Some of the pressure is that we feel the pressure, in this age, to make it our brand completely, when we’re not ready to share it yet, or we feel the need to monetize it and make it our whole life’s … It has to support us, which is a sure way to squash your creativity, if it has to pay the rent for you, at first. There’s a way to do it. There’s a way to go about it.
– Alexandra Jamieson
Darla LeDoux: Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of Retreat and Grow Rich: The Podcast. I am thrilled to be here with the beautiful and fabulous, Alexandra Jamieson. Welcome, Alex!
Alexandra J.: Thank you so much for having me. Great to be here.
Darla LeDoux: Yes! So, I want to tell people who you are. Alex is the best selling author of Women, Food, and Desire, Getting To Hell Yes, which I read in my bathtub, as you know. It’s an amazing book with a lot of guidance that applies to all kinds of areas of your life, not just food.
She is co-creator and costar of the Oscar-nominated documentary, Supersize Me, which I know everybody knows. I kind of fangirled when I learned that about you, Alex. She is a highly sought after success mentor and motivational guide for thousands.
Alexandra Jamieson has made it her mission to empower women to create epic lives by honoring their desires and kicking shame and fear to the curb. Of course, Alex does interactive programs. She does training, workshops, retreats, and also, one-on-one leadership coaching to help individuals optimize their personal success. She’s the host of Her Rules Radio, a number one rated podcast on iTunes. She has been praised and adored by Oprah, The Today Show, Doctor Oz, Goop, Martha Stewart Living, New York Times, and a host of other amazing and prestigious publications. So, I’m so excited to have her here with us today! Hi, Alex!
Alexandra J.: Hi, sweetie. Thank you for having me.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah! So, as you know, and for those of you listening, if you’re not aware, you are here in the midst of our Transform the Leader series, and this is really about how we, as leaders who host retreats, have to do the work to be able to hold space for transformation, and really be the people that our clients are hiring us to be. Right?
In my experience, every retreat I host calls me to grow in a certain way, and develops different muscles. Alex, I know you’ve been doing this work for a long time. I would love kind of to start with what was your journey to hosting your first retreat? How did you know to do it? What growth was embedded in that decision?
Alexandra J.: It’s interesting. As you were talking, I was like, “Wow, when was my first retreat? When did I lead it?” It’s definitely been, probably, before my son was born. I really think back to … My dad was a high school teacher and then a high school principal. As he was getting his master’s, they were juggling childcare and education, and he would sometimes bring me to the classes that he was teaching, as a master’s student.
So, I would sit in the back and watch him teach. I remember the first time, thinking, “Wow, he’s teaching a classroom full of adults.” I just thought it was … I was so impressed. When you’re little, you think your teachers are so amazing. I was like, “Oh my gosh. My dad’s a teacher. This is incredible.”
My mom did a lot of things. She was an artist and designer. She also had a radio show for 10 years when I was kid.
Darla LeDoux: Wow.
Alexandra J.: She was an organic gardening expert and had an organic gardening radio show.
Darla LeDoux: Wow!
Alexandra J.: I would be on her show once a year to talk about kids and gardening. Just being on the microphone as an eight-year-old, and seeing my mom be the expert that people came to for help, just watching them be leaders in that way, and be visible. Also, to see them, at times, say, “You know, I don’t know. That’s a good question. Let’s talk about that,” or, “Let’s figure out the answer together.” It made leading seem more accessible. Like, “Oh, they don’t know all the answers. It’s okay to not know everything.” So, that’s kind of where I grew up.
Darla LeDoux: That’s amazing.
Alexandra J.: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: It’s almost like you were born to do this.
Alexandra J.: It’s pretty remarkable to connect the dots, in hindsight, and see where it came from. I was really into student council when I was in high school. So, in starting in student council, we actually organized the leadership retreat for all the student council members.
Darla LeDoux: Wow.
Alexandra J.: Go away once a year, all the elected high school kids. So, I was in on the planning from ninth grade. I’m like, “Wow, maybe that was kind of the first retreat I was involved in.”
Darla LeDoux: That’s amazing!
