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139. Great Things Can Come From Negative Emotions with 11 Minutes Producer Ashley Hoff

Updated: Mar 7

Sincerely, Future You - Life Coach Jessica McKinley Uyeno

Great things can come from negative emotions. Ashley Hoff did exactly this as the Executive Producer of “11 Minutes”, a 4 part documentary series on the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This is a different episode than normal, but it’s an important one that Happsters need to hear. Ashley is not only a dear friend of mine, but a Happster.

In this episode, Ashley describes the day of the shooting, the good that came from this horrific event, and advice for people who are struggling from trauma.I hope this episode shows the power we have over our thoughts and emotions.

"11 Minutes" Trailer:

Watch on YouTube:

Full Transcript:

Ashley Hoff 0:00

We all have the beauty and all of the positive effect that I've seen this piece in just two weeks have on hundreds of 1000s of people who actually came from a negative thought and emotion Life is 50/50. And if you can settle back into that, and instead of looking at what feels like a negative 50 as failure or a bad day, instead look at it as an opportunity, or even look back on it, with admiration about where it brought you. Who that's, that's the good stuff.

Jessica McKinley 0:41

Welcome to Sincerely Future, You a podcast that helps ambitious women like you and make decisions today with the future you in mind. Okay, I am so excited for you guys to get to know Ashley. Not only is Ashley, an ambitious storyteller, a producer and a creative leader, most recently known for her work as an executive producer on the upcoming Paramount plus documentary series "11 minutes", which we're going to talk about. But she is also a happster. And a dear friend of mine. And I wanted to have her on the show. It's kind of crazy that she hasn't been on the show yet, because she has made so many breakthroughs and has taken the happster tools and made them her own not only within her work, but in her personal life as well, in so many different ways at so many different levels over the past year. But now that her project is coming out it and she's been doing all of these other podcasts interviews, if you just search her name, Ashley Hoff, I'm sure you will, you will get to learn more about the story that you'll get a sneak peek into today, and about her documentary series. But really, I wanted you guys to have the privilege of understanding and peeking behind the curtain of like how an A hamster actually uses these tools to process through some really emotional shit while they are getting the job done. So this is going to be a little bit of a different podcast interview than the ones that she's been doing in the Hollywood scene these days, but I think it's going to be really special. So Ashley, thank you for coming on the show.

Ashley Hoff 2:28

Thank you for having me. I'm I'm so excited to be here. I I literally don't know how I would have made it through the past year without you and coaching. And it is my supreme honor to get to share a little a little bit of that with the rest of the world.

Jessica McKinley 2:47

Yeah, so obviously, people are like, oh, a documentary series. What is this? So I'm gonna give you just a second to not a second, a couple of minutes, however long it takes for you to tell us a little bit about 11 minutes and why you are the person to be telling us this story.

Ashley Hoff 3:06

Absolutely. So a little over five years ago, I had a fourth row seat to our nation's largest mass shooting to date, it was in Las Vegas, Nevada at the route 91 harvest festival. And coming out of that situation, you know, I, my husband, the people we knew were blessed to walk away as survivors. And as a storyteller, I watched the story fade out pretty quickly. And as these sort of yearly markers would come up, we'd see it reenter the news cycle again. And I found myself really disappointed that the point of view that was often explored was that of the worst person there. And it just wasn't the history that I held on to when I was having hard days, I remember bearing witness to some of the most incredible moments of humanity, I believed that I ever will. And truly just people not only showing up for each other, but putting their lives on the line for each other. And as this five year marker approached, that's really the history that I wanted to see recorded that I wanted to hear talk about I wanted. I wanted the focus to be on the light that was in the darkness, not on the darkness. And so for quite some time, it's as a storyteller been pushing and pulling on my heart. I'm a person who believes in reason and the unreasonable and I always thought maybe, maybe that's why I was there that night. Maybe that's why my feet were planted at that concert is because I'm a storyteller. And as media we get the honour of not only writing history we get we're actually the only people who can rewrite history. And so I really wanted to take the opportunity to Change the point of view that was discussed on this particular anniversary and like I said, put a light on the stories that have inspired me for the past, you know, several years.

Jessica McKinley 5:12

Yeah. And so 11 minutes you mentioned is really about the survivors. It's about the people who walked away and kind of what now. And so tell us a little bit about that, and about kind of your role in coming, having this experience bringing it to life. And then now it just is available now in streaming on Paramount plus, I actually can't believe it. Because I'm in the process of like, renewing my Paramount blood so that I can go and watch it all. It's never been quite the emotional time. Because obviously, this is a it's a very intense series. And for you being someone who is a part of it, like how did that work with you showing up to work and then also being not just the subject, but the producer?

