If You Dream It, You Can Do It – PediaCast 405
- I had the pleasure of welcoming Ashley Eckstein to the studio today. She is an actress, author and entrepreneur! Perhaps best-known as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Ashley is also founder of Her Universe, an apparel company for fangirls AND author of It’s Your Universe: You Have the Power to Make It Happen. In our podcast, Ashley shares her story of growing up with Disney and Star Wars… and how we can accomplish our dreams by wishing, believing, doing, transforming and trusting. We hope you can join us!
- Making Your Dreams Come True
- It’s Your Universe (Book)
- Star Wars and Fangirls!
- Ashley Eckstein
Actress, Author, Entrepreneur
Voice of Ahsoka Tano (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Author of It’s Your Universe (Disney Books)
Founder of Her Universe (Fangirl Apparel)
- It’s Your Universe (website) – Disney Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
- Ashley Eckstein | Her Universe (Twitter)
- Ashley Eckstein Book Tour
- Her Universe: Fashions for Fangirls
- Her Universe Blog
- Ashley Eckstein Interview – Facebook Live
Announcer 1: This is PediaCast.
Announcer 2: Welcome to PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. And now, direct from the campus of Nationwide Children's, here is your host, Dr. Mike!
Dr. Mike Patrick: Hello, everyone! And welcome once again to PediaCast. It is a pediatric podcast for moms and dads. This Dr. Mike, coming to you from the campus of Nationwide Children's Hospital. We're in Columbus, Ohio.
It's episode 405 for May 23, 2018. We're calling this one: "If you dream it, you can do it." Well, we welcome you to the program. As you can tell from the title of today's episode, I have a really special installment of the podcast for you this week. And you know, even though our audience is mostly parents: moms, dads, healthcare providers, folks who take care of kids. Even though that's out typical audience, I would encourage you to share this particular episode with your children, and your teenagers, and even your adult friends. Because I'm pretty sure, they will all find today's episode very interesting, helpful, and certainly encouraging. And the reason for that is because I have a terrific guest for you this week.
Ashley Eckstein is joining us. She describes herself as an ultimate fangirl of all things Disney and Star Wars, so you gotta love that. And even though Ashley grew up in a typical middle class neighborhood in Central Florida, she really has had a knack for making her dreams come true.
She started out as a member of an Orlando Children's Chorus, which sang at Walt Disney World on occasion, since the resort was in their backyard. And then, her first real job as a teenager was serving as a parade helper at Disney MGM Studios, as the theme park was known back then.
And if you've been to a Disney theme park, you know that the parade helper is not necessarily a glamorous job. I mean you're in the Florida sun, especially if it's an afternoon parade. You're walking down the street, making sure the street is clear, making sure that the performers, and the characters, and everyone is safe. Pretty much a thankless job, all eyes are on the parade. And she really wanted to be in the parade. That's what she auditioned for and was hoping to be hired in the parade, but instead had to be a helper. Well, eventually, it did lead to her being cast in the parade as a cheerleader. In fact, the Hercules Zero to Hero Victory Parade at Disney MGM studios. Well, as it turns out, being in a Disney Parade, so dancing and singing down the street at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. That was one of her childhood dreams. So it was a pretty big deal when Ashley accomplished it. And then, a few years later, she earned a role on the Disney Channel series, "That's So Raven". Another big dream accomplished.
Then she was cast as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars: Rebels", so dream number three. And then, a dream she didn't know she had until a few years ago. And that was to fill a void and provide fangirls with fashionable Star Wars apparel because all of the Star Wars clothing up to that point was designed for and geared toward boys. And the thought was Star Wars merchandise for girls: it's not gonna sell, no sense even wasting time making it. Well let me tell you, Ashley did not like that answer. So she set out to change things, which was a pretty big job requiring lots of team building, and maneuvering, and convincing, and proving, as she built a brand new company from the ground up, called Her Universe, which today, designs and supplies lots of fangirl merchandise for Star Wars and Marvel, along with many other popular sci-fi and fantasy brands.
So, that was dream number four. And I'm sure she's had many other dreams along the way as well, as we all do.
Dream five, by my count for Ashley, was to write a book, which really was a very recent dream because by her own admission, she never though she would ever write a book. But then she dreamed it, and did it very quicklike. It's a terrific book, by the way, in which she shares the secrets of her success, primarily with girls, it's the audience for the book. But her story certainly resonates and our chat will definitely be encouraging for all of us: girls and boys, women and men alike. And even though the Disney book is sort of marketed for girls, I would highly recommend boys read this too, and grown women, and grown men read it, because it's really is just a fantastic, encouraging story of Ashley Eckstein's life. And it takes a lot of hard work to realize your dreams, and she shares that.
In fact, she shares details from her story. She's going to do that today as well. And she provides concrete tips and practical ideas for making your dreams come true, whatever those dreams may be. We're also doing something brand new this week. And that is sharing our interview live with you as we record it on Facebook. And we'll be taking questions from our Facebook live viewers. So that's exciting. Now I realize, if you're hearing my voice now, you're listening to this as a podcast. So you've missed the opportunity to watch this live on Facebook. However, we'll put a link to the recording in the show notes for this episode 405 over at pediacast.org. So you can take a peek into the studio, if you'd like. And see it's actually recording the interview. It's a lot of fun. And for future reference if you would like a heads-up on the next time that we'll be on Facebook live from the studio, but be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and we will share announcements of those upcoming opportunities with all of you.
