Advocating for yourself is important. You could be going through a lot of hardships right now but if you advocate for yourself, you can fight it. Advocate for yourself because no one can do it better than you. Join your host, Kim Sutton as she talks to self-advocacy expert, Heather Hansen. Heather is the CEO of Advocate To Win. She is also the author of Advocate to Win. Heather was an on-air legal analyst and an award-winning trial attorney. Learn how to use the different tools at your disposal to advocate for yourself. Listen in to understand how to use the right words, choices, and much more.

Listen to the podcast here:

Advocate For Yourself: Finding Ways That Can Help You With Heather Hansen

I am happy that you are here to join us. If you’ve been following along, we’ve been having a conversation about expectations, advocating for what we want, voicing our opinions and desires and so much more. Our guest is Heather Hansen. Heather is a self-advocacy expert, on-air legal analyst and award-winning trial attorney. Heather, it’s awesome to have you here. Thank you for joining us.

I am so excited to be here with you and with all your readers.

I have five kids. I don’t know if you know that. I was struggling with my husband. I’m very open and transparent on here. I realized I needed to be my own advocate. I think it was about the same time that I picked up the phone and got a therapist. I want to thank you.

POPR 730 | Advocate For Yourself

Advocate For Yourself: Underneath blaming is shame. People are ashamed that they didn’t do more for themselves so they start blaming other people.


That makes my day because that truly is the reason I wrote this book is for people to recognize that no one is going to do it for you. No one can do it better than you can. Simply by picking up the phone and taking that action, you began the process of advocating for yourself.

I hope everybody is reading this. There’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone, opening up your computer and going after what you need to thrive and survive. As a trial attorney, I would have to imagine that you saw a lot of cases or see a lot of cases where people try to change other people rather than working on themselves.

My work as a trial attorney was defending doctors when their patients sued them. One of the things that were clear to me is that it’s so interesting. The patient would get up on the witness stand, swear to tell the truth and tell the jury a story. My client, nurses and other doctors who supported him or her would get up on this witness stand, swear to tell the truth and tell a completely different story. It showed me that everyone has their stories, their versions of what’s happening in their lives. Sometimes the stories that we tell ourselves help us and sometimes they hurt us. Sometimes they’re effective in helping us get what we want and sometimes they’re not as effective. To recognize that we have that choice is enormously powerful.

How much do you think the blame game has to do with people’s lack of advocacy for themselves?

Advocate for yourself because no one can do it better than you can.

That is part of it. I have seen the blame game not only in my legal world, which I’ve done for many years but also, I’m now a coach. I coach a lot of women one-on-one. I also do some consulting and training in companies. One of the things about blame is most of the time, what I see underneath, blame is a shame. A lot of times, people feel to your point, Kim, they’re ashamed that they didn’t do more for themselves. Sometimes the most hard-fought cases in my legal world are when parents sue on behalf of their children. They have some feeling that they should have done something differently, spoke up or known somehow. That makes them all the more angry, frustrated and looking for someone to blame.

We do the same thing in our personal relationships that we feel like, “I should have anticipated this. I should have seen that he was cheating. I should have set my boundaries more clearly and quickly. I should have asked for that raise. I should have asked for that promotion.” All of these reasons that we blame ourselves and that’s so uncomfortable that we then want to blame someone else. Truly, that is not effective. It doesn’t serve anybody. There are ways of changing our perspective, which is one of the tools of an advocate so that we can stop doing that and start taking action that works for us.

If you had said that to me years ago, you would have been cutting me in a good way. I needed to hear that. I had gotten into a bad client situation where I had no boundaries. I would get text messages at 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 AM. I feel like I needed to get up but I had set that expectation for them and myself that I would. Needless to say, it got bad because I wasn’t getting any sleep. I was taking on way too much. At the end of that client relationship, I realized that I was pointing a lot of fingers out. I remember around the same time, I saw or read something that, “When you’re pointing at somebody else, you’ve got a couple of fingers also pointing back at you.” I realized, “I didn’t have to say yes. I could have very well said no.” I could have said, “My hours are.”

It’s so funny because I’ve experienced the same thing. I was texting with a client who was upset with herself because she feels like she’s such a good advocate for the people in her life and not for herself. I do think those of us that are strongest at advocating tend to give those skills to someone else. I have done the same. I have been in exactly the shoes that you described. With my legal clients, I was always available, “6:00 in the morning on a Saturday, sure. You can call me.” You want to prepare because representing doctors, their time is at such a premium that sometimes it’s 4:00 AM and they want to have a conversation. Instead of saying, “That’s not going to work for me,” I would agree to that.

