Bonus: Running Your Business in a Crisis

We will all experience crises and loss at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a terrorist attack, a health crisis, the loss of a person, a relationship, or a business, I’m creating today’s bonus episode as a resource you can refer back to any time you need some advice on running your business in a crisis.

As I record this episode, Israel is in crisis. 1400 Israelis have become fatal victims of terrorism at the hands of Hamas and over 3000 people are currently wounded in hospital. It is a massacre of epic proportions that the Jewish world hasn’t experienced since Nazi Germany, and a time of emergency calls for an emergency episode.

Tune in this week to hear my advice for running your business in a crisis. I’m discussing a simple belief that has helped me during this difficult time, the three stages of trauma you need to negotiate as you move through any type of crisis, and I’m sharing my advice for showing up for your business in a crisis, if you feel compelled to and can manage to do so.

If you want to achieve any goal you set for yourself in your business, you need to join Wired for Wealth. Click here for regular coaching to shift your thoughts, your feelings, and the actions you take in pursuit of your business goals.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • 3 stages of trauma you need to be aware of during a crisis.
  • One belief that makes it easier to run your business during a crisis.
  • My personal experience of running my business in a crisis.
  • Some advice for focusing on your business where possible and taking a break when necessary.
  • My practical tips for showing up for your business, yourself, and your clients in a crisis.


Read the full transcript now

You’re listening to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast with Debbie Sassen Special Bonus Episode: Running Your Business in a Crisis.

Welcome to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast. I’m your host, Debbie Sassen. I went from being a financial adviser, author and chronic underearner to building my business to six figures as a financial planner and money mindset coach. And then, on to multiple six figures as a full-time money and business coach.

I help entrepreneurs create money making businesses and build wealth, using sales and money mindset strategies in alignment with authentic Jewish values. Now, let’s dive in to today’s show.

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the podcast. Today, as I’m recording this podcast, is the 16th of October 2023. Ten days ago, on the 7th of October, Israel was brutally attacked. There was a massacre of epic proportions from the Hamas terrorist organization.

As of recording, 1,400 of Israeli citizens… Some of those were not citizens, some of them were also soldiers. Many of them were also dual citizens of both Israel and other countries. But our loss of life is 1,400 people. We have had over 6,000 missiles sent into Israel, primarily from Gaza, from Hamas, but also now from Hezbollah in the north. There are over 3,000 people in the hospitals wounded.

It is, as I said, a massacre of epic proportions that the Jewish world has not experienced since Nazi Germany, since the Holocaust. I wanted to record a special bonus episode. I mean, it should be an emergency episode or something like that, bonus seems like something extra that you get. I guess, as a podcast it is extra. But I want this to be a useful podcast episode that somebody can come back to when he or she is running a business in any crisis situation.

Today, it is a terror attack, but most of us will experience loss at some point in our life. Loss of a parent, a loss of a loved one, a child, a partner. We do experience loss, and that can shut us down. It can be the loss of a marriage, the loss of a business, there can be so many different types of loss that we experience in our lives.

I will also make some connections between health crises. It is now 21 years since my husband was diagnosed with cancer. There was a similar crisis response that I experienced back in the day. So, I’m hopeful that going forward people will be able to refer to this episode when they are experiencing a crisis and also want to continue running their business.

The first thing that I would like to point out is my belief that my business is always working for me. I was supposed to actually drop Episode #100 of my podcast last week. I didn’t even record a podcast episode last week. I didn’t send an email to my email list.

But because I have been in my business for many years, I do continue to entertain that belief, that my business is always working. Somebody might be now listening to Episode 12 or 13 of my podcast. They might be finding something that I wrote on social media that resonates with them.

Or they might have an email in their inbox that they’re just now getting to, it is resonating with them, and they, all of a sudden, have the inspiration to reach out, or they get a referral.

If you’re believing that your business is always working, when a crisis of any type lands on your doorstep, then you won’t feel like ‘oh my gosh, I also have to show up in my business.’

I know some of us were not even thinking that way, but there are going to be times when you start thinking, “Okay, this is enough already. I haven’t shown up in my business for a week. What do I do? How do I get back into it? I want to run a business. I’m supposed to be doing X, Y and Z.”

So, if you can just remember that whatever you have already created, any foundations that you’ve already put in place, people that you’ve networked with, they’re always working for you. You can really work on thinking that thought over and over again. That’s number one.