Ashley Hoff 6:04

Yeah, it's, it's interesting, this was sort of the exact collision of my personal and professional life, I've never, I've definitely worked on things that I've taken personally, or that I've had a personal investment in as a storyteller, it's never been quite like this, this, you know, this wasn't just a story, this is an actual memory for myself and 22,000, plus other people. So not just for me, but also for them, it had to really be done with integrity and respect, and truly with love, you know, I think a lot of people initially got asked to share their story or got approached about what happened to them when it was very raw, and they weren't in a headspace to actually be able to figure out is this is this a story I want to share with the world? And how do I want to share it? We've had some breath in between the incident and when we started making the documentary. And so for me personally, it was, okay, how do I work to, you know, to use the old airplane adage, put my own mask on first, so that I can be a a leader and a support system. For other people who feel called to tell their story, I believed I got the story, for a reason. And if other people felt the same, which I knew there were people out there who did, how was I going to first work on myself so that I was truly emotionally and physically strong enough to be able to help them through that journey. Some of them telling their stories for the very first time, some of them telling it in details, they hadn't for many years, some of them, you know, telling it for the 100th time yet everybody was in a different place that we spoke to. And so, you know, I can't say enough about, you know, mental health care and weekly therapy and weekly coaching and everything it did to give me the tools to be able to not just tell what I believe is an incredibly important story, but to be a leader and a support system for other people who are going to be a part of this journey.

Jessica McKinley 8:34

Yeah. And I think if anyone is currently listening, and you're going through it right now, whether it is I mean, my audience, the people that were are listening right now are business owners, but I always say business isn't personal, but it is emotional. And I think it's really something that's not talked about enough of like, how do we put ourselves in a position like you said, to be strong enough to get the job done to get the result that you wanted to have the impact that you want this documentary to have? While you're also processing through, in your case, serious trauma. And so if you're listening, and you're going through whatever it is, you're going through, for me as a business owner, my first real serious, negative emotion that had to prop process was when I was going through my miscarriage. And I had to figure out like, how do I prioritize my own mental health and get to the place where whatever I'm delivering is not from an open wound, but rather from a scar? Or how can I get neutral enough to be able to put distance between me and the thing that I'm talking about, so that I can remain unbiased? So obviously, you mentioned a couple of the ways but what what advice Do you have for anyone who is kind of in an emotional? We call it the 5050. Right? But in that negative 50%?

Ashley Hoff 10:10

Absolutely, I as a person, I am genuinely an emotional and a heartfelt person. I feel the feels, and I feel I'm real deeply and I you know, you know, from coaching sessions, I have a heart I, I'm hard on myself about that. i A lot of times struggle with is being emotional, especially honestly as as a woman, is it a, is it being viewed as a good thing or a bad thing. And I, I truly believe that. I've tried to, I truly believe that I've worked hard to own it as a superpower. And I actually think it was you who said to me, you know, this wasn't a normal thing. And it would be far more abnormal to pretend it is. And so I think, you know, what I would encourage others to say is bringing your vulnerability to the table. It only encourages that from other people, it encourages a safe space, and it lets them know that you are coming as your authentic self. And I'm not saying like there's a time and a place to to keep it professional. But I think there's something you know, that we struggle with in business forms sometimes, which is, you know, do we have to show up and just keep it all together all the time and be this tough cookie. And I truly think there's a time and a place for both. And I believe that showing up authentically is really what allows other people to feel most comfortable with you and goes a little bit further in the long run. I also mentioned because I think it was perhaps the thing in the past year that we've talked about that rocked me the most, which is you know, really incredible things can come from a negative thought or emotion. And I will never forget the morning you said that to me. And I don't know if I even spoke for like an hour afterwards I journaled like a crazy person. i Everything about this project came about because I was dissatisfied about the narrative that I heard out there. So truly, if I'm on it, all of the beauty and all of the positive effect that I've seen this piece in just two weeks, have on hundreds of 1000s of people actually came from a negative thought and emotion. And so I it's true, it's life is 5050. And you if you can settle back into that, and instead of looking at what feels like a negative 50 as failure or a bad day, instead look at instead look at it as an opportunity, or even look back on it with admiration about where it's brought you. Who that that's that's the good stuff. And I mean, listen, I'm, I'm preaching it like I'm an expert right now, but it took me a long time to really be able to reckon with with that life lesson.

