Episode 40 – UNSTOPPABLE PERSEVERANCE
In this episode I invite you to meet Davida Shensky. Davida grew up in a time before the Americans with Disabilities Act and other legislation guaranteeing persons with disabilities many of the same rights enjoyed by most people in the United States. You will learn about Ms. Shensky’s disability and that of her sister.
Davida faced much discrimination when trying to break through the barriers imposed on persons with disabilities. You get to see how she overcame much to become successful in the workforce.
Davida’s perseverance is quite remarkable and should be inspirational and a lesson to us all. When it comes to overcoming obstacles, Davida will show us how it is done.
I would love to hear your thoughts and, of course, I hope you will give us a 5 review after hearing Davida. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening and I hope you will let me know your thoughts about our episode and the Unstoppable Mindset podcast by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Guest:*
She was born and educated before there were laws on the books that guaranteed people with disabilities the right to an education. She entered the workforce 12 years before ADA became law, which guaranteed people with disabilities the right to an employment. Therefore, when she entered the workforce there were a few opportunities for people with disabilities to find gainful employment.
When she couldn’t find gainful employment, she looked for other avenues and opportunities to earn an income. She had experience and training conducting group therapy sessions in both Transactional Analysis and Psychodrama. Without a Masters or PhD as a psychologist, her opportunities were limited. She holds degrees in Mental Health Work, Psychology, and Rehabilitation Services (employment counseling for people with disabilities).
When she looked at the skills that she truly enjoyed doing she recognized that her strengths lay and standing in front of the room motivating attendees to overcome any obstacles or fears they have that were keeping them from reaching their goals. She did this by leading by example. Because it wasn’t the limits she placed on herself, but the limits that society placed on her simply because of her disability and their lack of knowledge about people with disabilities.
As a Motivational Speaker her business thrived. She also recognized how the workplace was transitioning across the board and every industry. For motivational speakers, that meant moving from working with corporations as in-house trainers and the speaking circuit for conventions to building and marketing your business from home.
I help business owners use digital marketing to build an online presence and increase revenue with an E-Commerce store with commonly used systems to create multiple streams of income. My goal is to establish a NPO called International Disabled Entrepreneurs, Inc to help people with disabilities who want to become entrepreneurs to learn the skills needed and develop an entrepreneur mindset, as well a be a resource for adaptive equipment needed to run a business.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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UM Intro/Outro 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:13
Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us. Welcome to another edition of unstoppable mindset. Thank you for being here. Hope that your week is going well. And we hope that you enjoy the podcast today. Our guest is Davida Shensky. And she has an interesting story to tell. And I like talking with her because we share some interesting and similar ideas about dealing with disabilities and so on the Vita happens to be a person who we classify as someone with a disability. And I’m gonna let her tell you more about that as we go forward with Davida Welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you?
Davida Shensky 01:57
I’m doing great. And thank you for having me.
Michael Hingson 02:01
Well, it’s a pleasure to to have you on and we’re honored that you’re here and taking the time with us. So tell me a little bit about you, if you would, let’s start with that.
Davida Shensky 02:12
Okay, well, I grew up with a disability. And it’s at first let me back up. I was born in 1951. And in 1961, there were no laws that address people with disabilities, because the slot and society looked at his disability community as being non existent. And it was prior to the laws of when the individual Disability Education Act came into existence, because that came into existence in 1977 when I was in graduate school, and I had already been in the workforce a few years before the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. And because society didn’t recognize its disability community, and the fact that I came from a dysfunctional family to begin with, I was always told that I can’t, and I can’t, and I can’t. And part of that was that my, you would think it’s because my, my parents were worried about me, but it was more that they had their own issues about it. And all they saw was a way to hold their children back from living full and productive lives.
Michael Hingson 03:37
So they weren’t necessarily the most supportive. No, not at all. Now, you say hold their children back, you have siblings with disabilities.
Davida Shensky 03:49
I have an older sister that was born deaf, and hers is a nerve deafness. And it’s a specific syndrome that I cannot remember the name of it offhand. But it’s, you know, it’s it’s not a it’s a segment of people that are born deaf, and it’s called a syndrome, because it’s not a fully the number. No, but the total numbers are a thing for it to be called whatever it is, you know, so it’s just lumped in to being deaf. Yeah. Just like I have spastic, hemiplegia. Because cerebral palsy only affects one side of the body as opposed to the whole body of certain other lands because it depends on how much is the brain is damaged, and what specific lens are affected to determine what the terminology is for it.
Michael Hingson 04:57
So how was it between you and your sister growing up?
Davida Shensky 05:01
Well, it was kind of mixed because she was always sent off to school or initially because my mother was in New York, and they had Lexington School for the Deaf up there, where she could go to school and stayed here during the week and then go home on weekends. And when she went home on weekends, she stayed with my grandmother, I want to add Snuggles. And she never really had a stable home that she went to. And that created some issues for her. And in my case, you know, because I was the only person with a disability in the classroom. And in the school, and people didn’t know a whole lot about disabilities, I was bullied. And it’s like, when you go home, and you don’t have any parents, the hugging when Saudi they love, they love you, then it’s like you be isolated, and trying to cope with things on your own. Yeah. Well,
Michael Hingson 06:05
just to, to put it in perspective, I was born in 1950. So I was from the same era as both of you and fully understand what you have said about all of the issues regarding the laws. But for you, it was probably quite the challenge. Do you do you use or did you use a wheelchair?
