Podcast

Episode 15 – Walking in the Messy Middle with Alison Faulkner

Alison Faulkner is a writer, speaker, and “self-proclaimed nonsense dancer,” who knows all about “walking in the messy middle.” She has worked with Fortune 500 companies and has been creating content for over 10 years. She built a business on throwing 900 person female dance parties, and found that the behind the hoopla, she was crashing and burning.  When she couldn’t figure out how to scale the business and preserve her sanity, she took a step back and started doing the things she wanted to do. Thus, The Alison Show was born, as well as Alison’s podcast Awesome with Alison and Allison’s Brand School. Now, she’s not ashamed to share the times “she break downs and cries under her desk, the times she fails, the times she wants to quit.” Even after a recent car accident, Alison has been pushing through the pain to embrace possibility. Alison’s mantra is: Only you can be you, and you’re already as awesome as you need to be.

Going Scared Alison Faulkner

TRANSCRIPT

Intro: Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. Today’s episode is really in response to you guys, because I heard from so many of you when I was starting off–just three short months ago, by the way–to please include stories of the messy middle. Often podcasts feature people who have made it, or they have a name, or they’re somewhat familiar to you. You asked me to please include people in the messy middle.

Well, Alison is certainly well known. But from her own brand called The Alison Show, she makes her living blogging, teaching online courses, posting on socials, speaking at events, and podcasting.  You probably know her from the lifestyle brand and Website called The Alison Show. She is in the messy middle right now. She recently was hit tragically by a car. I have seen her respond to this with such courage and resilience.

I think that when you are intentional about walking encouraged, about creating a brand and a business–which she really decided to scale this past year, and then she got completely set back–it would be easy to push a pause button for a really long time. This podcast really is all about going scared, right in the middle of difficulty, and rising up to embrace possibility, even when it’s hard to see. 

 

Being Excited vs. Being Anxious

Jessica:  Hey, Alison. Welcome to the Going Scared Podcast.

Alison:  I’m so excited. Thank you for having me. It’s like when you said “going scared,” I got a little scared!

Jessica:  That’s because you have a podcast, but you primarily are solo. You don’t really do a whole lot of interviews, so maybe you’re a little scared right now.

Alison:  Yes. I don’t know. Mostly I’m excited. I’m very excited.

Jessica:  That’s right. I’ve learned that recently, a couple weeks ago it was like, “Let’s frame anxious, and say we are excited.”

Alison:  Yes, because that’s what I’ve learned to is it’s the same emotion and so you get the choice of framing it and I can’t remember if I read it somewhere where it’s kids who before they took a test said, “I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited,” and use their nervous energy. Did you read that?

Jessica:  I heard this … but I don’t remember where.

Alison:  I think it’s Mel Robbins’s Five Second Rule. Have you read that book?

Jessica:  Yes, I think that’s where it came from.

Alison:  Okay. That’s it. We both love Mel. We love you Mel.

Jessica:  Heck yeah. Okay, but tell us what it is, because it was such a cool idea.

Alison:  Okay, so the idea is just that excitement and anxiousness, they’re the same emotion. Like your body is going through the same sensations, right? Like I just said, I was super excited to talk to you and then I think it’s the power of suggestion. You said “scared” and I’m like, “Oh, wait, am I scared or am I excited? I don’t even know anymore.” Really, I do this, this is embarrassing, but not embarrassing, before I speak, after I learned this, before I speak when I have that excited energy I say, “I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited,” and you have to say it out loud, so you feel like Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live talking to yourself in the mirror, but, “I’m excited, I’m excited, I’m excited.” Students who did that performed better on tests, so it’s science.

Jessica:  Yes, isn’t that crazy?

Alison:  It’s science.

Jessica:  I know. I love it. I love all of the science that’s coming out, because it’s like some of this stuff, like I don’t know maybe when Oprah was talking about it like 30 years ago.

Alison:  Yeah, I’m going to fold my arms. Science.

 

You Are Already As Awesome As You Need To Be

Jessica:  Yes. Okay, this is a perfect set up, though, because Alison–you’ve created a lifestyle brand around this notion of encouraging women to be themselves confidently and without apology. I want to hear your journey on how you’ve embraced that for yourself, because oftentimes we aren’t able to give that to others until we discover it for ourselves, so tell me about that journey.

Alison:  Yes, well, first of all you literally, like so perfectly, said what I do better than I can say it, so I’m going to need to write that down. Like that’s literally the best elevator pitch for my brand and business I’ve ever heard.

Jessica:  I’ll let you take it. I’ll let you take it.

Alison:  Yeah, I appreciate it, because I’m a copywriter, so I feel like I’m pretty good, but you just nailed it, so thank you for that. I really appreciate it.

Yes, you know, I believe that in business and in life that honestly usually the thing we need the most for ourselves turns into the thing that we are able to give to other people and so what I mean by that is I feel like deep down, and I’m only realizing this like 10 years into my business, okay. I’m actually more like 12 years in. I’ve been doing this for a while.

“I believe that in business and in life that honestly usually the thing we need the most for ourselves turns into the thing that we are able to give to other people.” Alison Faulkner

Jessica:  That’s awesome.