Okay, let's take a real quick break and then I'll be back with Ashley Eckstein as we explore how to make your dreams come true. That's coming up right after this.
Ashley Eckstein is an actress, author, and entrepreneur. She played Muffy on "That's so Raven" back in the day, and voiced Anakin Skywalker's Padawan, Ahsoka Tano on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars: Rebels". And she voices Mia, the Blue Bird, on "Sophia the First". Got to love that.
Ashley's also the founder of Her Universe, the groundbreaking fangirl fashion company and lifestyle brand, which porch unique designs from the Star Wars Universe, Marvel, Doctor Who, and Alice in Wonderland. And she's the author of the new book from Disney called, "It's Your Universe: You Have the Power to Make it Happen", which has a terrific message on how to achieve our dreams through wishing, believing, doing, transforming, and trusting. That's what she's here to talk about today: Making Your Dreams Come True, which is an important message, not only for kids and teenagers, but also for us parents and all other adults because it's never too late to dream. So let's give a warm PediaCast welcome to Ashley Eckstein. Thank you so much for being here today.
Ashley Eckstein: Oh gosh. Thank you so much, Dr. Mike. I'm thrilled.
Dr. Mike: We are thrilled to have you here. And I think, the first thing that folks would probably be asking is: "Why are you here?", "Why are you visiting Nationwide Children's Hospital today?"
Ashley Eckstein: Well, I'm here. I have had the absolute honor to do a book signing for the patients here at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
So that's what I did yesterday. I had an absolute blast. I'm on a nationwide book tour. And being the voice of a Star Wars character, I've had the pleasure of doing multiple events at different children's hospitals. And so I met the team here at Nationwide Children's through my company, Her Universe. And they invited me out to the hospital. And so we when we were planning the book tour, I said, "Absolutely, I have to go visit the hospital…. And also, with Her Universe, it's been a passion of mine from day one that we stand up for anti-bullying. And to me it's important that the Her Universe is a bully-free zone. And so I am just thrilled to find out about Nationwide Children's and the Big Lots Behavioral Health Center that's being built, that they're working on right now. And to see the construction, and hear more about it, and hopefully do a lot more work with Nationwide Children's.
Dr. Mike Patrick: We are really excited to have you here. And I think, when you realize that May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. And as we think about chasing our dreams and making our dreams come true, sometimes mental health issues can get in the way of those dreams, things like: anxiety, depression, bullying, certainly. So this really does tie in together because if you are battling mental health issues, you really need to get help for that so that you can continue to chase your dreams.
Ashley Eckstein: Absolutely. Actually, when I was meeting with the team, and I told them that I was going on a book tour on the month of May, and they were like: "It's Mental Health Awareness Month." And I am like: "That is perfect." Because it's something that we stand for year-round, but to be able to do a signing here and talk about it more, and just have the conversation during Mental Health Awareness Month is so exciting. That kind of the stars aligned, that I could be here on PediaCast and do the signing during this month.
But absolutely, I mean making your dreams come true starts in the mind. Actually, in the very beginning of the book, I asked the reader to do one thing. And I say, "Silence the voice in your head that says, 'No, you can't.' And please allow me to be that person for you that says 'Yes, you can.'… because my mom, I was very fortunate growing up, my mom told me as I got older that she had a rule with me and my siblings that her and my dad would never tell us "no." And shouldn't we know with discipline, trust me, we heard "no" several times, but "no" to our dreams. And as I thought back as a kid, she was right. She never told me "no". I used to want to be a Supreme Court Justice of the United States. That's what I wanted to be. And my mom always said, "Sure, you can. How are you going to do it?" And she would support me in our dreams. So no matter how crazy they were, she always said, "Yes, you can." And one of the most damaging things you can do to a kid is tell them "No, you can't achieve that."
And so in the very beginning of the book, it literally starts inside of you. You need to silence that voice says "no" and empower the voice that says "yes, I can."
Dr. Mike Patrick: I love that you've said that because, you see, so many times, kids do have big dreams and maybe they're even things that you think, "Well, I don't know if that really is attainable or not because, you know, there's only one president of the United States selected every four years." But when you tell kids "no", you really just see them deflated and it's much better to encourage and absolutely, those dreams can come true. I do want to mention that we're doing something a little bit differently on PediaCast this week, and that we're doing Facebook live along with it. So the folks out there watching, welcome.
Ashley Eckstein: Hi!
Dr. Mike Patrick: We're glad to have you and we will be taking some questions from Facebook live viewers. So if you do have questions and you're watching on Facebook live, please submit those and we'll try to get some of those answered for you.
So tell us a little about your book, "It's Your Universe, You Have the Power to Make it Happen". Just sort of to give us an overview about what this book looks like.
Ashley Eckstein: It is kind of two parts. It's part autobiography, so I do tell my story of growing up in Orlando, Florida. My dad was a Disney cast member. We have obviously a mutual love/obsession with Disney. Growing up loving Disney, and wanting to be an actress on the Disney Channel, moving to L.A., becoming the voice of a Star Wars character, and starting my company, Her Universe, which is a fashion and lifestyle brand for fangirls, for female fans. But more importantly, it's an advice book on how to dream it and do it. And I didn't want to just write a memoir or an autobiography because to be honest, I feel like haven't done enough to warrant a memoir. But I did and kind of meeting with Disney I said, if you would let me, the book that I would write is kind of an inspirational book on how Disney inspired me and influenced me to make my dreams come true. So it's a step-by-step guide as you, in the opening it said, it starts with a dream, but then a wish, then you have to believe, then you have to do, and then transform and then trust. And by the end of the book, hopefully you have a road map on how to make your dreams come true.