Davida Shensky 06:34
No, I went, because it only affects my right side. And initially, I was the Oh, the brace was only up to the knee. Because if I the way it affects it is that the tendons in the foot is very tight. And, and he and I either go flat foot or I go, I want toe heel as opposed to heel toe and drag my foot and then I would catch my total of the shoe with a toe would catch the ground. And it would cause me to fall over. So wearing and they were the the old iron braces. And then in 1980 as to how floods started to come into existence and an understanding of how exercise and strengthening and straightening and that help. Well when I turned 14, I had surgery on both my hands and my foot because my hand was very drawn up at all and then I could not really just pull it down to my side. And then it kind of moved down to an a 90 degree angle or maybe 60 degree angle. And by exercising a gave me a little bit more mobility, and it allowed me to not have to put the brace back on but when I turned 65 And I noticed that I was tripping over my own two feet and living alone. And if I fell and hurt myself, there would not be anyone there. Then I started wearing a walk on price. And I also have a brace on my hand that supports my wrist so it holds up so the risk doesn’t prolong. And recently, I had a knee brace put on because years ago after the surgery, my orthopedist said I had caught football knees because there was no fluid around the knee. And then the bone was rubbing against each other. And over the years it slowly got up either. A little worse. And then the last couple of times, I noticed that when my knees started hurting me I could put pressure on my foot. And because I you know, white health insurances as you become a senior citizen, they called Nick now I see you, they called me and they think the nurse and anyway, they said go see an orthopedist. So I had to go to my doctor. And what he did was he sent me to the orthopedist, the author, Peter said, you need a sleeve. And then when I went to the prosthetics place, they said no, this is what you need. And one thing I found was by putting the knee brace on, it’s repositioning my foot. I’m able to work better and continue to exercise three times a week.
Michael Hingson 09:52
So how was it that we go ahead? How was it like for you in the classroom in grammar? school, in high school and so on?
Davida Shensky 10:01
Well, because cerebral palsy affects how the brain processes information. What happened was it kind of short term memory. And even though I would study for hours, it didn’t always show when I took the test what, what I was truly capable of. So based on my grades, it was like, Oh, she daydreams. A lot of you know, she’s, you know, was it more like C or D, as opposed to what could have been an ARB? And you know, that then they kind of like labeled you according to your grades?
Michael Hingson 10:42
Well, yeah. And how did your your classmates react? Or how did they deal with you?
Davida Shensky 10:50
Well, it was I was teased a lot. I was the they kind of played on my name and how they said it, and it was it well, let’s let’s back up. I once had someone called me and asked me out for a date. And somebody told me, they were not going to show that she never know for certain so you get ready, but I never expected it. And of course, they didn’t show. Yeah, they were playing. Yeah, they were they get together and they flow. Let’s let’s see what we can do to play a game on.
Michael Hingson 11:28
There’s a lot of meanness in in kids. And do you think, you know, given what you do now, and we I definitely want to get into that. But do you think that’s changed a lot for kids with disabilities in school today?
Davida Shensky 11:44
It’s changed, so but it’s still got a long way to go. And the thing is that because of our IV, A, which is individual disability, disability education, that, and it’s mainstreaming kids into the classroom, when they’re capable of keeping up that people with abilities are seeing more people with disabilities. So they’re a lot more accepting than what they were in the past, because people with disabilities and severe disabilities were hidden away. And they just didn’t know that they existed. And it was not talked about.
Michael Hingson 12:27
Do you think that kids in the classroom, take that approach? Are they more still into the bullying mentality? Do you think they are starting to understand the difference and that, in reality, there’s nothing wrong with someone just because they happen to be different?
Davida Shensky 12:46
I believe there is. Because when when you see a whole group of people that have specific disabilities, then it’s it’s not. It’s easier to accept, then if you just see one or two people. Yeah, it’s like, Okay, I’ve got one person, they are their friends. I know what you know, the ignorance of what a disability was at that time, because it was not talked about today, it’s talked about, and you see the pirate complex, and you see people who have lost limbs in the war or whatever. So it’s a little bit more accepting, although it’s still got a long way to go to become mainstream.
Michael Hingson 13:37
Yeah. I know. In the case of blankets, for example, we see so little emphasis on doing some of the things that really make sense. That is, for example, teaching Braille, which is the main vehicle for reading and writing available to blind kids, not only totally blind kids, but a lot of children who are partially blind, who are low vision, but who cannot see well enough to read regular print. And by using large print or magnified print, it causes a lot of eyestrain, so they’ll never be able to be able to read as quickly or as efficiently as a sighted person or a blind student that does get the opportunity to learn to read Braille, but unfortunately, I think still even today in the educational system, it is always or let me never say always, it is often basically said that a child who has some eyesight gets to read print, while a totally blind child has to learn to read braille, and you can see the distinction gets to as opposed to has to, even though the child who reads Braille may very well be a much better reader than someone Who has some vision, who doesn’t get the opportunity to learn to use Braille and as a result, has to use large print that doesn’t give them all the luxury and efficiency of truly having a reading and writing language that they can use? Well,
Davida Shensky 15:20
you know, even when in technology, when people look to build, build websites today, they don’t always think about accessibility.