Really, I want to now take you through my personal experience, pointing out that it is my personal experience, everybody’s personal experience is good; it is their experience. Not good in like, a good way, but you get to own the experience that you are having in the moment.

Are the ways to make it a little bit less severe, less acute? Yeah, maybe, probably. We don’t want to judge ourself. So, the first thing I want to share with you before I share with you my personal experience, is the three different stages of trauma.

Whether it is a terrorist attack, it could be a car accident, I didn’t mention that before. Again, that could leave you very hurt, injured. It can again be the loss of a parent, the loss of a baby, whatever it is, or a medical diagnosis, we will go through stages.

The first stage is the acute stage. You have probably heard of fight-flight-freeze-appease, the four different types of trauma responses or stress responses. In that initial acute phase it is very normal to be experiencing whatever you experience. You might actually have fight and flight at the same time.

You might be frozen, right? That freeze response ‘I can’t do anything.’ You’re glued to the news, glued to social media, trying to get some information. Fawning, appeasing, people pleasing, they’re all terms for a similar type of response, where you’re saying yes, you’re just wanting to appease somebody that’s higher up so that you create safety for yourself.

I felt it, not because I felt physically in danger. Where I live in Israel, it tends to be quiet. I mean, there are no guarantees, especially when you’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re only 28 miles from the border with Gaza. But still, our community historically has been quiet.

So, I wasn’t fearing for the safety of me personally. I wasn’t fearing for the safety of my family personally. But the sadness, the unbelievability, just the reaction of ‘oh, my gosh, Israel, my country, my people are under attack,’ that triggered a trauma response.

It’s possible that it was connected only with what’s happening in the present. It’s also very possible that my response was triggered by inherited generational trauma because of what the Jewish people have experienced for millennia.

Most recently in the Holocaust, when we lost 6 million of our precious Jewish brothers and sisters. And, because my grandfather was arrested on Kristallnacht in November 1938, that’s nearly 85 years ago today as I record this podcast.

And, because that is part of my father’s lived experience, I definitely believe it lives in my body, my nervous system. It’s possible that whatever I was experiencing then, and continue to experience now, was triggered by the Holocaust, and even possibly by trauma responses from previous generation.

So, whatever you are experiencing, whatever you noticing, however you are showing up or not showing up, I want you to know that it’s all normal. We cannot judge ourselves for how we are feeling, how we are acting.

Even if you’re snapping at your kids, your partner, you can’t write emails, you can’t read emails. I mean, I have emails piling up in my inbox. I’ve started to deal with those a little bit. I could focus on sessions with my clients because I was able to block out what was happening outside of me. But most of the other business activities didn’t happen because I was in stage one, having an acute trauma response.

The second stage of a trauma response is moving into stabilization. Where that initial intense reaction, again, fight, flight, freeze, or appease, where that starts to calm, and we start becoming more stable, more grounded, we’re just feeling more wellbeing in our body. Maybe you’re feeling some frenetic energy.

I know that at one point last week my arms just started shaking as my body was processing what it was experiencing and reading on the news, and I was able to calm myself down through my nervous system healing tools.

But we move from acute to stable, and this can go back and forth, by the way. Again, you could have some triggers that all of a sudden send you back into your trauma response. But that stabilization phase is what we call getting back to normal.

As if the Jewish world is going to get back to normal so quickly. But we know, looking at our 4,000 years of history, that we have had our ups and downs through the millennia, through the generations, and we do get back to whatever we call “normal.” We rebuild ourselves and we thrive.

You can then go back and forth. You can have a couple of good days working in your business. You can have a couple of good hours working in your business. And then you’ll find yourself breaking down in tears, breaking down and crying. Before you kind of go on a regular daily, weekly, monthly routine, again, that stabilization phase, you might be bouncing back and forth between acute and stabilization.

I did notice that there were pockets of time during the first week where I was able to work, I was able to focus. Specifically, when I was working with my clients, where I could block out the world and put my eyes and ears on somebody else. But I had very little capacity to work in my own business.

Now, I’m going to bring this back to when my husband was diagnosed with cancer 21 years ago. So, we were in that initial acute trauma phase, where we just did the things that we had to do. Anything outside of his medical diagnosis and taking care of our kids at the time, just completely fell off of our to-do list.

