How Highly Sensitive Entrepreneurs Do it Differently With Heather DominickOct 27, 2022
Some people are just wired differently from others. Many are much more sensitive and intuitive than the norm. These highly sensitive people have at least as much potential for entrepreneurship as everyone else, but their talent is often overshadowed by the fact that much of the world just isn’t designed for them. How can highly sensitive people step out of the shadow of their gift and really shine in the world of entrepreneurship? Heather Dominick, the founder of Business Miracles, explains the answer beautifully in this conversation with Lisa Pezik. A highly sensitive entrepreneur in her own right, Heather knows how to recognize signs of a highly sensitive and intuitive person and help them use their unique attributes to achieve success. Join in and learn to overcome fears and develop leadership skills to excel in business and life by doing things differently.
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How Highly Sensitive Entrepreneurs Do it Differently With Heather Dominick
I’m so excited to talk about something that you might be and you don’t even know or something that you have been in contact with someone who has this superpower and has this trait. We are going to pick it apart and talk about it. What does it mean to be a highly sensitive entrepreneur? I have with me, Heather Dominick. Welcome and thanks for being here.
Thank you. I am so looking forward to this conversation, Lisa.
When this came into my inbox, I thought, “Yes.” We need to shed light on this. We need to talk about this. We need to support whatever kind of entrepreneur you are, own that and do things differently. I know that’s exactly what you help people do. You are the creator of BusinessMiracles.com, where you help highly sensitive entrepreneurs and leaders have more impact, more income and have been doing things differently since 2010. Are you a highly sensitive entrepreneur? Is that where this came from?
Absolutely, yeah. I don’t think anyone who is not highly sensitive would have any business supporting mentoring, anything else with others who are highly sensitive. Real short scoop as much as possible, I started my self-employed career in 2003. At that time, I knew absolutely nothing about business. I didn’t know anything about internet marketing. I came from being a high school drama and English teacher. I was super naive and ignorant and all of that perhaps worked in my favor or not depending on the day but what I can say is I hustled my tail to build my business. I got to a point where I had reached this financial success. I brought my business across the seven-figure mark for the first time and would love to say that balloons fell from the sky and confetti just rained down but it was the exact opposite experience.
I was massively over-exhausted, overworked and overwhelmed. I was questioning everything that I was doing. I was thinking to myself, “I don’t know. If this is what it means to be successful in business, then I’m not sure that this is what I want to do. If I’m not doing this then what am I doing?” I don’t necessarily want to be going back to the traditional teaching classroom. I went into like a dark night of the soul and went into a deep space of inquiry.
Through that process, I was brought to a woman whose name is Dr. Elaine Aron. She is a Psychologist and one of the founding researchers on what it means to be a highly sensitive person. I had never heard that phrase before at that time. The more that I worked with her and I dove deep into what that meant, I suddenly started having massive light bulb moments and everything started making sense. I was like, “This is why everything is feeling so incredibly difficult for me.”
I started re-engineering everything that I was doing and began to understand I can be in business, for example, but I have to really go about it differently than the way that it’s traditionally taught, especially the way that trainings and teachings were happening at that time, which was about 2009 or 2010. That was the beginning and then from there, it’s just built into a massive, global movement. I have developed a massive, great body of my own work to serve those of us who are highly sensitive so that we can be successful as entrepreneurs or leaders in our fields or even in our families if that’s what we choose.
Intuition is one of the primary strengths of highly sensitive people.
I love that you talk about those light bulb moments that made it all make sense. “Why is it like this? Why do I feel like this? What is happening?” Can you share what was the most impactful light bulb moment or what were some of those?
There are so many in many areas but I think probably two really stand out. One was about how I went about organizing my time and my day. Everything that I had learned in terms of traditional structure or what you need to do as an entrepreneur, I tossed that out the window. I was like, “What do I need so that my nervous system is in optimal space to be able to create and produce?” What came out of that was very different than again traditional teachings and trainings.
The other is with selling and selling conversations. I reconfigured how I was going about that process and that was something that I had already started before understanding that I was highly sensitive. I think it was just naturally intuitive. Once I understood that I was highly sensitive, I realized that intuition is one of our primary strengths. I had done that but I had doubted myself because what I was doing was so different than again what was being taught. Understanding that I was highly sensitive helped me to claim how it was that I was going about selling and then be able to turn around and teach it to others who are highly sensitive as well. Those two areas, I would say two big pillars of change for sure.
