Episode 070 – Alison Pena
Welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I am your host Richard Matthews, (@AKATheAlchemist) and you are listening to episode #70 with Alison Pena – The Bad Widow on Reinventing Yourself After Transition or Loss.
Alison is a leading expert in helping others to reinvent themselves after the loss of a loved one. Her husband passed away from pancreatic cancer and she shares how she regained her life again to all other women who lost somebody in their lives through her show “Bad Widow.”
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
- Alison helps her clients stand up from the ordeal of losing a loved one.
- Handling the feelings of pain and how to act in spite of them.
- There are many things that change us and our possibilities. Our future can instantly shift in a split second.
- It’s your story, regardless if you have a similar skill set with another person. It’s how you bring your skillset to complete your story.
- To live in the fullness of life, you have to open yourself again to joy and love.
- Consistency is more important than volume.
- Sometimes we crash into a wall, and you’ve got to figure everything else to change things.
- It’s really important to have a good mindset or you won’t be going anywhere.
- You are defined by your actions, not with the things you think.
- Change something, get the results, and then act on those results.
- Release yourself from your comfort zone and motion forward.
- Spend your space, time, and energy on things that you really care about.
- “Leap and net will appear”.
- Success is never done alone.
The HERO Challenge
Today on the show, Alison Pena challenges her accountability partner, Camille Nisich to be a guest on The HERO Show. Camille is a cash flow strategist and has also faced a lot of challenges in her life. Alison believes that Camille is incredibly dynamic and an extraordinary woman would make an amazing interview.
How To Stay Connected With Alison
Want to stay connected with Alison? Please check out their social profiles below.
- David Beynon Pena’s online art gallery: bit.ly/DBPenaArt
- Website: https://badwidow.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alison.pena
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/alisonpena
- SpeakerHub: https://speakerhub.com/speaker/alison-pena
- Instagram: @badwidowwisdom
Also, Alison mentioned the following items on the show. You can find that here:
With that… let’s get to listening to the episode…
– Heroes are an inspiring group of people. Everyone of them from the larger than life comic book heroes you see on the big silver screen, so the everyday heroes that let us live the privileged lives we do. Every hero has a story to tell. The doctor saving lives at your local hospital. The war veteran down the street who risks his lives for our freedom. The police officers and firefighters who risk their safety to ensure ours. Every hero is special, and every story worth telling, but there is one class of heroes that I think is often ignored, the entrepreneur. The creator, the producer. The ones who look at the problems in this world and think to themselves, you know what I can fix that, I can help people, and I can make a difference. Then they go out and do exactly that by creating a new product, or introducing a new service. Some go on to change the world, others make a world of difference to their customers. Welcome to The Hero Show. Join us as we pull back the masks of the world’s finest heropreneurs, and learn the secrets to their powers, their success and their influence, so you can use those secrets to attract more sales, make more money and experience more freedom in your business. I’m your host Richard Matthews, and we are on in three, two, one. Hello and welcome back to The Hero Show. My name’s Richard Matthews, and I’m here on the line live with Alison Pena. Alison, are you there?
– I am here.
– Awesome, so glad to have you here, Alison. Let me go through a quick bio, for those of our guests who don’t know who you are, and then we’ll get into your story. So I love your website up here, it actually said “AKA the Bad Widow”. I’m kind of curious to learn what that means here in a little while. But Alison is the leading expert on reinventing yourself after the loss of a loved one, getting back to financial stability, and thriving. Your husband died in your arms at home in 2016, after an 11 month battle with pancreatic cancer. And data shows that the loss of a spouse or partner has severe economic, emotional and health implications, and you help people make that transition, is that right?
– I do, I do.
– So that is a powerful start for a story. So first off, sorry so much for your loss. I know that’s a really tough thing to have to deal with. But I’m curious, how did you make that transition from being someone who’s in that situation, to being someone who’s empowering others in that situation? Because that’s a really interesting story, how you got to be known for that.
– Well to answer the question about Bad Widow, because it’s kind of relevant, what I discovered is that there are a lot of conversations that people are unwilling to have with someone who’s just lost a loved one. And they just don’t wanna get it wrong. And the person who’s lost someone doesn’t know what they want. I mean basically they want the person they love back, and nobody can give them that, and so there’s nothing else that they can say that they want. So there’s nothing anyone can do, really.
– And so what I found was that there were a lot of head resources and planning resources, like okay, here’s how you organize your finances, and here’s how you, you know, and especially right afterwards, I could barely pay the bills, you know. I mean I could barely get out of bed. And so because there were no resources, I decided I would make them and build them, because to get back to thriving and to get back to whole myself, I needed something, and there was nothing out there that was relevant. And so Bad Widow is because I was willing to have disruptive conversations, and to be vulnerable online about everything that was going on. You know, to talk about all the break downs that I was in the middle of. And so I started talking about it, I started writing in my website, which is Bad Widow, about it, and people started writing in and saying “Oh now I understand “why it’s 40 years later, and I’m not done grieving. “Now I understand. “Now you’re speaking to what I know to be my experience.” Because people typically write about the resources, without coming from that raw place.
– Yeah, like where they’re actually feeling the emotions and the pain, and how you have to act in spite of them.
– Yeah, and the confusion. My husband and I were together for 25 years, so you wind around each other like vines. You’re married, right?
– Yeah, yeah, I’ve been married for 11 years now.
– Yeah, and in the beginning especially, you give to each other and you compromise maybe on some things you wouldn’t later compromise on. And so there were things after my husband died that I thought, you know, I don’t really like to do that. But it was figuring out what was his and what was mine, and now what was mine without him. What was mine alone. And so I started speaking to people about that, and I started being willing to have these conversations and providing help, because I needed it so badly.