Alexandra J.: Yeah, yeah. Then as a coach, as an adult, I would say it’s back when I was doing health coaching back in the early 2000s. I started doing day long cooking classes and teaching people how to cook gluten-free, sugar-free in my home, that kind of thing.
Darla LeDoux: I remember from your book, that was in your home.
Alexandra J.: Yeah, yeah.
Darla LeDoux: What was that like?
Alexandra J.: Well, it’s a great excuse to clean your house. That’s always true. I think we have this perception, as retreat leaders and coaches now, that your retreats have to be in exotic, Instagrammable locations. You definitely want it to be comfortable and inspiring and cozy. You want to plan the setting for the retreat. It has to be appropriate. But I just held a retreat in my home last week for three women, high level clients, and I realized about five years ago, having a small group in my home was absolutely appropriate.
It saved me a ton of money and travel. It was so much more convenient for me, especially having a kid who’s in school. I was like, “Oh, I love having it in my home.”
Darla LeDoux: You don’t have to pack.
Alexandra J.: You don’t have to pack, don’t have to plan all this
Darla LeDoux: I’m cracking up because people can’t see this on the podcast but you’re broadcasting from your closet. I’m just really thinking you don’t have to pack. Look! It’s all right there.
Alexandra J.: It’s all right here. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Just since I’m always transparent, I outed you being in the closet. Outed you. But yeah. For noise reasons, you’re in your closet at the moment, which I love.
Alexandra J.: It’s funny. I’ve been podcasting for five years now. This is my five year anniversary this month. I’m still doing it from my closet. It’s still the most convenient, best soundproofing in New York City.
Darla LeDoux: Yes! So, let’s talk a little bit about this, convenience versus … I love that you said Instagrammable location, right? So, I talk all the time about this. People choosing the location, thinking the location is going to sell the retreat. I’ve worked with clients to kind of pry that from their hands, in a way, because that they were doing is feeling like people wouldn’t buy them. They were going to buy the location.
The issue is if people are buying the location, they want to go tour in that location. They’re not necessarily coming for their transformation. Did you ever get caught up in that? How did you decide, “Hey, I’m just going to make this convenient and workable for me?”
Alexandra J.: So, I started doing most of my retreats here in New York City, where I live, three years ago. Part of that was I realized, as I started bringing in, and we’ll talk more about creativity, as I started bringing in more creativity into the workshops, I was like, “I live in the most fabulous city in the world for creativity.” I have my community here, so I know all these artists and teachers who are here that I can bring in, do the retreat here.
I do this really special, unique experiences that you can’t do anywhere else in the world. So, in that way, I’m lucky to live in a place that is a draw itself. So, that works in my favor. I have done retreats in San Diego. I’ve done them all over the country. I’m still able to bring in those creative experiences no matter where we are, but there’s a special level here in New York City that you can’t get anywhere else.
Darla LeDoux: It’s a bit more work if you’re traveling, right, to find the people and curate and coordinate and bring your supplies and all of that?
Alexandra J.: Yeah. I also know myself really well. I know my needs, as a leader, as a teacher, to protect my energy. I do so much better if I’m here in my home and I don’t have to travel around. I just know I’m a better leader when I’m not traveling and on the road.
That’s not to say that I don’t love doing a five day retreat in some beautiful location. I have a lot going on. I’m editing two books. I’m raising a kid. I’m doing all my clients and I’m leading groups, et cetera. So, New York works for me right now.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing. So, to go back to that first retreat, that, probably, you weren’t thinking of as a retreat. You’re bringing in a group to teach them how to cook in a different way. Would you say that was transformational?
Alexandra J.: You know, I’m thinking back to the first one. It was for me, to think, “Oh, I’m a retreat leader too. I can add that to my resume.” Oh, I do this now, now that I’ve done one! This is what I now do.
I also saw the magic of what happens when you get a group of people in the same physical space, in their overlapping energy fields, in the same place, learning and experiencing and growing together. There’s no way to replicate that in a virtual situation.
Darla LeDoux: The magic of their overlapping energy fields. Can you say more about what you’ve learned about that over the years?
Alexandra J.: Yeah. I see it happen in every single retreat. I’m sure you can relate to this, where you watch people. You know, one individual will speak about an experience or a challenge, and you can feel it. We’re all energetic creatures. We can feel what’s going on for them. We start to attune to each other.