Alison: I started a blog over 10 years ago. I started trying all these different things that I wanted to try. I wanted to be an event planner, so I did events and I wanted to be a craft empire so I sold things on Etsy and taught craft tutorials. Over the past 10 years what I realized what I love doing more than anything else is sharing the message, and this is what I say at the end of my podcast every single time is, “Only you can be you, and you already are as awesome as you need to be,” and then I cry privately in my corner, because that’s what I needed to hear and it’s what I needed to discover for myself and honestly, because it took me 10 years to figure it out, because I struggled and suffered with it more than I think other people have to or need to, we all have a different journey, which whenever we say journey, our podcast is called Awesome with Alison, and I do it with my husband, and whenever we use the word journey I make him like do a finger symbol, like “ding.”

I’d say last year, 2017, is when I really got things in order for me and that’s when I was like, “No more doing what I think I have to do because people want it of me. No more doing what I think I have to do because that’s all that I’m good at.”

I had been throwing these huge all female dance parties, 700 person dance parties and the tickets would sell out in under five minutes and the demand for them was so high I had sponsors coming to me, vendors coming to me, and I love doing it. I love doing it so much, but it was draining me. It was wrecking me. In the back of my mind and in my heart I wanted to start a podcast. I kept being like, “Man, all I do is talk. Shut up Alison. Shut up, why do you want to start a podcast.”

Jessica:  It was calling to you. It’s like you are a talker, so why not use that for good?

Alison:  Yes.

Jessica:  Instead of telling yourself to be smaller.

Alison:  Yes, yes, yes, yes.  Oh my gosh, full circle. Going scared.

 

Finding Success & Being Able To Let Go

Jessica: Right. Right. I was going to wait to get into this, but I just can’t help but notice that you feel like you came into sort of acknowledging your own power, and then starting to own the things that you actually wanted to do–not the things that maybe you felt pushed into, or whatever.

Allison: I’ve been telling that story, like, “Everybody wanted the dance parties, so I was doing the dance parties.” That’s not true …

Jessica:  Right, you’re not a victim to your own success.

Alison:  Yeah. I’m not a victim and honestly I’m not an idiot, either, and sometimes when I tell my story I’m like, “What an idiot I was.” I’m like, “I wasn’t an idiot. I think I knew that the parties would be successful, so I wasn’t scared to do them.” They drained me. They weren’t exactly the exact thing they were keeping me from doing the other things and so the reason why I felt it important to interrupt, and I apologize again, but because I think lots of times … I knew that I was going to be very successful doing that and it’s difficult when you’re being successful in a certain area to let go of it–for uncertainty and going scared, right?

“It’s difficult when you’re being successful in a certain area to let go of it.” Alison Faulkner

Jessica: Okay, let’s pause really quick, because–will you catch the listeners up on your dance parties, because not everyone may know about this?

Alison:  Yes, okay. Hi, I’m Alison of the Alison Show. I gave myself my own show and what started happening is I was blogging, blogging about different things. At my core I am a writer and then social media happened and this little thing called Instagram and I had been building an online audience, not huge by any means, but I had been building an audience for some time on my blog and then I hopped on Instagram and realized that I resonated even better on Instagram than I did on my blog. I was growing faster, getting more traffic.

That helped me kind of realize where my super power was was just, which again it wasn’t me. I wanted it to be about the events I threw, about the crafts, but what people really connected to was me and at the end of the day I’m okay with that. Again, I’m not a victim. I wanted people to recognize me as a creative genius, but they were like, “No, we like the crazy girl crying under her desk with a constant stream of diet Coke.” At the time that’s really what I was and I was totally down to share that.

Instagram got video and like any regular, natural person would do I turned on Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. I was like, “I’m going to show you my really sweet dance moves.” P.S., by the way, that first video, I think, was after my second baby, and I was like a good 40, 50 pounds up and so, yeah–because does anyone gain less than 60 pounds with each child? Is that …

Jessica:  Why do they still say “don’t gain more than 30 pounds?” It just sets all of us up for failure.

Alison:  It’s so mean. It’s literally so mean. They used to have to take my blood pressure after they weighed me because I would be so stressed out about my weight gain. Like, this is so ridiculous. Anyway, I’m a good 30, 40 pounds up and I just start dancing. Meanwhile, I’m doing all of these events and not to oversimplify, but I was doing events for Microsoft and I’m good friends with Susan Peterson of Freshly Picked and I said, “Hey, I used to throw dance parties in college. Let me throw you a dance party,” because when I was doing these events I thought everyone was going to tell me what a creative genius I was, but all they were saying is, “Hey, we want to dance with you. We want to dance with you.”

I was like, “Well, I want to dance with me, too.”

Jessica:  I make myself an awesome dance partner.

Alison:  Yeah, I’m like, the thing is I’m so happy dancing by myself I was genuinely shocked that people were like, “Hey, we want to dance with you.” I was like, “No, no, no. You want to tell me how beautiful this party is, right.” They’re like, “No. It’s cute, but no.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” That was a really big adjustment, recognizing the thing that I wanted wasn’t necessarily working out, but then asking myself is that truly the thing I wanted? Is that truly what I wanted to have happen?” We don’t recognize the things that are going well. What was going well is that I had built such a strong brand that connected with people that I could physically get them off of the internet and into a party, which is not easy to do, right?