Here is the thing that I have learned. You end up feeling resentful. That resentful, negative and tired energy doesn’t serve anyone. It doesn’t make your client happy. It doesn’t make you happy. It doesn’t improve the relationship. Now I know that everyone is best served if I have those strong boundaries and I do what I can to advocate for them. I talked about this in the book. For someone who is a very well-known advocate, who was named one of the Top 50 Female Attorneys in the State of Pennsylvania, I was terrible at advocating for myself. Once I learned to do it, my entire life changed.

How did you learn how to do it?

It was a realization. I described it in the book. I was having a meltdown in my car. I was in back-to-back trials and I just started doing legal analysis. I was sitting outside of good day Philadelphia and wanted to be doing more of the TV. I wanted to start writing a book. I hadn’t yet written my first book. I was in a relationship. I wanted to spend more time with that partner and see whether or not that relationship was even going to work but I hadn’t asked for any of that. How dare I ask. Instead, I was resentful, upset, sad, frustrated and scared. I was sitting outside of the studio, crying my makeup off, which isn’t effective when you’re about to go on television.

I called my best friend and kept saying, “I need help.” She was worried for me. When I hung up, I realized, “I need an advocate.” What I would do for my client in that situation would be to get clear on what my client wanted and then ask for it in a way that makes me most likely to get it. That’s all advocating is. I had to do what I wouldn’t do for someone else. First, that’s getting very clear on what I wanted and needed and then asking for it in a way that was effective and most likely to get me what I wanted and needed.

POPR 730 | Advocate For Yourself

Advocate For Yourself: One of the tools of an advocate is words. The words that you use not only impact friends and family but also the part of you that listens and chooses.


It’s so hard for us sometimes to ask. For me, personally, I felt like I was being greedy or bossy. I was raised to not be either way. As a woman, sometimes I feel like voicing my needs comes across a different way than when a man does and that might be unfair. I’m working my way through that. I’m working on getting rid of the word “try” from my vocabulary, even with my husband. Readers, if you’ve been around for a while, you’ve known this. Sorry for the TMI but not sorry. Simple things like saying, “If you want some action, you need to get into bed earlier because waking me up at 3:00 AM or 4:00 AM when you come to bed doesn’t work for me.” I felt bad with that feeling like, “I hope he doesn’t come to bed and want something tonight because I need my sleep.” I realized, “I have to because I’m being resentful. I want my husband in my bed but he needs to know that doesn’t work for me.”

There’s so much that you’ve said there that I want to follow up on. The first thing is trying not to use the word “try.” I love that you are making that a priority because one of the tools of an advocate is words. The words that we use impact not only what I describe as our outer jury, which is friends, family, clients, customers and whoever it is that you want to persuade but also your inner jury, which in my definition is that’s the part of you that listens and chooses. When you work not to use words that impact you negatively, it’s work worth doing. I, too, work not to use the word “try” because I don’t know that it’s effective. Let’s talk about asking because what you’re describing is something that I, too, have struggled with.

I heard someone say, “A lot of people use research as me-search.” We write the things that we need to read and study the things that we need to learn. All of this is stuff that I needed to learn. I have always been very tuned in to other people’s feelings. Kim, I get the sense that you are as well. As a result, I usually know what they need before they have to ask for it. I work to give it to them if I love or want to serve that person. The problem is that we expect the same. We expect the people in our lives to know what we need without having to ask, to know what we deserve, what we’ve earned while we’re entitled to before we ask. If we’re forced to ask because they don’t, we feel like we’re asking twice and that feels needy.

The first thing is to recognize that if you haven’t said it, you haven’t asked it. If you haven’t told your husband, “I would be much more loving if you came to bed at 10:00 and looked for love than at 3:00,” then you haven’t said it. Even though you might feel like the way your body language and your hump thing, you’re making those noises and turning your back, that’s not asking for what you want. You’ve got to be clear. The last thing I would say and this was a bit of an a-ha moment for me. In the courtroom, the trials, sometimes there are a couple of days, a couple of weeks and even months.