I took him to the hospital, got the surgery he needed, got the chemo he needed, got him in the hospital, and driving back and forth. Home life, hospital life, go to work, come home, and do it all again. There were little pockets of stabilization when I could focus on my work, at the Bank of Israel at that time. But mostly, they were few and far between.

I had a deadline, because it was the fall and I was always writing part of the annual report on the developments in the foreign currency markets and what was happening economically around the world. I found it very difficult to concentrate, as I remember. I managed somehow to get it done because I could take pockets of time and focus. But anything else outside of what had to be done, I remember being totally incapable of doing.

Ultimately, when my husband finished chemo, we got back to the stabilization phase, went back to life. But it was actually a crazy time. My father had a medical issue happen at the time. My husband’s grandmother had a medical issue. This was all month after month. I think in January was my dad. Then, in February, it was my husband’s grandmother. In March, my husband’s mother unexpectedly passed away.

So, we had six months of just going boom-boom-boom, where we were constantly in that fight-flight-freeze response. We didn’t have too much appease; maybe the way I dealt with my employers or something like that. But we were just keeping our heads barely above water. Ultimately, we got into the stabilization phase.

However long it takes you to get into stabilization, because you’re stuck in that trauma response, I really want you to normalize that what you’re experiencing is okay.

Having said that, there are tools and there are practitioners that can help you. Whether it is breathing, or tapping, or just slowing down and dropping into your body and noticing, it is very difficult when you are having a trauma response to do these things by yourself unless you are experienced. But even as a practitioner, a tapping practitioner, and a nervous system deep-dive coach, I wasn’t really able to do my own work.

Thankfully, I do have a life coach, and she supported me. She’s a life coach who specializes in trauma and nervous system healing. I had a session with her last week, a session with her this week, and I’m going to be having a tapping session with someone this week.

So, getting the support that you need, and not making yourself wrong for needing it. Right? I have scheduled extra sessions for me to take care of myself. That is really important for you.

I know that some of my listeners might not even have the resources, the finances to do it, so sometimes you get people that need to do free sessions, or low cost sessions, because they are finishing their certification and they need to reach out. Or people who just want to help.

I know there were a tremendous number of people who reached out to me, they were willing to be there for me and offer free sessions, and I took what I felt that I needed at the time. I mean, I don’t want to spread myself too thin and have to tell my story to too many people. So, I picked and chose the people that I felt I needed to work with at that time.

You can also find in your community, by reaching out to other people, those people who can support you. Maybe it’s just watching a YouTube video of someone, or listening to somebody else’s recording. But getting help is so important.

It would have been so beneficial 21 years ago, when my husband was fighting cancer, if I had had someone who could have helped me to process the emotions that were stuck in my body. I didn’t know that healing work and nervous system work even existed. I know that even hypnotherapy and other modalities, and tapping, for sure have existed for a long time, but it wasn’t on my radar.

So, consider yourselves very lucky that in 2023, when I’m recording this… I mean, I remember that when I was in the hospital once with my husband, there was a social worker who came around the hospital. She said she was there to support me, but she didn’t help me emotionally.

She just told me what papers I needed to file with national services, so that I could get a stipend if we didn’t meet the income requirements. We met the income requirements. I think I filled out all the paperwork, we stood in line, and we ended up getting nothing. But God did send us some little angels.

I can actually visualize in my mind right now, going to our national insurance offices here in my neighborhood, and there was a long line of people. There were people waiting in the stairwells, and somehow, we walked up the stairwell past this line of people, and the security guard was someone that we knew from our neighborhood.

And so, he escorted us in and we just skipped the whole line. Then, when we went to sit down with the national insurance agent, it happened to have been someone who had been a temporary worker at my husband’s company.

So, we really jumped the entire line, we sat with her, and then she told us that we didn’t meet the income requirements. But it’s just also wonderful to notice when God is sending you his little angels. So, that was beautiful. We didn’t get the help, and nobody suggested that there were nervous system, mind/body healing tools that we could use to help us move past trauma responses.

Alright, the third stage after stabilization and life gets back to “normal,” is that there will be sometimes triggers, flashbacks, and other processing that needs to happen. If you live in Israel, there is an air raid siren, that you are all too familiar with, that happens when rockets are being launched from our southern borders or from our northern borders, and we go into our safe rooms.

It could be, after this is behind us, whether it’s for you or for the children, that you might hear an ambulance siren on the road, or a police car siren on the road, and it could trigger something inside you. Or you might hear a phrase that someone says.