Dr. Mike Patrick: That's really incredible. So Mary Poppins in the musical said, "Chase your dreams, you won't regret it. Anything can happen if you let it." And you really are a living example that dreams can come true. I mean, you dream big, and you worked hard, and you met obstacles and barriers, which we'll talk a little bit more about. But just that encouragement that most dreams can come true if you work hard and pursue them.
Ashley Eckstein: You know, absolutely. And I'm so grateful and I say in my book that Disney magic exists everywhere. You don't have to live near a Disney park. I was very fortunate to grow up in Orlando and live near a Disney park, but Disney magic exists everywhere. And the impossible, if you believe in the impossible, it soon becomes possible.
And I think, for me, growing up especially with the inspiration and influence of Disney, I constantly had tangible examples of big dreams that I had, that they were real, and that they could come true. So I talk in the book about how wherever you live, find tangible examples. And it doesn't necessarily have to be the real thing. I mean like you said, you can't always meet the president of the United States. But in everyone's town, at any place, there's tangible examples of what you want to do. And the more that you actually see something or seek out real opportunities, all of a sudden, this huge dream that you may think is not possible, can quickly become possible.
Dr. Mike: So when you were using the example of "I want to be a supreme court justice", I mean there are some things that kids can do if that's really what they want to be. I mean you can go watch a day in court, you can contact a local office and say, "Can I shadow?", or just talk to someone about what it's like being a lawyer. I mean there's a lot of things really in everybody's hometown that will take you at least one little step closer to making that dream a reality.
Ashley Eckstein: Absolutely. And I was very fortunate my mom is a teacher. She just retired after, oh gosh I'm embarrassed how many years, over 25 years of teaching a lot. But she was always seeking out educational opportunities for us. So when I wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice of the United States, she immediately, she wanted to paint a real picture for me. My uncle was a lawyer. And so when we went visit in their house, they had them take me into his library. And he showed me all of the law books, all of the books that he had to read. And she painted a real picture, saying "Okay, if you want to go into law, and be an attorney, and then eventually a judge, this is everything you're gonna have to study." And then what really blew my mind is, it wasn't a Supreme Court Justice of the United States, but a female Supreme Court Judge of the state of Florida.
Actually came and gave a talk in Orlando. And my mom bought, she took me out of school one day, and she bought tickets for me and her. And we went and listen to her talk. And I got to meet a real female Supreme Court Judge. And I got to go and ask her a question. And that blew my mind because once again, it's like: okay this, she's real. If she can do it, then I can do it too.
Dr. Mike Patrick: Because she started out with that same dream.
Ashley Eckstein: Exactly.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And I love that in the book you have activities for each of these, you know, each of the things that we're talking about. So dreams, and wishing, and believing, and really activities to help you figure those out for yourself and what your dreams are. And for dreaming, it's really just to say the dream out loud, to share it, to let other people know. And again that's why it's so important for parents to encourage kids. And there's so many dream that folks can have. Whether it's you want to be an olympic ice skater, or you want to be a recording artist, and lots of dreams that aren't necessarily in the public eye too like being a lawyer, being a physician, a doctor, just so many things that you can hope and wish for and it's important to verbalize those.
Ashley Eckstein: It really is. That is the first step in making your dreams come true. It's to say them out loud. And sometimes, you don't even say them to somebody else. I talk to myself all the time. So sometimes even just if it's to myself, saying it out loud. Because all of a sudden, once you put it out in the universe, it starts to become real. But then I encourage fans to the next step is to say it to someone else and ask them to hold you accountable because once you say it out loud and somebody hears it, it's like a flip that goes off, a switch that goes off in your head. You flip the switch and you're like: "Okay, wow. I just threw it out there. Now it's real." And for me, I actually threw out my idea of Her Universe which is a merchandise line. I knew nothing about making merchandise. And so I had to learn from scratch. But I threw out the idea to my business manager who works with me as an actress and helps me with… as an actress you have to start a corporation, making sure all the taxes are dome correctly
And so, he's been my biggest fan from day 1. And so I throw my idea to him. And one day, I actually went in to tell him I was giving up. And I literally was ready to give up. He was the last person that I had to tell because I was going through a period in my career where I'd moved away from L.A. and all my agents managers gave up on me. And I expected him to give up on me too. And I went in and I told him and I was like: "You know what, I hit a brick wall. I'm just going to give up…. And he won't let me. And the fact that, and I thank him, to this day, the fact that I said it out loud and he chose to help me to hold me accountable made all the difference in the world. So throw out your dream and then ask someone if they'll hold you accountable and check in on you every now and then. And make you stick to your plan.
Dr. Mike Patrick: That is fantastic advice. And even going back to when you were a kid growing up in Orlando, I kind of look it, and correct me if I'm wrong about this, but I kind of think about wishes as little dream nuggets.
Like they're little things that we wish for that kind of propel us toward our big overarching dream. And for you, when your big dream was to be on the Disney channel, it would seem that a good wish in that direction would be to perform in a parade at Disney World. So tell us a little bit about how that wish kind of got going and what you did to pursue it and actually achieve it. Because it wasn't easy, correct?