At the end of the case, in our closing, I will always take the verdict sheet, which has the question that we ask the jury. The first question is, “Do you find that the doctor was negligent?” I will show them the verdict sheet and then I will ask them to answer the question, “No.” That’s my win. I am very specific in that because they want to make it clear and easy for them. What I realized is, “Why not be that specific with the people in my life and my outer jury in my own world?” When I started being that specific, everything changed.

If you haven’t said it, you haven’t asked it.

There’s so much there. You said another word that my therapist brought up with me because he noticed that I kept on saying, “I need.” He said, “What if you work on switching that to I will, I do?” With that said, do you have a list of words that you recommend your clients work on removing from their vocabulary?

I don’t because different words have different meanings for different people. For me, “try” is one of those words from Yoda, “You either do or do not. There is no try.” Some people like to think, “I’m going to try to.” It gives them some motivation. I do encourage the readers to know what the words that you’re using mean because we’re tough power. Maya Angelou was famous for she believed that words had energy and that they would enter the walls of her home. If people were using negative words in her home, she would kick them out because she didn’t want the energy of those words in her home. Words do have energy. It’s worthwhile for you to look at the words that you often use and think to yourself like, “What does this mean? Am I saying what I want to say here?”

The first tool in the book is elegance and a lot of people are like, “What?” The root of the word elegance is to choose. I looked that up because I liked the word elegance and I wanted to know what I was saying when I was using that word. I encourage the people I coach and also your readers to look at the word origin, “Where does the word come from?” That might also help you to develop some mantras for yourself, “What’s the origin of this word?” Own the word in a different way and then you can decide what the words make you feel. That’s a good signpost for the words you might want to stay away from.

Readers, you know I love my husband. I’m not trying to throw him under the bus. I told him I was struggling because when I was being brought up, my father would tell me he would do things and not follow through. When people tell me that they’re going to do things, I expect them to follow through. It hurts a lot when it doesn’t happen. I also realized that when I tell myself, my clients or my children that I’m going to do something, I would have a lot of guilt. With five kids, things happen all the time but I would feel so guilty when I wouldn’t follow through.

I’m working on that for myself but I realized a part of that also had to do with expectations. There are 24 hours a day. I am going to say the word “need” there. I need time for myself to unwind but I was loading my plate so full that I was committing to stuff that would take 48 hours in a day. “I can pull that together for you by tomorrow but I’ve already got 36 other things that I committed to doing for tomorrow. There’s no way I’m going to get them done.”

With that said, my expectations for myself, I’ve started doubling, tripling, even quadrupling the time frame that I say I can get stuff done in. When I come back and I get it done, by the time that I say, “I’m going to,” I feel so much better than not following through. The struggle that my husband and I had was his love language is touch and mine is service, which I’m sure you can understand based upon what I said. I said, “I’m struggling because it feels like you don’t care when you don’t do what you say you’re going to do.” At the same time, I was doing the same thing. We have to give ourselves grace.

That’s right and the fact that you’re communicating that to him. You already have a lot of great things in place. You’re seeing things through his perspective. The fact that you’re even aware of his love language and that in the confines of this conversation means that you’re seeing things from his perspective to some degree. That is another tool of an advocate and it’s a very valuable one. You should give yourself some credit for that. The other piece of it is it’s great that you’re giving yourself more time for things. Also, to be willing to say no is enormously helpful.

The other piece that’s often hard for my clients and for me is to be okay with B-minus work. If you only give yourself an hour or two to edit your podcast and you tell yourself, “I will get it done in that time,” sometimes that means it’s not going to be an A-plus work. There might be a couple of things in there that you don’t want in there. To know when a B-minus work is still going to get the job done and allow you to have the energy to do some of the other things is worth considering. Oftentimes, we hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations. When we don’t meet them, we want to hide. Instead, we want to make sure our expectations are realistic. When we can’t meet them and that will still happen, we want to own it so that we can build credibility with ourselves as well.

My B-minus work might be A-plus to somebody else.

Most of the time, it is. Most of the time, those of us that are perfectionists and very driven, it is the case. First of all, our B-minus is absolutely fine in meeting the expectations of other people and oftentimes over-exceeds other people’s. It’s giving yourself that little bit of a break. Also, sometimes it’s holding ourselves to the A-plus work. Seth Godin talks a lot about shipping it like, “You’ve got to ship the work. Holding onto the work, keeping looking at it and making changes to it, you will never get it out there in the world where it belongs.” Sometimes it’s the feedback on the work that makes the work even better. It’s a fine line. There are some people who need to aim for A-plus work but for the perfectionists who are reading out there, it’s being okay with a B-minus work. Giving yourself an hour to do a task that should take you an hour and then it’s done in that hour and you have to ship it is a good way to start training yourself.