I have a very dear friend who lost a baby. She gave birth to a stillborn at 40 weeks. Nobody should ever, ever know that pain. But she remembers when one of her older kids was supposed to pick up a friend, they were supposed to ride bikes together. When he got to school; he’d passed his friend, he got to their meeting point too early.

She was terrified. All of a sudden, it brought back flashbacks from her little baby who didn’t make it, as she became terrified. Most moms would be terrified if their kids go to school and don’t show up on their bikes. But somewhere, somehow, somebody gave her the message he didn’t make it.

That triggered what happened with her baby, when she also got the message, “He didn’t make it.” So, they were just words. Four words, that sent her into a trauma response again, and she needed to process that through her body.

So again, I’m not saying that once life gets back to normal you won’t have experiences that all of a sudden come up and remind you about when. And so, whether you’re listening to this in the future, a year or two years from now, know again, that it is all normal.

Now I want to walk you through specifically what I did to move through the last week and a half. Number one, if you know me, you know that I spend time talking, sharing, giving value, and showing up on social media. I have a platform on LinkedIn, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

I felt that it was very important for me, and I think it was part of my fight response, to show up on social media in support of Israel, and sharing information and sharing what I was feeling. It felt very healing for me to be very out there and very vocal. It was part of my acute trauma response.

I know some people were completely the opposite, and couldn’t show up, didn’t show up, and that is all good; however you showed up. It really became this hamster wheel where I was going around and around and around and around in circles all day long, really fighting the fight.

I also felt it was very important for me, like as a PR representative of the State of Israel, of the Jewish people, to share our side of the story. There are a very small number of Jews in the world relative to the world population. We are 15, 16 million people, and we are always center of attention in the news.

There are so many more people, so many more Muslims and people out there who hate us. Not all Muslims hate us. I hope that I didn’t give that wrong impression. Hamas terrorists and others, who really want to kill us and push us into the Mediterranean ocean, and make this beautiful, little, teeny tiny state of ours the size of New Jersey, free of Jews.

I felt it was important for me to be my own little PR agency, and that’s what I did. I don’t have any regret that that is what I did for many hours, the first week of the war. Then Sabbath came, and I was offline. I was so calm. I was just so relaxed, and I slept so well.

Then yesterday, Sunday, I got back onto social media and I noticed how frenetic my body was. For the first time since the war started, I really, really slept poorly. I was actually self-soothing with garbage food, junk food, and I slept really poorly. That was the first time.

When I woke up this morning, I was like, “That’s it, I can’t do this anymore. It is no longer important for me, in my body, to fight the war. There is PR out there, there are other people in other organizations. I can pass the baton over, at least for today, to other people.” And, this is what I did.

I have an office in my house, and I did not bring my phone into my office today. That was step number one.

Step number two is I found an app. I Googled it. I wanted a social media blocker for my laptop. I downloaded a Chrome extension called Pause. All the social media channels, all the major news channels, except for the local Israeli news, which they don’t know about; only CNN, BBC, etc. They’re all on this app Pause, and I set it for 120 seconds, meaning two minutes.

So, if I wanted to buffer and run to Facebook or LinkedIn, I couldn’t do it unless I got up out of my chair and went to my bedroom to my phone. You know what? There were times that I was going to go, and I just laughed at myself. Because I can already see, where I have the little Facebook icon, it’s showing me the Pause icon instead. I got such a good chuckle out of myself, and I actually got a lot of work done today.

So, if you have a tendency, whether it is just on a regular day-to-day basis… and I’m so grateful to now have this app on my computer… to just scroll news, social media, and figure out what’s going on. Or you feel like it’s a self-soothing technique that you have to run and buffer on social media, I highly recommend the Pause Chrome extension.

There are other ones out there. I just Googled something which gave me like the 11 best social media blockers and I chose one. And you know what? It’s working for me. So, that was the second way that I have now created safety for myself. The first one was actually being on social media, and the second one is being off of it.

The third thing is, I blocked people and unfollowed people. There are many people out there in the world who disagree with those of us living in Israel. There are even people in Israel who disagree with my particular opinion on our situation, the security situation and how we deal with people that live on our borders.

You know what, I don’t need to read everything that they write. I don’t need to be exposed to that. I don’t need to be exposed to people also who strongly and vehemently and vilely disagree with me. So, guess what? I unfollowed a lot of people, and I blocked a lot of people. That creates safety for me.