Jessica McKinley 13:34

Yeah, I mean, you need to give yourself grace and space, of course. And then it's like balancing that line. Like, I know that it's going to take me time to be able to have the full perspective. But while I'm in it, what can I do to kind of just get myself back to somewhat neutral while I'm trying to process through and add some value. So talking about the project and the actual work that you were doing, once it got the green light, and you knew that you were going to be working on this. Can you I mean, I know that you give us a high level of what the what the Docu series covers. But can you tell us a little bit more about your specific story. I know the maybe tell us about the the article that you know, my producers were reading earlier and just saying that they got that chills that it was so well articulated that they were right there with you and I know you're such a brilliant storyteller. I always compliment Ashley on her on her gifted emotional vocabulary because I say that really it is a skill that helps you experience life at such a deeper level because your emotions are just vibrations in your body that come from a sense didn't send your brain and tweaking one of those words a little bit changes your physical experience of it. And so when people were reading the article that you told and your personal experience at the concert that they, they were able to actually feel the empathy that you that is required for people to take action and to have that value add. So just tell us a little bit about that story.

Ashley Hoff 15:32

Absolutely. So I had attended route 91 several times it's what my husband and I did to celebrate our anniversary every year we are very different people but always had a mutual

Jessica McKinley 15:45

I didn't know that that you had gone like consistently every year. No, I didn't know that.

