607 Vanessa Marin:
As children, we’re told that sex is something we aren’t supposed to talk about. … …When our parents have “the talk” with us it’s usually very awkward and rushed – and then add to that the pressure to suppress our sexuality, lest we not be taken seriously in business. Is it any wonder so many women entrepreneurs struggle to balance sexual fulfilment with business success?
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who is here to help you stop feeling embarrassed about sex and start having way more fun in the bedroom.
Vanessa Marin is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy. She specializes in online programs that help you transform your sex life from ordinary to extraordinary from the comfort and privacy of your home.
Vanessa will be here in a moment and first…
Maybe it’s a generational thing, back when I was most often the only woman in the room, but I remember consciously suppressing any hint of my sexuality – in my struggle to be taken seriously for my brains. There was a deep fear there somewhere triggered by talk of women “sleeping their way to success”, even when they hadn’t, and that was not going to be me.
Years later I came to realize just how much I’d cut off a big part of myself, especially as an entrepreneur when your business is almost always on your mind. Was that compromise with myself now creeping into my romantic life? Maybe more than I’d like to admit.
Then I started to meet other female entrepreneurs who were standing firm in their full power, and when one told me her sales had grown – and her business started thriving with fast scaling – once she committed to at least one orgasm a day – I had to rethink things.
My guest today Vanessa Marin has made it her mission to help women in business embrace their sexuality. Vanessa is is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy, with a host of online courses for the busy female entrepreneur. You can find Vanessa’s articles in The New York Times, Allure, and Lifehacker, and she has been featured over 1,000 times in major publications like O, The Oprah Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Refinery29, and Real Simple.
With her courses like ‘The Passion Project: A Couples’ Blueprint To Rediscovering Desire And Reigniting The Spark’ and ‘Finishing School: Learn How To Orgasm and Orgasm With A Partner,’ Vanessa says she finds immense joy in spreading the message that we all deserve more from our sex lives.
Today we are going to talk about how your sex life affects you as an entrepreneur and how to be present, both in your business and in the bedroom.
So let’s put on our Wings with the inspiring Vanessa Marin.
Melinda Wittstock: Vanessa, welcome to Wings.
Vanessa Marin: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: Me too. So, what was the spark that led you into becoming the online maven of sex therapy?
Vanessa Marin: It actually traces back to my parents’ attempt at trying to have the talk with me. So, I don’t know if you had a version of the talk. Most people have a pretty bad experience or no experience at all. But for me, it was I was in the minivan with my parents, cruising home from my grandma’s house one night, and my parents just asked me, “Hey, if you have any questions about sex, you can ask us.” It was really obvious to me, even though I was just about 12 at the time, it was really clear that they were telling me that I could ask questions, but what they were really saying to me was, “Please, for the love of God, do not ask us any questions. We don’t want to talk about this.” That moment just really stuck out at me and I felt like, “Gosh.”
I actually am very curious. I have a lot of questions. I’m hearing things on the playground. I’m very curious to know about sex and I was just left with this feeling, “Why can’t we talk about it? Why is this so embarrassing?” And so, I had no clue at that young age, that sex therapy was a career that existed, but it really stuck with me. As I grew older, I just kept coming back to that moment. And that’s really what my entire business boils down to at this point too. It’s just how can we make sex more comfortable to talk about?
Melinda Wittstock: So important and so true. And you are a licensed psychotherapist. So what was the leap that got you onto the online and really taking a practice and scaling it into a business?
Vanessa Marin: Yeah. So, sex therapy is really challenging because there’s no defined career path. Really, anyone could call themselves a sex therapist. And so, I really struggled trying to figure out, “How do I do this?” I know the work that I want to do, but how the heck do I go about actually doing it? So I had to cobble together a lot of my own education and career path. And so, originally, I was working in a traditional psychotherapy setting, one-on-one with people in an office and I was just realizing that my clients were asking me the same questions over and over again. The same topics kept coming up. I also realized it’s really challenging to get people to come in for sex therapy. It’s such a personal thing to be talking about that it’s hard for someone to agree to sign up for, “Okay. I’m going to go into this office. I’m going to talk to this complete stranger about the most intimate details of the most intimate part of my life.”