With my oldest, his father is very scholarly and has different expectations. He’s like my mother. If I was not on the honor roll in high school then I was grounded. I’ve had to remember that C is average and okay as long as you do your best in the time that you’re given. This goes hand in hand with what you said. If any of my current husband and kids get a C but they did their best, that is okay with me.

Also, doing the C-work on something may give you more time and energy, which is even more important to do the A-plus work on something else. Not every kid is going to be good in every subject and traditional education. It’s important to recognize that we all have things that A-plus comes a little bit easier and it’s important to have those things in our lives. One of the things I have my coaching clients do is keep an evidence journal. I want them to keep evidence of their talents, skills, capabilities, passions, values and the things that they deserve. I ask them to write things down every day. It’s important to know where you do A-plus work so that you have that to look back on to remind you on the days when you’re not feeling so great about yourself. A kid who gets all the C’s in school might be phenomenal at music, acting, STEM, building or plumbing. There are many other things. It’s knowing that there is A-plus work out there that will come easy and in some things, a C will come hard.

POPR 730 | Advocate For Yourself

Advocate For Yourself: You’ll never know whether something is the right choice, but you can know whether it’s the right reason.


My second oldest and youngest are boys. The oldest and youngest boys are musically inclined. If they hear something once, they can hum and whistle it right in tune. They did not get that from me. I will never sing on the show. My second son was complaining because he got graded in Music in junior high. He must be tone-deaf. I love him dearly but seriously, his notes are nowhere near what the song is. As a kid in sports, there’s no competition there. It’s like, “Your genius is not in music. It’s in sports. You’re Math inclined, too. Don’t be bummed that you got to be in music. At least, you knew the note on paper.”

Everyone has to have their skills. Otherwise, we would all be the same, plowing away at school, music or sports. Having these different skills and knowing ourselves well enough to know that we have different things allows us to collect that evidence and then believe in ourselves.

As a mother, when my first was born, I quit my job. He had some health issues and I stayed home with him. I was feeling guilty because I didn’t want to be at home. I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. I wanted to be home taking care of him or I wanted him to be taken care of. I don’t know the right way to say that. Maybe both. Maybe some days, one more than the other but I wanted and loved to work. Finally, I advocated for myself and told my husband then, “I need to go back to work. This is making me crazy. I cannot stay home anymore.” There was resistance. How do you recommend taking those first steps to advocate for what we know we need to thrive and survive, survive and thrive or whatever way you put it?

Let’s take that situation as an example. Preparation is everything. The first thing is to see things from your husband’s perspective like, “How does he see this situation? Is he enjoying having me home because more things are done around the house? He feels more secure that our child is taken care of. He likes to have dinner as a family.” Once you see things from his perspective, it doesn’t mean that you’re agreeing with everything. I always say that, “If I don’t see things from the jury’s perspective, I can’t change it. You have to see it before you can change it.” Once you see things from his perspective, you can address his concerns. If he’s concerned about things not getting done in the house then when you talk to him about other options, bringing someone into the home or daycare.

You can also say, “Maybe one day a week, we can have someone help us out. Maybe I’ll end early on some days so that I can handle these things that I’ve been handling.” You can start to address his concerns so that he knows he feels seen and heard and you can both win. Perspective is one of the tools of an advocate. That’s one of the first ones that I would recommend that you use. Another is evidence. Collect evidence. “I’m more agreeable when I’m working. I’m more likely to be fun when you come to bed at 2:00 AM when I’m more agreeable. I will be a better mother.” It’s collecting the evidence to support your ask.

The last thing is asking questions. One of the things and I talked about this in the book in the Questions Chapter. This isn’t my idea. It’s Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s. She was the judge in the Larry Nassar case. I talked about her in my first book and everyone loved her. I went back to ask her some questions about the second book. She said to me, “I hate questions that begin with why.” My question was why. “Why do you hate questions that begin with why?” She doesn’t like them because she feels like it puts people on the defense. That makes sense because, in her world, she has a lot of sexual assault cases. She hears a lot of, “Why were you wearing that dress? Why were you out late at night? Why did you drink so much? Why were you walking alone?” Those are questions that will put someone on the defense.