I don’t know if it’s the same but I get that a lot where people will say, “You are so extroverted and you love being around people.” I’m like, “I do but then after it’s done, I need to have quiet time. I need to go inward.” I love being around people but I can’t go call after call, training after training. I do take on. I have had to learn how to not take on other people’s energies and emotions. Is that what you mean by organizing your time and your day to give you space? Dive a little bit more into that for me.
That’s a part of it. I think this is probably a good place to give a real snippet about what it means to be highly sensitive. A real quick synopsis is, first of all, it’s how you are brought into the world. It’s how your nervous system is biologically and neurologically wired. I always like to say, “Your parents didn’t do it to you, you didn’t pick it up on the playground and it’s not because of that weird purple drink that you had in college. You are born into the world highly sensitive.” What that means is your nervous system takes in stimulation at a much higher degree than someone who’s not highly sensitive.
Now, when you are untrained as a highly sensitive, that is going to feel like a real burden to you. It’s going to feel even like a weakness, a detriment, or perhaps even a flaw. If you are untrained and you don’t even understand what’s happening, you will feel almost like a freak. Why do I have such difficulty with something that seems like everybody else handles no problem? Once you start to learn how to train your nervous system to work for you, then it does become an asset or you used the word superpower earlier. I would agree with that.
With that in mind then back to time and how you set up your schedule, it looks different for every highly sensitive. There’s for sure isn’t one golden rule book for time but what it’s about is learning about your circadian rhythm when you are most productive and where a higher level of energy might be required from you and then what you do need in order to be able to replenish. That is some of what I heard you speaking about.
I can relate to what you shared. When I started my first coaching business, I had those back-to-back calls. I would just be on the phone for an entire day. Now, I understand more about what I need so that my schedule is paced. That can look very much different from day-to-day and also week-to-week. If I have something that is a larger project, I understand I can’t follow it up with an immediately another larger project. You start working with components of scheduling in a very different perspective than probably anything that you were ever taught in school or any business trainings. I’m pretty sure they are not teaching this in MBA programs either.
Do you communicate that to your assistant? If you are not in charge of your schedule, do you bring that up in conversations to say, “I’m highly sensitive or I need some time to breathe or this is going to be a heavy meeting for me? I can’t have anything else this afternoon before after that.” Do you use that language or how do you frame those conversations when you want to share that?
For me, my team completely understands because this is what we do. They know that I’m highly sensitive and they know all of the tools and the teachings. Even those on the team who are highly sensitive, get it. Our culture is a little bit of an enigma and very unique in that way but I have also built that and I have created that. We also teach what we refer to as difficult conversations and how to have difficult conversations as a highly sensitive entrepreneur, as a highly sensitive leader, whether that be with team, staff and family. That will look slightly different for each person, depending on what relationship dynamic the difficult conversation is taking place in. For someone, it might make sense to say like, “This is what I need and this is because I’m highly sensitive.” In other areas, spaces and dynamics, that won’t be helpful. That would work against you.
That’s where, in the training program, we will work with you to help you get clear about what language will be most effective. The common thread is to begin to first understand and even more so deeply know what it is that you need. You can be most effective in terms of your level of operation and then how to most effectively communicate that. I love that you brought this up because when a highly sensitive is untrained, what just automatically happens is we subjugate. One of the best pieces of research that came out of Dr. Elaine Aron’s work is that you were born into the world highly sensitive but there are only 20% of us who are born into the world highly sensitive. That’s the research.
I always like to say that the world is designed for the other 80%. Pretty much unconsciously, somewhere along the line, as a highly sensitive probably in school, maybe in your family, you picked up, "I’m different." You then picked up and made the meaning, “This is wrong because I’m the smaller percent, there must be something wrong with me. I have to change myself to fit in with everyone else.” It then starts to become this automatic habit and pattern that is practically unconscious because it’s ingrained from many ways of it being repeated in various areas and places throughout a highly sensitive life. That understanding of what you need and then the ability to communicate it is key and absolutely a massive success component for being an entrepreneur or a leader in any arena.
I think about some of the deepest conversations of friends, peers or colleagues have shared with me in the more kind of space but I’m told I’m too sensitive, I need to toughen up and I take things too seriously. I don’t know how to take a joke. I’m like, “No. Highly sensitive or not, what the person said to you was wrong.” Time out. It’s not you. Let’s look at this person and what they said to you. I love that you brought that up to about owning and acknowledging that but not taking that on what you are doing is wrong or maybe different because you are in that 20% but it’s not wrong. I love how you keep using the word you are untrained. It doesn’t mean you are dumb. It doesn’t mean you don’t know. It makes me think about my seven-year-old when he first learned to ride a bike. There’s a reason why there were training wheels and he could learn. I didn’t just say, “Oliver, go jump on your bike and we will see you at the end of the block.” I love how you are using the word untrained.