And so, I was always just thinking about, “How can I make this easier on people? How can I make this easier on people, and especially given that it’s the same stuff coming up over and over again?” So, actually, what ended up happening was I got in a really bad car accident. Someone rear-ended me, trying to blow through a yellow light and I developed a really crippling back pain and I couldn’t sit. Sitting was the thing that exacerbated my back pain the most. And so, I was pursuing all of these treatment options, trying to figure out, “How the heck am I going to be a psychotherapist if I can’t sit in my office with people?”
I found a massage therapist in my area. We started working together on my back pain. She was also a business coach on the side and was trying to break away from her massage practice to fully get her business coaching up and off the ground running. She was the first person who said to me, “Why don’t you do online courses? That makes so much sense given the topic that you’re in.” Isn’t it funny how sometimes our biggest opportunities for growth can come out of the most difficult experiences that we have in life? But yeah, we ended up working together more in a business aspect. I created that first course and realized, “Wow, this is a really good fit.” And so, it all just unfolded from there. So now, we’re at the point where 90% of the business is all about online courses. We built probably 15 different courses and have about seven or eight available right now. So yeah, it’s been really exciting to just build up something that I never expected I would create.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s fantastic. So, are any of your clients female entrepreneurs? I ask this because so many women in business juggle so many things, right? Sometimes it can be difficult to split the work you and being in that more masculine energy sometimes, from the intimate or sexy you and knowing those boundaries and whatnot. What do you advise for women in business and women entrepreneurs? What sort of things come up in your practice for really successful executive or entrepreneurial women?
Vanessa Marin: Yeah. So I definitely do work with a lot of entrepreneurial women. It’s really interesting. One of the most popular topics that people want to work with me around is female orgasm. And so, I work with a lot of women who are extremely accomplished, very intelligent, and they are struggling with orgasm and there’s this added layer of shame and embarrassment on top of it that’s like, “How can I be crushing it in every other area of my life and I feel so confident and self-assured and intelligent, but there’s this area of my life that I just cannot figure out?” So, it definitely is a theme that comes up a lot. I think you really nailed it on the head- talking about it can be hard to separate our work selves from our sexy selves, figuring out, “How do I want to show up inside and outside of the bedroom?”
So definitely a big dynamic that comes up for a lot of women is a feeling of time not knowing how to handle the element of control. So, a lot of orgasm is around being able to give up control, allowing ourselves to receive. For a lot of women, especially very intelligent, business-minded entrepreneurial women, we’re really used to having a lot of control over our businesses and our careers. So that can be a big challenge. It’s like, how do we learn to let go and allow ourselves to just really receive and be present in the bedroom?
Melinda Wittstock: This is a really interesting point. We talk on this podcast a lot about being in our feminine energy, that authentic feminine power, but also the balance where we need masculine energy.
Melinda Wittstock: So, so many women in business fall into this trap of being very much in our masculine, that go get things done, stay focused, get the sale, do all the things, and learning to actually step into the feminine power side of this, I mean, the intuition, the empathy, the relationship, all those things are really great things in business. But for women and women’s sexuality, it can be really difficult to turn that corner in the way that men seem to be able to do quite easily. They’re in their business thing. And then in a split second, they can be in they’re sexy kind of [inaudible 00:07:58]. Women, I don’t know, that’s harder.
Vanessa Marin: Yeah. Yeah. A lot of us really struggle with how we balance our masculine and our feminine energies. I can speak from my own experience. I described myself as a feminist, but feminism is extremely important to me. Sometimes I feel conflicted around like, “But what does femininity really mean to me? What does masculinity really mean to me?” I think that there are just a lot of really interesting challenges and questions that come up for people, with just trying to figure out how to balance those energies, because it does feel…
I think our culture perpetuates this idea that in order to be successful in business, we really have to take on that masculine energy and be so focused on doing and achieving and hustling and grinding and all that stuff. And then we really struggle with, “Okay. Well, what do I do when I get home, when I get into the bedroom and I’m trying to connect with my partner, but still in that masculine achieving mode?” We can definitely bring all different kinds of energies into the bedroom, but I think a lot of us really struggle with, “How do I make that transition and how do I figure out what feels authentically me in the bedroom?”