She thinks when we’re talking to people we love, we should avoid that word. I wouldn’t ask your husband, “Why does it bother you so much that I wanted to go back to work? Why don’t you want me to go back to work?” Instead, something like, “Tell me what you’re feeling about this possibility. Tell me what most concerns you about this. Tell me where you think it could be helpful. Do you see any areas where this would be a good idea for us?” That type of curiosity and those questions will allow you to make a better ask when you’re advocating for the thing you want.

Be okay with B-minus work.

In a theoretical situation, a new client approaches you for coaching and they’re feeling unsettled. How do you suggest that they find where they are unsettled and how to advocate for themselves?

Unsettled in what way? I would want to explore that. I’m a big fan of mediation and listening to the voice within. Most of the time, when we’re talking about unsettled, it’s often deciding between different choices. The first tool of an advocate is elegance, which is also a choice. I have in the book a three-part process that you can go through in order to make the best choices. I want to be clear on this. We will never know ever whether we made the “right choice” because something I choose now could impact future generations in ways that I will never know. We’ll never know what the other choice would have brought.

In the three-part process, the first part is to know that you’re choosing. We often think that these things happen to us and that life is happening. We are constantly choosing. When the alarm goes off, if we hit snooze, we’re choosing not to get up and work out or spend time with our partner. When we get up in the morning and give our partner a kiss or good morning, we’re choosing to show some affection to start the day. All of these are choices. You have to know that you’re choosing.

The second part is to know. I say, “Who is choosing? Is it habit, anger or ego? Is it your mom’s voice or your partner’s voice in your head? Is it your inner jury, that part of you that wants what’s best for you and that should be choosing?” The last part is to know your reasons. I asked my clients to make a list of their reasons for one choice and the other choice and then, “What reasons do you like best?” That’s going to be the choice because you’ll never know whether it’s the right choice but you can know whether it’s the right reason. Most of the time, if someone is feeling unsettled, that process will help them.

I love how you brought up who was choosing because I thought you were going to say, “Even your spouse is choosing.” I never thought about guilt, fear and the voice in my head.

Those parts of us are most often choosing. Fear chooses often. Liz Gilbert has a great little riff on fear, where she says that, “It’s as if your life is a car ride and fear gets to come along for the ride. Fear needs to feel safe.” Fear is in the car, has his or her seatbelt on and sitting in the back. Fear does not get to drive, hold the map, control the radio and make your choices. In the best of all worlds, I call it the angel inside but it is your inner jury, the part of you that knows what’s best for you, that’s making your choices.

With my two oldest boys, one has his permit and the other one has his license. When I’m driving, they feel that they should tell me how to go, what lane to go to, where to turn.

I love it. They know all the rules.

I’ve only been driving for many years but they want to tell me how to drive. There are so many times that I want a roll of that metallic duct tape, electrical tape or whatever it is in the car. That might be classified as child abuse. You’ve got me imagining having that roll of metallic tape for fear, “Shut your mouth. I’m taping you up now.” I read and I need to reread it. You have me monitoring my needs. Think and Grow Rich, I read it at a point where I wasn’t ready to read it. When I say I need to reread it, it’s because I know there’s much more that I could have gotten out of the book. I just wasn’t ready to read it. One of the most memorable parts of the book was when he was talking about his board of advisors, the ones who are in his head. Who would you have on your internal mental board of advisors? Who would be your first three choices?

There are a lot of people outside of me that I would choose. Maya Angelou always comes to mind. She is someone who I often think of in those situations. My mother is another and my mentor at my law office. The way that I like to think about this is I like to think of Heather in the future. Maybe she’s 78. What would she tell me to do? What would she say about this choice? What would she say about the anxiety that I’m having about a comment that I made in a telephone call that I’m regretting?

I imagine her to be successful and happy. I see her very vividly. I work hard to picture her, “What is she wearing? What does her hair look like? What is she doing?” If I were to sit down with her and say, “I have this thing going on. What should I do?” I think that sometimes my best advice comes from her but I also often think about the people that I named. I think too it depends on the issue. If I’m looking to be more aggressive in the negotiation then it might be one of my mentors at the law firm who was always known to be aggressive. If I’m looking to be more loving or nurturing then it might be my sister. That board changes but the constant is future Heather.

It’s so fascinating that you have future Heather in there. I appreciate that. Visualization has become a more active part of my life. Do you use visualization often outside of future Heather?