Ashley Hoff 15:50

Yeah, no, we so we we had gone multiple years, honestly. And I always feel a need to shout this out. Because I know several people who work to put on this festival, it was the best darn time until it wasn't it was you know, you think of music festivals are often out in the desert or and you know, I'm from Iowa that are out in a field somewhere you're camping, you're dirty. It's like kind of gross. This was the exact opposite. You got a lovely hotel in Vegas, and you could easily bought back and forth for the show. And if you weren't a fan of someone or you needed a break, you went to the pool or you went to a nice dinner or you saw another show it was it was special and even the artists would tell you that looking back on that see of people you know holding their cell phone with the Vegas strip in the background it it was magical. And so it was the last night we had just got done seeing Luke combs in a very intimate setting. And I remember my husband coming back from the bathroom and snapping a photo of me which is it was a part of the the article that you referenced. But he said you know wow, you just You look like you're just having like the the greatest time I must have just been having a moment and truly for me, there's nothing better than a a warm night, a cold beer and dancing with people who are all like feeling the music at a show. I sing like a dying cat. So I have mad admiration for any musician. And I was excited I was excited to go see Jason Aldean. He snapped a photo of me on the way out and we had went over to the stage. And we had really stood in the same spot. Year after year, it was on the right hand side of the stage. He's not a fan of getting up close. I grew up in a family that my mom was like, if you can ski your way up somewhere like you do it like we did watch it on the screen. And so we did we were we were standing in the fourth row, the first couple Jason songs occurred. And I heard the the chords for my favorite song at the time, which was his big radio hit when she says baby, and truthfully right before that we had heard a couple of popping noises. And I remember turning to Shawn and saying do you think someone brought fireworks in here? Now this is a music festival on day three in Las Vegas, Nevada. So at this point there, you know people had been drinking. It wasn't that outlandish to think so. Then he said maybe it's an amp blowing. And we continued on I went to take a photo and turn back to him and say Isn't this amazing? And I watched the person behind him get shot in the face and I dropped my phone I ripped him to the ground and we remained there for what would be three rounds of shooting before we ended up getting up to run the running. For me it was tough. As it turns out, cowboy boots are very bad running shoes and 20,000 people dropping their drinks, made that cement once we got to it like an ice skating rink, so I fell several times before kind of going behind a cement barrier where we pulled a couple of other girls in and I quickly took off my boots. Before we continued running about three and a half miles down the Las Vegas Strip. We stopped to take a breath outside of the Planet Hollywood and I had had some bad just road rash on my legs. I was wearing jean shorts. And someone came out and said you know there's medical attention inside if you want to go in and down that side of the strip. No one really knew what was going on at the time. So we didn't really know how to take that there was also a lot of rumors swirling about because people were walking into hotels shot and so shooters were being reported from those hotels. So for us it felt like we were in the middle of Have what we could only imagine, you know, was a 911 style terrorist attack, you know, it was, it was terrifying. We did go into that hotel for a moment, someone dropped something they yelled, shooter shooter, again, we saw a couple ran upstairs in the parking to the parking garage level. And I said we should follow them. And he said, No, we have to get outside. And I said, there's only one reason you go upstairs. And that's because you have a car and we followed a couple to their car, we threw ourselves on top of their windshield, they were not super happy about that at first, but they got out of the car, and we explained to them, you have the opportunity to save our life, there's something really bad going on here. And we all need to get out of here as fast as possible. And God bless Ben and Jackie to complete strangers, they let us into their back seat and let us ride home with them to Ontario, California they had been checking in so they had no idea what was going on or why we were full of dirt and blood. And it was around Barstow, I think we stopped to get gas. And I must have been in such extreme shock that I didn't even realize until I went to push the door open that my arm was broken. I rarely even mentioned my arm being broken, because truthfully, looking back on it, it feels in some ways insignificant, you know, I I know. I know what was lost there that night. And that that was nothing that was moving forward, simply a reminder of the blessing that that I got to receive. And others I know got to receive walking, being able to walk out of that field. And so we made it home around 730 The next morning, and like I said, moving forward, I you know, there were several things that sort of reminded me as a storyteller that there was story there. And one of those things was those cowboy boots that I took off, I got home and again walked away with my life and shouldn't have been thinking about any material things whatsoever. However, I couldn't stop obsessing about the cowboy boots. To be clear, they were like 20, some bucks from a local thrift store, there was no family connection, there really wasn't an emotional connection. I thought they were super cute. That was really where it lived. They were comfortable to wear to concerts. But I couldn't let it go. I called my best friend and that lived in Las Vegas at the time. And he went down to the facility where they were housing a lot of items that had been taken from the field and put into sort of a lost and found system. And they weren't there. And he put me on the phone with an FBI agent who proceeded to tell me that a lot of items had been damaged, or they needed to be cleaned. And so there was going to be a catalog that was sent out to people if I'd like to place a claim. And I near laughed at this woman, I still feel bad about it to this day. I was not in a great place. So I'll give myself a little bit of grace. But I thought my head here is the FBI dealing with this. Nation, you know, wrenching this this huge tragedy. And someone's thinking I'm going to be thinking about cataloguing my old thrift store boots like that seemed ridiculous to me. Yeah. But I placed the claim. And then I continued on and I continued obsessing. I found myself on website after website. I'm trying to figure out who made these boots. And I'll be it some weeks in I figured out who the maker was I found a track down appear on eBay that were two sizes too small. I ordered them i Why like they didn't fit. I knew they didn't fit. But I couldn't stop thinking about it. And I'll never forget setting at work about eight months later and an email coming in to your email box. Which if you've ever had an email come from the FBI, it's it's a weird email to receive. You're like is this spam I'm unsure. And so I opened it and there was a link to that catalog that they talked about 1000s of items, I believe 77 pages of shoes alone five pairs on each page and there on 56 Were there those cowboy boots. And one month to the day later, an agent personally brought them to my house and I'll never forget opening that box and it was the greatest wave of clarity. I knew exactly why I couldn't stop thinking about them. They were the last part of me that was in that field and they got to come home but they were also a part of my life saving miracle and certainly responsible for my arm being broken but it was all about space and timing and the only thing that separated what happened to people that night was inches on the ground and that those times falling changed our trajectory. It changed the trajectory of every one we came into contact with that night And so as a nosy journalist, I started asking the FBI agent how to get this job. You know, this is this is so interesting. And he explained to me that a division of the FBI was created, specifically to deliver items from mass acts of violence back to survivors and the families of victims. And we often see the FBI portrayed as very cold and mechanical. And I thought it was so warm, the foresight, they had to recognize that these items and the snap of a finger went from ordinary to extraordinary, they became someone's flag of survival, they became someone's closure, you know, for me, that was the moment I truly felt like I could start a new chapter. And, you know, for others, they might have become their last something of their someone, and it mattered so much. And after Debbie, my agent left, I went back in and I found myself in the catalog. And as I did, the items, all of a sudden started to look a little bit different. They, they weren't just items, they were a representation of an incredible human beings story from that night. And as I looked at those 1000s of items, I thought, there, there is such an incredible story to tell here. And it's not the one I see being told. And I felt it all at once that that churning as a storyteller, you get in your gut, and that pressing, you get on your hearts, somewhere between butterflies, and oh, my gosh, I'm gonna puke at any moment. And that really was the birth of 11 minutes. And it evolved a lot over the course of time. But the one thing that really remained the same through and through was that sort of tagline notion of, yes, we were going to tell the story of that night, but we were going to place an emphasis of the on the we're going to place an emphasis on the light that was in the darkness, the resiliency, the heroism, the connections made, because we felt like only through narrative, could we change people's hearts, you know, there's a lot of polarizing topics that come around events like this. And we wanted everyone to feel called to watch. And even I always said if if just one person was inspired, to be kinder to know that, that bravery and kindness, although simple things are huge. They are life changing, and life saving, I believe people who feel loved and seen don't commit mass acts of violence. But I also watched how they changed everything for people that night. And so I thought, gosh, if if we could do just that with a story, if that's all we did, excellent, but I wanted it to be a story that people walked away from feeling like they knew knew these people. And they weren't just people on the news. I think I was very, I think I was super naive to think this was scary stuff that happened to people on the news. And if I'm really honest, I didn't think it would be a part of my story. But it is happens to Ashley's and Natalie's and Sean's and Jonathan's and I wanted, I wanted people to know that, you know, they aren't just people on the news. They're, they're real people. And this is a real thing.