Melinda Wittstock: Vanessa, do you think age has anything to do with it in terms of stepping into our sexual confidence, if you will? I know so many women in their 50s really having a complete renaissance around this. I don’t know whether it’s just because we learn to accept and value ourselves more, which enables that confidence. What’s your take on that?
Vanessa Marin: Yeah, I do think age can play a big role in it. I think we’re really socialized to believe that we’re supposed to be in our peaks in our 20s, that that’s when we’re at our most beautiful and our most attractive and it just this sad, sorry, downhill slide from there. But the reality is a lot of women in their 20s are extremely self-conscious and really struggle with feeling authentic, with feeling confident in the bedroom. And so, I definitely notice, as women get older… I mean, everyone’s unique. Of course, we all have our own individual journeys.
But I do think in general, as we get older, we do tend to learn how to let go of some of that pressure that we were putting on ourselves, some of the pressure society puts on us and become more confident with who we are, and as we achieve more things in life too. I mean, yeah, I can definitely say I’m much more confident than I was in my 20s for sure. Yeah. As we achieve more in life, that bleeds into confidence in the bedroom as well. I mean, I definitely don’t think you’re doomed to have a terrible sex life until you get a little bit older, but it does help to have a little bit of a life experience under your belt.
Melinda Wittstock: Having a really good sex life though actually helps you in business though, too.
Vanessa Marin: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Talk about that a little bit, because when a woman is really, really satisfied and feels great, I think there’s just a confidence or there’s just something that makes entrepreneurship, which is not the easiest thing in the world, easier.
Vanessa Marin: Yeah. I think when you’re really connected to your sexuality, there is an incredible power around that. There’s just a confidence, there’s a steadiness, there’s a foundation that you have with yourself and there’s a way that even the huge projects it can affect. But even just your day-to-day life, the way that you move throughout your day and carry yourself and take care of yourself and relate to yourself, it can have such a huge impact. Yeah, I think even there’s a way that we can bring sensuality into our work as well to have more flow in our lives and in our days. So I think, yeah, absolutely. It’s a two-way street. The more confident we are outside of the bedroom, the more confident we can be inside of the bedroom. The more confident we are inside the bedroom, it affects how confident we are outside of it.
Melinda Wittstock: I really love that you brought up the word flow, being in that flow state. Everything, when women are really in that central presence or just awareness, so many things manifest. I mean, we are actually able to attract and manifest things. Men can do this too, but getting into that flow state is vital. Talk to me a little bit about that connection there between our sexuality, our sensuality mindset, all these sorts of things, that allow us to be in that state of grace or presence or awareness.
Vanessa Marin: Yeah. So for me, the best sex is when we allow ourselves to be fully present in the moment. And that’s another thing that I think so many women struggle with is that our minds are constantly racing, and especially entrepreneurial women, there’s always something to be thinking about, always something to be doing to be planning. So it can be a huge distraction in the bedroom when you’re trying to be there with your partner and present and focus, but your mind is just on a million different things. So I think learning how to have really great sex, a big piece of that is learning how to be more present in the moment. For me, the feeling of being really present in the moment with ourselves, with our partner during intimacy, it’s very similar to the flow state that I like to get into with work. It’s the sense of I’m allowing myself to just be in the moment with what I’ve got on my plate.
