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Edvolution Podcast

Author: Shireen Jaffer

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What leads people to evolve, unlearn, or drastically change the course of their life? What happens when you stop relying on societal constructs and start questioning what you’ve been taught to believe? Join Edvo CEO Shireen Jaffer and an eclectic mix of guests as they attempt to find the answers to these questions. Earnest, raw, and compelling, this is a look into how we make the most important choices of our lives.
19 Episodes
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Jen opens up about her path to finding a meaningful career for herself.  From her high school teacher telling Jen she would never be a good writer, to her best friends calling Jen's business ideas "the dumbest they've ever heard," Jen talks about rejecting societal expectations every step of the way and betting on herself. We talk about the unconventional 80 year old mentor Jen found in her twenties, her struggle with a deep trauma, and the mindset she's developed to create a meaningful life on her terms.  About Jen Glantz:Jen Glantz is the founder of the viral business, "Bridesmaid for Hire", the creator of the project, "Finally the Bride", the founder of the blog, "The Things I Learned From", the voice of the podcast, "You're Not Getting Any Younger", the founder of the coaching business, "Jen & Juice", and the author of the Amazon-bestselling books, "All My Friends are Engaged", & "Always a Bridesmaid for Hire", published by Simon and Schuster. She's told her stories on hundreds of press outlets around the world, such as TODAY Show, Good Morning America, CNN, NPR, and Fox News, where they called her job the “weirdest of all time."
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Tyrone shares how he lifted himself and his family out of poverty, became a track star, qualified for Olympic tryouts, only to see his life fall into pieces within one year. As he battled a deep depression, Tyrone found himself contemplating suicide. He opens up about the moment that almost ended his life and the flood of realizations that followed as soon as he decided to live for himself. We further discuss the impact of "living for your resume" and how we process (and ignore) deep societal trauma.  About Tyrone: Self-described as the voice for the voiceless and son of two superhero survivors, Tyrone is the CEO of Onramp Invest, the founder of 401stc, a storytelling consultancy, and host of Altruist’s the Human Advisor Podcast. He is a graduate of Seton Hall University, and was also a 2004 Olympic Trials qualifier in track and field in the 400 meters. He was recognized by Investment News 40 under 40 (2019), and as a top ten advisor set to change the industry in 2019.
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Justin opens up about how he built a successful tech career in sales despite experiencing failure after failure in his earlier years. From struggling in school as a teenager to jumping from job to job in his early twenties, Justin recounts the moments that led him to bet on himself and others that threatened his sense of self-worth. We further discuss how he found the motivation that enabled him to find his own path.About Justin: Justin Welsh is an SMB SaaS advisor, executive mentor, and operator with 10+ years of revenue leadership experience. He recently led LA-based PatientPop from $0 to $50M+ in ARR in 4.5 years. Justin specializes in SMB SaaS sales and partners with early-stage founders to craft the sales story and achieve scale. Prior to PatientPop, Justin was the 10th employee at NY-based ZocDoc, where he held multiple revenue leadership roles over nearly five years.
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Carlita tells us why she ended an 18-year marriage and shares the journey that led to this life-changing decision. Carlita also talks about navigating the world of new challenges after her divorce, from overcoming financial insecurity to dealing with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.  About Carlita: Carlita L. Coley is a licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia with 10 years of experience providing mental health services to women and youth. As the founder of theFosteringYOUInitiative, LLC, Carlita works to educate and empower women to find their voice; “I aim to help women and young girls rebuild their confidence, and their lives, after tragedy and despite adversity.”  
In this episode, LaToya opens up about the sexual and emotional abuse that started for her at the age of five. She tells us about the societal messaging that prevented her from recognizing the toxicity of her environment and worse, influenced LaToya’s understanding of her self-worth. We learn about how LaToya finds her voice and overcomes years of trauma, limiting beliefs, and millions of voices telling her she’s not good enough. We further discuss her work as a chaplain in the military and the path to get there as a woman.
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Emily talks about her decision to leave her family, the Amish culture, and everything she knew at the age of 17. We discuss the many culture shocks and challenges that she had to overcome, from identity crises to abusive relationships. As Emily takes her happiness into her own hands, she commits to making positive changes and finding strength within herself. This road brings her to powerlifting, and Emily tells us how she went from a scared 17-year-old to a nationally competitive athlete, mom of 2, and a successful businesswoman.
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Chris talks about experiencing homelessness at the age of 19 and finding himself without a job, unable to pay for school, and without support from family or friends. This month, four years later, Chris became a home owner at the age of 24 and is making six-figures. Chris shares how he overcame depression and suicidal thoughts to find his path despite the odds being against him. 