We can also pick up on when people are not speaking and they’re either out of sorts, or they’re finding massive expansion, or transformation, and they’re going through something really beautiful and healing. You feel that too. We attune to each other. We’re like tuning forks. So, when we are with each other it can be very healing.
It can also be unsettling, but I think some things need to get unsettled and shaken up a bit in order for change and transformation to happen.
Darla LeDoux: Yes. That’s an awesome segue to what have you noticed for yourself, as the leader, in creating these environments for all the energy to come, and especially in your home? What’s had to get unsettled within you to be able to be with that, with other people? Because that does happen.
Alexandra J.: Well, I definitely have to set the stage. I really think about how do I want the room to look?
By the way, I didn’t mention this but people feel so honored to be in your home. I’ve had people say they’re in awe that they get to be in my home, in my personal space. It’s so much more meaningful to most people. Like, this is way cooler than being at a hotel.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. I’m just curious because we’ve had people in our home. We had an amazing, beautiful home that we rented in Seattle on the water. Huge, beautiful dining room overlooking the Puget Sound. It felt just fabulous. We brought people in. It actually made me get much more diligent about screening people when we were having them in our home, which was cool.
I’m curious, in New York, how much of it … if someone wants to host in their home, do you have a recommendation of … I know you said it’s a great excuse to clean. I’m imagining in New York, you’re not having giant ballroom sized meetings. Can you talk a little bit about the environment and what that’s like?
Alexandra J.: Yeah. Luckily, our apartment is such that we have a great room. So, it’s the living room… Kitchen is all together. So, we do have the space to fit in more than the average New York City apartment. It’s still not enormous, but … So, this is for small high level groups.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Alexandra J.: We’re also lucky to have the whole roof deck. So, we have kind of all that extra space. So, we did exercises up there. We could move around, take breaks, go outside.
I’m very careful. It wouldn’t have worked in every apartment I’ve lived in in New York City, but we have the top floor. It’s very quiet. So, it doesn’t feel like there’s anyone around us. It feels like we’re in a little bubble, in an oasis. So, for the most part, we don’t have the street noise that most New Yorkers experience.
Even when I’ve rented conference rooms in New York City, I’ve had to go check them out in advance to make sure, is it quiet? Does the air conditioning work? It gets really hot here in the Summer. I’ve had to move retreats because the room was not … It was too loud, it was too hot, whatever.
Then I do my own forms of cleansing. I always have the housekeeper come in the day before, do a real deep clean, then I really set up candles, and I set out stones and crystals, I smudge the house, and I play music. I often dance in the space beforehand to get my energy moving in the right way. I pick the music to set the tone. I’m really trying to fill the space with feeling to invite people into what they’re about to step into.
Darla LeDoux: That’s a whole different level of control of the environment that you have, as opposed to … So, I usually do most of my things in conference rooms because there’s a little more service available. Right? When you rent a house you’ve got to get the catering and all of the things. A lot of times it’s pricey to rent a big house. So, you’re getting in the day before. There’s not that time and energy.
I actually just visited a potential space, this amazing house with lots of rooms, but the land didn’t feel like it would welcome us. Tuning in … and the owner. I met the owner. It was like, “I don’t think this space is ready for the energy we’re bringing yet.”
Alexandra J.: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: You don’t know that from looking at pictures on the internet. You can tune in remotely but it’s … You’ve got to be diligent about that. So, you have control of your space.
Alexandra J.: Yeah. It’s interesting. I’m thinking about a couple of experiences I’ve had where we had waiters, staff, and people serving. You don’t know what those people are going through in their day. You may not have time or opportunity to talk with the people who are coming into the space about their energy.
The work that I do, and I know that you do, too, I can get very emotional and very deeply personal. That energetic bubble around us is so important, that people continue to feel safe, and bringing even in one extra person who doesn’t have the right boundaries or the right energy can just upset the whole vibe.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. So, you’ve obviously learned this over time. I know, for me, I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way by making some mistakes.