– Yeah, makes a lot of sense. It’s something my wife and I have discussed, you know, if she were to ever pass away early or something like that, we’ve talked about just how much of my life relies on her and her skillset, and what she does in our home, and how difficult it would be just to figure out how to keep homeostasis if she wasn’t here. Of course the opposite is true as well for her. That’s like thinking with a clear head, and we’re not in that situation, not dealing with those emotions. I could imagine it would be significantly more difficult on the other side.
– Yeah, and there’s just, there’s how do you get clear about what you want now. And then there’s how do you take action again when you’re swallowed by emotions. And then there’s with your community, when some people have stepped up, some people have stepped back, and some people have stepped out entirely of your life. Who you counted on, how do you rebuild a network that will support you? Because especially if you’re widow. So in the world of bereavement, there are 13.7 widowed persons in the United States, 13.7 million widowed persons in the United States. 11 million are widows. That’s a lot.
– Yeah, so it’s like most of them are women.
– Most of them are women, yep.
– That is understandable. Men are crazier and more likely to kill themselves.
– Well and if you look at actuarial tables, you know, women typically live longer than men as well.
– Yeah, yeah.
– So. Off track.
– So my curiosity is, so you’ve turned this into an entrepreneurial like business for yourself, and I’m curious, was that a new thing for you? Or had you been an entrepreneur previously before you were widowed? How did that work for you? On our show, we sort of talk about it as the origin story, right, where you started to realize you were different, that you had those superpowers. Was that just something that you just came into? Or something you’ve had to develop since?
– I’ve always been entrepreneurial, because it’s in my nature to look at things and see what works, what doesn’t work and how to fix it. And also injustices make me absolutely crazy. So the injustices in companies. I love to work, I’m a horrible employee, horrible.
– I’m the same way.
– Because I, all right! I mean I see these unfair things happening in companies, and I’m driven to try and change them, to make them more equitable. And so it was sort of always in my nature to be entrepreneurial. I always had a side gig of some kind. Network marketing. I started consulting, not Bad Widow, but another thing that I bent into Bad Widow in 2014. So I’ve been at this for a while.
– So you’ve been doing the whole entrepreneur game for a long time.
– I have, yeah.
– Was it just sort of a natural change over to move your consulting practice into this area? Or is it something you had to shift all the things around and make it work?
– I didn’t really have to shift all the things around. The first, when I first started into the consulting, I was about to turn 50, and it was like, I was working in an advertising firm, and I looked at my life then, I thought “Is this what I’m meant to be doing with my life?” and the answer was, absolutely not. But I’d so buried what I was really meant to be doing with my life, that it took me a while to figure it out. And then I just started, you know, and I just started serving people, and was happy. In companies, I never found a place where I could serve in the way I wanted to serve. And so I would wind up miserable after about two years. So I was a financial consultant. I was a proof reader. I was a medical editor. I’ve done many, many things. But in companies, I never had the autonomy to make the changes that would make things work, and I couldn’t stand it that they didn’t.
– Yeah, yeah, it almost sounds to me like the Bad Widow, there was an impetus to discover what your superpower was. To discover what your unique gift was, and when you finally found it, you were like I found the thing that I can do. Does that sound accurate?
– It does, and Bad Widow, it’s a heck of a story. I mean it really is a heck of a story. It’s a very compelling grounding for why I can talk about anything. Because I reinvented myself from the ground up. I was torn down to nothing. And I had to, I wasn’t willing just to survive, I was committed to thriving, and I was just going to get it done.
– Yeah that’s definitely that, it’s that entrepreneurial attitude right there. So you know, we talk regularly on the show about your superpowers, right, and recently I’ve been reframing this question a little bit. Your superpower is really, it’s the one thing that energizes all the rest of your skills, right? It’s sort of like your baseline, and the reason I’ve been reframing it is because it’s something that I’ve discovered in my own life recently. I had all these things that I was pretty good at, and you realize that the reason I was good at those things is because there’s an underlying skill that allowed all those other things to happen. And I’m curious if this whole situation, that it sort of help you discover that superpower, and if you know now, what do you think that is?
– I think it’s really, when I was a kid even, I looked at people and there was a… People didn’t know that they were enough. They didn’t know that there were things that only they could provide into the world. Nobody else could. There was nobody–
– Your unique abilities and gifts.
– Exactly! So there’s no redundancy. It’s nonsense. There are a million social media strategists. No one strategist delivers in exactly the same way. Yet there’s this myth that there’s not enough. And there’s this myth that we’re not enough. And after I became a widow, I felt literally broken. And I began looking at all the ways in which people have circumstances happen. So they get downsized, they lose their home. They lose a loved one. Something happens. They age. You know, something happens that changes their possibilities, you know. What they see their future will be suddenly shifts in an instance.
– It changes their story arch.
– It changes their story arch completely. And then the circumstances break them. And so I started looking at, what if it’s not the circumstances? What if you could get to the inner core of people and then they would have resilience and resourcefulness, and they could be who they were born to be, organically.
– Right, and so that’s what I work with people. I work with people to come so back into themselves that they can then make the choices that have them thrive.
– Yeah, that’s actually very similar to the reason I started this show, which is the idea that it’s people’s unique story that the world needs more of, right? It’s your story, and you know, regardless, if you had literally the exact same skillset in every facet as another person, the story that you bring to bear to that skillset changes it completely, right?
– Your perspective, your unique history and everything. And there’s nothing more powerful than you being you, right? And bringing your value to the world.
– Yeah, I totally agree. And so I basically leveraged being a widow, legit this happened to me, to be able to talk about anything. If I can talk about anything that I went through, any sort of passage I came through to get back to whole, from work, to dating, to sex, to everything.
– I’m curious then, how did that transition, you have the story here, I’ve got the story of being a widow. How do you transition then to, who are your clients now? Are they other widows? Or are you just helping people who are in any stage of life transition? Who are your clients now? And what are you generally offering?
