How to hustle with heart: our self-help columnist Athena Laz interviews entrepreneurial boss babe, Darrah Brustein

Learn how to design your own life.

Female entrepreneurs are at the forefront of business attempting to overturn each and every disadvantage into an advantage. So if you are ready to hustle but want to do it with heart and integrity then look no further. Darrah Brustein is a self-made success. After diligently checking all the ‘right boxes’ for over a decade only to realize that none of it was really working (layoffs, dwindling bank balance, and burnout), she took the entrepreneurial leap and began to focus her success on her own terms.

Darrah first built a business (which is still working) focused on credit card processing. Then she went on to publish a series of kids’ books helping them to become more financially literate. Now she’s stepped into the role of online educator, teaching hundreds and thousands of men and women learn how to design their lives, build a business to fund it and a network to support it.

What’s your #1 tip when doing business?

Any business at its core is really about relationships so lead from your heart. When dealing with anyone think of how you can serve. Instead of thinking about what you can ‘get’ rather focus on what you can offer. Be generous with your knowledge and remember there’s more to life than the hustle – how you treat people matters.

What motivates you as an entrepreneur?

My core belief is that the best way to live is by design, not by default. I’ve spent the last decade crafting and integrating my life and work intentionally, not choosing one over the other. This motivates me as an entrepreneur and I’m here to show others how to shortcut my years of testing and help you create a life you love. I’m not a coach; I’m more like a friend who loves to help others succeed. 

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How do you ask for a favor from an old friend (without sounding insincere)?⠀ .⠀ Be real and call it out. Let them know you realize it's been a long time and might be a bit off-putting. It's disarming and the fastest way to develop depth with someone is to be authentic and vulnerable.⠀ .⠀ Pay them a sincere compliment. That could be congratulating them about their recent promotion, their kids' birthday, or their recent trip (a quick social media stalk will help!).⠀ .⠀ Be clear about your ask. Don't make them do the leg-work.⠀ .⠀ Respect their time and ask for something they can quickly do. Even better, ask for advice instead of a favor, because most people like to give advice, and if they can also do the thing you're asking, they will likely raise their hand and volunteer (which is better than feeling obligated).⠀ .⠀ Say thank you.⠀ .⠀ Keep them in-the-loop! If they oblige, be sure to let them know how things pan out over time!

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How do you leap from employee to entrepreneur?

You know that horrible feeling on a Sunday night when you thinking about the week ahead and you begin to feel dread. Then you wake up and you feel a pit in your stomach because it is, in fact, the workweek and you realize that you have to throw yourself with all your willpower into soul-sucking work that moves you farther away from what you actually know is in alignment with your values, your skills, your gifts and ultimately your calling?

I spent years feeling like this. Waking up in the dark, dragging myself to get ready and ‘look professional’, slug through a brutal commute, and plop me in an office where the priorities were dreadful.

Isn’t it funny how much of gift hindsight is? I look back now on those years and I am super grateful for the perspective they gave me, as well as for the fact that I was laid off from said job (and two others) in the first few years of my life in the workforce after college.

What at the time felt like a huge rug pulled out from underneath me moment filled with fear, panic and sadness turned into the exact things that I needed to finally reanalyse and ultimately decided to empower myself and design a life and business that I love. If I ever feel demotivated I think back on that time, focus, meditate and then choose how to move forward as an empowered entrepreneur.

What I’ve learnt since those days (over 10 years ago) and sharing the lessons and tools that I’ve learnt since then is that: success is in reach for everyone because we are all ultimately the artists of our own lives. Move forward accordingly.

What tips do you have for our future female hustlers?

  • Entrepreneurs rarely share their behind-the-scenes challenges – don’t get fooled – every entrepreneur faces some challenges. In order to help with this, I’ve created a free guide, in which I open up about the 20 things I wish I’d known before I started my first business in hopes that it will save you some tears, prevent an early wrinkle, and lower your blood pressure. You can get it here.
  • One of the first questions you ask or hear, when you meet someone, is usually “what do you do?” As an entrepreneur, this isn’t always helpful. In this guide, I offer 55 better ways to break the ice and dive deeper with someone. Over one million+ people have read this and used it to have more meaningful conversations that result in real relationships, which open the door to the success you’re seeking. Get it here.
  • Need help in figuring out your purpose, passion, or next step? Then this guide is for you! It offers a simple framework to lean on your network to highlight parts of yourself that you can’t see or are underestimating. When I first did it, it was a game-changer that has stuck with me ever since, so I’m sharing it here with the hopes that it will do the same for you!

You can view Darrah’s work here and follow her here.

You can follow Athena on Instagram here and see more of her work at  If you have a question for Athena, e-mail her here.

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