It’s so true. It’s just not traditionally taught. I love that you brought up the corporate culture because that’s its own sphere. Hopefully, the pandemic will support a massive culture change across the board when it comes to corporate. What it honestly makes me think of is that same mentality I will say was very much present when I was first starting my business. A lot of the coaching industry, a lot of internet marketing industry, sadly shows a lack of innovation and creativity. A lot of the people who were “on the stages” at the time just came from corporate.
Much of the message was like, “If you want to be successful in business, stop being so sensitive and you have to be tough.” At the conferences, everyone would be yelling and screaming and that was what put me over the edge. It had me questioning, “Am I supposed to do this?” I share all of that because it was such a revelation and so important for me to be like, “That’s not what is needed to be successful in business. That’s just one way and one culture. That’s in a box, even though the language of out of the box was being used all over the place.” That’s the work that I do with everyone that I mentor. You can create it and you can create it in a way that works for you. We are going to need to go about it a little bit differently and your willingness in order to be able to do that.
Only 20% of us are born into the world highly sensitive. The problem is that the world is designed for the other 80%.
Even with me with sales conversations, I might say, “Here are some ideas or here’s a script to get you started if you are truly stuck but you need to take those words and make them your own.” This is the way I would say it but if that is not comfortable and make sense and authentic to you, then you need to change it. Take the concept but make it yours. That’s what I was thinking when you were saying about, “You got to do it this way.” No.
Sales, you talked about the selling conversation. That is a huge thing. There are even in my neck of the woods, it’s pain point marketing. I’m like, “No.” What is that like for a highly sensitive entrepreneur who was being told that pain point marketing is to get them? I actually had a trainer who once said, “You can’t just tell them. It has got to be like a punch in the face.” I’m like, “What?” Everyone in the group coaching program is like, “It has got to be like,” and I’m going, “No. I don’t want to punch anyone in the face.”
If you did live through it, you would be like, “That’s not real.” That’s like a Coen Brothers movie.
I did not make this up. I swear to goodness that it has got to be like a punch in the face. Who would ever do business with someone that punched them in the face?
There are so much wrong with that.
I’m glad I found a fellow person that can laugh at that and see. I’m sure readers, you can as well. It makes me think of that person on the stage that you said it’s like, “You’ve got to do it this way. You’ve got to punch him in the face.” No. What are sales conversations like for someone who’s highly sensitive?
I started to intuitively go about sales differently even before understanding that I was highly sensitive and that’s because I was terrible at it. I wanted to succeed because I knew that I was good at what I did. I knew that I was an excellent coach but I was like, “I’ve got to figure this out and everything I was learning, the punch in the face approach was not working for me.” That approach that you just described would shut down a highly sensitive and your nervous system is wired to take in stimulation at a higher degree. There’s a great sense of empathy. That is one of the twelve top highly sensitive strengths that I have identified. The flip side of that, back to being untrained, is when you shift from empathy as a strength into empathy as a shadow, which becomes a lot of analysis paralysis, a lot of over-responsibility. Meaning that because you can feel what someone else is feeling, you think or believe that you are responsible for that. All of that gets in the way of a selling conversation when especially you take the punch in the face approach.
When you shift the selling conversation to come from the strength perspective, the strengths that we have as highly sensitives and just some of those top twelve that are helpful in a selling conversation is that empathy, absolutely is our strength of intuition, being deep listeners, thinkers, feelers and then allowing the conversation to slow down. Where in traditional sales, it is the punch in the face and get him to say, “Yes,” out of typically fear and some kind of scarcity approach. Instead, slow down the conversation, bring it into one-on-one relating, which again we are very good at as highly sensitives and to apply just the process that a person naturally psychologically goes through when making a decision. When you understand that, let’s break down the process of decision-making and now let me as the entrepreneur be the guide and help the person through the decision-making process and for both of us to decide if the work that I do going to make sense for you.
Typically, the entrepreneurs that I and people who are called to be entrepreneurs who are also highly sensitive tend to be in service-based businesses. That makes sense because it just plays to all of our strengths. When I first started my work serving other highly sensitives, it was primarily coaches, healers and creatives but it has expanded since then massively. For example, we have people who are in insurance. We have highly sensitive entrepreneurs who are in real estate or representing products or even sciences. Yet it still all comes down to being able to have that one-on-one relatable conversation. Also, another shift that I made after understanding I was highly sensitive, was to naturally break the selling conversation into a two-part conversation to remove that element of pressure that traditional sales tell you that you have to have. As long as you are following a process that is aligned with what does a person needs to do when they are making a decision, then actually having that space work for you rather than against you.