– It’s a real range. Mostly people in transition. I do work with a lot of widows. I work with people who date widowers, or widows, because there are some peculiar things about us. So it’s a range. I’m very, I like working with a lot of different kinds of people, and different… I have a long attention span and a short attention span.
– That makes sense.
– I love working with people, but I love working with all different kinds of people, because it fascinates me. I find who people are to be really magical. And discovering the key that makes everything happen for them is an amazing thing. And what I have discovered that, in any transition, people grieve, but we don’t allow ourselves to grieve the transitions, because it’s a loss. It is the death of the future imagined that will never come to pass.
– Yeah. Yeah, this is probably a strange parallel, but I remember having that feeling each time we got pregnant with our next child.
– Because I was like, you have in your head this picture of what your family looks like going forward. It’s really exciting to have another child, but you realize that everything you imagined about your future with your two children is now going to be completely different with three.
– So. I don’t know, it’s a strange parallel, but I get that idea.
– Yeah, so it’s possibility and tragedy at the same moment.
– Yeah, there’s both happiness and sadness in that, which is sort of what makes excitement what it is.
– Exactly, exactly. But people don’t allow themselves that other side. We’re such a culture of “You gotta be happy”, but maybe happy is all of it, you know?
– Yeah, happy is all of it. That’s one of the things, my wife and I have discussed that particularly. That exact thing with having a baby, people are always like, you’re always excited. You should be excited about babies, and we are, everyone’s excited, most people are really excited about having a baby. But at the same time, there’s also like, my family’s going to be different now.
– If you share that with other people publicly, you’re like “I’m a little bit sad at the same time”, they’re like “Whoa, you’re crazy”. I can imagine that’s significantly worse with life transitions like becoming a widow and things like that, and realizing how do you help someone deal with those emotions, because they do come on the full spectrum. It’s not all just happy emotions.
– Exactly. I mean deciding, so it’s easier to go back to work. When I went back to work, the problem was energy and memory. So from a very capable person, I had the attention span of a flea. And so the first job that I took was four hours at a pop up shop for Halloween. That’s all I could do. And I was a medical editor for a pharma brand, for an advertising firm. Very detailed, very specific work. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. And so bit by bit, but opening up to love was the hardest thing. It felt like the biggest betrayal, because you know, and it makes no sense. My husband was dead. So it’s not like I was cheating.
– It’s not like you can hurt him, right?
– It’s not like I can hurt him, but it felt like that.
– It felt like that. And so being willing to feel joy again was a really challenging experience, but to live into the fullness of life, you have to have the whole spectrum, and that includes joy, that includes love.
– Yeah, yeah. It reminds me of a concept I’ve been tossing around lately. If you watch the show a little bit, you know my wife and I travel full-time with our kids, and one of the things that I’m tossing this concept around for a book, and the idea is contrast, right? That one of the things that makes life so joyful and fun is the contrast of the positive with the negative, right? Traveling on the road, you go to that one restaurant on the side of the road that everyone says was great, and you get there and it’s just the worst food you ever had in your entire life. And a couple of weeks later, you’re at a place and the food is just phenomenal, and it’s the contrast between the good and the bad that makes life interesting. If everything was always good, it’s not interesting. If everything was always bad, it’s also not interesting. And the interest and the joy and the fun of life comes in experiencing the full breadth of the emotions of the experiences, and things like that.
– Yeah, I mean one of the most fascinating things about the 11 months when my husband was dying is that our marriage had become a lot about logistics. It’s easy, you know, things have to get done, and you’re just taking care of things, and you’re going to work, and it gets like this, right?
– Very routine.
– Very routine. And it’s hard to jump out of that to recommit to love. But in those 11 months, so the time span for pancreatic cancer is six weeks to four months, and my husband lived 11. But we were really living like okay, for us, one day tomorrow is going to be the last day, for real. Not like just saying “What would you do “if tomorrow was the last day?” It was gonna way.
– It genuinely was a possibility.
– It was almost a certainty.
– It was almost a certainty. And so we lived like that. We recommitted to our love like that. Like okay, maybe tomorrow you won’t be here to love, so I’m going to love you as much as I can, and it was rough. The whole thing was rough. But we also, I wanted to speak on stages. It had been on my bucket list for 10 years. I spoke on three stages while he was dying. I did two cabaret shows, because I needed to remember, I wasn’t just a care giver and I wasn’t just gonna be a widow.
– Yeah, there’s more to it, and good on your husband for allowing you and hopefully encouraging you to do those things.
– Oh yeah, I mean I did my last cabaret show the Tuesday before he died, and he died on Saturday at home.
– That’s rough.
– And he worked up until the Thursday before he died. I made sure that he loved his work. He was an artist, so all the paintings behind me.
– They’re all his.
– All his.
– I can imagine, there’s just so much that you have to work with. You mentioned getting back into the dating world. You bring someone home, your husband’s work is all over the wall, or your ex-husband at this point. That’s gotta be an interesting thing to just know how to deal on both sides of that equation.
– Oh yeah, I mean my husband was very prolific. I have 800 paintings in the house. 800.
– Well I mean just judging from the works on the wall, it looks like he was really good too, so.
– He was fabulous. He was really, really good. But it took a very special guy to be able to handle that. It’s not like just pictures tucked away in a draw , it’s everywhere.
– It’s everywhere, it’s all over, your ex-husbands work, not feeling like he’s competing with that, I guess.
– And there was also, it’ll take me a lifetime to sell 800 paintings.
– And so there was the question after he died of how do I keep going with my life, tend to his legacy, but I have my own work to do.
– I don’t intend for my work to be finishing out his life when he’s gone.
– So that’s been quite the balance.