Yeah, and so I started doing these, first I did it for other people, which is very often in business you have to do it for someone else, because they have the money, and then I started doing these all female dance parties for myself and I live in Provo, Utah, so we don’t have a big alcohol situation here in Provo, so these dance parties are sober, so when I say I’m getting 700 women to dance, and we’re not standing around just taking pictures, we are dancing, they are for the most part, I know some have a little fun before they come, but they’re for the most part, I would say 98% sober women, all female. The only men I let in the parties are men who are working the event, my gorgeous photographer, Trevor Christensen, who’s the best, and so I hire my little brother and his friends, they’re like in their 20’s and we call them the man candy and they take your cell phone to take pictures of you, they take your napkin. They literally just like serve you the entire time.

Then, of course, the dance parties keep getting bigger and bigger. I add a stage, I add dancing sharks, I add wardrobe, I add costume changes. That’s what the dance parties are.

Jessica:  Okay, and are you still doing them at all or you’re saying you shut that down because you …

Alison:  You know, I needed to grow a business. I needed a business, I wanted a business, and events, they’re a very difficult business model to scale and I wasn’t interested in franchising the parties, which lots of people asked if they could, but I knew the formula for the event and again, that’s not what I was interested in doing and so I needed to shut the parties down for a while so that I could have a business, and what I mean by business is I mean scalable organization.

I needed to be able to take myself out of certain parts of the business. I needed to have things defined and written down and parties and events, and you know this, because you do them, they’re like a drug, because there’s that deadline, there’s that rush and I honestly have just started to realize I’ve lived a good portion of my life fueled just on adrenaline, in that anxious gnawing state where you’re revving that train and the train is going and it’s building up all of this steam towards the event.

The fun thing about doing an event is you’re so important and everything you’re doing is urgent and it’s so important and everyone better help me out, because I might freak out. Then you have the event and then for two weeks, three weeks I’d crash and everyone would know, “Don’t call Alison,”, “Don’t talk to Alison,” and people after the party would be like, “When’s the next party?” I’d feel like I’m in a corner gnawing on scraps like turning around going, “How dare you ask me?”

Jessica:  I’m a victim to my own success. The party was incredible and don’t you feel sorry for me?

 

A Year of Awesome

Alison:  Yeah, no, like literally, though the party would be an incredible success and I’d be like one person may have said like, “I didn’t get my free piece of swag,” and I’d be in the corner like a wrecked mess like, “I cannot control the feelings of 700 women. I have failed.”

I feel like people might think I’m a little insane, which I am, but the parties I would make money, but I couldn’t scale a business and they were taking up so much time and they were so urgent. Last year, I took a step back and I started doing the things I wanted to do and I started the podcast. I started a Year of Awesome Newsletter, which I turned into a paid program this year, which literally is the most fun thing in the entire world, because it’s a group of people who are just encouraging each other in working on awesome attributes. Like one of them is courage.

There’s that and then I have my branding workshops and so last year I launched Alison’s Brand School, because when I got quiet and I asked myself what’s the most value that I feel like I have to offer right now, this random answer came to me and it was like this guy driving by in a car and I was like, ” If he had a message that he needed to get out I could tell him how to do it,” so I started a workshop and I scaled it last year and then I launched Alison’s Brand School. Now, it has its own website, and just last week we decided to give it its own Instagram account.

Then the Alison Show has the podcast, the Year of Awesome calendar, it has these gratitude practices. It has the content I put out on Instagram and there’s other things I’ll be developing for the Alison show. It’s so funny, because it’s like when you talk you’re like, “I do this and I do this, but I can’t remember what else I do,” right?

I was just going to say, I hired my first full time employee, I’m in the position to be able to hire another full time employee. I launched some audio courses. I was able to monetize. It took me the year, but every single way that I was making money in 2016 I stopped and for the first good part of 2017 I really was not making any money, but I was able to in the end triple my profits from year to year by getting the structure in place.

Jessica:  Doing what you want to do.

Alison:  Yeah.

Jessica:  Yes.

Alison:  Now I’m on …again, I’m not saying everyone needs to make more money or hire more people, but I realized I genuinely wanted to build my empire. That’s what I wanted to do.

Jessica:  Yes, yes. You get everything in gear. You take that risk of shutting something down that was successful. You hire someone, which is huge, congratulations.

Alison:  Thank you.

 

Alison’s Life-Changing Car Accident

Jessica:  Then you get hit by a car. I mean, seriously.

Alison:  Let’s put this into context. First off, when you say you get hit by a car it sounds like a metaphor, right?

Jessica:  Yeah. You literally got hit by a car doing what you love. Like out in the morning doing your jam, doing your running and your dancing and I found out through Instagram, of course, but something just really moved me, and I think it’s because I met you around a year ago at Rachel Hollis’s RISE conference, which I just loved getting to be in your presence and maybe you were moving in this direction of you were embracing health and wellness and all of this stuff and then you are literally … I mean …

Alison:  I got taken out, man. Got taken out.