Michael Hingson 15:33
They don’t. And, in fact, hence the company that I work for accessiBe, which is all about creating products to help websites become accessible for a variety of disabilities. And it is very much true that website access isn’t just something that is relating to a person who is blind and might not be able to see graphics and so on on the internet, there are so many disabilities that need to be addressed, not being able to use a mouse for a variety of reasons or having epilepsy. And as a result, not being able to experience cursors that blink and need a different way to make that happen, or cognitive disabilities or ADHD. All of those are issues that invoke a need for access that oftentimes we don’t pay attention to.
Davida Shensky 16:31
Heard that, I think is that until people with disabilities, that more people with disabilities actually have their own business or, or become managers and business owners, where they’re more visible, and still going to be kind of a situation where it’s a secondary idea to the majority of people, it’s like when it becomes I guess the the best way is to equate it with Christianity and Judaism, that we live in a country where it’s more Christians than Jews, and yet, especially in the Baptist religion, it’s like, they consider Catholics and Protestants that, you know, kind of like not being I don’t want to say that non Christians, because of the doctrines or the ways they look
Michael Hingson 17:33
at it. But I think it goes beyond us owning our own businesses. Because that may or may not make some of it more visible. We, we really need to create an environment that’s more inclusive in general. The The fact is that there are some who say, and rightly so let’s deal with access, that the only way to make a website accessible, or the best way, some say the only way, which is not true, but the best way to make a website accessible, is to really do it from the outset. And I can accept that concept. Except how’s that working for us, we don’t generally see websites as being accessible from the outset. In fact, probably no more than about 2% of all websites today, even pay much attention to accessibility. No matter what the disability, some websites may very well be usable. But they haven’t really done all that or anything that they need to do to create access. So we have an environment where we don’t create web accessibility from the outset. And that’s something that we have to teach and that needs to go into our schools and that all of our programmers need. But even if we do it, we then need to make sure that websites continue to remain accessible. It isn’t just doing it the first time.
Davida Shensky 19:09
That’s true. I’m also gonna go back and say that even a lot of the laws started changing, like with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It addresses all of the issues that come up under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But what makes the ADEA more enforceable is that clause that says that if an individual can prove that they’re being discriminated against, they can go to the EEOC or they can go to the Department of Justice and file a lawsuit.
Michael Hingson 19:48
The difficulty is that courts have also said however, you got to prove intent. Right. And that has been part of the difficulty it. And the other part is that some legal minds have challenged the issue of accessibility, let’s say for the internet saying, well, the ADEA came along before the internet. So clearly, it doesn’t apply even though the ADEA does not in any way, mentioned, places of physical accommodation. It talks about places of business, leaving, leaving aside title two, which deals with the government and federal agencies, Title Three, deals with places of business and it doesn’t say physical or not, which is the way it ought to be. Because it doesn’t matter where you conduct business, you need to make sure that what you do is available to all.
Davida Shensky 20:45
That’s true. And I, we also need to look at the mentality or behavior patterns. Because what we learn as children is what we how we are as adults. And until you really get to where children come up, truly integrated with people with disabilities in the classroom, there’s still going to be prejudiced.
Michael Hingson 21:15
Sure. And until we can break down that fear barrier, because that’s what it really is, is that people have so much fear around something that’s different than they. And they don’t recognize that, in reality, disability is something that anyone can face. Suddenly, even if your life didn’t start out being that way. And again, I, I don’t have a better term than disability. But the reality is, disability doesn’t and shouldn’t mean in our case, no ability or a lack of ability. It is a way to, to categorize us like it or not as being different. But it shouldn’t mean that we don’t have ability, because if we’re going to talk about ability, every person who has eyesight has a disability, and that is that your light dependent, you can’t function well in the dark. That’s why we have light bulbs. That’s why we have candles, and before that we had torches and other things like that. But the reality is, those are all accommodations that have been created to allow you to be able to function in an environment without light.
Davida Shensky 22:33
And then if you remember, prior to Ada, Ada was when they started changing the terminology, that it was always handicaps. And if you remember back in the very beginning of the 20th century, when people used to stand with a cap in hand, asking for money, and that’s what handicap means. And that’s it still had the mentality of the majority of people. Is that someone getting ahead there?
Michael Hingson 23:09
Yeah. And in reality, we can change perceptions of words, words are very strong and very powerful. But I, for example, have maintained for a long time that diversity isn’t what it used to be. Diversity very rarely includes disabilities today, even though what diversity means is we have a very wide range of categories of people that exist, and we’re supposed to recognize all of them. But we generally don’t include disabilities in that. And it’s the same fear that causes that. So we haven’t really seen the breakdown in terms of moving forward with that, and I’m not sure what it will take to change that. But maybe what we need to do is to get another president who has a disability, Franklin Roosevelt has been forgotten for that.