– Yeah, lots of things you have to balance in that situation. So I want to transition just a little bit. So if your superpower is helping people who are in these kind of situations discover themselves and discover their unique story, the opposite side of your superpower is your failed flaw, right? So just like superman is kryptonite, for you, and in growing this business, is there something that you have struggled with? And more importantly, you know struggled to either grow the business or get clients, or any of the things that go along with running a business, particularly in a hard emotional space like this, that you struggled with. And more importantly, how have you dealt with that? So other entrepreneurs who might be dealing with similar things can learn from your experience there.
– I guess the thing I’ve struggled with most is being consistently visible. I did 100 live streams in a row, 100 days of live streams in a row. I talked about Dave’s dying throughout. And whenever I would go online, 300 people would comment. It was crazy. And then I would get overwhelmed and scared about being too visible. Worrying about being eaten up. Too much letting someone down. And so I guess being consistently visible has been the thing I’ve struggled with most.
– So how have you been dealing with that now?
– Really scheduling. My conclusion is that speaking, that’s one of my real superpowers. And I love, love, love serving people, talking to people. I’ve done a lot, relatively a lot of podcasts and radio shows and stuff. I’ve done probably 30 or so at this point. And serving a bigger audience. So creating a ripple effect. Having people see that it’s possible to know who they are so solidly that if they hit a transition, if a circumstance knocks them down, they can get back to whole. They can get back to resourceful. There are ways for them to return to themselves.
– Yeah. So one of the things that I find really interesting about that whole idea that being consistently visible is a flaw, is that one of the businesses I’ve run for a number of years is helping expert brands be visible, right? And one of the things that I’ve noticed is that a lot of people struggle with that. They don’t always identify it, but they struggle with being consistently visible. And I call ’em like sprints. People are like, I need to do 100 days of livestream. I’ve got a client now who’s like I’m going to do three videos a week for the rest of my life, and they commit to something, whatever it is, and generally people will over commit themselves to something that they can’t sustain. And so the thing that I have found for my clients has been the most sustainable is like you said to schedule, and then the second part of that is to batch. So I tell I people to batch and schedule your appearances, and so most of our client, we tell them to do a weekly show, right? Because consistency is more important than volume.
– And if you wanted to be the kind of person who’s going to do 100 live streams in a row and keep that going ad nauseam, you have to dedicate your life to that. That becomes your life. And what I found is if you can do a weekly show, and maybe just 10 minutes, maybe it’s an hour, whatever it is, that’s a lot more manageable. And then it’s also something that you can batch monthly. You can say I’m going to do four shows. First Monday of the month, I sit down for four hours and record all of my content, and that’s something that you can keep up for a long, long, long, long time. And it’s actually the format we use of this show, because it’s something I know I can keep with, and a year into this now, a year and a couple of weeks, and we managed to get 67 episodes recorded for The Hero for this last year.
– Which was really cool, but part of that is because I learned a bunch from my clients seeing them struggle with that, and I was like I know I’m not going to be able to keep up with it if I say I’m going to do two episodes a week, or three episodes a week, or whatever it is. I was like I can do a week. I can do one episode a week.
– Yep, yep.
– And schedule it in batches. So anyway, I totally feel you on that weakness, and I really hope that you’re really getting that nailed in and dialed in with the scheduling part.
– The one thing that was really fascinating that I discovered while I was doing those 100 live streams, because they were variable quality, honestly. If I had the content calender set up, then they were really strong, but if I didn’t, if was doing it on the fly, just because I got busy and running, who knew. But what I found out was that I would sometimes get off the live stream, and I would think “Oh my gosh, that was awful”, and I would get 15 comments, “Oh my gosh, I needed to hear that today.”
– That was really essential. So one of the things I discovered was that I don’t always know what’s important for people to hear.
– I mean it’s not what I think. My conversation with my own head is not always accurate.
– Yeah, yeah. It’s swallowing your own pride. That’s one of the things I’ve discovered with this show too is like, I used to be more picky about the guests that I would bring on, and what I’ve discovered is that the person I think might be a great guest is not the people who are actually great guests.
– They come from all sorts of walks, and I’ve discovered, we’re starting to find people who are brand new in their business can be really, really fascinating guests because they’re dealing with a whole different set of issues than someone who’s like “We just crossed 60 million dollars “on our business”, right? And it’s a very different conversation, and people love to see, like earlier, go back to contrast, they like to see the different stages in business. So yeah, I have to tell myself to shut up, and just be like, you know, let’s see where the conversation takes us.
– Yeah, exactly, exactly. It’s fascinating, it’s really an amazing and wonderful thing, I think.
– Absolutely. And it’s cool to see that it happens in different industries too, not just talking to entrepreneurs on podcasts, right? You guys are dealing with much more heavy stuff than we deal with on this show.
– Well but entrepreneurs, the thread of thinking and heart and grit of an entrepreneur, that seems to run throughout, as far as I can tell.
– It does. Yeah, I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy these kind of conversations so much is because it speaks very clearly to the human experience, and applies to other various parts of your life. If you know how to, in a business, when you’re like “Hey I need to hit a goal” and stretch and do that thing, right, that skillset applies whether or not you’re an entrepreneur, right? It applies to your kid who’s learning how to play baseball, or to someone who’s working for the next promotion at their job. It’s that same skillset. We get to talk about some cool universal things on this show, which is fun.
– Well and failing forward is essential.
– Being able to, we talk about success all the time. So pet peeves. Success and happiness. In reality, we go up and down in the happiness, sadness. Life isn’t all happy. And we’re not always successful.
– Yeah, yeah and somethings–
– Because otherwise it’s all a flat line.
– Sometimes you just crash into the wall, right? And you’re like oh, well now you’ve got to figure everything else out, because I smashed my bike, and I can’t walk because I broke my leg, right. You’ve gotta change things.
– And it’s amazing, and on the same line, one of my pet peeves with marriage, you were married for 25 years, is Hollywood particularly is just terrible about this. They talk about marriage like it’s this constantly in love twitterpated feeling. You know like Bambi in springtime?
– Right, right, right.