Alex, can you think of a time where prior to, leading up to the retreat, could even be the day of, but it could be … I say we birth the soul of the retreat when we commit to it. Right? So, from the time of saying, “I’d like to do this,” to the time the retreat starts, where something’s come up that you’ve had to move through in order to actually bring that vision to fruition. Can you think of a time when that’s happened?
Alexandra J.: Well, that actually happened this Summer. I had 20 women coming to New York City from all over the country and Canada. I went to check out the space like, two or three months in advance. Just on a hunch, I just got an intuition like, three weeks before the retreat. I emailed the managers of the space. I said, “Look, it’s going to be really hot the weekend of the retreat. We’re booking the room on a Saturday. I just want to make sure that the air conditioning and everything is good.”
I had noticed that there was construction on the floor where we were going to be. It took them like, two weeks to get back to me. So, they get back to me just a few days before the retreat and they said, “Oh, you know what? Turns out you’ll have electricity but they’re going to be doing construction on all the plumbing and in the walls.” I was like, “This … no.”
Darla LeDoux: Wow! Just a small detail.
Alexandra J.: Just a small detail but they didn’t know because it was the building owner that was doing it. So, they hadn’t communicated about it. If I hadn’t asked, we would have walked into a construction zone going on all outside of the room. It would have been a disaster.
Luckily, they were able to upgrade me to a much nicer space that was actually so ideal. Much, much better. We were scrambling. I had to alert everybody, people coming in from … They’d already picked their hotels to be near the original location. I was like, “I’m sorry but you’re not going to be down in Tribeca. We’re now going to be over here.” But it all worked out. I don’t want people to be stressing out about every detail before a retreat. But if you have this hunch, this suspicion, follow up on it.
Darla LeDoux: What was that internal experience like for you? So, it’s one thing to kind of think, “Okay, thank God I asked. I followed my intuition and we were able to negotiate this.” Did you have a moment of panic? What was that like inside?
Alexandra J.: It’s interesting. I didn’t panic. I get really clear that my energy and how I approach my life before a retreat is also teaching the people attending the retreat skills that they need.
Darla LeDoux: Say that again, go deeper with that. That’s so good.
Alexandra J.: Yeah. So, okay. How I react to an issue before the retreat, about the retreat, is actually teaching and setting the energetic stage for the people coming to the retreat, something they need to learn.
Darla LeDoux: Yes. They feel that.
Alexandra J.: Yes. Yeah. If I lose my cool, if I start to panic, even if it’s three days before, they’re going to feel it. They’re going to feel, “Oh, she’s panicking. Oh, this is an upset.”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Alexandra J.: They’ll start to get worried or off balance. They’ll pull out at the last second. Who knows?
Darla LeDoux: It doesn’t feel safe.
Alexandra J.: Right. So, we handled it and it was great.
Darla LeDoux: You know, I had a client who, she shared this story on here, where the hotel brought cookies at the inopportune time. So, we call it the cookie incident, right? They weren’t supposed to go there. It wasn’t supposed to be in this room. It was supposed to be in the other room. She had this plan.
In that moment, rather than saying, “The cookies don’t go here,” she let them come in, right, into the … It was a moment where she could demonstrate her certainty, or not, and it shifted the energy. It’s silly. It’s a little thing but you are a living demonstration of the energy that they’re wanting to embody.
Alexandra J.: Exactly. There was one other instance in that same retreat this Summer, where one of the women, she kept asking in the Facebook group what the exact details of the retreat were. What’s the itinerary? I kept having to tell her, “Here they are. I’ve emailed everyone. Everyone has opened the email. I can see you’ve all opened the email, where it is, the time.” But she wanted to know exactly what we were doing every moment of the day.
She didn’t end up coming. It was interesting. She still paid for the entire program but she didn’t come to the retreat. So, this is actually a really important thing to notice, that your desire for exact specificity, how else does that show up in your life? It feels like I’m being micromanaged from afar, when you don’t need to know what we’re doing at 12:15.
Darla LeDoux: Right.
Alexandra J.: You know that you’ll have lunch and it will be between these hours. Here’s when you need to show up. Here’s what you need to wear. Everything else is taken care of. Why do you need to know?
Darla LeDoux: Some of the beauty of retreat is that we don’t know.
Alexandra J.: Yes!