I do. I know how powerful it is. I work to use it. I sometimes forget. We’ve got so many things. There’s a laundry list of things that we know we could be doing to improve. Meditation, yoga, working out, visualization and journaling. Even my mother will often say like, “You’re acting a little precious.” I can get myself like, “I’ve got to meditate, journal, visualize and do my mantras.” The day is gone. I do work to visualize the future Heather. That’s one that I’ve done enough that it comes pretty easily for me. I do work to visualize some of the things that I want in my mind’s eye. We do a vision board right around New Year’s, myself and some of my friends. They make fun of me because I leave a lot of white on my vision board. When they make fun of me, I always say and this is an Oprah line, “I believe that God has bigger plans for me than I could ever imagine for myself.” Instead of visualizing it, I offer it up to fill this space with greater dreams than I could ever imagine.

I got the biggest smile on my face when you said that you leave a lot of white because I’m staring at my vision board that’s right in front of me on my wall. The whole background of my vision board is turquoise because that’s my favorite color. There’s a ton of turquoise. Probably 1/2 to 2/3 of the board is turquoise with no words on it. My vision board is more of a word and a feeling board because it’s how I want to feel. Admittedly, my twins tore up my materialistic vision board. When they were about a year old, it fell off my desk. The next thing I know, it’s in shreds. That was probably the beginning of looking at my life in a different way.

Advocating For Yourself

Advocate For Yourself: Winning doesn’t always mean getting exactly what you want. It means that you always get something positive when you earn it by advocating.


I was reading The Full Spirit Workout by Kate Eckman. It was either that or I was also reading Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. In one of those two books, I was reminded that we are human beings, not human doings. That was a good gut punch like, “What do you want to be?” Not, “What do you want to do? What do you want to be, Kim?” Advocate to Win: 10 Tools to Ask for What You Want and Get It, is this your second book?

It is.

How did this book come to be?

The first book was called The Elegant Warrior: How To Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself. Publishers Weekly called it a template for achieving life and career goals. It’s a short paperback summary of some of the lessons that I learned in the courtroom that you can apply outside of the courtroom. I always called it, “That book all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten.” This is like, “All I ever needed to know I learned in the courtroom.” It was well-received but I felt like it wasn’t prescriptive enough. It didn’t give me the tools that I needed specifically to start advocating for myself.

Advocate to Win is meant to be very specific. If you use these ten tools on yourself and your inner jury first, always you first and then on your outer jury of clients, customers, friends, family, students, patients or anyone you want to influence and persuade, you can start winning. I want to be clear as we talk about words. My definition of win throughout the book and in my life is it’s a Cambridge Dictionary. It’s one of their definitions. It’s, “To receive something positive because you have earned it.” Winning doesn’t always mean getting exactly what you want but it means that you always get something positive when you earn it by advocating.

“Because you have earned it,” that’s the part that struck out to me. Many people think about winning but it’s not about earning. Sometimes it’s just about winning, “How did I get what I want? Did I do it fairly? Did I deserve it?”

When you earn it by advocating, there are so many something positives. That’s one of the things that they ask people when I work with them, “What is your something positive?” It’s best if you have a list because then you’re guaranteed to get some of them.

Before I met Dave, my husband, I created a soulmate spec sheet of things that I wanted. He had most of them. When you brought up the kindergarten lessons and then I was looking at your book title, I was thinking that one kindergarten lesson I would like to change is, “It’s okay to color outside the lines.” Why are we so worried about staying inside the lines?

It goes back to some of the things that we’ve talked about with women, feeling like we have to be perfect, we have to have A-plus work and we don’t want to be needy. A lot of it is conditioning. I want to remind people that it’s a choice. It’s so easy and tempting to think it’s not but all of your power is in the knowledge that it’s a choice. You can draw outside the lines anytime you want to or choose not to. That choice may have served you in the past but if it’s not serving you any longer then you get to make a different choice.

I didn’t have enough to do. I have a Psychology degree and many years of experience counseling my clients through trials but I wanted to specifically get a life coach training. I trained as a life coach over the summer. One of the many things I took away from that is the power that we have to choose and how many people don’t want to own that power because it puts them in control and sometimes it’s easier. This is wrapping us right back up to where we started to blame others instead of owning our entire lives and every choice that we make.