– The problem is the whole twitterpated Bambi in springtime, it’s seasonal, right? It comes and goes. And you have to have a foundation for your relationship that is more than those feelings that you see on the Hollywood big screen all the time.
– And you have to learn to actually love and continue to run your relationship when those come and go.
– Exactly, exactly. I mean that’s why when I went on Bumble, basically I knew I couldn’t cope with a lot of, I had a strategy. I basically ran it like a business. So I didn’t care what the other person wanted. I wrote down the things that I wanted to do with a man, and then I saw if my profile attracted those things, and if it didn’t, I changed the profile until I started getting only men who wanted to do what I wanted to do.
– That’s genius.
– It worked brilliantly.
– Genius hacking the online dating stuff. It’s a really interesting thing too, because you have, speaking to the widower community today would be vastly different than doing it 20 years ago, just because of some of the technology resources that you have available, where you can meet people all over the world. 20 years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to do that.
– Well the last time I dated, when I went on Bumble was 1992.
– So it gives you a sense of how utterly out of practice I was. It was terrifying.
– I’ve told my wife if she ever passed away, that would be it for me, I’d never know how to date again.
– Which is true. So I wanna move on again a little bit and talk about common enemies, right? So we talk about common enemies on this show all the time, and the common enemy is particularly with regard to your clients. So when you bring on a new client, and you’re working with them, you probably see some common threads of things that they struggle with. And if you had a magic wand, and you could just wave it and get rid of those struggles, and you know they could just rocket forward in their results and everything, what would you say one of those common struggles, that common enemy that you see all the time, or regularly with your clients when you bring them on and start working with them, and help them through these transitions.
– I would say mindset is, to some degree, a common enemy. So people get so focused on, well I’ve shifted my mindset, and I’ve been really working on shifting my mindset, but nothing has changed. These are patterns that have been going on my whole entire life. And so there’s a way in which mindset has become the magic bullet, and it’s really important to have a good mindset, or you’re not going anywhere. But as the only thing that you’re doing, as the major focus, without action, without making a move in some direction, you don’t open up your landscape.
– You’re not ever seeing a different view. You’re down in the rut, unless you climb out of the rut and get upon to the hill, you’re just seeing the top of the rut.
– Yeah. I actually just wrote an article about that the other day. It was talking more about negative self talk, but the idea is that you are not your thoughts.
– You’re defined by your actions, not by the things that you think. So if you want to, you can change your mindset all you want, but if it’s only ever in your head, you haven’t changed anything about who you are.
– You change who you are by changing the things that you do consistently.
– And the other thing is the idea that you can make right choices all the time, which goes along with success. Nobody makes right choices all the time, nobody on the planet makes right choices all the time.
– I’ve certainly tried, never managed to succeed at that.
– Right, and everybody would say that, right?
– But if you make a choice, and then you look, this is what I did with Bumble, and then you look, okay, what are the results I’m getting with this choice? Okay, well we need to tweak a little bit this way. We need to go a little bit that way. Right, you just change something and then you get your results, and then you act on those results.
– I had a leadership group I was a part of, we called that Plan, Do, Check and Adjust, right? Plan is the mindset, then you do something about it, then you check the results, then you adjust your plan, and you do it again. It’s just a repeating cycle. Plan, do, check adjust. That’s actually how you have forward motion.
– But because humans prefer to be more comfortable.
– We really like the planning stage.
– We really like the planning stage, right?
– We really like that one, it’s our favorite. We’ll just set up camp in the planning stage and never leave.
– Right? But then you don’t explode out. Then you don’t get to become who you can become, because it’s in the motion forward. I have a client right now, and I have her doing five, four, three, two, one, make a decision. Step somewhere, do something.
– Just do something, yeah.
– Do something.
– It’s something we see in a couple of entrepreneurial groups that I’m a part of, that are helping young entrepreneurs move their businesses forward. They’ll spend a lot of time in the I better get my business name right, I gotta get the LLC form, better get the business cards, and get my website right, and I gotta get all the copyright, and I get all of my servers, there’s like all the product detail from our services listed out. They’ll spend six months, a year, two years, and they still haven’t brought anything to the market and asked a client if they actually wanna buy.
– Right. Right, exactly. I mean the other thing that happens is people go into something, and they say, okay, I’m going to go into this field because there’s a lot of people who want this thing. But they don’t check in with themselves to see if that’s something they want to deliver, that that’s something they care about. And so they’ve already lost.
– Yeah, that’s another thing that’s come up on the show a lot. We call that knowing the monster you’re building, right?
– You’re going to build a monster either way, you might as well build one you want to keep at home as a pet, right? Instead of one that you’re afraid of and you don’t enjoy being around.
– Yeah, exactly. But if you check in with yourself first, then you screen all the choices through who you are, that’s a good business.
– It is, absolutely. And I assume it goes the same way, with you’re talking about getting back into the dating world after becoming a widower. You have to know what it is that you’re looking for, instead of just any man.
– Well honestly I didn’t know. I mean I had no idea, I hadn’t dated anyone since 1992. And so it was, okay well, I would read the profiles and I would think, do I like that? Do I not like that? And I literally started making distinctions about what I cared about, so that I could make choices. And the online dating app was a brilliant way to do that fast.
– If only there was online dating for businesses, right?
– Yeah, right.
– And I can be like, do I like this business? No, I don’t. Because you could get a sense of what’s the work like after you’ve started this business, and what are the customers like, and that kind of stuff. That would be cool. Maybe someone should invent it.
– That is actually a brilliant idea.
– Yeah, online dating for a business idea. That’s kind of fun. So I want to talk a little bit about your driving force. Just like Spiderman fights to save New York, or Batman fights to save Gotham, or Google fights to index and categorize all the world’s information. What is it that you, Alison, fight for with your Bad Widow brand?