Darla LeDoux: Because that’s where transformation happens. What I hear in that is if someone’s in that place, and I’ve been in that place, right, where it’s like we have ways of surviving things, that if our ego can plan it in advance then we can show up in a certain way that we know we’ll survive.
As a retreat leader, we want people out of their ego and out of that preplanned survival mechanism. That’s the point.
Alexandra J.: Yeah. There’s usually one person that wants to know all the details. Everyone else is like, “I don’t care. Just tell me where to show up. Lead me.” I was just very clear in the Facebook group that I’ve given everyone everything they need to show up and be prepared to enjoy, and have a great day.
So, this was all done in public, which was good because I wanted other people to see and learn from, in case they were having any silent same questions. So, what is this need in you to know the minutia? Where is the discomfort? What are you worried about? Let’s go into this. So, it was a coaching opportunity.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. So, Alex, I want to ask kind of a different question. You do what you call beta testing of ideas. I think I probably do this too. I want to hear more about it.
So, how did you come up with this idea of beta testing for your high level programs and your retreats?
Alexandra J.: So, I am a renaissance woman. I have a lot of skills and techniques. I’ve been coaching for 19 years now. So, there’s been a lot of ground covered.
What I did 10 years ago, even five years ago, isn’t exactly what I do now. What I do and how I work with people changes and evolves all the time. I’ve managed to make a successful, happy career out of this, anyway.
What I found frustrating was feeling like I had to create an entirely new brand for everything that I wanted to do. So, I wanted to do these creativity retreats for women entrepreneurs. I was like, “Well, okay. So, I have to create a whole webinar. I have to do all branding. I have to do the sales page.” All these things. I was like, “Maybe I don’t have to do all that.”
So, I made a Google form application. I sent a couple emails. I had a couple conversations. I had a retreat. I was like, “Okay. It’s like I’m beta testing this idea.” I want to do more creativity coaching with these women entrepreneurs.
It’s okay to have a small launch. I mean, it’s basically a small launch, a mini course, a mini program, a mini retreat. It’s about testing out an idea. I’m confident enough at this point where I don’t even have to know all the details of what we’re going to cover, but I know where people are and where they want to get. How we’re going to get there is going to be an adventure and a series of experiments.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah! In reality, it always is.
Alexandra J.: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Even if we think we have it all planned, minute by minute.
Alexandra J.: Yeah. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Because when you get a group of humans together, there isn’t control.
Alexandra J.: Right. Right. No.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. I think a lot of people probably have a similar experience, Alex, of, “Oh, no! I got this download, right, this new thing I want to do,” or I mean, I think this is the common experience. I actually have a client who her branding … She has a branding firm that’s called Evolvative, because of this very thing. We aren’t one thing that stays put, right?
So, we get a download of, “Oh, I’m meant to go in this direction,” or something in our life carries us in this direction. Maybe it’s I’m a business coach but I have a breakthrough in my relationship, and I think, “Oh, I want other people to have this in their relationship. Do I need to become a relationship coach now?”
Alexandra J.: Right.
Darla LeDoux: Right? It’s like you’re saying, “Well, test it.”
Alexandra J.: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Because that can feel super heavy if you feel like, “Oh, I have to have all my ducks in a row and my website has to match this new idea. Now I’ve got to change all my social media and get new head shots.” You don’t know if that’s going to stick or not.
Alexandra J.: Right, right. It’s interesting. If you think back throughout history, some of the greatest names have been these well rounded, passionate learners and teachers.
Benjamin Franklin was an inventor and a politician and a writer. He was all the things. Michelangelo. I mean, look at the people I’m comparing myself to. But we are all multifaceted and multipassionate. As I have allowed myself to pursue these different passions, I have only gotten better as a coach. My coaching career has gotten more, interestingly, diverse yet successful. It feels more stable, even as it’s ever evolving. I’m now …
Darla LeDoux: Interesting.
Alexandra J.: Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: How is it different now? We’re going to talk about your renaissance woman approach in a moment. How is it different now than before when you felt like you had to choose one thing?
Alexandra J.: So, when I started off, I was a writer and a coach. I’ve always been those two things. I’ve always been writing books and blogs and coaching. I’ve tried a lot of things that were successful for a while and then weren’t anymore.