Jessica:  You got taken out. I know, so that’s what is so … That’s really why I wanted to have you on the show, because it’s one thing to hear about what someone’s doing and cheer them on, but you could just … This is a great moment to be completely derailed and throw in the towel and say like, “Forget this,” so I just want to hear a little bit about … That’s not the sentiment that I’m getting as I follow you. I’m seeing that you practice resilience. I know it’s not all unicorns and rainbows.

Alison:  Thank you. Oh, heck no.

Jessica:  You are making some choices to have a mindset in the middle of a lot of pain and physical pain is, when your body’s taken out, I mean, that can just be a domino for so many other things, so walk us through, like first tell us like you did literally get hit by a car and the ramifications of that and how you are choosing to rise up.

Alison:  Yeah. On December 20th, and just again to put this into context, that day I had a meeting with I landed my biggest client, my biggest project, a 10 month consulting job and I’m doing corporate branding for them and then also taking my branding workshop to their consultants, so this is like this dream, this dream for me, because it’s steady. I know I’m going to make ‘x’ amount of dollars, which I never have, which also, I don’t necessarily like. It’s not that I want that, but it gave me the ability to say, “I can hire this person, who I’ve been waiting to hire for a year.”

She was supposed to start on … She did. She was going to start on January 1st, I had a meeting that afternoon, my first meeting with them and the entire year had been sending out my “Year Of Awesome” as a free download through my newsletter, so I had literally been priming a product for a full year and I was working on getting it ready to sell, which it’s a calendar, it’s a Year of Awesome. I had to sell it in the beginning of January, so that’s where we are.

What I can especially now, months later, look back and see is I was in the best possible place emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually I’ve ever been in in my life and so when that hit came I survived.

I’ll give you like the highlight reel, but I actually recorded a podcast episode three weeks after I had been hit and I didn’t end up airing it, because I realized it was too vulnerable and too raw for me to share at that point, but we did air it later, so that’s episodes number 40 and 41 of my Awesome with Alison podcast, but what happened is I was running. The driver was coming down. She wasn’t an idiot. She wasn’t doing anything that any of us don’t do every single day. She was looking for the oncoming traffic coming in a different direction. She lived up the hill and so, you know, you go into autopilot. Sometimes you can get to work and you’re like, “I don’t remember driving here, because I was thinking about this and I was doing this,” so she wasn’t texting.

That’s the other thing, it was so funny when I got hit everyone’s like, wants to villainize like, “Was she texting?” I’m like, “No, but I know the rest of us are, so let’s put our phones down, okay?” She just came around the corner, and even though I was looking forward, I’m a very cautious runner and I was on the side of the road I was supposed to be on. I was doing everything I was “supposed” to do, the car came around and just took me out.

I broke two ribs and a vertebrae and I had to be taken by ambulance and the thing with ribs is they basically … Then I cracked my head open and I had to get five stitches. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s a thing. I also, like I laugh when I say I got hit by a car. It’s the shock, right? It’s the shock factor. I don’t want anyone to think I don’t take it seriously and I talk about that in my podcast, but I do take it very seriously. It’s just that’s the way I cope with a shock–shock for myself.

It’s a straight up miracle that it wasn’t worse than it was, but again, that’s not to diminish what it is and I think even now, we’re what, almost three, four months out, and I’m back to “doing my work”, and I don’t hide it, but it’s like people just don’t get the full picture. Like you said, I’m still in pain all day, every day. I taught my first workshop after being hit and I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to remember the content, because I do have, I have a head trauma. It’s a 10 hour workshop and I taught it eight times last year and mastered it and then I had to stand up to …

I just do these things, Jessica, right, where I’m like, “I was hit by a car. I’m feeling better. Let’s double the number of tickets I’ve ever sold and not realize I’m trying to sell them in 1/3 the amount of time I sold my last workshop in.” Do you see what I’m saying here?

Jessica:  I can relate. I can relate. I’m an adrenaline junky who always wants things bigger and better and more the next time, so I get it.

Alison: In an effort to practice what I preach had to accept that help. He said, “There’s two types of trauma. There’s bit T, like being assaulted, being hit by a car, right? These things that we think are trauma and then there’s the little Ts and they can be a mean comment, they can be something someone said to us when we’re a kid that we don’t realize we’re carrying around as a belief and a truth.”

I really truly have this amazing ability to minimize any trauma, any trauma that happens to me, even being hit by a car. I’m like, “Well, I wasn’t assaulted. I’m not dead. I’m not paralyzed,” and he’s like, “You were hit by a car.”

Jessica:  Wow. Wow.

Alison:  For me it’s kind of this yeah, do I have to be … How badly would it have to be for me to accept help? How bad would I have to get hurt? How traumatic would it need to be? I think that’s something if you maybe have the tendency like I do to minimize anything going on to ask yourself, “Okay. Well, how bad does it have to be, because man, I don’t want to be around when that happens,” and to not be afraid of being hit by a car, like this girl like, “I don’t want to be hit by a car,” it’s like remember how I said I was literally in the best place to receive this lesson. This lesson whether or not it needed to happen or it had to happen, the way that I operate is by faith and I sincerely believe that this was just part of my story, but it doesn’t define me.

