Long overdue, but I couldn’t be more excited to be back with my next installment of Real Life Girl Boss. If you’re new here, this is a curated set of interviews featuring women who are doing awesome things in a creative, less traditional field (women supporting women, y’all). I’ve shared the stories of those finding success in film, comedy, and fashion, but today I’m here to share the story of Alyssa Coleman, Productivity Strategist for Creative Entrepreneurs.
Alyssa’s feature is a bit different in that I met Alyssa via the world wide web. Yes, I know, I know, what happened to the “girl bosses I know in REAL LIFE” thing?
My original intent for this series was to focus on women I have relationships with outside of the internet, but I’ve since decided to expand my reach for two reasons. 1) I’ve been able to make “internet” friends that have since transformed into real life friends. I have yet to meet Alyssa in real life – but hope to one day! 2) Many of my friends are in the entertainment industry, and I don’t want to inhibit the series by focusing on only one type of creative career. Now, I’ll be able to reach women from so many different backgrounds, areas, and expertise.
So now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I am super pumped for you to learn more about Alyssa’s strides from Nutritionist and Yoga Practitioner to Productivity Guru. As you’ll see below, this girl is about as “REAL” as it gets and dishes up some pretty inspiring advice. 😉
What is your educational background? Any specific training you’ve undertaken for your nutrition/yoga practice, as well as your business as a productivity strategist?
My background is in holistic nutrition; I studied at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and completed my Yoga Teacher Training at the magical Blue Osa in Costa Rica.
My training as a productivity strategist is one part self taught (read: obsessively studied anything I could get my hands on) and one part real world experience; my practice in productivity has evolved over time. Working with creative entrepreneurs, no two businesses are the same, so creating productivity strategies is always new, exciting, and challenging. It’s such a privilege to get my hands dirty behind the scenes of entrepreneurs’ businesses (their babies!) and to create strategies that allow them to spend more time in their zone of genius – and therefore bring their dreams into the world. It’s a wild ride, and I never imagined myself here – but I love a good surprise plot twist.
What city do you live in? Have you noticed any advantages or hurdles due to your location?
I live in Toronto, where the WiFi is strong and the coffee shops are on every corner. I haven’t noticed many hurdles, but one perk is being in a city with quite a few other girl bosses. I get to meet new badasses, and since I’m location independent (and many of them are too), we can work together – from anywhere!
Which endeavor came first? What made you take the leap to include the other?
I was originally working as a nutritionist and brought my nutrition practice online in 2015. I worked primarily with creative entrepreneurs in a specially designed program called The Healthy Entrepreneur. Although I got to work with so many inspiring entrepreneurs to make their own health just as much a priority as their business, I was kind of a hot mess!
I was working close to 60 hours a week, rarely seeing daylight and barely keeping my head above water in a sea of emails and client calls. The worst part? I felt like the goals on my vision board were still so far out of reach. How the heck was I going to take on my next BIG goal if I was barely staying afloat?
So, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to figure out what the top dogs were doing – how to get more done in less time, make more money, and make it to more Sunday brunches.
I’ll skip to the end of the story. After months of trying every “productivity hack” and studying the morning routines of Beyoncé, Oprah, and Barack Obama, I figured my brain was just not made to be productive – until one day I realized I had created some mish-mash of techniques that ACTUALLY worked for me. I made it to 5:00 yoga (sounds like nothing, but trust me, that was a BIG win for the girl that wasn’t usually leaving her desk until well after the sun went down).
So I recreated those techniques for the next month, and not only did I get my zen on at yoga weekly, I made an extra $3,000 that month and more importantly, got some sanity back.
I was so stoked that I started sharing the technique with all of my nutrition clients (all entrepreneurs, remember?), and they were hooked too! Eventually I was creating more productivity strategies than I was nutrition protocol – so it was less of a leap, and more of a frolic.
Did you always envision working in these fields? Many people fear it’s “too late” for career or life changes, but I recently read a comment from someone that simply stated, “Life is long!” If you have 10, 20, 30 years left to do something, that’s long enough! What advice would you give someone who is afraid to take the leap?