It goes along with what you said but on a little bit of a tangent. My son, the oldest one, had his senior awards ceremony. All the kids were dressed up in their suits and ties or dresses for the girls. The parents were looking nice and here comes Kim Sutton, me, with my T-shirt and sweatpants. I was like, “Jake, I’m sorry. I’m such a slob.” He was like, “You’re not a slob. You’re comfortable.” I was looking at the forecast because graduation is outdoors. We’re still dealing with COVID. We’ve had 80, 85, 90-degree weather here in Ohio. I was bracing for super warm weather, being out in the sun for a couple of hours. All of a sudden, the weather changed. It was going to be 55 and cloudy. I was like, “What am I going to wear?” I got this brilliant idea. I have a long skirt that I can very comfortably put sweatpants underneath. “I choose to be warm and comfortable. I am not the star of the show. I will win by being warm.”

How to Advocate For Yourself

Advocate To Win: 10 Tools To Ask For What You Want And Get It By Heather Hansen

Even if you are the star of the show so much of it is what’s going to be most comfortable for you. It’s all about energy. You are going to be giving off much better energy if you are warm and comfortable. This is why I stopped wearing heels most of the time. If I have cute shoes on and that does change the silhouette of an outfit. My face is grimacing and my energy is painful and angry. I am not going to be as effective as if my feet aren’t as cute but I have a big smile on my face. I’m bouncy and full of energy. Protecting your energy and making choices that serve your energy is an endeavor that is well worth undertaking.

I love that you brought up the shoes, too. I can’t even tell you how many events I went to where either I was just going to be in the audience or I was speaking where I got new shoes. I was so concerned about what my feet would look like but I didn’t think about the pain. Some of those were at resorts and you would have to walk a mile from your bungalow to the center like, “You didn’t think about this.” I realized after a few of these, probably 4 or 5, flip-flops work as well. I can have a lot more conversations when I’m standing up with comfortable feet than hiding in a corner, rubbing my feet and trying to find Band-Aids because my feet hurt. Heather, where can people get your book, learn more about you, connect with you on social and all that wonderful stuff?

The book is available anywhere books are sold. You can also find it on my website, where you can also find the videos that I’ve done, links to my show and links to the work that I do with people. That website is It’s the same as the title of the book. I’m on social, LinkedIn, Facebook, all of the things but I’m most active on Instagram. I share almost every day. That’s @ImHeatherHansen for Instagram. I share various things that I’m teaching in my courses and things that are coming up to me. I’m a voracious reader so I’ll share things that I’m reading. It’s my favorite place to play.

What are you reading?

I read a fiction book before I go to bed and then I read nonfiction during the day. I finished my non-fiction book, The Leader’s Brain, by Michael L. Platt. I’m going to be interviewing him. It’s a fabulous book. The subtitle is, “Enhance Your Leadership, Build Stronger Teams, Make Better Decisions, and Inspire Greater Innovation with Neuroscience.” It’s all about the neuroscience evidence for the things that we do. I started. It’s by Jon Acuff and it’s called Soundtracks. It’s about a lot of the things that we’ve talked about here where if you keep repeating thoughts in your mind, it’s like repeating a soundtrack. How do you put a different soundtrack on that will lead you to different thoughts that are more effective for you? I’m probably a quarter of the way in that one and it’s great. The fiction book I finished was That Summer by Jennifer Weiner and I loved it. A Special Place for Women is another fiction book that I started. I’m a voracious reader. I love to read.

Heather, thank you for being so enlightening. I’m looking forward to thinking about what future Kim would think about my decisions. I’m going to envision a turquoise metallic duct tape for the voice of fear in my head for the future. Thank you for all your wisdom.

Thank you so much for having me. I know that you don’t take that lightly. I appreciate it.

You are so welcome. Heather, do you have a parting piece of advice or a golden nugget that you can leave the readers?

It’s a reminder that no one can do it better than you. My clients always say, “I wish you could go up there for me to testify on the stand.” There were some times I wish that too but no one could do it better than them. They were the ones with the experience, passion, smarts, talent, heart and voice that the jury needed to hear. That is you. No one knows what you want and need and why you want to need it. Have confidence in that. Advocate for yourself and you will find there’s a difference in the way that you get responses.

Important Links:

About Heather Hansen

Heather Hansen author of Advocate to WinDuring her twenty years as a lawyer, Heather Hansen combined her psychology degree with tools of persuasion and influence to advocate for her clients. She is now on a mission to teach women these tools, understand the real meaning of “advocate for yourself”, and apply these techniques to all areas of their lives.