Ashley Eckstein: No. It wasn't easy at all. And that is something I talk about in the book. And also I talk about how: if you have a pickle, obviously, being on the Disney Channel and all involved moving to L.A. and so many other steps. And so I remember, I went to my mom and I was like: "Mom, I want to move to L.A." And she, I was still in high school, and she said, "Well, sorry. You have siblings, your father and I have jobs, and we can't just pick up and move to L.A."
She said, "But you can do everything possible here in Orlando to build your resume, and eventually, when you're old enough, you can move to L.A." And so that's what I did. I was very fortunate to have Disney World in my backyard. And it was a dream of mine to be a dancer in the parade. So the second I was old enough, literally on my 16th birthday, I went and I tried out to be a dancer in the parade. And I think that's one thing. And I eventually did. I tell my story and it wasn't immediate. I actually had to do a job that I did not want at first to eventually become a dancer in the parade. And so I share that story in the book, but I encourage fans to, when they have a pickle, if you just only focus on the end, and you're going to get overwhelmed, and it's going to shut you down, I encourage the readers and the fans to break it down into nuggets. Break it down into smaller steps, and into smaller goals. And celebrate when you achieve one of those small steps. So for me, it was auditioning to be a dancer in a parade. And eventually, I became a dancer in the parade. And eventually, I was able to get an agent in Orlando. And every single small step led up to the eventual goal of moving to L.A. and becoming an actress on the Disney Channel.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And even with each of those little steps, there were barrier, and obstacles, and problems in the way. And that really I think is part of the difference between someone who sort of sets out on a dream and doesn't realize their dream and those who do get to the end. It really does take a lot of hard work and perseverance. And I think, if you have that expectation that there are going to be barriers and obstacles, if you have that sort of knowledge ahead of time, that really helps when you do hit those.
Ashley Eckstein: It does. I actually came up, and again, thanks to my mom, I'm so grateful to my parents for everything they instilled in me.
But I came up with what I call the "alphabet plan". And my mom, growing up, always said, "Well, when plan A fails, go to plan B. When plan B fails, go to plan C." And so as I was trying to achieve my dreams, I always had that at the back of my head. So when I hit a brick wall, instead of giving up, I would say: "Well, plan A failed. Okay. What's plan B?" So the eventual goal is still the same, but you're going to have a different plan because it's like Alice in Wonderland. You come to a fork and you can go this way or that way. And there's a lot of letter in the alphabet. So when I was moving to L.A. and then starting Her Universe, I kind of devised the alphabet plan. And l'm like: "Okay. Well, when there is a brick wall, I no longer view it as a stopping point." I view it as: how am I going to get over that brick wall. And so, I may need to change my plan, my initial plan may be the wrong way to go about.
So I have to alter it. But I will keep going until there's no more letters in the alphabet. And then after that, I joke that I'll probably call it the pi plan. And Pi is infinite numbers so it's 3.14 and I'll just keep going.
Dr. Mike Patrick: Yes. In terms of realistic goals based on talent, you do have to sort of take a step back and maybe even have someone that you trust who can be honest about what they see, your talents, and abilities are. Because some people, I mean you can practice and practice and practice and maybe this isn't really in you wheelhouse. So I don't want to say that's not he dream that you could do because in the right circumstances, and maybe you can practice enough to get it. But sometimes, there is sometimes realistic goals and maybe not-so-realistic goals based on your talent. Would you agree with that?
Ashley Eckstein: I absolutely agree with that. And I think you have to be flexible with what your goal is. I'm sitting here today, my goal was solely to be a full-time actress. I had no intention on starting a clothing line, but my path led me in this direction.
And I think you have to keep an open mind with what you start out, with what you want your goal to be, and where you end up. But I also think you do need to be realistic with yourself. So I believe that every person is born with a talent. Everyone is gifted in some way. Everyone has their own unique story to tell. And I think we just need to find that. Like, what is your talent? What is your story going to be? And one of the things I do, there is actually an activity in the book where I encourage the reader to ask someone else about themselves: What are you good at? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Also, really know who you are because how can you tell somebody else who you are if you don't know who your first? And it's kind of like the caterpillar with Alice in Wonderland. He says, "Who are you?" And she doesn't know what to tell him.
So I encourage the reader to kind of dive deep and do a self-reflection, and figure out who they are, what their talents are, what makes them different. I think, I'm sorry I'm rambling, but we live in a society, especially with social media, where we're almost encouraged at times to conform, and there's one look, there's one trend. And I encourage the reader to find out what makes you unique, what makes you you, what makes you different. And stand up for that. And so I ask the reader to do the opposite. To figure out everyone's different, and really kind of stand up for what makes you you.
Dr. Mike Patrick: I think that's a great point because it sort of goes back to: you really want to know what it is you're telling at the end, to think about that, think about what your dreams are.
And usually our dreams do sort of flow out of things that interest us anyway. And hopefully you already have a talent. So hopefully it's sort of few and far between that you'd come to the realization that maybe this dream isn't achievable because of a talent issue. But you do need to practice whatever it is that you do end up setting your sights on. And it is important to practice and work hard.
