Episode 111: How to Overcome the Fear of Being Fabulous with Judith Sherven & Jim Sniechowski (Part 1)

February 8, 2022

In Part 1 of this two-part interview, Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski share how they walked away from successful acting careers only to discover that the fear of being fabulous is what had driven them to do it. It is now their life mission to help others overcome it. In Part 1 of this interview, they reveal what holds people back and how hard it is to break away from the familiar childhood patterns and the process for moving forward in your life so you can follow your dream! 

Resources mentioned

Contact information:
Email: Judith@judithandjim.com

Fear of Being Fabulous Program

3 Key Takeaways

Familiar comes from the word Family so that is where we are comfortable
even if we didn’t have a great childhood.

It’s hard to assert your autonomy and grow if you never leave your family.

Family rules can make it difficult to ask for what we want and reject what we don’t want.


Ellen Violette: Hi and welcome. I’m your host Ellen Violette, and you’re listening to Episode 111 of the Books Open Doors Podcast. Today my guests are Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski, and we’re going to be talking about overcoming obstacles and the fear of being fabulous. This is Part 1 of a 2-part interview. So, let’s do this.

Music: Welcome to the Books Open Doors Podcast. Are you a mission-driven speaker, coach, consultant, thought leader, creative entrepreneur, or author who wants more credibility, financial abundance, wants to make a bigger impact in the world and leave a lasting legacy, and who wants to have fun doing it? Then stay tuned for today’s inspiring podcast with your host, Ellen Violette.

Ellen: Now a word from our sponsor this episode is brought to you by Shipyourbooks.com. If your book is a lead magnet for higher-end services such as coaching or consulting and you want to get your buyers onto your email list.

Guess what KDP does not give you their names, but shift your books calm does when you print your book through Shipyourbooks.com, when you print your book through ship your books calm you get the name of every single buyer.

Ellen: Plus, it gives you the ability to include other sales literature inside the book. So, this gives you another opportunity to sell to your buyers so check it out Shipyourbooks.com and be sure to tell them, Ellen Violette, from The Books Open Doors Podcast sent you.

Now let me tell you about my guests Jim and Judith are psychologists and experts in overcoming personal obstacles. They’ve been featured on the view and on Oprah and over 3000 radio and TV shows not only well and I have known Judith and Jim forever because we went through Teleseminar Secrets with Alex Mandossian, which was the first course I ever took. And we became great friends. We have done, I can’t even count, how many webinars and product launches and things that we’ve done together over the years.

But then what happened was Jim had a stroke five years ago, but the amazing thing is, it has not slowed him down and I’ll be talking with him about how he got over that. They’re both bestselling authors and they’re amazing. So welcome to the call.

Jim: Thank you, thank you very much.

Judith: wonderful to see you madam. This is fun.

Ellen: Yes, wonderful to see you guys. So, do you want to I know your story, I mean it’s been years since we’ve told it, but I know it so but for my listeners why don’t you tell them how, you went from being psychologists to doing what you do now and I love this fear of being fabulous stuff and I know you’re going to tell the story of like how you got into that, so why don’t you take it over…

Judith: I’ll take the first part, which is we discovered this issue of the fear of being fabulous, which I want everyone listening to your podcast to pay attention to about their own writing, how they are in the world.

Judith: Jim and I were both professional actors, as you know Ellen, earlier on our lives, and we were successful, we worked a lot Jim mostly on stage, me mostly TV and we both walked away.

Judith: Never thought about having a career, never thought about ambition, because where we came from lower-middle-class families, nobody talked about ambition or career.

And we didn’t know how to pursue what we were doing. So, on our blind date when we met forty, no, now thirty-four years ago, we talked about the fear of being fabulous and how it held us back

Jim:And why we walked away from something that was building quickly, easily, quite successfully.

Judith: So, we then have made a career, both in the books we’ve written and also the executive coaching that we now do together, which we do for mostly tech companies like LinkedIn, Unity, Coinbase and so forth helping people who feel like they’re an imposter. Sometimes, they’re not able to own how successful they really are. So, when people are considering writing, as you well know Ellen, they often feel a similar kind of…”Who am I? Who am I to write a book? I’m nobody.” or any kind of message to themselves that holds them back rather than jumping online with you and letting you help them figure out what they can write about that would really serve people.