Davida Shensky 24:06
What that was, that’s right. Also, if you back in the 1980s, when corporations started bringing in trainers, and they would talk about diversity, they would they would not include disability, but what they would talk about is the different cultures or the different religions, but they never talked about difference and showing someone with a disability as opposed to someone with ability and showing just how, just because you’re able bodied doesn’t mean that you’re any you’re really any difference
Michael Hingson 24:46
or any better. Yeah. And that is what Hopefully, people will get to understand. Well, tell me what degrees do you have so you went on to high school Cool, and you went to college and did all sorts of stuff like that. And
Davida Shensky 25:03
yeah, I have an Associate’s in mental health. I have credits. I have a bachelor’s in psychology. And then I also have credits towards a master’s and rehabilitation counseling. Not that I wanted to become a rehabilitation counselor, as I wanted to learn about the laws. And then I went on and got certification and psychodrama and certified in using transactional analysis. And both of those modalities are Natl, basically, repackaged under the laws of attraction. And I’m certified as a law of attraction coach, as well as a career coach and a life coach.
Michael Hingson 25:54
And the law of attraction. In some ways, it’s certainly become a very popular concept on the internet, and I think in probably the minds of a lot of people. But again, that gets misinterpreted too.
Davida Shensky 26:09
I actually have someone send me an email that it’s a company called bach.com is out of the UK. And they sent me an email a we have clients that need your services, really, and truly the way they have set up and what they did was they sent me a copy of a lead, but they no get people to call in and tell them what their needs are. They just asked him a few basic questions. Like, are you looking for a life? What kind of coach Are you looking for, or what kind of issues do you want to deal with, and then they give you a one to five chance to bid on a lead. And now, you can register for free, then you can upgrade for a monthly fee to become an Elite Pro, which they’ve all they do is put some type of badge on your profile, but you have to buy credits, to be able to approach these leads that they sent you. And when you upgrade for the first batch, what they do is they don’t let you know upfront Well, if you don’t make any sales, you get those credits back. But if once you start getting low, they will automatically add more credits in charge your checking account. Now, when I started looking at a majority of those needs were people that had either management or they were looking to have an insurance pay for the services. Well, if you’re just a certified life coach, and you do not have licensure as a psychotherapist, insurance companies will not pay for your services. And I’m actually before I actually upgraded, I met looking for some reviews and couldn’t find any. But then when I went to put a complaint in all of a sudden out of bounds, some reviews, and there was someone in there that said that every that what she found was that and I’m assuming she kept probably buying more and more credits, because she said she had to keep lowering her fees, just because no one would purchase it and still never got a sale. So what that means is that particular company is more about putting money in their pocket as opposed to really being a lead generation company. But people who need services,
Michael Hingson 29:04
there are a lot of those in the world, whether it’s dealing with, with what you’re talking about, or in so many areas,
Davida Shensky 29:13
and where mental illness and mental health issues is still a disability issue. So that’s also another avenue because mental illness is something that’s a hidden disability. It’s not something that you can really see other than in someone’s behavior, but they can be people who whose behavior is not the best, but they’re not truly mentally ill they just have some issues of personal issues they got to deal with based on the environment and the family they’ve loved in when you went into
Michael Hingson 29:55
the workforce what what did you specifically joined the workforce to do,
Davida Shensky 30:02
actually, because my background was in mental health and psychology, I’m qualified I went, I applied to the merit system in Georgia. And I qualified for positions that was done, if you remember the title, where it was more of a social work position, oh, Human Services technicians thing, there was the title. And then there was also a mental health counselor. But the the because I wanted to work with disability agencies, the first company that I got hired on with, there’s a company that was really a daycare center for people with developmental disabilities at the time, but once the laws began to change, and the state came in and took over those agencies, they, what happened was that the woman that was running at that became the Executive Director, she was just a, what happened was, she did not have the true qualifications to be an executive director. So any Hurst people that came in, in my position, if they weren’t forced out within the first six months, and they got, you know, their permanent status, that automatically they would start pulling back on the roster to get another position somewhere else, because she couldn’t, or she, she felt threatened by those in that position. And when my six month probationary period was coming up, she basically said to me, if you don’t reply, you’re gonna be fired. And so and then after that, I could never get back on with the state. And my only other alternative was, and I would have eventually done this anyway. But I would have waited, so I was more financially secure. And I found that I wanted to do rent groups using transactional analysis and psychodrama, but they were, whereas they were more acceptable up in the north, they weren’t as accepting or, or known modalities in the south. And what because I didn’t have the actual masters, or PhD as a psychotherapist. I couldn’t get in with the hospitals, the mental health hospitals. And then it eventually evolved into the speaking industry, and more involved with National Speakers Association, Georgia chapter, and Toastmasters. And what because I didn’t have as much mobility, and didn’t have transportation to get around as easily. My business never quite got off the rail. But once the technology evolve, but being able to build a business online, it’s really taken off. And now it’s taken off is that I’ve shifted from going into companies doing the training, but creating the E learning courses, and putting them on various platforms. And what one of the companies run with is called one education or educators. And I got a nice little surprise from them. And I got a nice paycheck this month. And they also sent me an email that they partnered with a company called E learning solutions. So that may have been why my paycheck for them for my courses increased astronomically.
Michael Hingson 33:56
And it’s unfortunate that all too often, no matter how much in the way of qualifications you actually had, because you didn’t have that PhD that that tended to limit you. Do you think that’s as true today? Or do people now more recognize that there are other kinds of things including experience and so on, that should open up opportunities for you?