Jessica McKinley 28:24

I'm really trying to make sure I say the right word here, because I know that from our coaching relationship, how important it is to you that your story doesn't pull focus, like you said, You didn't mention breaking your arm because it wasn't to the level of what was lost that night. But I think that perspective and perception is reality. And your experience, obviously, is just as valid of an experience as anyone elses, which is why the survivors even though it isn't the story that is the most traumatic and or tragic, still deserves some time and some light shed on it, so that they can process through it. And it's so responsible of you to do the work to manage your emotions and your mind to find the story to tell. Because without that diligence, that you had to kind of sit and think, okay, these boots this catalog, these other people that didn't, you know, end up in the hospital even they deserve the impact and the value that came from you creating the story and it wouldn't be able to be created unless you manage your mind and I just think it's so important. I mean, I want the hamsters who are live stunning to see themselves in your story. And that if you're going through something, there's really no timeline for you to have to do any of this to give back or any anything like that, but that it just makes doing your work so much more profound when you can embrace that 5050. That dichotomy of, okay, this was a horrible thing. And also, this catalog, which seems so insignificant is the point. These boots are the point

Ashley Hoff 30:37

I'll say to that, just like, I think it's important to recognize you like trauma doesn't discriminate, like, what? Right, what feels like, it should be very traumatic to someone, or what doesn't for that person, it's how they're digesting it, right? It's how they're dealing with it on an everyday basis. And so, you know, my greatest regret is that we didn't have infinite time to tell every person's story, because they're all incredible. And they've all really been through something and are still going through it. It's not just about surviving 11 minutes, it's, you know, being a survivor of an event like this is surviving second one and every second for the rest of your life.

Jessica McKinley 31:18

Are you a woman business owner, that still feels like they're just kind of winging it behind the scenes, maybe you have a product or a service that you love, and you're so passionate about, but you feel like, your time is just getting sucked away, and you feel like you're losing your life to your business, or you feel like you are on the entrepreneur roller coaster, where one month, you're killin it, and you are raking in the dough. And then the next month, you're like, how come I don't have enough money left, whether you are trying to leave a full time job to go full time in your business, or whether you're trying to scale to multiple six figures happening sessions is the room for you. It's where we take a business owner that doesn't have a business degree, and we help them become the most masterful CEO version of themselves. We focus on your time management, your money management, and your CEO drama so that you can get out of your own way, clean up the math and separate it from your story about what's happening. Because I promise you that once you can see how your thoughts have been holding you back, you'll be able to get right back down to the math and get results so much quicker. Don't take it from me take it from the hamsters themselves. If you want to know what it's like in the room, just go to what's That's w And look at the testimonial video is full of entrepreneurs who have joined and then had more money more time and more calm on the other side. Let's go enrollment starts November 9 through the 13th. And we're enrolling for the March 2023 class, we enroll four months in advance. So that means if you're thinking about it right now, you better just get off the fence and make a decision. If you know that these are results that you want. Don't worry, I took the heavy decision making off of your plate. That's why I put a money back guarantee on this program. Because I know that it gets results if you do not get the results have more time, more money and more calm as a CEO. I give you your money back. I cannot wait to see which 15 Women are selected to come in to happening sessions for the next round. Is it going to be you? Let's go hey, hamsters.

Jessica McKinley 34:00

Hey Happsters, if you want to learn more about today's topic, head over to what's forward [slash] podcast. That's what's happening. W h a t s h a p p y n i n g [dot] com forward [slash] podcasts. If you're a business owner and you're resonating with what we talked about here, what are you even doing? Come hang out with me over where the party's at on Instagram [@} what's happyning w jess. Again that's happy. H a p p y i n g and book a discovery call to see if coaching is your next best step.

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