Jim: Not only the way they can read about how to go about the writing, that’s critical.

Ellen: Yeah.

Jim: With regard to, I’m sure you know the phrase. “The worst part of the writer’s journey is a blank page, the first blank page,” “What do I do then?” My advice to people who are listening, who want to write… you sit down, you start writing. I don’t plot my books; my books are not plotted out.

Ellen: These are novels?

Jim: Now three…

Ellen: Now three novels. Okay.

Jim: Three novels, autobiographical (inaudible). The first novel takes place when I was in Detroit in the 50s when I was nine and the second one in Detroit in this early later 50s early 60s, when I was sixteen going to high school…

Judith: And in a street gang.

Ellen: Wow. I did not know that.

Jim: Yeah, yeah. the second novel is called “An Ambition to Belong:” I wanted to belong somewhere I did not belong in my family. I did not belong on my block, there were a whole bunch of boys my age on my block, I did not fit in, so I joined a street gang, a local street gang. I wasn’t much of a criminal I should have been poetry school instead of being in the street gangs, but it was a place give they give me something sense of identity.

What I was saying was I don’t plot my books. I start writing, and the first sentence tells me what’s the next sentence should be, and then, the next; it’s a process of discovery. And all I know is the title and a vague idea of what the end should be and I discovered my way there that makes it such a more fun process than plotting it out, and then basically being a secretary.

Judith: Well, and also for everyone on your podcast, please don’t expect that the first time you write a paragraph, that’s how it’s going to stay. Writing is a process; it’s a process of discovery. and as you re-read what you’ve written, new ideas come to you, new ways of phrasing something will come to you. So, please know that you’re involved in a process that is artistic but it’s also internal; it’s also allowing who you are to speak to you more fully in the word.

Ellen Violette: Well, how did you write the nonfiction books, I know you wrote about Whitney Houston.Tell us about that.

Judith: Right, the Whitney Houston book. When Whitney Houston died at forty-eight I said the Jim, “I know that if we researched her life, we can prove that what she died from really was the fear of being fabulous.” And sure enough, as we researched her life, she could never own being the superstar that she became. Why? Because, Ellen, she never left home. Her mother remained the person, she was the closest to forever and her mother didn’t really support her career.Well, so, in many, many ways, the mother and the father held on to her.

In fact, there’s a video, I don’t know if it’s online still, but when Whitney won her first Grammy, they interviewed the mother and the father and the father says, “I know she’ll come back to us, she’s just going to come right back to us.”

Ellen: Oh, my God.

Judith: Uh-huh.

Jim: We have a phrase for it; we call it “leaving home” and my novels are about the following theme-the challenge of leaving home, no matter your age.
We don’t all leave home at a seemingly appropriate time. We work with executives in a corporation who have not left home yet. In some way, their past is clawing and holding them back. They lack the internal permission to go against where they came from. Without the internal permission you can’t get the job.

Ellen Violette: Boy, do I know that.

(Judith and Jim laugh)

Judith: See, exactly, Ellen.

Judith: And it’s important that everybody listening pay attention to this issue of overcoming the fear of being fabulous, any holdbacks they are feeling about writing..

Jim: Ending actually.

Judith: Certainly, but we’re talking, about writing books that they need to really address that one of the ways to help themselves grow out of it is to keep writing. And certainly, as you know, Ellen, we have a program that people might want to use called Overcoming the fear of being fabulous and people can get it in audio or in a 12-CD format and the link to get people there is It’s https://booksopendoors.com/be-fabulous.

Judith: There you go…

Ellen: https://booksopendoors.com/be-fabulous

Judith: There is it.

Ellen: Yeah, so why don’t you tell us some of the core things that keep people from being fabulous. So, one is not leaving home, what else?

Judith: Negative head talk. That little voice in people’s heads that yammer at them about “Who do you think you are? You can’t write. You’ve never been anything professional before. You have to be like you have to go to college to be able to write a book.” Yammer, yammer. So, negative head talk is a big one.

Jim: [10:58]
We have two phrases that we use in working with people, one for one word is allegiances, that is the loyalty, so where you came from. It’s understood that those loyal pieces would be in place; when you were a little one; those people were constantly to your survival. And they’re important to your survival; you have to get their approval. If you do not get their approval, they frown, they scold, they do whatever, and you’re in trouble.

