What message do you promote?
My goal is to empower women and girls with self-defense, personal safety, and violence prevention tools because when we can live our lives confidently and freely, there is no limit to what we can do. We are fully capable of defending themselves, and you are worth fighting for!
In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?
I teach women, girls, and people of all genders the basics of how to defend themselves using both their voice and their bodies. I work with high schools, colleges, the military, corporations, and private groups to empower them with basic skills, boundary setting tools, and physical techniques they can use in their lives. Last year I started an online series called #OutdoorDefense to offer women solo travelers/hikers/adventurers self-defense strategies they can use to feel confident and safe going out and doing what they love. As a passionate solo traveler and hiker myself, this was very important to me.
In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to:
I had a job at one time that I knew I was being underpaid to do. I wore many hats, and even though I was phenomenal at what I did, my pay didn’t reflect industry standards, and I knew it was time to address the problem. I did my research to come up with an informed assessment of what I should ask for, addressed wherein the company budget they may be able to reallocate funds to come up with the money to increase my pay then put together a binder with all of the information and set up a meeting with my boss. I presented the information and was met with resistance and incredulity. I was offered a minimal rate increase, and I put in my 2wks notice on the spot. I didn’t have another job to go to, and I had no idea how I would make things work, but I knew that I had to let this job go so that I could find a job that would pay me what I am worth. I ended up landing a job a month later that paid my asking rate, and my career climbed after that.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
That moment when a woman, teen, or girl realizes that she is indeed powerful and is fully capable of defending herself and the look on her face and her body language completely change. I know I’ve given her something she will be able to use and carry with her for the rest of her life and that she doesn’t need anyone’s permission to be a badass… she already is one! It is also rewarding when someone messages me to tell me that something I said completely changed their life or that they are now getting ready to take a trip or go on a hike solo, etc. because they now feel confident to do that. That is the best feeling in the world.
How do you SHOW UP?
I show up by dedicating my life to helping others discover the power and confidence within themselves. I want to empower millions of girls and women to speak up for their needs, set boundaries unapologetically, use their voice, and know that they can use their bodies to defend themselves. I make decisions based on honesty, integrity, and compassion and work tirelessly to change the world.
What is your story? Or, in other words, what made you your awesome self you are today?
I have always loved getting up in front of others to speak, and I’m also notorious for saying what’s on my mind and standing up for others. I grew up in a small desert military town in Southern California and loved exploring the outdoors every chance I got. I have always been athletic, curious, and active, and I had a hunger for trying new things along with varied interests (some of which I was told wasn’t something girls or Black people did). Due to a multitude of circumstances, I was unable to pursue any of those passions until I turned 18, but then the world couldn’t contain me! I got a full academic scholarship to CSULB as a President’s Scholar. While getting my education, I started immersing myself in adventures…anything that sparked my interest was fair game. After graduating Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Speech Communication, I started my career in the Entertainment Industry. I started as an intern and quickly worked my way up to Line Producer. I began solo traveling and realized how much I loved being on my own in new countries.
I was first drawn to self-defense after having an encounter that made me realize that I was woefully unprepared for such a scenario. So many of the things I have decided to learn in life, such as archery, motorcycle riding, and weapons handling, come from a place of wanting to be prepared for an emergency, and this was no different. I was really drawn to self-defense and the power I felt knowing that I could handle myself, but I didn’t know how to channel that into a job and without a mentor willing to show me the way I moved on with my production career. At the same time, I was feeling compelled to do something more with my life, and advocating for women, especially survivors of sexual assault and violence, was at the top of that list.
A few years later, I worked as a Production Executive for Endemol USA when simultaneously I learned that our department was being laid off, and I was offered a job to do sexual assault prevention training for the Department of Navy. Through that association, I learned of the company, Girls Fight Back, who provides personal safety and empowerment self-defense training for girls and women through live speaking events at colleges and businesses nationwide. Fascinated by this work and driven by my passion for women’s empowerment, I asked for a job. Three months later, I was trained to be a junior national speaker, and part of the training included graduating from a 20hr full-contact self-defense class with IMPACT Personal Safety. After graduating, I knew I wanted to teach this too, so I asked the owner for a job! I started training and became an assistant before moving up to lead instructor while also doing live speaking events nationwide as a Senior National Speaker for Girls Fight Back.
Fast forward to 5 years later, and the opportunity arose for me to purchase Girls Fight Back. I knew there was no way else for me but forward because I had lived and breathed this program for five years and knew I could do amazing things for the world with it. Even though purchasing a business during COVID was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done, it was the best decision I could have made.
If you could give one piece of advice for women who are entering the workforce or launching their own business what would that be?
Go after you want, and don’t let others be gatekeepers to your dreams. If someone is not giving you the information or space you need to grow, learn, or succeed, seek out someone who will. There will always be people who will try to project their insecurities and fears on you, but you have to push for what you want and fight for it. Don’t stop until you get to where you want to go. Ask you what you want without apology.
Contact Nicole Snell