Davida Shensky 34:26
I think the experience as much as anything opens up the opportunities. But also it you know, it’s like what I’ve been able to do is because of my background in mental health in psychology, and my and my background in rehabilitation counseling, which is career counseling, that I’ve been able to do more in the line of the life coaching and the career coaching, and then getting the certifications with those particular industry. Ah, and then it’s just a matter of like, how am I going to sell myself to my potential clients?
Michael Hingson 35:06
Right? So when did you enter the workforce? What year?
Davida Shensky 35:10
Michael Hingson 35:12
Okay, so. So there you go. And when you entered it did leaving aside things like what you described about the director of that agency and so on? Did you face much real discrimination from a disability standpoint, when you started, and, again, how has that changed over the years?
Davida Shensky 35:37
Very much so because even once I lost my job with the state, I could never get back on with the state. And I and even though I would be applying to switch positions within corporations are small businesses, they, and even though you had the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, there were a lot of things that, you know, they just didn’t hire people with disabilities. And when the laws change, and ADA came in, what was then known as the defects, but just the will the disability, business technical assistance centers, they patch right now they call the ADA Centers, but they are really just a support system, to see to it, that what the cooperations need. And even though it took ABA, before companies were willing to start looking at people with disabilities, as even, you know, and, and doing the other patients in the workplace, so that, you know, but having to comply with ADA. So there was it was more of an opening not until the early 2000s, or the late 1990s, before corporations and companies really started looking at hiring people with disabilities. And one of the things is, if you went to the rehabilitation services, they, if you went to their employment specialist, their employment specialists really didn’t know how to serve the disability community in getting jobs, other than telling them things like I have these job function positions. Now, here’s the book, go in and find the company that’s gonna let you come in and train other people. And it was more of going into the restaurants and teaching people with developmental disabilities to be to bus tables, you know, it was the most the low paying low skilled jobs that were really open and not the mainstream companies like IBM, that were really open to hiring people with disabilities,
Michael Hingson 38:09
I should have asked, when you were presented with that offer to resign or get fired? What choice did you make? Well, I
Davida Shensky 38:16
ended up deciding if I was gonna just to resign, it was better to just resign instead? Of course I am because either way, it’s still meant the same thing.
Michael Hingson 38:29
So the reason I asked that question was, the difference is that technically speaking, the way you described it, if you were fired, you couldn’t get back in to a state position because you’ve been fired. And you have to accept all the consequences of that, such as they are. But if you resigned, and correct me if I’m wrong, technically speaking, you should have been able to attain or obtain other positions within the state, correct? Yes. So the,
Davida Shensky 39:05
here’s the thing, when they would go and get reviews, remember, like she was a she became an ex employer. So they would go to her and say, What kind of employee is she? I guess what she did give me a good review. And that also, if when you work within the state merit system, it’s usually what I don’t think she really wanted to hire me to begin with that because I was that that’s higher on that list. She had to give me the position. So that’s also how it works within the merit system. So even though I might have been interviewed in these mental health centers, where I would have gone in and done counseling, as opposed to, you know, just being a like, in a social work position where I would represent the Clients and go to meetings and make sure that they got the services they, they deserved it, I was never able to get back in to the state.
Michael Hingson 40:11
Did that ever change for you?
Davida Shensky 40:13
No. I mean, once I kept, let’s put it this way Rehabilitation Services Employment, the employment specialist should have been able to say, Hey, I’ve got contacts within these companies. I am looking at your background. I can, you know, I can send you out for interviews, they should have been able to do that. He never said that to me.
Michael Hingson 40:39
Yeah. Which all too often happens in the rehabilitation admin. Well, the rehabilitation environment, and it is so unfortunate. We had the opportunity to in an earlier podcast episode interview, Kirk Adams, who is the president and CEO of the Lighthouse for the Blind. And he made the comment that there was a meeting where both rehabilitation counselors and HR people were present. And the HR people constantly said, it was the rehabilitation counselors that never really did the research or understood what needed to be done to bring people with disabilities in and the rehabilitation counselors always said that the HR people were the stumbling blocks. So you know, near the twain seem to be able to meet,
Davida Shensky 41:30
I think all they were doing was passing along the blame, especially because, first of all, your aid, your rehabilitation services, people and your HR people should have been working together to help each other understand they should have been educating each other. What’s the job? What are the skills needed? And how can your client fit into this? It’s like, many, many years ago, my sister who’s deaf, went through rehabilitation services in New York, to get a job. And what did they do? They sent you on a job where she needed to answer the phone. Now, how could someone who’s deaf, answered the phone, and they was back then she was actually trained to do use dos. And dos is just programming software. There’s no people who were deaf were easily placed in jobs. And yet she was not getting the right kind of job for her.
Michael Hingson 42:38
Yeah. And that’s, of course, the disconnect. Right? Where’s the logic and doing that? And there is not I mean, the so it’s a rhetorical question, but there really is done. So for you, how long did you keep trying to get into state opportunities? And then what did you do if you weren’t able to get in?