– So my belief is that if people really knew who they were, and what their true capacity was, outside of their situations and circumstances that the world defines them as. Well you’re divorced, well you lost a business, well you lost a house, well you got downsized. People aren’t that, but they start getting defined by that. Well you’re old, well you’re young, well you’re fat, well you’re whatever. If people really knew who they were, we could solve every single challenge in the world, because people would be doing what they loved. They would be getting whatever they needed to really thrive, on their own terms. And then they would have space and energy to spend on the things that they really cared about. So if someone cared about climate change, they would start putting some energy towards that. If someone cared about education, they would put energy towards that. So if you freed up all the stuff people spend surviving and thinking they’re not enough, the whole world would change. The whole world would change, and that’s really what I’m about. Let’s disrupt these conversations.
– I just started working with a concierge doctor for my own health, and one of the things that he did, which I think is just incredibly fascinating, and I think it speaks to exactly the same idea, was he was like we’re not going to start with the typical health things, he was like what we’re going to do is we’re going to do microscopic blood testing, and we’re going to look at the health of your individual blood cells, and see all sorts of things about your health. And then we did genetic testing. Let’s see what your body and health is telling us about your genes, and the type of stuff that you would struggle with that someone else might not, right? Or the other way round. Things that you’ll thrive with that other people would struggle with. And build a plan from there, and then he was like we went through all of the results from the testing, after we got it all back, and it just blew me away. But some of the things that I learned, he was like you’ve got this genetic thing here that’s paired with this stuff from your diet and your past. I had chronic strep throat growing up, so I have had a lot of antibiotics through my whole high school and college career. He was like you have a high toxic load in your system. And having a high toxic load means that your liver’s not performing at 100%. It’s probably performing at 30 or 40%. And he’s like and your gallbladder’s not performing at 100%, and he’s like so step one is let’s get rid of all the trash, and then you’ll have so much extra performance available that you can start putting that performance into the things that you really want to do. And he was like you’re already a high performance entrepreneur, he’s like you’re probably operating at 30 or 40% of your capacity, right? And so to your point, if we can get all the trash out, emotionally and whatever things people are dealing with, there’s so much more available to us. We have a lot more to give.
– Exactly, exactly. If nobody was in survival, there would be no problems in the world.
– People would just be bending their attention to that, because when people are surviving, that’s all they’ve got space for. And I would like to see that change.
– Which is funny because that’s exactly what the guy said about the results. He’s like because you have this problem with your gut microbiome, he’s like your digestive system is running at full capacity all the time. He’s like so that’s all it can do. He’s like you can’t reach past where you’re at now.
– No rest.
– Yeah, there’s no rest for it, and so when you give yourself more space, when you’re not, in my case, if your gut’s not in survival mode, if it’s in healthy mode, then you have lots of extra performance available to you. That extends far beyond health, to exactly what you’re saying. If people weren’t emotionally surviving, or financially surviving, or whatever it is, they can thrive.
– Exactly, and that’s not circumstantial.
– That’s my driving force. And people assume that they’re broken, or the circumstances have broken them, and I say it’s a lie.
– Yeah. Because your circumstances don’t determine who you are either, it’s your response to those circumstances.
– Yeah, what are you gonna do? It’s what you do next that matters.
– Yeah, yeah, that’s a very powerful message, and we need more people saying it and getting it out there, so I’m glad you’re out doing the work.
– Thank you. Thank you.
– So on a more practical note, one of the things we talk about more regularly on this show is your hero’s tool belt, and maybe you got a big magical hammer like Thor, a bulletproof vest like your neighborhood police officer. It’s the practical tools you use to make your business run on a day to day basis, right. And my curiosity is, what is maybe one or two of the tools you know you just couldn’t live without today when it comes to either managing your client load, or processing payments. Any of the things you just have to do to make a business go. What’s your favorite tool that you go to or you use all the time, that you know I just couldn’t live without this?
– Acuity Scheduling. I love, love, love, because what I was trying to do was I was trying to schedule clients in all the seven million things that I do. And it would be like “Okay, are you available on Tuesday?” “No, I can’t do Tuesday, how about Thursday?” And it was just this vast amount of time to do a stupid thing. So now I send out my link, okay, put yourself in, we’re done.
– And Google.
– That is probably one of my most positive responses I get on this show is scheduling and calendars, is that as an entrepreneur, we live and die by our calendar, right? And I’ve had, my parents think I’m crazy that I live and die by my calendar, I’m like no, you don’t understand. My calender is my life, and if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not in my life. My wife, thankfully, totally understands, and we have a family calender and my work calender and everything, and she’s like, she checks in if she wants me to be available for something, she books something on my calender, and she just sticks it in there, and then it blocks out the time, because that’s how my life runs. And yeah, so Acuity Scheduling, and Schedule Once, and I think we use Simply Schedule appointments for this one. And it’s a God send, and I don’t know how I would run my life or my business without it nowadays.
– It’s a stupid time consuming thing.
– And life is not just business, so you have family. When my husband died, his mom is Australian. I’m the only family left here. So even though I now have a boyfriend, I also have a mother in law that I take care of, who’s 96. So you know, all of these things need to go in or I miss them.
– I literally won’t go to something and I’ll go “Oh shoot, it didn’t get in my calender.” It didn’t exist for me.
– Yeah and I think it teaches a bit of respect for your time too. Realizing that your time is, it’s that precious resource. It’s the one you don’t get more of. And when you realize that, I mean you mentioned the whole trying to schedule things. It’s a waste of time, but on the same token, it’s a waste of time for everyone who’s involved, right? And if you miss something because it was on your calendar, it was a waste of time, right? And so learning how to use and manage your calender is such a vital aspect of really being in control of your life.
– Yeah, yeah totally. The other thing I use a lot is Google.
– Yeah, the Google Suite.
– Google Slides, Google Suite, Google everything, Google Excel.