Yes, I’m thinking about the bigger picture and on all my projects and stuff like that, but there’s this just gentleness around being in the moment and just allowing things to unfold rather than being so tight or rigid or really trying to control things. Yeah. For me, I hate the idea of hustle in work. I think entrepreneurial culture really glamorizes and glorifies the idea of hustle. I think for me, I much prefer to be in that flow state where I’m not putting quite so much effort into it. I’m just allowing what’s there to be there. Yeah, it’s a very similar dynamic that can come up in the bedroom too.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. I’ve learned in both business and in my romantic life and really all aspects of life is that when I’m in that flow state or I’m really present and I’m not in the hustle or that willful to-do lists thing, I actually have more done.
Vanessa Marin: Oh, yeah. Me too.
Melinda Wittstock: I’ve talked about this a lot on my podcast, where I’ve gone from being that human doing with a to-do list on that task treadmill or however we want to characterize that to actually being more in intention and living in inspiration and acting, quieting the mind enough to actually hear those inspirations. But if you’re this constant hive of activity doing, doing, doing, you can run very, very fast and get nowhere.
Vanessa Marin: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s always amazing to me the difference in my output when I’m in those different states. I mean, I’ve had days where I’m trying so hard to be productive, I’m trying so hard to get all these things crossed off my to-do list, and I get to the end of the day and it’s like, I feel like I probably did five minutes of actual work despite all of this effort that I was putting in. And then there will be days where I allow myself to get into that flow state. I create the right environment for that to flourish and it feels like I can tackle in five minutes, you know what it would have taken me the entire day otherwise. Yeah, it really is remarkable how much more you can achieve when you’re able to get into that space.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. So tell me about all your online courses. You have a bunch of them. I love the name Finishing School. That’s very, very funny. So, let’s talk about that one first. What’s that all about? And then let’s go into some of the other things that you offer.
Vanessa Marin: Yeah. So, Finishing School is my baby. It’s my favorite course out of all the ones that we have. It teaches women everything that they need to know to have their first orgasms on their own and how to orgasm with a partner. So it’s a really comprehensive course. It’s about learning how to orgasm, but really it’s about so much more. It’s just about having a healthy relationship with your sexuality in so many different ways, learning how to be more comfortable with your body, more confident in the bedroom, willing to receive, communicating with your partner, having a more playful and experimental attitude towards sex, not being so judgmental or critical or having performance anxiety. So, it’s a really transformative journey. I love being able to hear about the impact that it has on women when they go through that. So, that’s our main course.
We also have a course called The Passion Project, which is specifically for couples who have mismatched sex drives, which I like to say is basically every single couple out there because we all have mismatched sex drives to some degree or another. And so, that course is really guiding you through understanding what is it that you need to create a really exceptional sex life with your partner and going through all these different dynamics of what creates a healthy sex life and how the two of you can work together as a team rather than feeling like, “Oh, just one person needs to… You need to have a higher sex drive. You need to fix yourself.” Really taking more of a teamwork approach towards it.
We also have a course called Rediscovering Desire, which is more of an introduction to sex drive, so specifically for individuals who feel like they’re struggling with low sex drive or no sex drive, really understanding the truth about how sex drive actually works, and again, a little bit of an introduction to specific actions that they can take. We also have a course for men who are struggling with performance anxiety. And then we have a couple of smaller, fun courses. We have a 30-day sex challenge for couples who are just looking for some fun ways to spice things up in the bedroom. It’s an email-based course and you get two ideas of things that you could do in the bedroom every single day for 30 days. One of them is more explicitly sexual, one is more sensual. You’re not forcing yourself to have sex every single day for 30 days, but it’s super fun and very playful and exciting to just get surprised every day with some creative ideas.
Our newest course is a mini course. It’s called the Relationship Care Package that we created specifically for couples who are struggling in these COVID times with just how challenging it’s been for relationships that we’re spending so much more time together, that we’re navigating this huge traumatic life event, dealing with changing responsibilities and roles. So that’s all about helping couples reconnect, learn how to communicate better. We really wanted to support couples in being able to come out of this pandemic stronger than they were going into it. Yeah, that’s currently what we offer. I love creating courses. My ideal day would just be creating a new course every day if I could. So, I’m always coming up with new ideas and relaunching different things and trying different stuff out. Yeah, I love pretty much… anything related to sex and relationships, I can build a course on it.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s fantastic. You can hear the passion that you love what you do, which I think is really important. Is it challenging though to sell? I mean, I’m thinking of how to do a Facebook ad, say, for your course.