By the way, the biggest corporations on Earth do this. We’re no different from Apple or Microsoft or Nike. They create products and then end things all the time. Right? Why do we have to … Why are we any different?
I used to teach detox courses, you know, eight and 12 weeks detox courses online. I don’t do that anymore. I used to sell supplements. I don’t do that anymore. They were fine for a while.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. I worked in product development for Proctor and Gamble. So, we were constantly innovating what the next thing is, or you lose market share.
Alexandra J.: Right.
Darla LeDoux: I also was a part of brands that were bought and sold.
Alexandra J.: So, being innovative and creative is, I believe, one of the strengths that will help you have a longer lasting career. Because we do need to keep innovating and changing a little bit. Just because I’ve gotten really good with spreadsheets doesn’t mean I’m now an accountant and coach. Right?
Darla LeDoux: Good for you!
Alexandra J.: Thank you. So, yeah. I’ve read quite a few books on this subject, actually, creative thinking, creative mindset. It’s actually one of the skills that corporate America is looking for more and more as more and more jobs and tasks get automated. They’re looking for people who are not necessarily artists but, yeah, artists. Creative thinkers are in high demand. So many of us, from the age of five or six, have been told that we’re not.
Darla LeDoux: Talk a little bit more, Alex. I know you’ve leaned into your creativity tremendously in the last few years. What’s that been like for you?
Alexandra J.: It has been unbelievably satisfying and terrifying sometimes, as well. I’ve really been a creative and an artist since childhood. There was some conflict there. I think some people will have a memory of someone telling them, or them absorbing the message that being an artist is not a good idea. Either, “You’re not as good as everybody else,” or, “You’re not really an artist,” or, “That’s not a safe career track. It’s not responsible. That’s not something to … Have something to fall back on.” Right?
I actually grew up in a family of artists and creatives, but none of them charged enough, so none of them, still … They’re still not making enough money doing their incredible work. I mean, they’re master level artisans. They’re still not getting paid enough. There was also competition around it, which I do see in the art world now that I’m participating in it. Because we’re humans. We’re competitive.
When it’s in your immediate family, it feels unsafe, being in competition with your mother. So, it wasn’t until my mom passed away, actually, that I really was able to feel safer to blossom. I started taking painting classes 10 years ago. Didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. A couple years ago I started just posting a couple pictures on Facebook and people started buying them. I realized, “Oh, this is something I love to do for myself, but other people want them too? Great.”
I started covering the costs of my art supplies and I moved into a studio a year ago. I’ve now got my art in shows and it’s really evolved. I realized that claiming your artist, you know, there’s an old word, the creatrix, she who creates, the authoress, women and feminine founders. It’s an avatar. It’s a goddess type. For many of us, it feels like this huge healing and realization to start stepping into that.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Alexandra J.: Some of the pressure is that we feel the pressure, in this age, to make it our brand completely, when we’re not ready to share it yet, or we feel the need to monetize it and make it our whole life’s … It has to support us, which is a sure way to squash your creativity, if it has to pay the rent for you, at first. There’s a way to do it. There’s a way to go about it. It’s been an awesome evolution. I’ve loved bringing it more into my coaching, too.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Talk a little bit about that. I’ll share for myself, I’m taking some lessons right now that I’m probably in those beginning stages where you started taking classes secretly. I can tell you, in my mind, I got the hit and was called to do this, probably, a good year, year and a half ago.
I was resistant because of that thought. “Is this really practical? Am I going to make any money at this? Is there any reason this is going to be helpful to anything in my life?” Other than purely trying it and self expression and following source, as I think of it.
So, how has doing that deepened your coaching, or I don’t even know the words you would use for it, but how has that improved your life and business and overall happiness?
Alexandra J.: Well, my overall happiness, I mean, a thousand percent. I just love doing it. It’s so fun. I’m actually itching to get back to my studio because I’m busy editing two books right now. I’m like, “I’ve got to finish editing these books, and in November I can go back and start painting again,” because I can really only do one massive piece of work at a time.