Davida Shensky 43:02
That’s when I when I what I did was I looked at that education, I looked at my experience, I looked at where my skills lied. And that’s what I said, Okay, let me see if I can, I can start my own business doing as using my training and transaction analysis and psychodrama to run groups and went to the mental health hospitals in the mental health centers. And because I didn’t have that PhD, I was they were not going to refer business to me. Now, I do have a friend that was living in California, that was a licensed family, and marriage therapist, and a lot of referrals came from the insurance companies. And then it notoriously, they were slow to pay. Yeah. So what did you do? Here’s, that’s, that’s what I’m saying insurance companies, if the client even in poc.com, is sitting there saying, Well, my insurance is gonna pay, even if they end up firing you insurance. They only pay you every three months, and pay you back pay. But what are you doing that three months that they’re not paying you?
Michael Hingson 44:23
Right? So what did you do if you weren’t getting the referrals?
Davida Shensky 44:27
That’s when I slept. That’s when I looked at the fact that I came across a company at the time that was called Performax which was assessment profiles and to become a distributed with and training, how to use the desk and other assessment profiles like leadership profile, the listening profile, the values profile, and taking those and also, a company called Personal dynamics are switching to have the fully training packages. And though into companies as a trainer, and that’s also training as a speaker and getting up in front of groups, and also want to try to work with companies like to set seminars, but because I don’t make good eye contact, and because when I speak I, it’s not a smooth way or whatever, I couldn’t always get on with those companies. But what I did was, I went directly to the associations, and I went directly to the corporations to offer to sell, sell some of my profiles to them, and come in and do train the trainer sessions.
Michael Hingson 45:52
And how did that work? It was,
Davida Shensky 45:55
I made some money, but it was not as consistent and it was not as good as growing, because a lot of those companies at the time were built on what, what’s known as multi level marketing. So if you like there were other people in the industry that knew that I specialized in a sport and a certain aspect of it, and instead of referring business to me, because I wasn’t in their downline, and they weren’t gonna make money off of it. I was never getting those types of referrals either.
Michael Hingson 46:30
So obviously, it was kind of a struggle. And I guess the question would be, so then what happened?
Davida Shensky 46:37
Well, it’s just slowly, I just stopped them. A lot of what I did was knowing that I wanted to start a nonprofit that would serve people with disabilities, who wanted to become entrepreneurs, I went to work with a company where it was going to kind of going voted, go up, selling down our business to business with specific items to sell them as a fundraiser and, and then I worked with a company, then I went out on my own, and that brought in a lot more consistent income. And then that was also about the time that the internet started to grow. And I was able to move everything online. And that’s when I started my podcast back in 2007.
Michael Hingson 47:30
So you, you started, basically, somewhat of an online business, and you started working with companies going door to door? And what what did you eventually do about starting the nonprofit,
Davida Shensky 47:44
I actually got the paperwork and went to Lagos zoo to get it started. But then to get the 501, C three, I had to pay a certain amount of money or a fee to get the accreditation just didn’t have that money. So it kind of all got big, it all got put on hold, and never quite got off the ground either. And I knew that I needed some people in the business industry that would support what I was doing, and helped me raise the funds. I had one person that was a small business owner, but I never quite got any people in the corporate world to take an interest in the organization. So that kind of you know that a lot of those things. It’s, it’s like people, you’ll see people who start nonprofits, and they bring that they bring their friends on to the board. Well, a few friends are great. But if they don’t know how to help you raise money for your organization and get it out there and get it know that it’s never going to grow.
Michael Hingson 48:59
So what did you do?
Davida Shensky 49:00
So it’s kind of still on the back burner with that organization. It’s, it’s still something I want to do. But I’m thinking more in terms of eventually just setting it up as a foundation that people with disabilities can apply to, to get funding. So also, I’ve come across several organizations in Europe that had already gotten off the ground and had connections with financial organizations that would be willing to offer financial financing to people with disabilities who are starting up a business. So it’s it’s it’s the potential is out there is a little bit more difficult to get up and moving in the United States. And if you look at what’s happening in politics today, that’s also what affecting Whether or not a nonprofit that serves the disability community other than say, if it’s for the blind, or if it’s for people who would almost say autistic or specific, then what happens is they got more people who have children who have those types of disabilities that are coming together and working with them.
Michael Hingson 50:24
So you do a podcast, how often is the podcast on?
Davida Shensky 50:29
My podcast is every Saturday on a weekly basis? And I’ve been doing it for close to 16 years that way?
Michael Hingson 50:38
Wow. Well, we’ll come back to to that in a minute. But so what is your main way of generating income? What are you doing primarily in the workforce today? Or are you or what is it you do to help people today?
Davida Shensky 50:56
My, my main income today is coming through my membership sites, my elearning courses, and I’m more involved with putting together joint ventures that I have done in the past.
Michael Hingson 51:18
Can you tell me something about some of those like, your courses, your elearning, site, and so on.
Davida Shensky 51:25
They deal with personal development, things like team building, listening skills, communication skills, body language, listening, and also starting a business as an entrepreneur, being able to use digital marketing with being able to create a website. And just specific areas like that.
Michael Hingson 51:54
How’s that? Is that working out pretty well for you?