That’s really important. You don’t have to read what you don’t want to read. Maybe in the future, some of the people that were thought leaders that I enjoyed following them and learning from them, maybe I will put them back on my list of people whom I follow. But for the moment, it feels very safe for me not to be exposed to their content.

The fourth thing is, and I think it’s number four… Sometimes I have a hard time counting… is just putting your hands on your chest and… I’m doing that as I’m speaking to you right now. I have my left hand in the center of my chest, my right hand on top of my left hand… just feeling into your body.

You can say to yourself, “I’m in my body.” Just noticing everything that’s happening, and learning to feel heal and find safety in your body. Also, if there are other people around you, whether they’re friends or family… People that you can’t block because they’re actually real, live, breathing people in your life right now… and you need to be in the same room or same spaces with them, you can just allow yourself to be in your body. To feel everything that you’re feeling.

Sometimes you can just imagine that you’re just putting your hand out, kind of like a stop, and you’re like, “She’s in her body.” You create safety for you and create safety for them, “I’m in my body,” then you extend your hand like a stop sign, “She’s in her body,” and just really recognize that we are each individuals experiencing what we’re experiencing.

I get to experience what I’m going through. She, he, they, get to experience what they’re going through. And, we don’t need to judge anybody else for what they’re experiencing. When I feel safe in my body, that also allows me to release judgment, and not judge anybody for what they’re experiencing.

I think that, ultimately, that is what is going to build the bridge of love between me and anybody and everybody else in the world. That actually is something that you can use anytime, anywhere, for anyone.

So, that is what I have experienced. That has been like my trajectory or roadmap or path over the last 10 days. Today, the 16th of October, was actually the first day that I got productive work done in my business, which is why I’m recording this podcast for the first time.

Last week, I had words that I could say by typing them out, but I couldn’t get words out of my mouth. I couldn’t come and record a podcast for you on running your business during a crisis because I was still in crisis mode.

And because I believe my business is always working for me, I’ve got to imagine that people, somewhere out there in the world, may have been listening to my podcasts. Maybe not, but it doesn’t really matter, because I’m here for the long term.

All right, my friends, that is what I have for you today. If you are in a crisis now, if you’re in a crisis sometime in the future, when you’re listening to this podcast, please feel free to reach out to me.

Let me know what’s going on. Let me know what you’re feeling. Let me know what you’re experiencing because I do have tools that can help you. I do have an open heart, and you can just share with me what you’re feeling.

Actually, I said that was it for today, but I want to share one more thing. There has been an outpouring of love and concern, and people checking in on me from around the globe. Family members, friends, people that I was once upon a time in a business mastermind with for years and years, like even five, seven years ago, people reaching out.

I appreciate and appreciated every single person who reached out. I really love you. And the fact that you checked in means more to me than you can ever know. There are people out there, those are like my little angels, who are checking in with me.

I also want you to know something that I shared on my Facebook page when I when I felt like it, when I had the words to express it, I said that when we open our hearts to the love, we also open our hearts to the pain.

Many of us were not feeling because the pain was suffocating. I’m getting a little choked up as I say that. But once we open ourselves up to feeling we have to feel it all. It’s hard for us. To be able to say, “No, I’m only opening up myself to love. I can’t feel the pain, just the love,” when your heart opens, your heart opens.

So, sometimes I could only leave my heart open for little periods of time, like five or ten minutes. I had to create a safe space when I was going to quickly, quickly answer all the people that reached out by Messenger or by WhatsApp or by email, because it was too painful and suffocating to allow in everything.

I was, again, in that fight-flight-freeze trauma response moment, then I could get to a little bit of that stabilization before I flipped back into trauma. So, again, wherever you are right now, if it’s hard for you to accept all the love, I know it sounds crazy, I want to normalize that for you. It is hard, because we have to take care of ourselves and create our own safety first.

All right, my friends, I love you more than you can know. Thank you for being here. Please, God, we will hear good news for the State of Israel and for the Jewish nation very soon, speedily, in our days. Bye-bye.

Thanks for listening to The Jewish Entrepreneur Podcast. If you want to stop underselling and underearning and close more sales, you need to clear the limiting money beliefs that are sabotaging your business growth.

Head on over to DebbieSassen.com/mindset and download my free Money Mindset Workbook. Uncover and dissolve money blocks, like hundreds of other entrepreneurs who are now building six-, multi-six-, and seven-figure businesses and creating true financial freedom.

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