– Blows me away. I remember one day in college a number of years ago, 10 or 15 years ago now that I remember reading, and I was always one of those kids or read out all the tech stuff, and someone saying that someday in the future, far, far future there’s going to be cool apps that live in the cloud, and you won’t have to download the apps to your computer anymore, and you’ll be able to access them from your thing. And I was like oh that sounds really cool, but that’ll never happen, and now I run my entire business out of an online cloud suite execution.
– Oh I know. Oh I know, it’s crazy. But being able to, okay, we’ll just make a PDF that we can shoot out, and done and done, you know.
– And share a document that you can collaborate on, whereas back in the day it was like I’ll make an edit and then email it to you, and you’ll make an edit. Or if we go way back, all the way to end of high school, it was like put it on a floppy disc and give you a copy of it, you’d make a copy of it, and there’s 15000 different versions of your document by the time you’re done. And I just have one source of truth.
– And contracts and E-signing, it’s much more efficient.
– You mentioned contracts, taking payment nowadays is just so easy. It’s really cool what technology’s allowed us to do for business, and to your point, to help people get their message across, right.
– And it’s a fabulous time to be an entrepreneur, because the technology gives us an agility that allows us to compete with anybody.
– Yeah, yeah, I call it the golden age of business.
– Oh I agree.
– Yeah, it’s a cool time to be in. So move on a little bit, and I want to talk about your own personal heroes, right. So just like Frodo had Gandalf, or Luke had Obi Wan, or Robert Kiyosaki had his rich dad. Who were some of your heroes? Were they real life mentors? Were they other authors? Maybe peers who were a couple of years ahead of you in your business. And how important were they to what you’ve accomplished so far with the Bad Widow brand?
– Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, typically my heroes are Warren Buffett.
– That’s a good one.
– My mom.
– Because they, typically my heroes are people who’ve had a ripple effect, and people who are about service, and about contribution. Tony Morrison, people who disrupt conversations, exist in conversations to create newer conversations. I’m kind of passionate about following a lot of women, because women are recognized, are doing extraordinary things in the world, and are not recognized.
– Nearly as often, yeah.
– Nearly as often as men are. Jennifer Lawrence I love. I like people who disrupt the status quo. If the status quo is not working, I will follow anyone who’s breaking it up, because I think that’s the only way that change happens. My mom was a, she was in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, she was on the mayor’s commission. She was working on Vision Zero, and they named a day for her.
– That’s cool.
– Before she left. April 27th of that year was her day. And then I started writing poetry after Dave died, and she started writing poetry as a way to express herself. And she’s now been published twice, and she’s 83. She started writing poetry a year or so ago, and is now performing at open mics. So that kind of bravery and that kind of vulnerability. Brene Brown I admire.
– That’s cool, and have you seen, do you see in your own business that you see that influence in the decisions that you make, and things that you do to grow your business?
– I do, I do. My business, I’ll talk about anything as long as it’s brave, vulnerable and transparent. And I take license to literally discuss anything at all.
– All the things, even the off topic things that other people won’t talk about, right? Politics, sex, religion, that kind of stuff?
– I’ll talk about anything. I try to stay away from politics these days, because it’s really a rough world out there.
– Yeah, that is true, that is true. So I want to bring it home for our listeners a little bit, and talk about your guiding principles. So top one or two principles or actions that you use every day in your business that you think contribute to the success and influence of your brand so far. Maybe stuff that you wish you’d known before you started out.
– One of the guiding principles is to have an accountability partner. So there is a woman that I met. I was part of a four person pod on an online course that I took, and within a week, one person had dropped out. And within a few months, another person had dropped out. But my accountability partner and I have been talking every week for four years now. Four years. And we say what we’re gonna do, we plan forward into the week. So having someone else, especially if you’re a solporeneur, having someone else to hold you accountable, not with blame or shame, but just this happened, this didn’t happen. Okay, now what are you gonna do?
– Is really critical.
– Gets the conversation out of your head and into the real world.
– Exactly. Calendering everything. And having the actions go to an end. Where am I going?
– One of the things that I’ve done from time to time is I just do stuff. If you just do stuff, you never get to a destination.
– Right, so what’s the destination? And then what are the various actions that will get me there?
– Yeah, yeah. There’s a couple of things that I think are important about that too, but I know, one of the things we learned with traveling was like, we used to try and plan every step of the way. Like we’re going to go to New York and we’re going to stop here, and here, and here and there was like 3000 stops between here and New York, and that’s like impossible to do, because one thing changes and everything beyond it is all ruined. And so what we’ve learned as we’ve become more experienced travelers is that we’ll set a destination, and we know where we’re starting, and we go in a direction.
– And so the plan is very fluid, and it gives us a lot of freedom to really experience and enjoy the journey, and knowing that we have a destination that we’re going to, but not that every step of the way has been planned out. And I think that’s a mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make, is they try to plan every step, instead of, as you were just saying, know your destination, and then start moving in that direction.
– Because you don’t know what’s going to change along the way, and you don’t know who you’ll encounter, who might amplify your effect. You don’t know what kind of roadblocks you might hit. You don’t know if you’re going to take on a particular kind of client, and then decide that you hate them down the road. I mean it happens.
– Yeah, yeah.
– You know make a choice when you’re setting up the contract, where the boundaries aren’t clear, and you’ve got that client, but you sure don’t want anymore of those. I mean these are all mistakes I’ve made.
– We all have at some point, right? And then your other point have having an accountability partner. I’ve always called them a running partner, right? Because having someone, I think, the reason I call them a running partner is because I think it more clearly specifies what you’re trying to do. It’s that we’re both running together. We may not be going to the same place, but we’re running together, and we can talk about our journey and stuff like that. And my running partner is my best friend now. We’ve been working together on business, together and apart and separately, and all sorts of different and various capacities for, I don’t know, 15 years now.