There’s these three foundational needs that all humans have. One is to feel autonomous, like I am directing my life. I have power to make choices. I have freedom. The second one is to create new things. It is a foundational human desire, intrinsic. It’s something in us that needs to be done. Often, it feels like divinely … It’s coming through me, out into the world.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Alexandra J.: The last one is to do better by yourself and to do better for the world in doing so. So, it’s to grow personally, personal growth, health yourself, your best self, et cetera, and that contributes to something bigger than you.
So, those three basic human needs … All of that I stole from Dan Pink’s book, Drive. It’s a great book. For me, creativity just hits all of those. Being an artist and sharing my art online. In the last couple of years I’ve started to teach in every single retreat that I do, whether it’s for one VIP client or a group of people in a program, everybody learns how to watercolor. We take at least an hour. I bring in all the supplies, all the paints, and if it’s a high level enough group, they go home with paper and paints. Here’s your kit. Go home and do this.
I start to teach them the basics. What happens for people is they’re like … half the people, “This is so relaxing. This is so fun.” They just start to relax and they start to use another part of their brain. You can actually start to ask them some questions while they’re doing it, and they tap into another part of their brain. It’s an interesting time to ask coaching questions when they’re painting, because they will excess different wisdom.
Darla LeDoux: Wow. I love that. What about the other half?
Alexandra J.: The other half are like, “I hate this. I’m not good at this. Why am I doing this?” By the end, they’re the ones that are like, “I have to do more.” Everybody comes around at the end. Some people respond to it automatically. Other people have that response of, “I’m not good at this. I don’t know how to do this.”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. That’s awesome. What was it like the first time you brought watercolor into a retreat? Did you feel confident about it? Did you feel like, “Ooh, are they …”
I remember I had a client years ago who built in a mud bath into her retreat. It was early on day one. We kind of set it up this way intentionally for people to have a reaction. People felt like … Some people were like, “What? I’m here for my business. I can’t go to the spa. I came here. I need to get what I came for.”
So, I’m curious. She was very nervous to do it but she knew it was important to her. Did you have any of that, or are you so seasoned at this point that it was like, “Okay, we’re doing this now?”
Alexandra J.: I don’t worry about it. I always wonder if people will see the value of it.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Alexandra J.: Maybe I’m a little self-centered in this way. I’m like, “I see the value in it, so we’re going to do it.”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah!
Alexandra J.: I explain. I explain why we’re doing it. One of the main reasons that we do it is when we learn a new skill, when we create something beautiful, even if it’s combining a beautiful golden yellow with beautiful pink, and creating a little tiny sunset on a little piece of paper, when we create something pretty we feel pride. We show ourselves, we prove in realtime that we are able to learn and create something beautiful.
One of the most important mindset tricks to learn is how to remind ourselves that we are capable and wise. So, for me, art is such a fun tool to help people remember, “Oh, I can learn how to do anything. I can figure anything out. I can create really cool stuff.”
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. That’s awesome. I’m definitely feeling that in my lessons that I’m taking. Oh! Wow! I can learn things that I previously felt bad at. It’s awesome. I love it.
Alexandra J.: It’s also very healing on a very old level. Again, it touches back to those childhood wounds of not being good enough, not being a good enough artist. We’re like, “Wait a minute. Maybe the story I’ve been carrying around my whole life wasn’t true. What else could be not true? What else could I change about how I think about myself?”
Darla LeDoux: Love it. So, one of the things you have coming up … I know you have some retreats coming up. So, you just had one and you have a couple more coming up. You are going into corporate. Let’s talk a little bit about, you know, I think a lot of people come into coaching and doing retreats or workshops or trainings or however they think about it, as corporate has the big money, so I’m going to go work in corporate.
A lot of times, the people coming are, maybe, not personally invested in their transformation because their company is sending them. I know I did tons of training that my company sent me to that I certainly had no expectation of getting really vulnerable, or shifting my way of being. What have you learned about going into corporate and using that to actually reach different people, and have them connected to their personal transformation?
Alexandra J.: Yeah. This is interesting. So, I have a secret weapon, which is my husband, who is a corporate consultant. He’s my entrée into that world. So, I think I have a little bit of a different story. I’m not pitching myself to corporations, but he is getting offers to do kind of team building and facilitating off-site, some things like that.