Vanessa Marin: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. [crosstalk 00:20:54].
Melinda Wittstock: So, how do people find out about you?
Vanessa Marin: We have incredible challenges. Yeah, I have a lot of other entrepreneur friends and I get very jealous sometimes because it’s just sounds so much easier to have a business about cooking or parenting or fitness or something like that. But yeah, we have a lot of challenges. I mean, we cannot run Facebook ads. We’ve tried lots of different things. We’ve gotten very creative with copy and with trying to have sneaky things that aren’t explicitly sexual, but we’ve just gotten to the point where we can’t do ads, and even with coming to our website, trying to get people to sign up for our email list.
We have this amazing weekly newsletter that we send out every Friday. We cover a different topic every month. We give an incredible amount of value every single week. Yet, we get a lot of people who come to our website and see this invitation to join the list and people will tell us like, “I’m really nervous to sign up for this list. I don’t know what are you going to send me? Am I going to end up on some weird porn spam email list? Or are you going to send me these emails with these titles that are going to pop up and somebody is going to see it on my phone and I’m going to be really embarrassed?” So yeah, we have a lot of challenges around that and we’re constantly trying to get creative and figure out new ways to just get our message out there.
It’s challenging as well because the whole thing is I really want to promote that sex is normal and natural. There’s nothing to be ashamed about or embarrassed about sex. Yet, in so much of our advertising or our attempts to advertise, we have to be really cloaked about it. So, it’s just challenging on an emotional level. God, I want to just put everything out there, but I can’t. So yeah, we’ve gotten creative with doing things like podcasts. It’s really great to have this opportunity to get exposed to your incredible audience. I do a lot of interviews for really huge magazines and websites and publications. I’ve written for the New York Times, for Allure. Yeah, I’ve just done some really big interviews. So people will tend to find out about me that way. I’m trying to build up our social following as well, and just encourage people to share our account with their friends and open up those more honest conversations with their loved ones, too. So, it’s a challenge. I get frustrated sometimes, but-
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it is frustrating that what you’re doing, which is really helping people, gets mixed up at all with porn and that kind of thing and this masculine idea. It just seems so strange to me and it’s so backwards.
Vanessa Marin: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s really challenging that the only resources really that are out there, there’s just so much porn and I think people really struggle with not having accurate and useful and non-shaming information about sex. So, all that we have the turn to is porn or either a lot of really generic articles on websites that just… The orgasm advice that you’ll always see online is just relax, just let it happen, stop thinking about it. So there just aren’t that many great resources out there, and that just makes people struggle even more with an area of their lives that we’re already struggling with. So yeah, I’m definitely extremely passionate about trying to share more resources, help people not feel ashamed and embarrassed, and give them the tools that they need to have an extraordinary sex life and relationship. Yeah, I wish that it was a bit easier.
Melinda Wittstock: So, Vanessa, this is such important work you’re doing. So, how can people find you and work with you? What’s the best way?
Vanessa Marin: Yeah, I would love to work with anybody who’s listening to this. You can find me online at my website is VM, that’s my initials, VMtherapy, T-H-E-R-A-P-Y, .com. We have tons of free resources, all sorts of guides about the best way to have your first orgasm, what to do if your sex drive is low. So, come check us out there. Sign up for that weekly email list. I promise you I will put you on some weird porn spam thing. It’s just great emails every single week. So, you can find me there. And then also on Instagram. That’s my favorite social media platform. I’m @vanessamarintherapy. I do daily stories. I answer reader questions. We do giveaways, all kinds of fun stuff. So I would love to connect with any of your listeners at either of those two places.
Melinda Wittstock: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Vanessa Marin: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity.