They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but Scout Sobel’s book, The Emotional Entrepreneur might be the exception to the rule. Beautifully packaged and poignantly written, it is the book that female entrepreneurs trying to balance their feelings while swimming in the world of hustle culture need to read right now.
Scout Sobel is a top publicist, founder of Scout’s Agency, as well as the host of the Okay Sis and Scout podcasts. In her book, she’s your emotional and entrepreneurial BFF who shares her journey from struggling with debilitating bipolar disorder to becoming a successful entrepreneur. But this book isn’t simply a memoir; it gets very real with exercises and actionable steps you can take to become your best self both personally and professionally.
I recently sat down with Scout to talk about the book and the struggles we all go through. She was open, candid, and gracious.
Tell me about your book, The Emotional Entrepreneur.
The Emotional Entrepreneur is the emotional guidebook to entrepreneurship. It fuses my experience living with bipolar disorder with my experience starting Scout’s Agency.
When I started my agency, I had to get my mental health game even stronger. After living with bipolar disorder for so many years, there was still work to be done so that I could feel safe in my emotions as I built my business. I recognized that the women around me weren’t getting into the game— not because of resources, education, experience, or finances, but because of imposter syndrome, fear, and anxiety.
The book has 25 lessons. Each is an emotional lesson that will help you run your own business.
One of my favorite things about the book is that it is part memoir, part actionable tips. Why did you decide to format it like this?
When I was younger, I could never write about something that wasn’t real. I could only write nonfiction. Now, I infuse my writing style with creative writing sensibilities. And so when I wrote this book, I wanted it to have the air of a Glennon Doyle with beautiful writing, talking about experiences, bringing you into a story, etc.[However] I remember very vividly when I was going through my mental health healing, I did some 12 step rooms, support groups [such as] Depression Anonymous, etc. Then I would go to NAMI support groups (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and they would just sit and talk about their feelings. And I thought, what’s the thing we’re going to go home and work on? What’s the takeaway?
Healing is so important, and expressing your life in a poetic way is important—but the action item is what moves you.
In the book, you write about stopping medication to treat bipolar disorder. Do you think that that scares people or makes people cautious about working with you? How do you manage that?
The limiting belief, which I talked about in the book, is that no one’s going to want to work with me if they find out that I was a bipolar college dropout, and that I spent time at the hospital, couldn’t hold a job, was nonfunctioning, etc. I have never had one person not sign with me because of that, or have a negative reaction.
If it comes up, I have no problem saying it on a sales call at this point. Every time I said “I’m bipolar,” it humanized me. Sometimes we think parts of ourselves are something to be ashamed of, or put away in a closet, or not talked about in a professional setting. If you come out and be who you are, in an authentic, loving way, if you have the work ethic, drive, integrity—those things are actually assets. I think that you can be who you are, and the people you work with will be attracted to that.
What are some of the tools you use to manage things when you aren’t on medication?
Routine, structure, and discipline are very important for me. Every single morning I don’t look at my phone for an hour to two hours. The first thing I do is journal for 20 to 30 minutes— just a stream of conscious journaling, no prompts. I just write whatever comes to mind with no judgments.
I do daily meditation. I try to get in some daily movement.
I am very mindful of the content that I consume. I’ll put on a podcast in the morning before I check my phone. I always make sure that it’s aligned with setting my day up. Is it going to spiritually center me or inspire me in business?
I get outside as much as I can. I eat healthily. I love wine, but I am responsible for the quantity and frequency that I’m drinking, because that can definitely increase your anxiety. I have a non-negotiable eight and a half hours of sleep every single night.
It’s also monitoring the way I talk to myself. So when I hear something that’s negative in my mind, I pause. Where did that come from? And how can I replace it with a thought that feels more true and loving in myself?
You explore negative self-talk quite a bit in your book. Everyone I know (myself included) has issues with this. How do you deal with it?
For me, every time I catch a thought that doesn’t feel good, I know something’s off-balance with me. So when there’s negative self-talk happening in my mind, I stop and say, “We’re in murky waters today.”
And it’s pretty rare. So it’s catching little thoughts or it’s making sure I talk to my body in a loving way. I can feel uncomfortable in my body, but I’m making sure that I talk to her in a really beautiful way.
How do you manage being in your feelings and doing all the things you need to do to successfully run a company at the same time? How do you achieve that balance?
I love producing and executing. There’s a part of me that loves action items. Running my own business allows me the flexibility to tackle those action items, but on my terms. If my emotions are too heightened, I can take a break, pull back or reschedule something. It also allows me to schedule my days, according to my energy levels and mental health.
But there’s a difference between “I have anxiety” and giving in to your anxiety. Life is showing up even when you don’t want to. Life is unconditionally being connected to your mission, even when you don’t feel like doing it. Is there a part of that where you need to make some judgment calls based on your mental health? Absolutely. But 95 percent of the time, you have to show up [even] if you’re not feeling creative, inspired, awake, your best, whatever it is.