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Alex shares how she built a successful sales career in New York City, only to leave the glamorous lifestyle and buy a one-way ticket to Brazil. She tells us about dealing with a pre-cancer diagnosis at the age of 24 and battling fear, insecurities, and awakenings all at the same time. We further discuss the importance of stepping outside of your environment and unapologetically being yourself. About Alex: Alexandria Smith is a seasoned Sales Leader that has worked for some of the hottest startups for the last decade all over the country. Currently leading Global Sales Development at Headspace, she is best known for developing happy, healthy, high performing sales teams that help win revenue targets, acquisitions, fundings, IPOs, and scale. She is passionate about bringing awareness and discussion to diversity and inclusivity within sales orgs and leadership teams with a strong focus on reversing a “CRUSH IT” sales culture and its impact on mental health. Alexandria is also a world traveler and educator on the science and benefits of meditation and mindfulness and is a certified yoga and breath-work instructor.
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Nabila shares her experiences as a solo-traveler and how she visited 30+ countries while being a full-time student. Coming from a traditional South Asian family, Nabila talks about being the girl that always followed the rules and stayed on the path that her parents wanted for her: going to pharmacy school, getting a job, marrying, and having a family. But when Nabila found herself miserable during school, she decided to make a change. She tells us about overcoming familial and societal pressures to empower herself and beginning her journey as a solo traveler. Nabila believes traveling has been her greatest teacher and shares the invaluable lessons, as well as some fun (and not so fun) memories she made along the way.
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Rebecca discusses her decision to reject the corporate route after business school and fly to Tanzania instead. She talks about losing her father at the age of 9 and her mother's cancer diagnosis, both of which influence her to question, “What would I do if I only had one year to live?” Rebecca tells us about her journey into the world of international development and discovering the darker side of “good” work. We further discuss entrepreneurship, the loneliness of betting on yourself, and how "feeling alive" feels to each of us.About Rebecca:After graduating from Babson College with an entrepreneurship degree, Rebecca moved to Tanzania to work in international development. She quickly became disillusioned with the industry and began searching for solutions in 2017. With no clear path forward, she realized that if she wanted things to change, she would have to step up and be part of the change. With that, Anika Works Inc. was born in 2019. 
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Austin shares his struggle with school, how he learned to ignore bad advice, and how he discovered his passion. We discuss his five failed businesses and his fear of failure. We then learn about how Austin built his current successful business, grew his platform to 300K+ followers, and managed his time while working full-time at Microsoft. About Austin BelcakAustin is the founder of where he helps people land jobs they love without traditional experience and without applying online.Austin’s job search system stems from his personal experience transitioning from a new grad with a biology degree, a 2.58 GPA, and a job in healthcare to landing interviews and offers at Microsoft, Google, and Twitter.His strategies have been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Fast Co, and Inc. and he has helped thousands of job seekers land jobs at places like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Tesla, SpaceX, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, ESPN, the NFL, and more -- without applying online.
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Melissa shares her story of living in poverty, getting pregnant at 16, and ultimately deciding to take control to create a more aligned life for herself. We discuss her evolution into a successful startup CEO and she tells us about how she overcomes systemic biases. We further discuss the way our society treats people who have unconventional pasts, and how we can do better collectively.  About Melissa: Melissa Strawn is a Seattle-area entrepreneur and mom to five sons. Melissa blogs at, where she shares her story about going from a teenage single mother living in poverty to a successful startup CEO of She believes that entrepreneurship should be accessible to all those who desire it as a career path and is committed to social institutional reform, eliminating poverty, and transforming the broken social services system. 
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Veline tells us her story about growing up with a father who served as an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department and a passionate mother who took her to her first protest when Veline was still in a stroller. She shares her experiences of growing up in a white suburban neighborhood as a brown woman and the ideological differences within her community. We further talk about her feelings of being a daughter of a police officer with the current debates in our society, as well as the work she’s currently doing for racial justice, equity, and inclusion. About Veline MojarroVeline Mojarro is Latinx Chicana committed to our collective liberation as an educator, reproductive justice advocate, an consultant from Los Angeles, California. Her work operates at the intersection of art, social justice, and equity. She is a co-founder of SHIFT: Sexual Harassment Prevention, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting and led every one, a Goldenvoice initiative to prevent and stop any form of harassment at Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals as a Director of Equity, Safety, and Inclusion. She previously was a Lecturer in the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA, where she also served as Director of Community Programs for the UCLA Art and Global Health Center.
