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How to Scale Successfully as a Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur


I'm thrilled to share with you my interview on the CEO School Podcast. First and foremost, I have SO much respect for Suneera Madhani. She's not only built Stax (formerly Fattmerchant) into a billion-dollar company, she's also created CEO School to help women achieve their next level business goals. Her podcast is AMAZING, so the fact that I had the opportunity to be a guest was a huge honor.


During our conversation, I discuss what it takes to run a business, lessons learned while scaling hundred million dollar companies, why success can sometimes be a lonely ride and why the state of “analysis paralysis” and perfectionism can get in the way of getting amazing projects off of the shelf and into the world. I also share the story of how we created a best-in-class app during the pandemic and our plans to scale in 2022.


Tune in and let me know your favorite takeaways!







If you're interested in downloading Nobu, visit www.nobu.ai or check out the app store!



Love the episode? Check out the transcript below:


Allison Walsh:

I had to learn quickly that I could not be everything to this business if we wanted to fulfill the mission and the vision of what we want this to grow into eventually. And so, in the very beginning, I wore again, a ton of hats, a ton of crowns at this one too. And it was hard for me to relinquish. There were so many things that I loved doing. And yes, I can be good at something, but it doesn't mean I need to be the one doing it.


Suneera Madhani:

Welcome to CEO School. I'm your host, Suneera Madhani. And I believe that you deserve to have it all. Less than 2% of female founders ever break 1 million in revenue and less than 25% of women are breaking the C-suite glass ceiling.


Suneera Madhani:

And our team at CEO School is on a mission to change that. Each week you'll learn from incredible mentors who are breaking the statistics as well as women well on their way, sharing how they defied the odds so that you can do it too. If you are an ambitious woman who wants to create a life of hack through financial freedom, self-growth, and find confidence in your voice, grab a seat because class is officially in session.


Suneera Madhani:

Hey, everyone. It's Suneera here. And I am so excited to announce a new giveaway and contest for all of our incredible listeners. All you have to do is leave us a review you on why you love this show, and you will randomly be selected to participate in a one-on-one coaching session with yours truly. One-on-one, just me and you. And we're going to deep dive into whatever topic you want to deep dive into. We're going to catapult your business to the next level. We're going to start that next idea of yours. We're going to break everything down into a private one-on-one session, me and you.


Suneera Madhani:

And all you have to do is leave a review down below. That's it. Leave us a review. Tell us why you love the show. And every four weeks we are selecting a brand new participant for this giveaway. And so do not miss your chance. It's literally the odds are 100% and your favor. Leave a review down below. I cannot wait to select you for a private one-on-one coaching session. Let's do this.


Suneera Madhani:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to CEO School. I'm your host, Suneera Madhani. And today's guest is a two-time CEO with over 15 years of organizational leadership, mentorship and coaching experience. Allison Walsh has an unshakable passion for helping people, and mostly women, achieve their dreams and she uses her experience to help women, the go-getters and movers and shakers of tomorrow is what she likes to call it.


Suneera Madhani:

Allison is a host of two podcasts and has been named Orlando Business Journal's 40 under 40. And she's also former Miss Florida. We are so thrilled to have you on the show today. And I was so thrilled to actually be on Allison's podcast, that's how we met. Although she isn't local Orlando native.


Suneera Madhani:

And once we connected on the podcast, I knew I had to have her on the show so that you guys can just experience this woman's power, her energy. You're going to leave this Monday morning feeling so energized and ready for your week and confident in anything that you want to do. I'm so excited to welcome Allison to the show. Welcome, Allison.


Allison Walsh:

Thank you so much for having me. I'm thrilled to be here.


Suneera Madhani:

Oh, I'm so, so excited to have you. I would love for the audience to just hear your story firsthand a little bit about how you got started, your business background, what's led you to what you are doing


Allison Walsh:

Today. I've got quite the interesting story. And I think as I was going through it over the last 18 years, I didn't really see how it was all going to come together, but I'm really grateful that it's led me down the path that it has.


