POSTED ON May 25 2011

CAREER IS IN:

Introducing

Brooke Miller

Occupation

Founder / Soapbox Therapy

Education

University of Southern California - Communications

Pacifica Graduate Institute - Master's Degree in Psychology

Brooke Miller is an emotional health expert, advice columnist and founder of Soapbox Therapy. Although she's been working as a counselor for six years, she founded Soapbox Therapy and began writing her column in 2009. She recently added the title "pop culture columnist" to her resume with her new column for The Morton Report. It's an emotionally intelligent take on celebrity gossip -- kind of "Carrie Bradshaw meets Dr. Phil," as one of her readers would say. Aside from her job, which Brooke will tell you she truly loves, she enjoys spending time with her husband/best friend, sleeping in, shopping at the Farmers Market, dancing until she sweats (especially in heels and with girlfriends) and a great facial without having any plans afterward. Read on to hear how Brooke created her dream job and her advice on how you can, too.

“Trust what got you there.”

How did you discover your current job?

I actually created my current job! I'm so unbelievably passionate about working in counseling and therapy, but there is also a writer and performer in me that I knew I needed to pay attention to. So I started a blog, which turned into an advice column, which turned into a national column ... and built from there. So now I get to work with individuals and groups in person, offer workshops and seminars, write for several publications in my own voice, and be on camera. I took everything I love and created a career out of it. I'm extremely lucky.

What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?

I received my masters and began working right away, and then I started my blog on the side a few years later. My blog got published in a newspaper in Northern California, which gave me the confidence and the green light to push forward to the next chapter. I worked extremely hard to get my column into multiple online outlets, and things just grew from there. Now my daily column is on The Morton Report, and my monthly advice column remains on several sites including Primer Men's Magazine. I'm also working on a book and participating in some exciting media projects. I planted a lot of seeds, and now I'm working hard to make sure they grow.

Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?

There wasn't one particular situation but more of a coming together of several. Getting published so quickly was a huge help, along with amazing support from my friends and family to go after my dreams. My dad once said to me, "I've never seen someone so passionate about what they do, while being so confident at the same time, fail. So, I have no doubt you'll be a success." Hearing that from my dad pretty much put me over the edge, and I was off and running.

What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?

I don't have a typical day! It seems like every day is different. Last week between Monday and Wednesday my to-do list included writing six columns, seeing 10 clients, preparing a workshop that I'll be giving next week and doing two photo shoots. I was emailing myself notes for my columns while getting my hair and make-up done!! Then on Thursday I sat at a coffee shop and read my Psychology Today along with my gossip magazines (research for my column), and Friday I had three meetings and finally spent some time with my husband! I'm working on having a more regular schedule and specific times of the week when I write, but let's be honest, that probably won't happen!

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Wow, I love every second of my job. The most rewarding part I would say, is when I get an email or a comment from someone saying they had an "ah-ha" moment when reading a column of mine, or when a client lets me know that they feel more comfortable in their own skin than they did before. The description "rewarding" doesn't even do those moments justice. It's so beyond, I can't even describe it. I've cried of joy countless times since beginning this journey.

What is the most challenging part?

The most challenging part is for sure the moments when I just don't have advice or opinions about something, and someone is asking me to have them! I guess once you set yourself up as an "expert" people assume you know everything at all times and you can just be called upon any second to make sense of someone's life. Unfortunately, that's just not the case. I can't always be "on", nor do I want to be, so negotiating that and being OK with it has been a challenge.

What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?

The biggest sacrifice was looking at my husband and saying, "I want to leave my job." I wanted to focus solely on Soapbox Therapy a few months after I launched it, which meant me making some changes in my commitments -- namely leaving my amazing job as a behavioral health counselor for a nonprofit in San Francisco. I worked with high school students every day and just wasn't able to do it all. It was a financial sacrifice and risk, but it also turned out to be more of a personal sacrifice than I had expected. I really missed my job, students and co-workers. It was an extraordinarily difficult transition and one that I would have never expected. But I know that I made the right choice, and I fully intend on going back to the high school and volunteering some of my time to be back with the kids.

What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?

"Trust what got you there," was something said to me when I was having a hard time on one of those "off" days we all have. I had writers block like you have no idea, and I was down on myself after a client wasn't in a great space. I was snowballing into questioning if I'm actually good at what I do -- it was just one of those moments. And someone said, "Trust what got you there," meaning, you might feel crappy now, but look at all the amazing things you've done. Those things didn't just appear out of thin air -- you made them happen. You're supposed to be here. It was a massive ah-ha for me. I'll never forget it. I think as entrepreneurs and as general hard workers, we tend to look ahead. It was profound to take a moment to look back. I was totally invigorated.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?

I think one of the hardest things in my particular industry of emotional health is that it's filled with caretakers and women who want nothing more than to help and support others. The issue that I've found with that is that many of them struggle with finding a balance between taking care of the world, and taking care of both themselves and their families. It's a struggle that is not unique to my industry, but I see it very often among my peers.

Who are your role models?

I've always had a hard time answering that question. I don't really have one particular role model, but I have several people in my life and otherwise who I've learned from, either from their mistakes or their successes. Sometimes when I hear the phrase "role model" I feel like it means someone who I want to be like. I've never really wanted to be like anyone. I deeply respect the way my first boss, Jane Buckingham, seems to balance career and family. I'm in awe by my father's entrepreneurial nature and amazing work ethic. And one of my close friend's creativity and ability to let loose. (She's a dancer and designer.) It continues to motivate me. I have a special and rich network of people surrounding me and modeling different aspects of the kind of woman -- both business and personal -- that I hope I am and will continue to work to be.

Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?

I have two. One is  by Marianne Williamson: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure ... We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be?" and the other is my own which is: "There is never an inappropriate time to be yourself."

What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?

My advice is this: If you choose to be in an industry with a foundation in emotional health and emotional intelligence, be not only prepared but willing to always look in the mirror at your emotional self. Be willing to face who you are at your core, minus any defenses and any layers you've put up to protect yourself throughout the years. Be willing to get to know, and fall in love with who you really are, no bells or whistles. If you're not interested in this process for yourself, helping others through it won't be as successful as you hoped. If you are in fact willing to enter into that process for yourself, this will be the most personally fulfilling and rewarding career path you could ever imagine.

What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?

My advice is this: If you choose to be in an industry with a foundation in emotional health and emotional intelligence, be not only prepared but willing to always look in the mirror at your emotional self. Be willing to face who you are at your core, minus any defenses and any layers you've put up to protect yourself throughout the years. Be willing to get to know, and fall in love with who you really are, no bells or whistles. If you're not interested in this process for yourself, helping others through it won't be as successful as you hoped. If you are in fact willing to enter into that process for yourself, this will be the most personally fulfilling and rewarding career path you could ever imagine.