I’m not the girl who got hit by a car. No, I’m not the girl who got hit by a car. Did I get hit by a car? Yeah, sure, it happened, but I’m not the girl who got hit by a car. I’m just freaking Alison. I’m already as awesome as I need to be, right?

I guess I would say, I don’t like to scare people when I’m like, “You’re going to get hit by a car or you’ve already been hit by a car.”

Jessica:  It’s interesting. I mean, we all have a hard time entering into suffering and none of us really wants to call that into our lives. The irony is that the very thing that you’re saying is that you were glad, I mean ultimately, I think you said that that you were glad you got hit by a car.

Alison:  Yeah.

Jessica:  On the other side of it.

Alison:  Yeah.

Jessica:  You’re on the other side. I think we’re afraid that we aren’t going to make it through the wilderness.

Alison:  Yeah, yeah.

Jessica:  In fact, we do. I mean, you make it through. I think that’s why, again, why I wanted to have you on because you’re still in the middle of pain and you’re having to pick up the pieces of having to have kind of put everything on hold for a bit and you’re picking it back up again, but you’re having to do it in a new way and adapt to what your body can actually handle now and you’re doing it.

Alison:  Thank you. I just want to say it doesn’t always feel like I am. Like you’re saying that to me and I am aware of what you’re saying, but am I accepting it? Do you see what I’m saying?

Jessica:  Now you’re comparing yourself no longer to the suffering, or the abusive Alison, now you’re comparing yourself to the bad ass Alison who was ready to rock it.

Alison:  Yep. That’s what I keep saying is I’ll have this thought where why didn’t we get this done? Why isn’t this thing organized? Like why didn’t this get done and I will legitimately forget remember when you got hit by a car and you were in bed for two months? You didn’t have the mental capacity. People are like, “Oh, well, you’re in bed. You can write your book and you can do this.” No, no. When you have pain, especially pain that is so close to your head … I couldn’t concentrate and that’s literally my life is concentrating. Writing an Instagram post, speaking, giving a lecture, putting together a podcast, my work is thinking and writing and concentrating, and I couldn’t concentrate for months, so my only option was to relax. My only option was to ease into the suffering, to accept it.

I asked my doctor, I was like, “I forget things.” I was like …

Jessica:  He’s like, “You got hit by a car.”

Alison:  Yeah. Again, that’s an interest- … I’m like, is it that I’m forgetting facts? Is it this? Is it that? He’s like, “You know, you have head trauma, both physically and emotionally and that will happen for maybe even up to a year,” but I also think it’s honestly just a habit of not cutting ourselves slack or, again, I’m not a person who likes to victimize myself or have excuses, and so I’ve been really hard on myself the last month. We did a few podcast episodes and I was like, “The podcast is back,” and then we haven’t done the podcast in a few weeks, a month maybe, and I’m like, “Man, I really got to get back to the podcast,” and I’m like, “Well, I’m running a team. I’ve got the workshops going. I have my paid programs going. Maybe I just don’t have the capacity for the podcast this week. Maybe in couple more weeks I will.” You know?

 

How Pain Can Coexist With Beauty

Alison:  Right? Yeah. My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer 10 months or so before I was hit by the car and to be in that place of complete and utter just pain and heartbreak and sadness and then to be able to turn around for 15 seconds and in a totally, genuine, authentic place dance like an idiot on my Instagram stories and I had this fight within myself. Am I being inauthentic?

The answer’s “no,” because pain and beauty can coexist and that actually, I believe, is the human experience, that pain and beauty coexist and we have the capacity to hold it. We have the capacity to appreciate that pain and the beauty and man, we don’t want just only beauty, because then we can’t appreciate it and that’s what I try to tell myself, like right this second, talking to you, I am in pain. I hurt. My neck hurts. My back hurts. It hurts and I’m on a muscle relaxer and Ibuprofen and I’m in pain. For me, I try to use that pain, that physical pain as a reminder to go through my body and release the tension, to be mindful, to be present, and just yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment and after my doctor’s appointments I get a little down, because it’s just a reminder that this thing is real and it happened.

“Pain and beauty can coexist and that actually, I believe, is the human experience–that pain and beauty coexist and we have the capacity to hold it.” – Alison Faulkner

Yeah, I’m usually grateful, but I wasn’t yesterday, you know? Then I had this funny thought–remember when I was in bed and I was just in bed? That was kind of nice. I was like, like right now, and it’s after you have a baby and all you want is to not be in pain and be up and appreciating, but then you look back and you’re like, “Remember when I …”–I get really bad postpartum anxiety–and it’s like, “Remember when I was that wreck of an anxious person holding a baby praying every minute of the day like I didn’t have the strength to carry on on my own? That was awesome, because I had so much faith in that moment.”

Jessica: Thank you for that.

Alison:  Yeah.

 

How Does Your Brand Communicate with People?

Jessica:  I want to go back a little bit. I’m sure that a lot of your clientele, then, that you are speaking to is coming from a direct sales background, so for these workshops that you do are you helping reps, sales reps kind of know how to come up with their own personal brands and what are a couple of the tips that you give at workshops that are helpful for those people listening right now.