Allison Walsh:

Really, my entry into leadership was when I was 18 years old. I started a nonprofit after I went through a pretty significant struggle with an eating disorder in high school, and I wanted to do something about it. And that really led me into behavioral health care and really, the mental health industry. And then, throughout the course of that experience, doors opened for me to step into other leadership positions.


Allison Walsh:

And I was tasked with the opportunity and privilege of being a part of a healthcare startup. And so, I came in with virtually no experience at that point. And was given just the most incredible opportunity to learn and grow and develop. And I think what I realized is that your education doesn't really stop when you finish college or a master's program. Or in my case, I went to law school too.


Allison Walsh:

I needed to keep learning and I needed to keep growing. And I just became fascinated and almost obsessed with personal and professional development. And so, I kept stretching and thankfully, I kept having more opportunities in that industry to continue to grow. Eight years later, we are 1,000 team members strong in six states with nine locations.


Allison Walsh:

We just got another round of funding to continue to grow, which is just incredible. We got into the tech space during COVID and launched a mental wellness app. And so, it opened up so many interesting opportunities for me that just, I am so grateful for. And it allowed me to use my passion and my story to help others. Simultaneously, since I was in my early 20s.


Suneera Madhani:

And really quick, what is the name of the app?


Allison Walsh:

It is called Nobu. It's a mental wellness app and it's for mental health. It has yoga, meditation, mindfulness exercises, breathing, teletherapy, everything involved in this application. And so, it's been a true joy to be able to really venture into that space and to take all of the experiences over the last eight years of building incredible behavioral healthcare organizations and companies and facilities. And translating all of that knowledge in to a tech platform.


Allison Walsh:

Because there's so many tech companies that get into behavioral health, but there weren't a lot in our space that had the track record and the wonderful outcomes from being able to treat patients, like we do at advanced recovery systems and go into the tech space. That's been such a cool experience. Nobu launched in July and we already have 10,000 people on the application and we're just going strong.


Suneera Madhani:

Amazing.


Allison Walsh:

It has been so much fun to learn that.


Suneera Madhani:

So many questions. I cannot wait to come back to this because I know so many women have incredible ideas of launching their apps and startups. And so we're going to come back to this, but congratulations.


Allison Walsh:

Thank you.


Suneera Madhani:

I mean nine locations, 1,000 person practice.


Allison Walsh:

Yeah.


Suneera Madhani:

Oh my God. How do you look the way that you look? I wish you guys could see Allison and her beauty radiating from. You do not look stressed whatsoever. I have 240 people out here and I feel like I cannot even function anymore. It is so stressful. Oh my God.


Allison Walsh:

Yeah. It's been incredible. And I think throughout the course of this journey, it's been constant pulse checks. What else do we need to do? How else can we take care of ourselves? Especially going through COVID. Here we are in the behavioral health space trying to take care of everybody else and also having to take care of ourselves. And realizing that life looks different, it feels different. And how we take care of ourselves has to look different now too.


Allison Walsh:

But it's been incredible. And I am so grateful because so many of the lessons that I learned on that side of the business and in healthcare and startups and all of that, has been such a beautiful compliment to everything I've done in the consulting and coaching side, which I've been doing since I was in my mid-20s. Helping women really elevate in so many different ways, whether it's business, their brand going after new opportunities that they never saw possible.


Allison Walsh:

And so, I've been able to scale businesses in that area as well. And everything from a solo practice that I had in my mid-20s, I then had a partnership for five years with one of my dearest friends, which was just insane. It blew up. It was great, but I learned a lot about having to be prepared to scale. And what do you need to do to be able to take care of your business too, as you experience success? And what do you need to put in place to be able to handle and navigate all of those challenges?


Allison Walsh:

And then, the last, well, since 2015, I back on my own coaching and love it. And I just am so grateful to be able to oftentimes bring together so many of the lessons that I've learned on either side to be able to help and support one another, each company.