I totally never imagined I would be here, and who knows where I’ll end up next. But the way I see it – you have to trust the process and follow where your heart takes you. I had a lot of resistance in the early days of my practice – thinking I wasn’t good enough, or old enough, or skinny enough…and whatever other BS my inner mean girl tried to convince me of. But now I feel much more confident, and I think that as long as you feel passionate about what you are doing, and you’re willing to not half-ass it, then it’s NEVER too late. My advice would be to surround yourself with supportive people – and ask them for help when you need it!
What avenues do you use to connect with others, grow relationships, and market your business? Any online communities or real life meet-ups/events?
I am a pretty serious introvert and could happily go weeks without interacting with other humans, but my core desired feeling for 2017 was CONNECTION (Danielle LaPorte is my guru). So I’ve been making more of an effort to connect online and in the flesh with other entrepreneurs. Instagram is my main squeeze for keeping up with my favorites, and I’ve been forcing myself to reach out and slide into more DMs [direct messages] in 2017. I also have some awesome extroverted friends that drag me to meet-ups and coffee dates…even when I’d rather Netflix binge.
How do you budget what goes into your business? How long did it take for you to turn a profit?
Ok, budgeting is not my thing, but I can be cheap as hell, so for the longest time I was DIYing my business as much as possible. It was really helpful in the beginning to allow me to spend less time waitressing, but as my business grew, I have invested in a few programs and services that really save me time and move the needle in my business.
As I mentioned, I took my business online in 2015, and it really is a whole different world than working offline. So I invested in coaches and tried a ton of marketing techniques that flopped. It took me about 5 months before I got my first high paying online client. I remember jumping on my bed after signing that client, but it is the work I did for free (before ever having a paying client) that actually turned into referrals and allowed me to feel confident AF in my services.
Since you’re all about productivity, can you share the schedule of your typical working day?
I would love to! I get asked this a lot, and it’s interesting because in my early days of trying to master my perfect day, I tried to emulate so many other people’s morning routines, work schedules, and productivity techniques – and NONE of them worked for me, which left me feeling really crappy and confused. So, keep in mind that my schedule probably can’t be copied and pasted into your schedule.
My day begins at 7 AM by snoozing my alarm 2-10 times.
I eventually get out of bed (reluctantly), feed my cat, and make 2 almond milk lattes for my boyfriend and me.
We have coffee and lemon water together, and I usually get a good scroll going on Instagram.
I get my butt to my yoga mat to stretch it out anywhere from 5-35 minutes.
Then I get to my computer. The first thing I do is check my TO-DO list from the night before. I like to make a list at the END of the day – when I’m in a flow and know what still needs to get done. Plus, it allows me to shut down my brain at the end of my work day; otherwise I can easily think about work all night (not great for my mental health).
Once I clear on my TO-DOs, I open my calendar. I schedule my week into time blocks, so I know exactly what needs to get done and how long I have budgeted to complete it.
I’ll stop at some point for lunch; I work from home, so I make something delish or head out for lunch with a friend.
Back to my desk, and I’ll use the afternoon for more social aspects of my job. I get into some Facebook groups, reach out to online entrepreneurs, get on client calls, etc.
I try to leave my desk around 6 PM, but it’s realistically more like 7 PM.
At this point, I make my TO-DO list for the next day and make some dinner with my boyfriend.
I use the rest of the night to recharge/chill. Then do it again the next day. 🙂
Nothing fancy, but that’s the way I like it.
I love your commitment to wellness – not just physically, but mentally as well. I’m so glad mental health is something that’s becoming a bit less taboo to talk about – but that’s exactly what we need…more people talking about it! On your site you mention how taking care of your physical health has impacted you from within. What inner struggles were you dealing with before, and how has taking care of your body (through nutrition and exercise) affected those?
Thank you, I’ve tried to be very open about mental health for that reason. For me, taking care of myself physically by eating well, taking supplements, and especially having a yoga/meditation practice has allowed me to overcome (most of) my anxiety. I struggled with it a lot more as a young adult, and at the time I didn’t even KNOW that’s what it was because nobody was really talking about it. Now I think young girls hear a lot more about it on social media, and luckily there are influencers like Zoella being really honest about their experience; that’s something I find so honorable. My health changed drastically when I started prioritizing the way I FELT, rather than how I looked.
I took your “Productivity Persona” quiz and got “The Anaylzer” – so true! I’m a Type A control freak and an introvert who will go hard until I’m overwhelmed and completely burnt out. For someone in my shoes, what should be my first step in approaching my day?