You still want to keep it within a reasonable timeframe. We are not talking like conversation one in a year and then a conversation two next year. It’s a close container but still just some space. We don’t have to be in that high pressure and again, the sense of scarcity, what happens then? One is that the highly sensitive entrepreneurs I mentor suddenly can have success selling conversations and they are able to finally do the work that they came here to do.
That’s the most beautiful part because that’s where the suffering and struggle come in as I had experienced like, “I know I’m good at this. I know I’m here to help people. How am I able to do that?" One of the most valuable pieces of feedback I get about the selling conversation all the time is that it feels like a spiritual experience. Not just for the highly sensitive entrepreneur but the highly sensitive entrepreneurs I mentor, they get that feedback from their prospects. To me, I think, “Awesome.” That’s a new way of doing business and to me, it’s healthier than punch you in the face.
It’s a great way to start a relationship together when you work with someone. What was coming up for me while you were talking was as simple as I see you as a human being. All those, I’ve experienced that when I was first hiring the punch you in the face mentors and people. That taught me a lot and I would get on calls with programs, mentors or things that I was going to join and it’s like, “You are not serious about your business if you don’t say yes now and you are not fully committed.” In my brain, I’m like, “No, you are just a dick. I am serious about my business. I’m 100% committed. You are a dick. No, thank you.” I have seen people say, “All the decision-makers be on this call because if you and your husband need to talk finances, will he be here?” I’m like, “If you are pitching me a $30,000 mastermind or program and you can’t give me a moment to go discuss with my husband, that isn’t going to work for me.”
It’s irresponsible truly, in my opinion.
We have to see people as human beings.
There’s nothing wrong with that and we can all succeed just the same. I’m definitely with you. I remember a conversation also with a mastermind I was going to join and the person on the other end was like, “I shouldn’t have to sell you.” I was like, “I’m not asking you to sell me. I’m just asking you to talk to me. I’m going to be spending a lot of time with you. Don’t we want to know if this is like a date that should go beyond this first one?"
Use your interconnected world as a tool instead of a metric of your self-worth.
I can imagine that your highly sensitive entrepreneurs probably get great referrals and continuity when they are starting the business off on that footing of I see you, I’m here for you, I’m deeply listening, I’m empathetic. Just that place of understanding.
You are spot on because with so many highly sensitives and especially in the entrepreneurial field that I mentor, it boxes again a lot of the traditional marketing and sales training, where a lot of the marketing is about cast a wide net in as many people as possible. As highly sensitives, we are so good at intimate relationships. There are a lot of retraining that has to go on, which is like, “You can have whatever version of a successful business that you want without having to do all of the big flashy, massive launches or this, that or the other with social media.” You don’t necessarily have to do all that. If you want to and you love it, and that makes you so happy, great. You can do that but you don’t have to in order to have the successful business that you want.
I know one woman who makes an eight-figure business and you literally can’t find her online. I have no website. I have no social media. I am a referral only. I’m just in the right rooms with the right people that I choose. Is there anything that we missed for highly sensitive people that are reading? I know you’ve got something for them at the end that we will talk about if they are going, “I don’t know if I’m highly sensitive or not.” Is there any roadblock we need to get them around or any footing or foot hole that they are going to fall in that we need to tell them to do something different if they are reading and need some more advice?
We have been touching on it and maybe dancing around it a little bit. To go in more directly in regards to that aspect of comparison, I find that that takes a lot of highly sensitives out and not just within the business realm but within personal relationships and life as well, especially in this day and age that we are living in where everything is public and available. There are so much that’s happening online, especially over 2020 that we were grateful for. It is about how you use our interconnected world as a tool versus a metric of your self-value or your self-worth.
As I have mentioned throughout our conversation so far, most of the highly sensitives who have come to me, even if they understand that they are highly sensitive, they haven’t necessarily gone through any type of in-depth training the way that we do in our programs. There tends to be this lingering aspect of comparison, always looking to the outside, seeing what others are doing and using that as a measure. I understand this is not limited to highly sensitives. Of course, this is a massive aspect of a cultural challenge we are all experiencing right now.