Ashley Eckstein: Yes. I talk about that as well and I think sometimes it sound so clichŽ. We just brush it off whenever we say: "Practice makes perfect." But it really does. And especially as adults, I think it's so easy to, when you hear "Practice makes perfect", to think that's just for the kids. It's not. I mean we all have to continue to hone our skills. We have to continue to do our research. And no matter what your skill is, whether it's an artist, or a singer, or something, a teacher. Constantly doing your research, honing your skills, practicing it everyday. I encourage kids that want to be artist, for example.
Just because some kids are naturally talented in art, but you always want to practice everyday and work harder than the person next to you. If you want your dream to come true, look at the person next to you and it's like: "Are they practicing everyday?" We're in a business where we constantly compare ourselves to other people and it's like, well, you think about it. It's like: "Okay, well, that person maybe are where they are because they're practicing every single day." It doesn't just happen. And so, I encourage kids: "If you want to be an artist, that doesn't take an organized class. It takes a pencil and a piece of paper. Draw something every single day. And your skills will improve.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And before you auditioned to be in a parade, when you're 16 years old, you spent some time in a children's chorus even just when you were doing that, were you thinking that "I'm learning, I'm singing because this is what I want to do. And this is helping me achieve that through practice"?
Ashley Eckstein: Absolutely, that was what I was thinking. I had a pivotal moment when I was in third grade. I remember it was Christmas morning and my parents gave me a present that, I literally remember unwrapping it like it was yesterday. And it was a hat. And on the hat it said, "Don't dream it. Be it." And my parents use that as the lesson because growing up, thankfully, I had Disney World at my backyard practically. So my parents would always take us to watch the fireworks. And they, we would look up in the night sky and see the fireworks or stars in the sky. And I love the song, "When You Wish Upon a Star". And my mom would encourage me to wish upon a star. And she'd just encourage us to dream.
And then on that Christmas morning, when I opened up, and I saw that hat, my parents said, "Okay, you're old enough now. You need to, those dreams aren't just going to fall in your lap, you need to dream it, but then you have to do it, and how are you going to it? So if you want to be, that time I want to be in the Mickey Mouse Club. And they said, "If you want to be in the Mickey Mouse Club, those kids practice. So I want to hear you practice your skills, your singing skills in your bedroom everyday.
And they really were strict about it. It was up to me to do it. They didn't force me to do anything but if I would throw out a dream, they would say, "Okay. How are you going to do it?…, "how are you going to achieve it?". And so they would guide me on opportunities that would help me pursue that goal, but I actually had to put the work in. And it made me realized that I wasn't going to fall on my lap. And so that's what I'm hoping with this book. I think it is a reminder for all ages because we should… there's no age limit to wishing and dreaming. So I'm going to dream until I die, but I,
Dr. Mike Patrick: You have more dreams and wishes ahead of you.
Ashley Eckstein: Definitely. But kids, I think, we need to have that teaching moment for them. We can't automatically assume that kids know how to make their dreams come true. We have to teach them how to make their dreams come true.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And once you have this dream, and you have some wishes associated with it, and you're going out there, and you are working hard, and you're practicing every day, there has to be an element of belief there, too, correct?
Ashley Eckstein: Yes.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And it's just important that you really do believe in yourself and that you can do this. How, especially when you're, it seems like the actual dream is way out there, and you're practicing, and it's hard, you're seeing other people around you doing the same thing. How do you believe?
Ashley Eckstein: That's where tangible examples help, because seeing real-life examples, seeing a real-life something seem like: "Okay. That is possible…. But one of my favorite quote that's in the Lewis Carroll version of "Alice in Wonderland…, because I have an "Alice in Wonderland… obsession, but it's: "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." And as crazy as it sounds, throwing out what may seem impossible and believing in it, it's like an exercise. Practice makes perfect. If you believe in the impossible, eventually, the impossible becomes possible.
But for me, and again, no one way is the right way. But for me, finding tangible examples, even if it's online, even if it's googling, finding real-life examples of something that you want to do, it makes it easier to believe.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And then maybe reaching out and talking to people who have had that same dream and had been able to achieve it that can give you pointers and advice and help you along the way and what sort of obstacles can you expect to hit. And just as an example, if you did want to be an Olympic skater, at some point, you're practicing, practicing, practicing. But you're going to need to reach out to people who can help you, in terms of a coach, who can maybe has experience with Olympics for you it was reaching out to find an agent. There's going to be a time when you really have to believe in yourself enough to take that next step, which can be really difficult, because we're putting ourselves out there and risking sort of bigger failure when you take that step.
Ashley Eckstein: Yes. I actually talk in the book: "a very important step is to ask questions…. I often say and find and even with my experience that the difference between someone that makes their dream come true and somebody that doesn't is they weren't afraid to ask questions. I didn't get to where I am today without help and without somebody answering my questions. And I feel like we all, we get to a place, and I talk about building a team and relying on others. And we get to a place because people have helped us along the way. And once you kind of get to that end goal, you want to return the favor. You want to pay it forward. And so I just encourage the readers, especially, "don't be afraid." What's the worse they can say, "No, I don't have the answer to that….? But oftentimes people do. So don't be afraid. Ask the question. And oftentimes you're going to be surprised at the result you get because people want to help. They naturally want to help you.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And even if they can't give you advice themselves, maybe they will be able to point you in the right direction or help you find someone that can help achieve that dream. You talked about, really when you went from being an actress to thinking about starting a clothing company, I imagine that you had to really surround yourself with support and reach out. And when you'd mention that there was a pretty big team assembled.