Haha, yes! Speaking of mental health, The Analyzer has to be really careful about HOW you’re getting things done. You tend to be really focused and systems oriented, which is amazing, but you also have to be rigid with your down time – when you’ll turn off your phone and when you get to bed!
Your first step in the day should be to meditate, read, or something that chills out your brain. The next step should be creating a TO-DO list with 3-5 things on it (MAX) because Analyzers tend to add too much to their plate – then stress when it’s not all done perfectly. I have a free TO-DO List Detox on my site to help you figure out what can be eliminated from your TO-DO list, so you stay sane.
Do you have specific practices or tools you use to help ease overwhelm and to stay focused?
I am so on board with your passion for entrepreneurship and female creatives. What makes you the most excited about where women are today? What makes you feel the most disheartened?
The best part of my job is hearing the crazy (in the best way) and exciting passion projects my clients are creating. I think we’re in a really amazing time where women are able to not only be the boss, but do so in a really feminine way – meaning less competition, less cut throat tactics, more social awareness, and triple bottom lines. That is the kind of thing that gets me out of bed in the morning, and being able to support women who are doing that is an honor.
What concerns me is the state of social media and how much time we spend on it. I worry about girls like my little sister and other young women today growing up with Instagram – and the level of comparison we ALL experience. Comparing yourself to someone else’s filtered life is so dangerous. Rather than changing social media, I think we need to have more open conversations about what’s real and what isn’t. I think we need to sprinkle in some no makeup selfies, share our entrepreneurial losses (as well as our wins), and take screenshots of the 300 pictures that we delete before posting that perfect IG shot.
I love the tone of your writing and how you’ve incorporated so much of your personality with fun graphics and a REAL voice. I’m sure these are all conscious choices that organically grew out of who you are. Even so, how do you stay consistent with this branding when you’re writing blog posts, drafting quizzes and checklists for your audience, and marketing yourself?
Thank you! I’m also an Analyzer, so there is a push and pull between putting something out that’s perfect and actually putting something out AT ALL. In the beginning of my blog, I felt so self-conscious and really hated everything I was putting out. One day one of my coaches told me to stop trying to write for EVERYONE, and write for the person who already loves me!
So I keep my best friend in mind while I’m writing and try to post a more polished version of a text message I would send to her! It’s funny, because I have had people comment on the fact that I swear in my posts and reply to my email letting me know how unprofessional I was. BUT, all of my clients have been chicks like me, who appreciate it when I keep it real. So, I just write for them!
Do you have anyone you look up to? Where do you find inspiration?
Of course, I am a forever student of Gabby Bernstein, Mimi Ikonn, Eckhart Tolle, Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo, Casey Neistat, and Oprah (obvi). I get my best inspiration when I’m traveling, taking a shower, in savasana (don’t tell my yoga teacher), and basically any time I unplug!
What is the most fulfilling part of your career? The least fun part?
The most fulfilling part is working with amazing creatives, and I’m really fortunate to be able to send a portion of all my Productive Entrepreneur sales to one of my favorite charities, Kurandza, which invests in the future of women entrepreneurs in Mozambique.
The least fun part is taxes.
In an alternate universe, if you weren’t pursuing the career you have now, what would you be doing?
Growing up, I wanted to work for the U.N., and I think it would be really fulfilling in another life.
Can’t let you leave without some rapid fire!
- Morning or night? Night.
- Favorite city you’ve visited? Santorini
- Any hobbies or guilty pleasures? Netflix binging British cop shows.
- Favorite book? Movie? TV show?
- Book: Memoirs of a Geisha
- Movie: Amelie
- TV Show: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- Song you’re obsessed with right now? Kiiara’s Feels remix
- Teenage celebrity crush? Current celebrity crush?
- Teenage: Jonathan Taylor Thomas (I mean…where is he these days?)
- Current: Marie Forleo
- You can only eat one dessert the rest of your life – what is it? I’m more of a savory type, so hook me up with some chips and salsa.
Alyssa, thank you for your endless support of creatives and your passion for making this world a better place, all while staying true to who YOU ARE. I’m left feeling endlessly inspired and am sure my readers are too.
Have any questions for Alyssa? Share them below, and be sure to check out her work at any of these links:
Website – www.alyssacoleman.ca
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/alyssacolemanwellness/
Productivity Workshop – http://www.alyssacoleman.ca/masterclass