So, we all, as little ones. look to where we will get to the approval they will give us. The trap there is then we live to be that approval, we live to be them. And if we’re not aware of that, we stay in that stuck place for the rest of our lives.

The other term that we use is forbiddances. On the other hand, I was into allegiances, our forbiddances. For example, I was raised as a Catholic, in a very Polish, primitive, peasant Polish Catholic community. The nuns would teach us in elementary school, they would say that if you’re walking down the street and you pass another church of any kind…

Judith: Not Catholic.

Jim: Any church, you’re to spit ( he spits) you spit (he spits).

Ellen: Oh, God.

Jim: That’s what you do when you walk by any church.

Ellen: That’s heartbreaking.

Jim: It really is, but as a young child, if I want to be accepted, I spit. “Oh that’s what I should do.” It’s not just what I should do, the whole concept gets integrated; it becomes part of your identity. Anyway, those are forbiddances- don’t do that, don’t do this, don’t do that.

When I was in Hollywood, when I finally got to Hollywood, I had real trouble when I got there understanding what the business was really about. It’s really about it’s a very physical business, sexual instinct, it’s a physical business, I was raised in such a way that was all anathema to me. I could not live with myself and do that, so I walked away. I could not do it, even though I wasn’t being asked to do it,it was all unconscious. Nevertheless, I walked away, and then I was sorry.

Judith: And I think another element that people need to pay attention to and it’s certainly part of our program, Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous, is the power of the unconscious, in terms of…

Ellen: I was just going to say, I was just gonna ask you, yeah, how do you deal with that?

Judith: By bringing elements up to consciousness and that’s why this program is so powerful.It is interactive; it’s an interactive workshop. People have written us from all over the world thanking us for helping them be awake to what has been holding them back. And we’re so grateful for people to let us know. but we’ve created the program that way, so people have to do, well they don’t HAVE to do exercises, but we encourage them to do all the exercises that are part of the program to bring up from the unconscious the kinds of things that Jim just mentioned and certainly what kept us back. And we’re not just talking theory, Jim and I had to do this work. Ellen, you had to do the work, we know.

Ellen: I’m still doing the work.

Judith: Same here.

Jim: So, are we.

Ellen: Yeah, yeah.

Judith: Because there’s always room to expand and grow and certainly writing books, being out in the world, promoting books helps you stretch and get beyond where you came from.

Ellen: Yeah look not only that, I mean, I had a very messed up childhood. My dad just wanted me to be nice, I mean he literally said, “I don’t care if you never make a nickel just be nice.”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ellen: So, in my business, sometimes, I would take on clients because I “had to be nice” and then I’d be absolutely miserable. And it’s been quite a journey to finally put my foot down and say, “No I’m not doing this anymore,” and it was amazing what happened when I did that; I just have the best clients ever,

Judith: Right

Ellen: But getting to that point, boy, I really put myself through it, because I just couldn’t say no.

Judith: Because you weren’t being your Daddy good girl.

Ellen: Right exactly.

Jim: When you stop doing that kind of magic happens, not just for you, for everyone. It becomes so awesome, it’s magical it says, “ Oh God had stepped into your life is now directing it.”

Ellen: Yeah, and that can be scary That can be scary. There’s part of you that wants to go back to what’s familiar.

Jim: Yes, go back to what you will loved for then.

Ellen: Yeah, yeah.

Judith: And remember, the root of the word, “familiar” is “family”.

Ellen: Yes.

Judith: Truly, everybody, please notice, the root of the word, “familiar” is “family.”

Jim: Some people who read my novels had complained about my relationship to the family. The family is critical; it’s an important aspect of growing up. But they must be left behind, otherwise you never grow up into your own family. You never, never grow into your own life. That’s what the books are about

Judith: By the way…

Ellen: Boy, let me say something about that because it’s almost embarrassing now when I look back, but I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I actually went to graduate school and I lived on my own for many years, and then I went back and lived with my parents and then, I met my husband and my husband moved in with us. So, my husband and I live with my parents, not because we had to, but we loved being there, they loved having us, and we build a world- class recording studio in the house.

But what happened was eventually my parents both passed away. I had to sell the house. I lost my studio, but I wasn’t going to leave til I got kicked out.