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Sasha tells us her story about working in San Francisco at a “sexy” tech company and living the life she dreamt of as a child. As she recalls her experiences, Sasha shares both the good and the bad. She also talks about navigating the high-performing tech culture, understanding the concept of “golden handcuffs,” and dealing with immense burnout. We discuss the moments that lead her to make a pivot and the aftermath of her decisions. About Sash ShilkoSasha has worked at Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, and Lime, a micromobility startup. She's currently launching her own startup, which believes in surfacing information you need from a community you can trust. The goal is to make the process of purchasing online better. You can access the beta at She published a popular article on Medium entitled “I Thought Silicon Valley Burnout Couldn’t Happen to Me, But Then It Did" and "Police Can No Longer Be Above The Law."
In this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Trish joins Shireen to discuss her move from Hollywood, FL to Hollywood, CA to pursue a career in entertainment, despite many people advising her not to.  She further shares her experiences working with countless celebrities and building a successful career in LA, and then ultimately asking the big question: “What else is out there?” Tune in to learn how Trish went from working with Oprah to working with women fighting homelessness and listening to stories on Skid Row. About Trish Lindo:Trish Lindo has over 20 years of experience in the Los Angeles media and entertainment industry. She currently works at BuzzFeed/Tasty and previously had success working for companies such as Maker Studios, OWN, CNN, and Yahoo. Trish is also passionate about social impact and volunteering. She's a mentor for EmpowHer, which supports high school girls from marginalized communities. She's also a volunteer and Brand ambassador for the Downtown Women's Center social enterprise store Made by DWC.
Jill Knobeloch: Dealing with Emptiness, Rationality vs Intuition, RelationshipsIn this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Jill tells us why she chose to walk away from her “perfect life:” a supportive husband, a beautiful house in California, and a good job. All before the age of 30, Jill files for divorce, moves to Chicago by herself with no job or friends, and deals with two life-threatening health concerns. We discuss the aftermath of her decisions, question why we believe certain things and quickly dismiss others, and consider her epiphanies along the way.About Jill:Jill is a brand expert, web designer, ice hockey referee, and a coworking startup founder. As a highly energy-sensitive introvert, she considers herself a recovering perfectionist and a left-brained creative, always working to balance her intuition with a more developed rational side.
Deborah Benton: Chasing Stability, Learning to Think, Success in School & WorkIn this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Deborah shares how success was defined for her during her childhood, and how following the path to “stability” led her to a “prestigious” job that got her physically sick. This wake-up call serves as a catalyst for Deborah to re-define success for herself, build confidence within herself, and overcome the need for validation from others. We also discuss her opinions on our education system as she questions what we were taught in school that limits our ability to think for ourselves.About Deborah Benton:Deborah Benton is the founding Partner of Willow Growth Partners, an early-stage Consumer fund. Prior to investing, Deborah served as President and Chief Operating Officer for Nasty Gal, the preeminent online women’s fashion retailer for the millennial set. In 2012, Nasty Gal was named one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country.  Prior to Nasty Gal, Deborah was the Chief Operating Officer of ShoeDazzle, an innovative online women’s fashion footwear company whose revenue grew from launch to almost $100M in just a few years.
Daria Tsvenger: Childhood, Emotional Trauma, How Our Brains ReactIn this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Daria and I discuss her childhood in Russia as a “childhood prodigy,” and then her move to America, where feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and loss of identity take over.  She shares how she finds answers in neuroscience; learning about how the brain works helps Daria overcome her fears.  Daria shares the research along with the work she’s now doing to help people navigate change and develop optimistic mindsets.About Daria Tsvenger:Daria Tsvenger is a Forbes-featured mindset expert and founder of a self-discovery program “The Dream Sprint.” Her work has helped hundreds of people tap into the power of the brain to gain clarity and turn their dreams into reality. Daria has shared her expertise on TV shows such as “Good Morning LA-LA-LAND”, “Simulation” and major publications like “Vogue”, “ThriveGlobal” and “Forbes”. More than 30,000 passionate dreamers are following Daria’s work.
Elizabeth Marks: Navigating a Financial Crisis, Freelancing, Career AdviceIn this episode of the Edvolution Podcast with host, Shireen Jaffer, Liz tells us about how she navigated her career after graduating into the financial crisis of 2008.  Despite doing everything she was told to do--excelling in school, going to NYU, and even getting a job at the Times in NYC--Liz learns early-on that she must create her own path in order to live the lifestyle she wants.  And she does just that.About Elizabeth Marks (Liz):Liz leads content and messaging strategy at, alongside their team of researchers, writers, and content partners.  Prior to inside, Liz worked in Silicon Valley on Apple and Facebook’s in-house marketing teams.  Her journalistic and literary background lend a pragmatic and disciplined approach to communications and classic storytelling.
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