Suneera Madhani:

I mean the definition of serial entrepreneur is Alison Walsh. Truly, serial entrepreneur. Since you're 20s, building just incredible companies. I mean, I guess first I want to go back. There's so many different things that you said.


Suneera Madhani:

I'm like, I want to deep dive into all these different areas because there is women here listening that are on probably every journey from starting. Maybe they're just in idea stage. They could be a working professional. When you talk about all the leadership things that you have learned. They could be starting a company. That you're right, like you said, like it blew up and you couldn't figure out how to scale all those learnings there.


Suneera Madhani:

Let's maybe start with that. I want to maybe dive into the failures first because I'm sure there's a lot of learnings there. You said you were in business with your best friend. How was that? Because partnership is so difficult, especially working with your best friend, that doesn't usually work out so well. How did it work out for you?


Allison Walsh:

I mean, thank God. It all went well. She's actually, we're both godmothers of each other's children too, so we had to make it work. So those ties run deep. But I think for us, we were so just in love with the clients that we were serving and we just went for it. And literally, I can date us, but we would go back and we'd have Tijuana Flats on Sunday night, enjoy each other's company and brainstorm about what else we could do together.


Allison Walsh:

And at one point she was coaching out of her home. I'm coaching out my home, which was nuts. We both have kids, small kids at this point. And we're like, "We should just do this together." And I mean, we didn't have a solid business plan when this happened. It was like, "Let's just do this." And we found the facility that we wanted to be. I mean, we had a 2,000 square foot studio in Winter Park.


Allison Walsh:

I mean, we went all in. And within a couple of months of opening, we had ridiculous success. We were fully booked. We paid back the loan that we took out. I mean, it was busy and beautiful and crazy, but at the same time, because we didn't have some of that infrastructure in place, it made it very difficult for us to stay a couple steps ahead.


Allison Walsh:

And I think when you are leading a company, you need to, even if you don't have it all figured out yet, because honestly, spoiler alert, nobody has it all figured out yet, ever. But you do need to have certain things in place and you do need to know your ability to outsource faster than what you probably do. I think that's a big thing that I learned early on was that we didn't outsource enough. We took on everything. We were all the grounds, literally. Took on all the responsibilities.


Allison Walsh:

And I think by the time we got to a certain point, we were so exhausted. We were burnt out. We were fully booked, which was great. The company was incredibly profitable, but we didn't do a good job early on at bringing other people up underneath us that could really take some core aspects of the business off of our plates.


Allison Walsh:

And we were very dependent on us being the ones that were delivering all of the services all of the time, instead of bringing a tribe along with us and really being able to pass on some of that responsibility. And so, 150 clients later, and these were all one on one clients scenario. These were not group, this was one on one. You can imagine just, we were cranking. And it was like, "Oh my gosh. What are we going to do?" At the end of two years, we were, this is like, "Woohoo. We need a break."


Suneera Madhani:

Oh my goodness. 150 one on one clients.


Allison Walsh:

Yeah.


Suneera Madhani:

Last year I took on probably 20 at various capacities. They were even in a group format for our 2.0. And I swore myself that I was not going to do this next year coming. I was maybe I would have a spot for six women from a one-on-one coaching perspective. Because you take it on. That client becomes you.


Suneera Madhani:

And especially, I know you personally, off of here now, I know the kind of woman you are. You will take on that person's business, their life, their problems. You can separate that out, if it's transactional, then it's actually not great coaching either. But 150 clients. Wow. That sounds exhaustive. But I love the lesson that you said that you were everything. And I think that that is something that I noticed very often in terms of women owned businesses, we take on everything. And we're so afraid to let it go sometimes, or we don't know how to delegate, or we don't know what to delegate.


Suneera Madhani:

And because you are the one that does it and you do it so well, that it's tough to train and hire and trust somebody else to take it on, but then that is the barrier to scaling. If it is you and it's just you and your partner, you're never going to be able to scale. And as CEO, there are so many other aspects. You can't be the one to do everything and outsourcing.


