ever get away with fear. Like, fear is always going to be there. It's a biological factor. Like, there's no way of, like, overcoming fear. It just doesn't even exist.

But it's a matter of recognizing the fear and determining whether the fear is helping or hurting. And I think, like, for me, sometimes that fear does hurt me because it makes me think that I can't make that move or that I can't do that thing. And I think that's a natural reaction, but it also requires that additional level of work.

Kim Ades: [00:22:09]
Yeah, but I think you have everything you need, everything it takes to move past it. Like, I see you and I see this formidable person in front of me, so I have no fears, no worries at all for you.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:22:22]
Aw thank you!

Kim Ades: [00:22:24]
Jasmine, how do people find you if they're interested in coaching with you?

Jasmine Escalera: [00:22:28]
Yeah, so I'm very active on LinkedIn: Jasmine Escalera. I'm also on Instagram, @jasmineescaleracoaching. You can reach out to me on either of those platforms. Follow me and shoot me a DM and I'd love to chat.

Kim Ades: [00:22:41]
And I hope that you took something of value away from this conversation. For those of you who are listening and you're thinking of moving from a secure position to something that seems a little less secure, just give some thought to what is exactly security. What does that mean? And what beliefs do you have that are causing you to feel trapped and stuck and afraid to make a move forward.

For those of you who have a challenge that you want to share on the podcast, please reach out to me.

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.

And for those of you who have a challenge, but you don't want to discuss it on a podcast. Please reach out to me as well.

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.

Jasmine, thank you so much for sharing this time with me, for sharing your story. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you're going to be super successful.

Jasmine Escalera: [00:23:34]
Thank you. Thank you so much. I appreciate the time.

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