He’s like, “Oh, I should bring Alex. She does this stuff all the time. Why don’t we join forces?” The money is remarkable, truly. So, of course, I’m a yes to that. My strategy is to go in and just be myself and do the things that I do. I know that people come in with more guards up when it’s a corporate setting because they’re there with their colleagues.
Darla LeDoux: Yes.
Alexandra J.: And I’m still going to deliver my message and my teaching. I’m not expecting people to give me the immediate feedback in the room or share on that deeply personal level, necessarily, but I know that it will penetrate for those that it’s meant to.
I always offer follow-up coaching, always. So, everyone in the room has an opportunity to connect with me after. We can talk about, “What did you get out of it? What was important? What’s next? How might we work together after?”
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. So, how do you cue to them, “This is something different than you would get from an executive coach.”
Alexandra J.: That’s interesting.
Darla LeDoux: You said is you show up and be yourself. So, that’s key.
Alexandra J.: Well, I may not be the first person to say this but I haven’t heard anybody else say it, so I’m owning it. We used to say that personal is political, and it absolutely is. The personal is professional too. Your habits, how you behave, how you think, personally, show up on your success track, show up in your quarterly goals.
So, the work that we’re going to do, even though it may seem like it’s not directly related to your sales figures or this thing, as a 19 year veteran of the coaching world, and having done all these things, and I show them all the things I’ve done, I know that these things that we will do will benefit you, how you show up at work, how you show up with clients and prospective clients. I’ve seen over and over again that people that I work with on a personal level raise their rates, get more sales, climb the ladder faster. It’s why Michael Phelps has a coach, to perform better.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah.
Alexandra J.: That’s what I’m here for.
Darla LeDoux: Awesome. I think people are going to go back and listen to that and write it down.
Alexandra J.: I’m going to write it down too. How did I say that?
Darla LeDoux: Exactly. There we go! So, Alex, talk about the fuck it list. Your gift for people.
Alexandra J.: Great. So, one of the tools that I got super passionate about and have been using for a long time is positive psychology. I actually got into positive psychology to help my son when he was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD when he was six, and immediately had a lot of … He was hating school when he had loved learning before. I didn’t know how to help him think positively, to support him through what was a new way of learning.
I stumbled on positive psychology. Growth mindset versus fixed mindset. What are your strengths? Focusing on what you’re good at and building from there to help you realize that you can learn anything, that kind of thing. It helped me help my son so quickly that I was like, “Oh my. I need to learn this for myself and for all my clients.”
My husband and I both went and took the positive psychology training at the Flourishing Center. I realized that the basis of positive psychology is what’s right with you? What’s going well? Let’s focus on your strengths and build on that. That question is hard for a lot of people to answer at first. So, I decided to reverse engineer it. I created this whole booklet, this whole guide called How To Write Your Fuck It List. Figure out the shit you hate so that you can build a life you love.
So, I reverse engineered positive psychology. I’m like, “All right, answering the question, ‘What’s great,’ is sometimes hard. What’s shitty? What do you hate about your life? What’s the shit that’s not going well?” Then we flip it using all the positive psychology tools.
So, it’s fun guide. People print it out. They sometimes do it with a girlfriend, have a good time filling it out, and then come out of it with ways to flip old mindsets so that you can move forward in a different way.
Darla LeDoux: That’s awesome. I love it. So, I have it up here. You can find that at alexandrajamieson.com/fuck-it-list. It says, “Your sassy, strong guide to creating a life free of fucks and filled with what you actually do want.” Makes total sense. It’s so much easier to know, “Well, this is not it.”
Alexandra J.: Exactly. Yeah. Sometimes it’s hard to envision what we want, but we know what we don’t want.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. Awesome. Alex, thank you so much for your generosity and your sharing, and the work you do in the world. I know this is going to inspire people to get creative, to embrace their inner renaissance woman, or man, but they don’t have to be just one thing and make a brand out of every single thing they do, and that they can really make their retreat business work for them.
Alexandra J.: Beautiful. Thank you so much. It was great to be here.
Darla LeDoux: Thank you! Muah! Bye, everyone! We’ll see you on the next episode.
Have you been called to integrate retreats into the way you do business?
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