Alison:  Yes. Yes, oh my gosh, thank you for asking that, because I would love to share that. First, to say, “brand” is a slippery word and when we say branding some people might think of a logo or their website. Right? They might think of the physicalities of branding. For me, those are really identity. Like that’s what a graphic designer does. What I talk about, when I’m speaking about branding is I define it as the personification of a company and marketing is more like the science. Marketing is more like the math. Marketing is the who you are talking to. The branding is who is doing the talking.

I just want to lay out the definition, so we’re on the same page there. Noonday has a brand, and it does have an effective brand, because you can get people to events. You could tomorrow decide to change verticals and sell a completely different product and I bet you would still be very successful, because the brand would carry through. If you’re still meeting the tenants of your brand, and what would you say are some of the markers of the Noonday brand?

Jessica:  I would say connection, positivity, impact.

Alison:  Yes, yes. Those are all phenomenal, because they are basic human needs. Connection is a basic human need and I believe that Jessica, as the creative visionary and founder of that brand, connection is something that drives and motivates you and that is why when you infuse it into Noonday it is authentic, so at my workshops that is literally what I do is I help people, because you can be like, “Oh, I like this. I need to make money so I started it,” or, “I need to do this,” or, “I needed friends so I started it.” I’m like, “What is that deep, deep, deeper reason?”

I trick everyone. I’m like, “It’s a business workshop,” and then people are like crying and they’re telling me their thing and I’m like, “Listen, this is actually what I was going to do.” They’re like, “Why am I crying?” I’m like, “Because in order to create something real you need to start with something real,” and so that’s why …

“In order to create something real you need to start with something real.” Alison Faulkner

A direct sales company that I’m working with, I’m taking my workshop to their consultants as part of the contract that I’m doing, but at my workshops that I host, which are all in Utah, so people say, “Can you bring it here? Can you bring it here?” Well, if you have a group of 100 people and you’re going to hire me and pay me for that, yes, I can bring it there, but for them most part, for the individual I keep it in Utah, because that’s where my team is the strongest. That’s where my resources are the strongest. Also, I like to say I’m like Celine Dion in Vegas, like you’ve got to come to me.

Allison: In order to create something real you have to start with something real. What I did is; I put too much of myself in my brand and that’s why it caused me too much suffering. It was too personal and I think lots of times that is the default for people who I think are listening to this podcast. They’re making it too personal and what I needed to do is I needed to have the brand in all of its different parts defined, because then it makes it less personal, but I always say definitions equal freedom, but more than that it’s that correct definitions equal freedom, because you can have a whole bunch of definitions like, “I do this. I serve people this way. I believe this. When I speak to people I use this tone and this voice and I connect in this way.”

I often ask people, “If your brand was a person would it give them a warm hug that is just a little too long, that somebody’s uncomfortable? Would it give them a head nod? Would it give them a high five? Would it give them a fist bump?” You need to think about how your brand communicates with people and the number one thing that most people do is they get so excited about the product or the service that they’re only ever selling the features, the product or the services, so a less educated person in branding, like I said to you Jessica, I said, “What are the tenants of your brand or what’s your brand?” You would say, “Oh, well, this is the product that we sell. These are our …” Right?

Jessica:   Right, right.

Alison:  That’s where a lot of people are, even people who are at a higher level, they’re coming up with things that they think should be their message based on what other successful people are doing, or based on what they think their clients want. I got this question the other day when we were doing live, and this is why also–do lives. Do Instagram and Facebook Lives, because these questions that I’m getting, man, these are good questions and now I have this good information to share on this podcast, right? Somebody said, “How do I find my ideal client, or my ideal customer?” I didn’t get to it in the live, but I’ve been thinking about that and I’m like I don’t find my ideal client. I’ve never once in my life found my ideal client. I share, I attract my ideal client. I share what I believe. I share information that I think will benefit people. I share value and I attract people who want to do business with me and then I have a better rate of success because people who can hold the thought that I air hump on my Instagram, but then I also genuinely am pretty bad A at business advice in this particular realm, if they can make peace with that fact then they’re someone I want to do business with, right?

Jessica:  Right. You mean, that like you’re the goofy side of you, the rainbows and unicorns, but also knowing that you are a smart, strategic person, like someone who can reconcile those two things and say yeah.

Alison:  Yeah, I think what can happen is we feel the need to … Okay, my ideal client is this, my ideal client is this person, so I’m going to behave the way this person wants. I’m going to create material that this person wants and what I teach in my branding workshop is that’s the desperate girl in high school who’s doing her hair, her makeup, wearing her clothes the way that every boy wants her to. Maybe we were that desperate girl in high school, or we know that girl in high school, right? That does not a happy business make. You get burnt out. You know what, there’s a lot of ways to build a successful business. What I teach is, do you want to build something that you are fulfilled by, that is authentic and that is hands down freaking engaging, because that’s what I’m the best at. I’m not Jeff Bezos, right? I’m not creating a tech company with … I mean, maybe one day I will be Jeff Bezos, but right?