Ashley Eckstein: Yes. When I first had the idea of Her Universe, another person I talk about in my book is my husband. He really helped to transform my dreams into becoming a reality. And he's my other team member. But when I first had the idea, my husband said, he goes, "You have my full support,… he said, "but surround yourself with people who are smarter that you…. And he didn't mean that, he wasn't saying that I'm not smart, but he was saying, "You don't know how to do all of this…. It's like I had to apply for a license to make Star Wars clothes. I didn't even know what that was. And a license is a legal contract where Lucasfilm and Disney is giving me the rights to make merchandise using the Star Wars logos and characters.
So I had to figure out licensing contract. I had to start my own business, which meant I needed to find a lawyer that can help me with trademarks. And it was all of these things that I had no clue to do so I assembled my team. And I did. I found my attorney, I found a licensing expert. And I kind of built my inner circle. I spoke about my business manager I had to write out a business plan. And so build your inner circle, build your team, find people you trust, and then one step at a time. And it's very important to kind of assemble a team. It takes teamwork to make the dream work.
Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. And even when you have that team, you're still going to hit walls and barriers. It's just part of the process. And again, if you sort of anticipate those in the beginning when you do hit those, then you can go on to the alphabet game and go to plan B, go to plan C. And so I think people would be surprised that as an actress who is already working sort of with Lucasfilm that you did have some issues with them being on board with you doing Star Wars clothing. Talk a little bit about how you overcame that barrier.
Ashley Eckstein: I did. I thought it would be easy, honestly and naively. I thought, wow! I'm an actress for "Star Wars…. I have my foot on the door. I'm just going to go to them with my pencil sketches and say, "Hey! You're not doing merchandise for female fans. I'd like to work for you and do it…. And they actually told me "no…, and they told me "no… twice. And they said, "No, because we only work with reputable companies and we only give out licenses.
And instead of hearing just "no…, I allowed myself to hear, "No, because…. And I realized that they weren't saying no to my idea. They were saying no to how I was going about it. And so I took a step back and realized: okay, well, what are they telling me? They're telling me I have to start a company and they're telling me I have to apply for license. And so I'm so grateful that they did that, because the first way how I was going about it, my plan A and even my plan B was not the right way. And I wasn't setting myself up for success. But I very easily could've just heard no and walked away. And so… forgive me. I forget where I was going with this.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And there are so many instances that people have dreams and wishes, and they're kind of pursuing them, and you hit those little road blocks, but you do. I mean there are tons of examples of that same sort of thing where you have to figure out another way around that obstacle.
So if you, for instance, if you do want to be an ice skater, then the first coach that you reach out to is like: "No, I don't think you're not talented enough…., or "I already have too many people…., then reach out to another one. And reach out to another one. Or if you have a dream of going to a medical school and you don't do so well on your admission test the first time. Rather than giving up, study more, take the test again, or maybe you need to, you're going to apply to schools that aren't quite as competitive but you're still going to be a doctor at the end. There's different ways around whatever dream that we have that sometime you just need to take a different path.
Ashley Eckstein: Absolutely. And I think for me, I already had my first share of experience with rejection. As an actress, it's essentially a business of rejection. They often say sometimes for every one hundred auditions you go on, you get one job. And at this point I had been cast as the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars. But I had been auditioning for animated shows for four years.
That was hundreds of auditions where I was rejected and told no. And in some cases, I even got the part, and then I was recast, which is even more heartbreaking. Because you have it and then they take it away. But sometimes people, they're not necessarily in a career where they have to deal with rejection that often. And so I encourage, I like telling my story of how much rejection that we constantly deal with, because sometimes you're just feeling like you're not the only one being rejected, knowing that you're not alone. And I think it's true for any dream, any profession, anything you set out to do. Life is a roller coaster. You're going to deal with ups and downs and ups and downs. And someone told me life is a marathon, not a sprint. And so if you look at it at that way, know that you're going to hit brick walls. Know that you're going to come up across dead ends, that rejection is just part of it, but eventually, you'll reach that finish line of your goal.
Dr. Mike Patrick: Yeah, I mean, four years of auditioning.
Ashley Eckstein: Four years, yes.
Dr. Mike Patrick: I mean you really have to be so persistent. And I think that's probably where a lot of people do end up stumbling. Because you just hit rejection, rejection, rejection. And at some point, you're just like: "I can't deal this anymore…. and sort of give up on your dream. And then others just kind of alter their dream, and they still reach their dream; it just changed as they went on. I do have a question from a Facebook viewer.
Ashley Eckstein: Oh great!
Dr. Mike Patrick: Karen wants to know what advice do you have for kids, or even adults, who don't have anyone who support their dreams.
Ashley Eckstein: That's a great question. Hi, Karen. Thank you for asking a question. That is something I thought about when writing the book. And so I actually say in the book, "If you'll allow me, allow me to be that voice to say, ‘Yes you can.'… And I just, I was very fortunate, where I was surrounded by people that encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
But I would say, the nice part about living in the world we do now with Social Media. And you're constantly surrounded by opportunities, really to meet people that aren't necessarily in your town. I would just keep searching, keep finding, and keep talking. Sometimes you feel like you're alone because you don't say it out loud. That's part of achieving your dream is saying it out loud. And I think if you kind of throw out your dreams enough and talk about them, you will find that person. And so, say it out loud. Sometimes, fine, there's all sorts of resources while the internet can be a scary place and dangerous place, it's also a wonderful resource where there is groups, there is blogging groups who are just talking about one on the way over where it's people who are starting their own communities and blogs.