(Judith and Jim laugh.)

Ellen: I was happy there and they were happy to have us, but the truth is that I didn’t. well, I mean I was growing in certain ways. I was somewhat successful in the music business getting a Grammy nomination, and I knew I was doing really good work.I was on the path, but my journey wasn’t quite like yours, because basically the rug got pulled out from under me.It wasn’t my choice to walk away, it was that I didn’t have the money, or the studio to do the demos anymore.

And I didn’t have the presence of mind to stick up for myself when my husband said, “Well, we really can’t afford to do this anymore,” and what I should have done at that point was found another way to do it, which was, of course, collaboration and let other people do it who knew how to do it. Instead, I got depressed and went into, “ Oh, my God I can’t do this anymore, because he’s telling me I can’t do it anymore” And it’s on me not him because I should have just said no, and I didn’t.

Judith: But Ellen I think you’re speaking to an important thing, which is that it’s hard if you’re unconscious is saying no and your whole family background is saying no and, in this case, Christen was saying no, it’s hard to remember that there are all kinds of options in the world.

Ellen: Yes.

Judith: If you can open yourself to them and let the universe speak to you more fully with what those options can be, that’s what is also so important is to not limit yourself, not get boxed in, you know?

And on that note, I just want to say that we have a website for Jim that’s James Sniechowski.com, where you can see the three books in his “Leaving home trilogy” but also some delicious photographs of Little Jim when he was a boy, one of our wedding photos, some acting photos from his career it’s a really fun website, also, of course, reviews and awards for his books are there as well. So…

Jim: You know the word “no” is extraordinarily powerful. It’s very difficult to use, because when we say no, when we were young, we generally get put down for it. Don’t say it. Don’t talk back, for example. The idea of the terrible twos it’s the first time in a person’s life, where they have a sense of who they are, or that they are someone.

Ellen Violette: Right

Jim: And they don’t want that someone squashed by anyone else. They say “No, I don’t want to take a bath; no I don’t want to kiss Grandma; I don’t want to do that stuff. That is a statement of their own identity. We put it down but it’s actually,instead,it’s a very elementary, primitive way of leaving home. There are only two that they have; they do it organically.

I hate to stop cause this is so fascinating, but we have to end here. So, that’s it for Part 1 of my two-part interview with Judith and Jim. Be sure to join us next week for Part 2.

[20:39] In the meantime you can reach them through email by email at Judith@JudithandJim.com spelled out J-U-D-I-T-H-A-N-D-J-I-M.com. And if you’d like to learn more about them, you can go to their website JudithandJim.com Same thing, spelled out.

And the site with the pictures that Judith mentioned is: JamesSniechowski.com that’s James S-N-I-E-C-H-O-W-S-K-I,com

And their program is at https://booksopendoors.com/be-fabulous That’s https://booksopendoors.com/be-fabulous if you’re ready to check that out.

And to get the transcript, you can go to booksopendoors.com/fearofbeingfabulous
and that is all spelled out.

Ellen: Also, if you want to write your own book or write books faster and easier for sure, be sure to pick up your (free) copy of the Rockstar Author’s Toolkit if you haven’t already. That’s at booksopendoors.com

It’s got the three checklists for writing your book, writing your bestseller titles the 21 simple strategies to jumpstart your book marketing online, plus the Kindle Planner; that’s at booksopendoors.com.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the 3 Day Bestseller, which is the new program that I just am putting together, you can check that out also
on the website under coaching, so it’s booksopendoors.com/coaching
so till next time…Bye-bye.

Music: You’ve been listening to the Books Open Doors podcast, with your host, Ellen Violette. If you’d like to connect with other mission-driven speakers, coaches, consultants, thought leaders, founders, creative entrepreneurs, and authors who are changing the world one book at a time, join us in the Books Open Doors community at facebook.com/groups/booksopendoors. Let’s rock your business with books.

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About the Author

Ellen Violette

Ellen is an 3X award-winning book, including being named one of the Top 20 Book Coaches of 2022 by Coach Foundation. She's also a multiple #1 bestselling author, a 3-time eLit award winner, podcast host, and a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been helping entrepreneurs increase their credibility and expert status, become #1 bestselling authors, and make a bigger impact in the world since 2004. Her mission is to make the world a better place one author and one book at a time!



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