My expertise, what my knowledge is in is in engaging and connection and the things that fulfill you while you do them, because I literally could die tomorrow and that’s okay. I mean, it’s sad for my family and I’m not saying I want to die tomorrow, I’m not trying to attract that. I’m just saying I’m living my life in a way where I feel fine. I think that’s huge.

Jessica:  Right. Well, it really goes back to the beginning, which is that your brand is about encouraging women to be themselves confidently and without apology. You need to also approach your brand in that same way. I just love that picture of the girl in high school. I actually had a friend tell me last weekend–she has a couple teenagers and a couple of preteens–and she’s like “I always know which of my kids has that confidence thing because it’s the one who’s not dressing like everyone else.”

“Do you want to build something that you are fulfilled by, that is authentic and that is hands down freaking engaging?” – Alison Faulkner

She’s like “I have one kid who is dressing like everyone else and then I have the one kid who does not care and is wearing the whatever.” I thought that was really interesting, so I left thinking about our brand like, “are you just trying to dress like everyone else in your brand?”

 

Learning the Good Tools of Branding & Social Media

Jessica: Let’s stop for one moment, because when you’re speaking to this rep you’re talking about personal branding, right, like within that company?

Alison:  Yes, because here’s the thing, if they were attracted to Noonday you have a strong brand. You’re not selling snake oil. You are attracting people who believe what you believe and so their beliefs are aligned with Noonday, otherwise why are they working with you. Right?

Jessica:  Right.

Alison:  I’ve worked with Lula Roe, I’ve worked with Perfectly Posh, I’ve worked with a lot of different direct sales companies. doTERRA’s here in Utah. LipSense, SeneGence lots of distributors here and I have a lot of these reps come to my workshop and so what I’m saying is it can be a personal brand, but it does not have to be a personal brand. You do not have to have your face, you do not have to have your personality. You need to have aspects of you, because again, Apple is not a personal brand. Apple is not a personal brand, but there are real aspects of the core creative founder and visionary infused into Apple and it’s the same with Nike.

A brand is the personification of a business and if you want to create a real brand there needs to be some authentic parts of you in the brand, but your face …

“A brand is the personification of a business. If you want to create a real brand, there need to be some authentic parts of you in the brand.” – Alison Faulkner

You don’t have to build a brand like me, the Alison Show, so for your consultants if they’re like, “Well, I want to give advice in styling and I have a passion for,” even let’s say home décor. There’s a real way to take authentic parts of who they are and what they’re interested in and build a business around that while also the monetization side of the brand is Noonday.

Does that make sense?

Jessica:  I like that and we talk about that in terms of like what’s your why? We have people who are hard core, “We want to change the world. We’re for traders.” We have people that are like, “I just love pretty jewelry.”

Alison:  I just like accessories and styling.

Jessica:  I love jewelry. Some people have a passion for adoption and they’re like, “I want to advocate for adoption,” so yeah, you’re right. It is finding that why. I think as the owner of the brand we’re always fighting that challenge of like how do we still kept a strong brand that is consistent while allowing for the authenticity of the representative to completely drive what they’re doing.

Alison:  Yeah, so that is what I had to figure out, which is the same thing as how can it be the Alison Show, but scale? Right? How can it be the “Jessica Noonday Show,” but scale so that other people can buy in and share their beliefs, but still have themselves being a part of it? Right? That’s my corporate branding services with that, but on the smaller scale that hey, these are all of the parts of a brand and I teach a whole system for it. Here is the parts that I think are important for a brand. Here is how you find your why. That’s a big part, is here’s how you find your why, because there’s a million different ways to do it, but here’s how we do it and here’s how you infuse it into a social media post. Here’s how you infuse it into a Facebook live. Here’s how you infuse it in a team meeting.

A lot of times people think, “I’m going to build this community and make money,” and I don’t want to say that you are stupid for thinking that, because of course you are not, but it is not an educated awareness of what having a community and an online following actually is. Having a large Instagram following does not make you money. Having 100,000 followers on Instagram does not mean you have $100,000. In fact, most influencers who have 100,000 followers are not making $100,000. It’s just really, really …

Jessica: That’s such an interesting point. This whole Instagram world, talk about something that’s not real. I don’t want to down on Instagram, because it does so much good and it’s connection, and it’s how we know each other, and it’s community, but I just think you bring up a good point. I think people look at that number and think that’s the number of success when it’s like … maybe it is if you’re not wanting to monetize, but if you’re wanting to run a business and monetize that is not your data point to look at.

Alison:  It is either a marketing tool, a tool for connection, or a popularity contest

I used it for connection and building a community and now I’m using it as a marketing tool. I am having to relearn in a lot of ways, not relearn, but shift how I am approaching Instagram with the algorithm changes, with the changes I’ve made in myself. Like legit, if you followed me five years ago I would be showing you baking tutorials and now I’m telling you motivational things and maybe some people from five years ago just want baking tutorials.