They've come together for their own community. And so, the internet can also be a beautiful place to bring like-minded people together. So I think it just starts by throwing your dreams out there. Because you may feel alone, but oftentimes, that is only in your head.
Dr. Mike Patrick: You can also look at it from everyone else's point of view that if we ask people about their dreams, and encourage them, and we were that voice in their life to say, "It's okay to have that dream, and I want to encourage you and hold you accountable…. Like if we were all doing that for the people that we know and love, then eventually, there would be someone else who would be doing that for us as well.
Ashley Eckstein: Yes. Absolutely. So I would encourage people. I'm actually calling it a dream warrior. So I am encouraging people to be dream warriors with me. And a dream warrior, in my mind, is somebody that goes out there and fiercely makes their dreams come true, whether they're yours or someone else's.
So Karen, one thing I would say is if you feel like, or somebody feels like they don't have someone, I say come to Her Universe. Her Universe to me or on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. Fans come to me all the time. And I ask them to join the conversation. And it's mostly me online. And if you have a dream, send me a tweet. Or an Instagram post. My dream now, my new dream, is that our readers… that their dreams come true. And I want to be a dream warrior. And I want to fiercely go out there and help make dreams come true. So I will be your advocate. If you feel like you have no one, then come and send me a message.
Dr. Mike Patrick: Oh, that is fantastic. Aaron on Facebook wants to know what's the most rewarding part of writing your book. And I think that sort of hints at it right there.
Ashley Eckstein: Yeah. I think, to me, and I should have said it in the beginning, I actually asked Disney if I could write this book. I joked that if they teste my DNA that I would have a chromosome, that I would have a Disney chromosome in my blood.
I love Disney. It's just a part of who I am. And I'm not sitting here today on this PediaCast if it weren't for Disney. And so I want to pay it forward, and I want everything that inspired and influenced me, This isn't just my message. I'm just sharing what worked for me. And again, there's no one way. And I think aside of kind of paying it forward, also the fact that the book even exists, one kind of fun fact is one of the things I said I would never ever do is write a book. That was one thing I felt like I didn't have the talent to do it. Now is okay for that, actually. I thought the most I can every write was an essay. And so when I had the opportunity, they did pair me with a wonderful author named Stacey Kravitz. And she's written several books, and she's a brilliant writer. And she helped me come up with the structure of the book and the chapter outline. And I talked to her for two months.
And after two months, she said, "Okay. I've listened to you talk for two months. Here's what you're trying to say…. But then when it came to writing the book, I realized that if I want this in my own voice, I need to write it myself. And so that's what I did. I locked myself in my apartment and I wrote for five days straight. And I didn't censor. I just wrote, and wrote, and wrote, like I was having a conversation. And so the fact that if this book exists, then that's, in my mind, the impossible becoming possible. So if I can write a book, then you guys can do anything. Trust me.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And this is another example of really surrounding yourself with people smarter than you that can help you and give you advice and point you in the right direction. And, just, that is so important.
Ashley Eckstein: It really is. Because I realized that I was capable of writing a book. But the one thing that was holding me back was kind of the outline, the structure. And I'm so grateful to Stacey because she's written several books on empowerment and kind of achieving your dreams. And I'm so grateful that she kind of empowered me and kind of taught me that: "No, I can do this….
Dr. Mike Patrick: The beginning of our time together, we had mentioned that it's Mental Health Awareness Month. And as we talk about barriers, and needing help, and really networking, asking people to kind of buy in to our dreams. It is true that anxiety and depression can really be that roadblock. And so I would just encourage folks. If you are feeling that, or if someone has mentioned to you: "Hey, you seem anxious,… or "you seem depressed…, to really listen to that and reach out for help. Because even the most successful people who have overcome so much, at one time or another, have had those same issues, right? I mean there's a lot of people in the entertainment industry who have dealt with anxiety and depression, and have really had to get help from someone. And so know that you're no alone, and it is okay to reach out and get that help.
Ashley Eckstein: It really is. And I am actually here today to educate myself more.
And I'm so grateful to the staff here at Nationwide Children's Hospital for helping educate me because it's something that I want to do more of. I've said from "Her Universe… from the very beginning that, I've encouraged fans to come join the conversation. And we have fans from all different paths and walks of life. And so I want to talk more about how we all struggle with anxiety and demons and depression and we have that negative voice that's in our head that's constantly trying to sabotage our dreams. And so I want to be more of an advocate and be more outspoken about the voice in our head that says, "No, you're going to fail…. And I always say people have been asking me what's one of the most important lessons in the book. And I talked about how it's okay to fail. But unfortunately, when we do fail, oftentimes there's that voice in your head that just shuts you down and says you failed. It's because you're never going to be good at this, you're never going to achieve your dream.
And if through the conversation by saying, "You're going to fail. But you know what? You're going to learn from it, you're going to pick yourself back up, and you're going to keep going, and you're going to eventually make your dreams come true." That's the conversation I want to flip the script and make failure the part of one of the chapters and an important step. But that's not going to be the end.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And failure, I mean you can really get good lessons. I mean you said learn from your mistakes. But I mean part of who you are today and where you are would not be there without a lot of those failures in the past. So, I mean, it's really an important part of the journey. And the other concept that you bring up in the book is really, as we chase our dreams, there really is a transformation that takes place in terms of not only our interest, but really who we are as people.