Suneera Madhani:

And you said that that was one of your challenges that didn't end up. I love that you shared that because, doesn't matter how big or small your business is or whatever stage in business you're at, I think that should be one of the first steps that you do. Is once you have a process going, whatever your process looks like, is doing that.


Suneera Madhani:

And we've talked about this on your podcast, the do, delegate, delete. What actually needs to get done that you need to do? What actually you can delegate out? And what doesn't need to get done? And that delegation, that outsourcing, is what actually defines scale for you, your time, your energy and for the business.


Allison Walsh:

Absolutely. And even, that was a really important lesson that I carried with me as we continued to grow Advanced Recovery Systems. Because I mean, here I am literally the OG, the first person brought in on this company. And I had to learn quickly that I could not be everything to this business if we wanted to fulfill the mission and the vision of what we want this to grow into eventually.


Allison Walsh:

And so, in the very beginning, I wore again, a ton of hats, a ton of crowns at this one too. And it was hard for me to relinquish. There were so many things that I loved doing. And yes, I can be good at something, but it doesn't mean I need to be the one doing it.


Suneera Madhani:

Ooh, I love it.


Allison Walsh:

[crosstalk 00:13:55] passing it on right. Saying, "You know what? I'm going to find really good people. I'm going to train them really, really, really well. And I'm going to trust them. And I'm going to coach them and I'm going to give them grace and I'm going to make it a safe space for them to learn and grow. And if they fail, we're going to learn from it and we're going to keep moving forward."


Allison Walsh:

And so, that to me was really important. Just, my immediate team underneath me, we pour so much into our people because I want them to be the best that they can possibly be. And I don't want this thing to stop if, God forbid, something happens to me. I want this train to keep on moving.


Allison Walsh:

And I think when you have that perspective as a leader, it helps you step far enough away where you can look at the business and say, "Okay, where else do I need support? If I need to step away at whatever point, or something happens to me, or whatever it may be, this thing needs to keep going." And if there's any area of the business that can't keep moving, you might need to figure out what else needs to be done to come in to support you. Or at least have a Bible of what's going to happen. Something like a playbook.


Suneera Madhani:

The manual. Here is the whole business manual.


Allison Walsh:

Yes, yeah.


Suneera Madhani:

And SOPs. I couldn't agree with that more. And I applaud you for learning that lesson and then applying it to scale for your other businesses. And so, let's dive into that. I'm really curious about, so you have all the success with Advanced Recovery Systems. It's growing, it's scaling.


Suneera Madhani:

What was the spark to create the application, the app for Nobu? And how did you even begin that? I think one of the biggest... We have all these great ideas, but taking an idea into execution that is probably the hardest part of business. I would love for you to share that journey and how we can learn from that to start an app.


Allison Walsh:

Yeah, absolutely. With this whole project, it initially had started as we wanted to have this piece in our continuum of care. Because primarily at Advanced Recovery Systems, we're inpatient treatment. Detox, inpatient, residential, outpatient levels of care, but we didn't have an extension to really take care of our clients afterwards.


Allison Walsh:

Once they left our facilities, what happens next? And we wanted to stay in touch with them because when you're in recovery from a health issue, or an addiction, or whatever, it may be, it takes a long time to really acclimate back to your new world once you've left an inpatient setting. And so, we wanted to have those touch points. And so we had been talking about how do we build out this patient portal? How do we stay connected? How do we equip them with everything that they need?


Allison Walsh:

And so, we started really coming up with, okay, this is what it needs to look like. And this will be really for our past patients. Well, COVID hits. And the whole world shuts down. And we have a behavioral health company and the world is hurting. We needed to get access to people quickly to be able to get help. And so we said, "Okay, well."