Learning the principals of good branding will help you grow your Instagram or your social media, but I don’t teach things that you can Google is what I like to say. If you can Google it let’s not waste our time on it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a dental practice or a real estate agent or an allergy food blogger, or man, I had a 60 year old dirt farmer, man at my last workshop and I was freaking out, because I was like, “Why is he here? I’m happy he’s here,” but I literally started thinking he’s going to think I’m an idiot. He came with his wife. She had her business and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, he is going to think I’m such an idiot.” Like I’m in fringe pants, air humping, in a giant clam. I teach my workshop out of a clam from one of my mermaid parties and I use a trident to point to the projector. I’m like this guy … He was right in front. I’m all vulnerable, because it’s my first workshop after being hit by the car and he loved it.

By the end I got him up on stage and made him dance for everyone. It was …

Jessica:  That is awesome.

Alison:  If Mike can find ways to connect, you can find ways to connect. There’s a way to bring yourself to the table. Again, I don’t want to speak in abstracts so that people can’t apply this information. I’m all about action. I think the way to apply this information in anything you’re doing, a Facebook post, an Instagram post, a marketing email, a team meeting is you sit down and you ask yourself, “Would I want to interact with this?” This is just a test I’ve been doing. Yesterday I spent like 45 minutes writing an Instagram post and at the end of it decided I needed to write this and I liked writing it, but I don’t know if Instagram is the place I would want to read this piece of writing.”

That’s what I said. I’m like right now I’m in a very active shifting my Instagram strategy. I have some new things I’m going to be working on, because what I’ve done has shifted so much. It’s a hard and kind of humbling place to be in when you’re like I mastered it in this way and now I need to go master it in another way and it’s full circle what we talked about again, but the reason I’m being so transparent about it is because it’s this bad habit that we get into where these numbers dictate success for us.

 

Alison’s Brand School

Alison:  I think we do the same thing with the number on the scale. You can have a bad day based on the number that pops up on the scale that morning and you can have a bad day based on if you got a lot of likes on your last post and that’s when it’s too personal. That’s when you have not drawn the lines and defined it in a way that you’re taking yourself out of it to a healthy degree. That’s what I had to do and when I did that then I was able to scale my profits and scale my team.

I now have 16 people working the workshop with me, which used to be a workshop that I taught the lecture and then I went around and helped everyone one on one. Again, I was doing the same thing I did with the dance parties. I was making it so it was only me doing everything and that’s not scalable or sustainable and also other people are better at parts than I am and so I just don’t want people to walk away thinking this just has to do with personal brands or I have to be like Alison, or I have to be as vulnerable as Jessica and show my face. No. No, no, no, no. Mike the farmer and the dentist I’ve worked with, you connect in a real way to the work you’re doing and people will connect in a real way to you.

Jessica:  I love that.  Okay, so if people are like, “Uh, yes, that was so helpful,” how do we engage in learning more with some of your online workshops?

Alison: Thanks for letting me pimp myself, I appreciate it. I do have a workshop coming up on June 29th and it’s in Utah and we have Alisonsbrandschool.com and that’s Alison with one L. Alisonsbrandschool.com, or if you just want to go to Alison’s Brand School on Instagram we are so excited to be doing the Instagram account, because it’s just a place to share free information. If it’s not in your budget to pay to come to a workshop right now, we still, like this podcast like I try to give as much information away for free as I can.

I’m not trying to hide anything to upsell you. Some things are better covered in person and I have intellectual property in the workshop, but we are building a community of people who want to do the work they feel called to do and they’re not just there to get a paycheck. That’s Alison’s Brand School on Instagram, or the Alison Show. Me, I’m a good time on Instagram and just talking about how to feel as awesome as you are and I think I’m going to launch a new website soon, but currently if you go to my website it’s selling Viagra. I got hacked.

Jessica:  That’s amazing. Okay, okay. We’ll go to the Alison Brand School. I just started following that account.

Alison:  Thank you.

Jessica:  Thank you so much for coming on today.

Alison:  Yes, I hope I didn’t just talk forever. I did. I talked forever. Thank you for having me.

Jessica: So, you go scared, and that is why we wanted you on, so thank you.

Jessica: As you heard from Alison’s story, she really is right in the middle of the process. I think we can all relate either to that friend–or maybe it’s us–who likes to neatly package our process and then later share about it and say, “yeah, last month I was really struggling with [fill in the blank] but now, I’m okay!” I have this happen to me a lot. Sometimes with my friends I’m like “gosh, I want to walk with you in the messy middle.” So, I think Alison is such a great example of practicing vulnerability in the middle of the difficulty.

“Sometimes life gets radically disrupted. What is your response to disruptions? You can choose to feel trapped. You can choose to feel victimized. You can choose defeat, or like Alison, you can let it teach you. You can choose to process alone, or you can invite others in.” – Jesssica Honegger

In the middle of the mess, what does it look like to rise?

Speaking of rising, I have created an e-mail tribe. If you don’t know about it yet, I would love for you to join my e-mail family. Go to JessicaHonegger.com; hit subscribe. I share a lot of behind the scenes material. I talk about what it looks like to rise.  I even share some exclusive content that didn’t make it into the Going Scared episodes. Go find me on JessicaHonneger.com. I will see you in your inbox in a few!

Thanks so much again for joining me on today’s podcast. We’ll see you next week.