The key to being highly sensitive is that we are only 20% of the population. What that then means when you take it into cultural comparison is that if you are looking through that comparison lens, you are always going to fall up short and come short. It is about deciding for yourself to go through the process, to learn about who you are, to know who you are to begin the process of accepting and claiming who you are as a gift. How you can use your highly sensitive self as a strength and then to untangled from that habitual aspect of comparison and be willing to be more like that eight-figure business owner that you described which is, “I’m solid. I’m clear. I’m confident in who I am, how I’m going about things. This is what feels good to me and it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing.”
Briefly along those lines of teaching that I share in our training programs is what I refer to as the good enough business. That is the process of deciding like, “What is my version of a good enough business?” For one highly sensitive entrepreneur, it might be three clients like, “I’m good. I’m solid. It takes me where I need to go. It provides me with what I need. I’m awesome.” For someone else, it might be 30. For someone, it might be like, “I work five days a week.” For someone else, it might be, “I work three.” It looks and feels different for everyone. To be willing to just be on that journey and primarily for the reasons because you are going to be so much happier and then as a result, you are going to be of so much more service.
You think about it and you can say like, “That does make sense.” If I feel good about who I am and what I’m doing then, of course, every life that I touch, that’s going to be positive. If I’m constantly questioning myself, constantly comparing myself, feeling like I’m less, then it’s not going to matter how many clients you have because all that energy is going to go into the work. That’s the last little bit that I would add just as an invitation for anyone reading. If you find yourself in that spot, you can again go about it differently.
That’s a question we ask on one of our pre-call or pre-working together questionnaires. “How do you define success? What does success look like to you?” At the end of our time, when we complete what we set out to do, how do you want it to feel? How do you want it to look? We want to know that from the beginning. Do you want 50 clients in XML or do you want two clients because of everybody’s view of what makes them feel good? I love that good enough business. I love that term. You get to define that.
I have to give credit because it’s not mine. The good-enough business part is mine but it comes from Educational Psychology, which is a lot of my background. There’s a Psychologist Piaget, who talks about the good enough mother. A few years ago I read an article in the New York Times, it was using that phrase in terms of good enough life. This was before the pandemic. I went back and I looked at all my research and notes around Piaget and just adapted that and applied that to what it means to have a good enough business.
I love that your work is research-based. It’s your own life lesson being a highly sensitive entrepreneur. Your team has highly sensitive people. Right as you opened where you said I think that’s so important that you have that frame of reference when you are helping people through that. You’ve got a quiz.
It’s more of an assessment and it’s called a quiz just because that’s an easier URL. The URL is HSEQuiz.com but I know that highly sensitives, they say quiz and it’s immediately like, “Tests.” It’s not a test. It’s just an assessment. It’s based on Dr. Aron’s work as well as with my additions for the entrepreneur. As you go through the assessment, what you will discover is either if you are a somewhat highly sensitive entrepreneur, if you are a super highly sensitive entrepreneur or if you are like me and you are a super uber highly sensitive entrepreneur. Depending on where you fall, somewhat super or super uber, you will then receive a success guide that helps walk you through the first steps to begin to work with yourself as a somewhat super or super uber highly sensitive entrepreneur, so you can begin to go about things differently, happier and more successful.
That may be the missing link for some people, it’s that awareness. I love that you came on. Thank you so much for sharing generously your knowledge, your expertise. If things are just not where you want them to be, I always say it never hurts to do something different.
Someone you know or someone on your team because that will make a difference, too.
Heather, thank you so much for being here with me.
Thank you so much. I love the work that you are doing. Your community is so lucky.
Thank you. Readers, thank you for being here. I value your time. Come back to this if you need to. You have it as a resource. We will see you next time on the show.
- Dr. Elaine Aron
About Heather Dominick
Heather Dominick is a woman who is impressively successful, and highly sensitive. A former high school drama teacher who collaborated with none other than Bette Midler. A graduate of NYU where she received her first coach training. Heather is the winner of 2015 Best of Manhattan Coaching Award and creator of the 2014 Stevie Award-winning virtual event A Course In Business Miracles®️: 21-Day Discovery Series that attracted close to 6,000 official registrants from all around the world including: Iceland, Nigeria, Russia, Asia, South America, Australia, Europe and the U.S.
She has appeared on Lifetime Television and has been published in numerous books including Stepping Stones to Success alongside Deepak Chopra.
An exceptional facilitator and teacher Heather is known for creating a safe, sacred environment for true transformation whether delivering training online or in person. Since 2010, Heather has taught thousands of Highly Sensitive Entrepreneurs and Leaders from around the globe how to release life-long limiting beliefs , overcome fears and develop new leadership skills in order to excel in business and life by doing things differently.
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Written by Lisa Pezik