Allison Walsh:

And I will tell you, the first iteration of this thing looked awful. And everybody on the team will admit to it. It was clunky. It did not work right. It was just, concept was there. But again, the execution of it, we needed to bring in some really good dev people to make the user experience exceptional. And so, we hired a clinical content manager, Dr. Phillips. She's out in California. She is a boss. She's my co-host on the Dear Mind, You Matter podcast. I call her my co-podcast queen. She's just amazing.


Allison Walsh:

But she's so smart. And she was designing all of the clinical content. We wanted this to be homegrown. And so, as we started to really look at what else was out there, we didn't just want to be another application. We wanted to really go out into the market, look at what was out there. We did our research. We know that there is a lot of competition in this space, but we wanted a singular platform that brought in all of the most desired functions and features of what's on the market right now.


Allison Walsh:

And so, really doing our homework. And then we got to work. And it was design and it was development. Every single piece of content that's in there is ours. Dr. Phillips owns that piece of it and 200 pieces of content in there. They're all customized journeys. But again, it's like being okay with putting your first iteration out to market is really important because I think one of the biggest lessons that I have also learned over the course of my career is that we can get in this state of analysis paralysis, where perfectionism can get in our way. And it can deter us from getting all of these amazing projects off of the shelf and into the world.


Allison Walsh:

And that was what we didn't want to happen. We knew that we had to move quickly. We needed to get at least a first version out so people could use it, so we could test it, so we could see what was going on. We could see where people were leaning, what was working. We could track our outcomes and our data, so those could drive our decisions because numbers don't lie. And we wanted to see really, where we were headed with this.


Allison Walsh:

And that's been just so beautiful and it's also allowed us to stay nimble and flexible enough that we can customize things too. And so, we knew what we wanted it to be in the end. And we're still getting there. And we get better and better and better with every update that we do, but we had to be willing to start. And we surrounded ourselves with also doing testing with just people that we wanted to be working with. Who did we want to sell this to? Because it's Nobu itself is free, but we wanted to also be of service to employers.


Allison Walsh:

We got together a lot of key business leaders and said, "What do your people need? What do you look for in a solution? What matters to you? What needs to happen on your end in order for this to be a product that you would want to implement system-wide?" And so, we got a ton of feedback from just amazing people, many of who are my mentors locally and friends. And just so grateful for the contributions because Nobu is what it is now because of all of the people that played a part in this.


Allison Walsh:

And it's only going to continue to get better because it's AI driven. The bot inside of the app continues to get smarter and smarter and smarter as more people are on it. And so, it's only going to continue to become that much better of a tool for people to use.


Suneera Madhani:

I love that. I love that you said the first piece of it is just to get it out. The MVP, most viable product. It is the simplest version of your tool that you can get to market and get hands on testing. And the apps that absolutely fail that I have seen, or even companies. This can be applied, whether you're building out an app or even, you're testing out your next product, your service, just get it out there, get it into the hands of somebody. Paying customers, non-paying customers.


Suneera Madhani:

And like you said, numbers don't lie. You have feelings, we have math. Math and numbers really do help dictate and story tell the business. And you can actually see what your customers are doing. I love that you said getting an MVP out, getting in the hands of potential customers, users. Even potential partners that you want to work with and saying, "Hey, help us design this and be our beta testers."


Suneera Madhani:

That is absolutely how I got that merchant to market Fattmerchant now stocks. But when I first launched, I didn't even own my own technology. Because I think one of the biggest hurdles is how do you even build a technology? How do you even build it? Where do you go? Where do you go find a... Do you find a agency? Do you hire a CTO? Do you hire engineers?


Suneera Madhani:

And I remember, I just white labeled a payment gateway solution. I found a vendor just so that I can get somebody on it to say, "Okay, what are the things that they want out of this application?" And so, I'm simplifying it a ton. I know how much work that went into building Nobu and now having thousands and thousands of people use it every day. But it is truly about that incremental, what's the fastest way to market? What's the fastest way that you can just get it into the hands of somebody and then building and perfecting and pivoting along the way?