– We talk all the time, same kind of stuff. And if it wasn’t for him, I know I wouldn’t have accomplished any of the things that I’ve accomplished in my business, and it’s such a vitally important role to have someone that you can externalize the conversations that you’re having about your business with.
– Yep. Well I think it has a lot to do with, one of my favorite quotes is “Leap and the net will appear”, and I think that these people are the net.
– You know they’re the people who, when you’re not necessarily feeling, well I’m all set and I’m doing great, they’re the people who say, “You know something, you’re okay. “We’ve got you, and you are “on your way to everything that you’ve always wanted.” Because there are discouraging moments in being an entrepreneur, there really are.
– Yeah and that actually fits really well with one of the metaphors I use. So I’ve always talked about business as being the kind of person who jumps off of a cliff and builds a parachute on the way down.
– And so it’s kind of fun to, the metaphor that you just talked about, leap and the net will appear, because you’re going to leap, and you have to figure out how to build a parachute, but if you have a running partner, someone, you’ve got a network below that’s like hey, even if I fail, my parachute, I’ve got someone who’s going to catch me and help me move forward, right? And I can go climb up and on and try again.
– Exactly, and we have complimentary skillsets.
– So you know, we collaborate all the time on our content, and what we’re doing, and how we’re planning, and it’s essential. You can’t do it alone. I mean people think you can do it alone, and success is done alone. Success is never done alone, never.
– No, it’s not, and it’s interesting too because you hear a lot of the time that success is lonely, and I get that, and I get the idea. Because one of the things I’ve noticed is like as my business has gotten more successful, your peer group gets smaller, right, because the kind of people who understand the work that you’ve done, and the effort you’ve put into it, get what you have, and to do what you’ve accomplished. There’s not a lot of people who are willing to do that, and to get to, as you get higher and higher in those levels. I’m not that high yet, but I’ve already noticed that your peer group gets smaller. So I get the idea that success is lonely, but you can’t get there by yourself.
– So you have to have the running partner, your accountability partner.
– And if you accept the fact that there’s no redundancy, there’s no competition. There doesn’t have to be.
– It’s all blue ocean.
– Yeah, it’s an important point that I don’t think people realize, and my favorite illustration for that was something my wife and I talked about a number of years ago. She was in the side business, side hustle of decorating 3D cakes for people, and she does cool 3D cakes, and it’s a fun little thing. But she mentioned to me, she was like I don’t like promoting them and talking about what she’s doing, because some people don’t like it, and they don’t like my design style, they don’t like those things. And I was like, those people aren’t your customer.
– Yeah, it doesn’t matter.
– It doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter if there’s 50 other people who are doing it. Someone’s going to look at your art style and say that’s what I want. And those people are you customers, and particularly in today’s day and age, you have access to such a wide swath of the population that you can be you. You can be uniquely you, and there’s enough people out there who are going to be attracted to you and your qualities, and your story, and your style. There’s not really competition, not really.
– Yeah, exactly, exactly. And it’s really important to know that. One of the things I love about speaking, I don’t have any interesting in talking people into being my clients. My intention is to talk enough publicly that those people who are my clients can find me. To be visible enough to be found. And I think that’s the way to go, because then they’re not coming to me and saying “Why should I hire you?” They’re coming to me and saying “What do you have to offer? “What resources can you do that will “handle my challenges?”
– Yeah and it’s a cool place, in your business, when you get to that spot too, because that’s sort of where I’ve reached in my business now, where I have people come to me and they’re like “Hey I already know “I want to hire you, how does it work?”
– And that’s a very different conversation than trying to convince someone that they should hire you.
– But that’s targeted visibility. That’s really what that is.
– And it comes with time, right? It’s not something that you can just do overnight.
– That’s right. That’s right.
– Awesome, so that basically wraps up our conversation, but I have one last thing I do on my show every time. I call this the heroes challenge. It’s pretty simple. And basically this, do you have someone in your life or in your network that you think has a cool entrepreneurial story? Who are they? First names are fine. And they do they think they should come and share their story on our show?
– So I recommend Camille, my accountability partner. Camille Nisich. She’s a cash flow strategist and she makes heroes out of female founders online. She worked for a big tech company, was downsized after 18 years and multiple awards. Has two children. And is just an extraordinary woman. I mean unbelievably capable. Incredibly dynamic. I love her, I would recommend her all over the planet, and she is an amazing interview.
– Awesome, so we will see about reaching out to Camille after the show, and we’ll see if we can get her on, assuming she’s willing. So at this point, Alison, thank you so much for coming on this show. Really appreciate it. It was a really fascinating conversation, especially the work that you do for people, and like I said, I do appreciate the work that you do, and the message that you have for people, it’s really awesome. So thank you for doing that as well. And lastly, where can people find you? More importantly, who are the right people to reach out?
– People can find me at BadWidow.com, is my website. Bad Widow Wisdom is my Instagram, and if you wanna check out the paintings that are behind me, that are my husband’s paintings, Bitley/DBPenaArt. So those are sort of the three places to find me. And if you search for me under Bad Widow or Affluence Code, you’ll find me.
– Awesome and on the second part of that, who are the ideal clients to reach out?
– People going through a transition of any kind, who are feeling broken, unable to move on from the circumstances, who need to get more clarity, make faster distinctions, be able to identify where they’re going, what direction they’re going, so they can get there. And also people who are looking to proactively build a supportive network that delivers the resources they want, because when we have transitions, people bug out. They do.
– Absolutely. Awesome, so if you are watching this show, make sure you check out Alison at BadWidow.com, if you’re going through any of those life transitions. Obviously you heard a lot of her expertise here today in this show. She’s got some cool things to share with you, so definitely take the time to reach out to her. And Alison, do you have any final words of wisdom for our guests before we hit the stop record button on this episode?
– Thank you so much for having me on the show, and leap and the net will appear.
– Awesome, thank you very much Alison.
– Okay, bye.
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