Davida Shensky 51:57
It does, it does. And the way I say it also comes into play Awesome. Now, the best way to look at it is, if I’m talking about and my business, then what I need to do is look at how specifically they they work together. And what’s happening is that I’ve also gotten involved with some companies, where it’s affiliate marketing, and then through some of my courses, I’ve created some high end products. So I can offer them as an affiliate program, and an offering them as an affiliate program, then that’s allowed me to have a Salesforce of people who actually can go out and such sell my products. And then they are information on it. But let me quickly lay it out for you. So you can understand exactly how I say it so that it’ll work. And what I’ve also been able to do is create that I’ve been able to go on summits for other companies, and be a presenter. Now, here’s how I would say it. If I’m talking to someone who wants to learn how to build a business online. And I would say entrepreneurs hire me to recession proof their business and increase their bottom line by assisting them to build an e commerce Store to establish multiple streams of income, because they’re intimidated. When it comes to incorporating technology into their business. They fear losing sustainable income, and they don’t know how to incorporate social media into the marketing plan. So bottom line, I can help someone launch grow and expand a home based business. Now if I’m talking to someone on the personal development side, I would say I’m a career and personal development strategy coach, and entrepreneurs who are in search of personal development, and learning success strategies. Hire me to overcome their limiting beliefs and develop healthy habits, a successful mindset and smart goals. So bottom line, I can help you develop a more positive attitude, set achievable goals and make better choices in life.
Michael Hingson 54:43
And that is certainly a good way to put it. And it’s it is about helping people to improve. And of course, that’s what we all want to do. How have you helped the disability community in general, through what you’ve done? How do you feel you had an effect on the community.
Davida Shensky 55:03
When I lived in Atlanta, I was a, I was very active with the access group. And I was also very active with the gym chats. And when the power Olympics was a rather, let’s back up when the Atlanta IOC wanted to bid for the Olympics. At that time, the Olympics and the Para Olympics were actually bid for separately. And they bid for the Olympics. And they refuse to bid for the Para Olympics. So it was the disability community that got together and bid for the Paralympics, and brought it to Atlanta. And then the head of the IOC at the time, basically went in and change the bylaws so that any host country who bids for one is automatically bidding for both. So they’re known since 1996. They have not been good for separately they’ve been bid for as one unit. And another thing that I did was whenever the opposite the access, whenever thing we put on job fairs for people with disabilities, I was a volunteer with them, and would work with someone that was blind, to take them around to the tables, so they can interview for positions.
Michael Hingson 56:35
And it makes sense that the Olympics should be handled that way and that there should be emphasis put on it in the same way that the Olympics is portrayed. Do you think that there is room for people in parallel Olympics, at least to some degree, to be able to be encouraged or to be able to take more of a part in the standard Olympics rather than being if you will put in the Paralympics environment? Or do you think that they’re so different, that they really have to be separate?
Davida Shensky 57:16
I think really, they should very much be interconnected. And it’s like, in fact, the South African runner who had competed in the Olympics, I mean, it competed in the Paralympic seat. The lat he competed in the Olympics one year, didn’t do very well, but he did at least compete. And since then, he accidentally kill someone and his spending county jail. I cannot remember his name.
Michael Hingson 57:49
Well, I asked the question because I have a friend who was an acclaimed international rowing competitor. And she participated in the Paralympics, they’ve never asked her or discussed why they didn’t just be part of the actual Olympics, and rowing teams and so on. And it just seems to me that there are certainly a number of people who ought to be able to be part of the regular Olympics. Regular is the wrong term deal Olympics as opposed to the parallel Olympics.
Davida Shensky 58:31
They should, but you know, it still falls back on how society works and people with disabilities.
Michael Hingson 58:41
There you go. And that’s the problem, isn’t it?
Davida Shensky 58:46
There’s no reason why they cannot be what interconnected. And when the media covers on Olympic competitions, that they also compete, or they show people with disabilities competing, because think about it. In the Winter Olympics, you have what is it snowboarding, in the Paralympics, you have snowboarding the differences in in Paralympics, you might have someone doing it one with one leg. And they might they could still be compete at the same level as people in the audience. But here’s the thing, how many times when people think of the Paralympics, they get it interchange with Special Olympics. Think about it because in Special Olympics, everyone gets a medal. But in the Paralympics, the metal the metal basically very similar in the way that people in the Olympics. Get metal, you know, first, second or third way X,
Michael Hingson 1:00:00
and how often the parent do the Paralympics get the same amount of media, television coverage and so on. As the Olympics.
Davida Shensky 1:00:11
Actually people don’t even know it even exists because we just had the Winter Olympics. And everyone knew when the when the Olympics was on, but no one knew that a month later, that, you know, rather three weeks later, the Paralympics started because the Meet the media, the sports does not cover it in the same way.
Michael Hingson 1:00:37
How many of the events in the parallel Olympics actually show levels of competition and numbers? At the end of events that are pretty much the same? Well, no, are the same as what you would see in save the Winter Olympics this past? February? What I’m getting at is the Paralympics, people compete, as you said, in snowboarding, the Paralympics have a number of events that are equivalent to like what we had with the Winter Olympics. Are the results pretty similar in terms of times or whatever we use to measure who wins?