Ashley Eckstein: Yes. I think once you've put the work in, it' all about breaking your dreams coming true down into steps.
And so you kind of put the work in and then you need to just transform it from an idea or a dream into a reality. And one thing that I talked about in a lesson, really my husband was instrumental and helping me realize was finding your "why…. And Simon Sinek wrote a book. Start with "why…, but for me, I had this dream of being an actress but something wasn't clicking. And I remember, it's just like, I did have success, but I'd never, there was always this empty feeling at the end of the day. And when I had the idea of Her Universe, when I became the voice of a Star Wars character, and I realized like my dream is to help people to empower fan girls and I realized when I had the platform of Star Wars and my character, Ahsoka Tano, I had a platform to just empower girls to be themselves, and to follow their dreams, and love this world of sci-fi, and fantasy, and pop culture. And so my "why" became, it wasn't, it was no longer me being an actress. It was about as an actress, using the platform I'm given to empower others and to make other's dreams come true. And so that took my dream of being at actress and transformed it into kind of what my new dream is today.
Dr. Mike Patrick: That was fantastic. I want to kind of close things up on one more quote from your mom. So you said, your mom never said no and really encourage you with your dreams. And one of the quotes I love from your mom was, "When in doubt, trust your gut."
Ashley Eckstein: Yes
Dr. Mike Patrick: And you've had to do that quite often.
Ashley Eckstein: My mom's going to be so thankful that you brought this up because it's something she taught me as a young girl and still to this day, she reminds me…is trust gut.
And Jiminy Cricket always says, "Always let your conscience be your guide." And I actually say it's our super power. We look up to these super heroes and we dream about having super powers. You actually already have it. We have all the answers that we need already inside of us. You gut will tell you what to do. The hard part is trusting your gut and following it. So, when in doubt, listen to what your internal voice is telling you. And follow that. But sometimes, the path that your gut is telling you to take is not the easy path. It's the longer path, it's the harder path. And so just trust your gut because, trust me, every single time I didn't listen to my gut, it didn't work out. But every single time I did trust my gut and followed it, was always the right way.
Dr. Mike Patrick: Great. That's great advice. So tell us where folks can find your book. Probably everywhere, your book are found, right?
Ashley Eckstein: Oh yes! Anywhere, books are sold. So you can get it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, your local book stores. Definitely I love supporting my local book stores. You can get it on heruniverse.com, hottopic.com, or boxlunch.com sells it as well. So you can find it wherever books are sold. And you can also find Her Universe and they can kind of join the conversation online with us or on instagram @heruniverse, facebook: the official heruniverse fanpage, or twitter @heruniverse. And that's me. I will say, there are a couple of Ashley Eckstein pages. Those are fan pages, but just I want to encourage fans, that's not me directly talking to them. If you come to @heruniverse, that's me, and often times, I'm directly talking to you.
Dr. Mike Patrick: Before we start recording you were on your phone. You were there. You were on your twitter all the time right?
Ashley Eckstein: Yes.
Dr. Mike Patrick: And I will put links in the show notes for this episode 405 over pediacast.org so folks can find it easily. So we'll have links to the book, we'll have links to your book tours so folks can see where you're going to bem and then you can come out and then meet you in person. And also have links to Her Universe and Her Universe Blog, and we'll put all that in there. So if you're watching, if you're listening, just head to pediacast.org, look for the show notes for episode 405 and we'll have all the links here so folks can find it, find you very easily.
So Ashley Eckstein, actress, author, entrepreneur, it's just been wonderful talking to you today. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Ashley Eckstein: Oh gosh. Thank you Dr. Mike for having me. And thank you everyone for watching!
Dr. Mike Patrick: We are back with just enough time to say thanks to all of you for taking time out of your day and making PediaCast a part of it, really do appreciate that. Thanks to our guest this week, Ashley Eckstein, actress, author, entrepreneur. Again she is the voice of Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars; author of the book, "It's Your Universe" from Disney books; and founder of Her Universe fangirl apparel. And we'll put the links to all that she does, all her projects, in the show notes for this episode 405 over at pediacast.org. I just really appreciate Ashley sharing her story. It's so encouraging to know that your dreams really can come true. Now sure, you'll need lots of hard work, you'll need to practice and practice and practice some more, and you can expect to hit obstacles and barriers and road blocks, and you'll probably need to change your plan and alter your course several times as you proceed.
But at the end of the day, with enough practice, and hard work, and perseverance, you really can make your dreams come true. You can do it! Now, if one of those barriers that you are up against is emotional or mental health-type concern, perhaps anxiety, or depression, maybe you're being bullied, first know that you are not alone. And those feelings or whatever it is that you're going through, they're not your fault. The most successful people you can think of have had those very same challenges. The important thing is recognizing that challenge, and then reaching out for help from someone you trust. And likewise, if you see somebody else struggling, please reach out and be that help for them. And in that way, we can all get a little closer to making our dreams come true.
Thanks again for stopping by. Until next time. This is Dr. Mike saying, so long, everybody!
Announcer 2: This program is a production at Nationwide Children's. Thanks for listening! We'll see you next time on PediaCast.