Davida Shensky 1:01:23
I think so. I mean, if they’re competing against against the boards, and gymnastics, and stealing, and all the same types of of events. And if people would see below the level at which someone with a disability is able to compete, then maybe it might change some of their attitudes. Now, think about it. When salary started, well, let’s look in the United States. You have the Warrior Project, and they have a Olympic style competitions. Now, Prince Harry started, what is it? The Invictus Games, right? And it’s still the same thing. You still have you still have wheelchair basketball, you still have the exact you know, in the Summer Olympics, whereas you have basketball, the Olympics, you’re that wheelchair basketball? How
Michael Hingson 1:02:29
possible would it be for wheelchair basketball players to compete on the same court at the same time? With people who don’t use chairs? You know, I don’t know. I don’t know. So
Davida Shensky 1:02:42
well, versus Did you know it? I don’t think they ever really tried it. I understand that seem to me that if they tried it, it might show just how athletic someone is using a wheelchair. Yeah. But here’s the thing in Atlanta, we have what’s known as the beat straight. And the road race, which is a six pack, yes, six cut or no. And before the rubbish stop, you’ve got the wheelchair racers, and they go first. And then and you know, and they will post what they’re fine next, and then you and then you’ve got the runners and the p3 can have as many as 50,000 or more runners. Right. And that’s usually it’s like you have to get certain accreditations to take part in other events. And the 10k is one of the ones that someone has to take part in other events in order to qualify to participate in the 10k and the peach tree. So sometimes you will have runners who are from Kenya or from other countries who participated in the Olympics that actually come to participate in the Peachtree road race, and they’re usually the elite runners, and they’re usually the ones that win not just everyday runner that participates.
Michael Hingson 1:04:27
Right. Well, okay, but if those are the standards they are now the question is, would a person in a chair running the race have a better or worse time on average, or can they be as competitive equivalently speaking as the elite
Davida Shensky 1:04:46
competitive is you’ve ever seen some of those kids like they use their racing chairs and that they really could just go off to high speeds and those chairs Mine is even better than some of the elite runners. They compete in the peach tree.
Michael Hingson 1:05:06
What I’m what I’m getting at basically, is does one runner have an advantage over another? Does a wheelchair runner have an advantage over the elite runners? if you will? Or can they be an Do you think they should be viewed as equivalent?
Davida Shensky 1:05:27
I think they there are. They if they were as one in a race, they would win because those those Wait, those wheelchairs are racers and they can go up to high speed.
Michael Hingson 1:05:41
So somebody could argue that a runner is at a disadvantage? Yeah. Interesting argument. Well, where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Davida Shensky 1:05:54
Well, probably retired.
Michael Hingson 1:05:57
Good for you happen sometime.
Davida Shensky 1:06:00
You know, yeah, I see myself what I’m working toward was, is to have bills, and extended extra income, to supplement what I’m currently getting in. So I can live a lot more comfortably. There you are.
Michael Hingson 1:06:23
Well, let me ask you this, if people want to contact you and reach out to you and take advantage of your services, or get to know you better, or take your courses, what are the ways to do that?
Davida Shensky 1:06:36
Okay, they can, I’ve got two websites that a membership site, one is askdavidashensky.com The other one is businessblueprintnetwork.com. And also, they can contact me by sending an email to email@example.com. And if they want to learn more about the types of services that I offer, as well as my courses, they can go to 1personalcareercoach.com And they listed number one that this spelled down.
Michael Hingson 1:07:14
So let’s go through those again. So if they want your courses, where do they go?
Davida Shensky 1:07:21
They go to my one on personal development is askdavidashensky.com
Michael Hingson 1:07:27
and spell Davida Shensky? If you would, please.
Davida Shensky 1:07:31
D A V I D A S H E N S K Y. So, right. It’s, and I have more people that will drop the A and David David spelling.
Michael Hingson 1:07:54
So askdavidashensky.com. Yes, I’m in and then what’s the next one again?
Davida Shensky 1:08:05
Okay. That should be my main website is, is onepersonalcareercoach.com. One,
Michael Hingson 1:08:13
I do that once more.
Davida Shensky 1:08:15
That’s my main website. And that gives them information on my services, on the types of courses I offer, on the types of coaching I offer, and what the prices are, and see that website once more. 1 is the number 1personalcareercoach.com
Michael Hingson 1:08:32
1personalcareercoach.com. Okay, well, I hope people will reach out I think you bring a very interesting and positive orientation to all of this. And I believe that you offer a really good perspective that people should learn more about. And I believe as you do, there’s a lot of educating to be done and I really appreciate you being out there and and helping in that process because it is what we need to do.
Davida Shensky 1:09:13
Thank you for having me.
Michael Hingson 1:09:15
Well, thank you for being here. And being with us and taking time out of your day and thank you who are listening to this for taking time to listen and to be a part of unstoppable mindset. Please tell your friends about us. And please don’t hesitate to review us we would appreciate a five star rating wherever you’re getting this podcast from. If you’d like to reach out to me I hope you will you can email me at Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessibe A C C E S S I B E .com. We’d love to get your emails and we’ll respond. If you’d like to be a guest we’d like to hear hear about that too. As Davida will tell you, we do engage and we will respond to emails, right?
Davida Shensky 1:10:07
Yes, you do.
Michael Hingson 1:10:08
And if you’d like to learn more about the podcast, please visit www.Michaelhingson.com. That’s M I C H A E L H I N G S O N.com/podcast. So again, thank you all for listening. And thank you to Vita for being here today.
Davida Shensky 1:10:30
Thank you, y’all have a nice day.
Michael Hingson 1:10:32
You too, and all of you out there as well and join us again next week. For the next episode of unstoppable mindset.
Michael Hingson 1:10:42
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.