Allison Walsh:

Exactly. And staying nimble. And I think as we were going to market and really, pre-selling this application into employee assistance programs and larger groups and organizations, it was so valuable because all we needed was one, to really walk us through what they wanted. And now we have a prototype that we can take and scale and go elsewhere.


Allison Walsh:

It's just been an incredible journey. It's definitely one of my proudest accomplishments of this past year. And the team, Josh and Angela, everybody who works on this is just, everybody's in it for the right reasons. And it's been so much fun to figure it out with them. And I just am so grateful for the experience.


Suneera Madhani:

That's amazing. I mean, what's next? I mean, you also have two podcasts, you have a family. I mean, how are you managing all of this?


Allison Walsh:

Yeah. I have a lot of help and I am so grateful. And I think it's really important that we also talk about that too. Because any of us that are leading companies or doing all of the things, we have to have the support in place to be able to do so with peace of mind, to know that everything else is moving and operating and functioning and everybody's taken care of.


Allison Walsh:

My mom is a rockstar. She's here often, pretty much every single day with the kids too, just helping. The dance afternoon shuffle is very real right now with the girls. I have three kids. We have a wonderful nanny that has been with us for five years since my second daughter came into this world. And so, just a lot of support.


Allison Walsh:

And my team too. I mean, everybody owns their responsibilities. And I feel like that is so important as we look at this next stage of growth in all of the ventures and all of the businesses that we're involved in. My husband's also an entrepreneur. And so, looking at what does '22 look like? '23, '24, '25? I'm stoked. It's amazing. But right now, what I'm doing is putting all of those additional supports in place to ensure that it's going to be as amazing as it's capable of being.


Allison Walsh:

On the ARS side, we did get another round of funding recently, we're positioned for great growth in '22, opening multiple additional facilities. That's really exciting in other states. We're moving outside of Florida again. Really prepping for that. Making sure that the team is growing and can support that type of growth so that we can make everybody happy. And continue to strive towards those goals.


Allison Walsh:

On the AWC side, everything on the coaching and consulting side of things, I've got new programs that are ready for '22. Very excited about those two, repositioning the offerings. Because again, everything needs to fit. It's like a puzzle. And making sure that each one is complimenting and not overwhelming the other. That's been really important for me to lay that groundwork now. Very excited about that. And my husband's businesses we're focused on growing those two. It's just, I think the year ahead of us has got a lot of bright spots already and I'm looking forward to it.


Suneera Madhani:

I appreciate you sharing that. Because I think sometimes there's so much shame around that. Especially from, not only just there's guilt internally, mom guilt internally. But there is shame. I will say that there is not necessarily, I don't feel shameful of saying I have help. I appreciate you sharing that you have help. But I do believe that sometimes that that picture isn't portrayed. And I try to ensure that we are talking real life. It does take a village to do it all. You can't wear all of the crowns.


Suneera Madhani:

I love that you call them crowns, by the way. I love that. I'm going to steal that. I'm going to be using that. You're wearing all of the crowns and I am so proud of you. I think it's so amazing that you've really taken on this. You deserve to have it all. And you do have it all and you're doing it all. And you're like, why can't I have a successful physical practice that's growing and go get investment funding and continue to grow?


Suneera Madhani:

You're doing amazing things in the healthcare space and helping people every day recover, from mental health, from addiction. That is a lot of heaviness that you probably carry, that your team carries. You've grown that company to record success. Then you have a coaching practice and you're helping other people achieve a different level. You are definitely that human that wants to give and help. That is your fundamental DNA. I could feel it shines right through.


Suneera Madhani:

And then you're like, "Oh, that's not enough. Let me also have the podcast." And I you're raising your kids. You have three kids, you're a mom, you're a wife. Your husband is an entrepreneur. I feel like we're soul sisters in everything that you're saying, but you worked hard for it too. You've been able to say, where are areas that you can learn from? What are areas you can double down on?


Suneera Madhani:

I love that you're already sitting down and planning 2022 and 2023. It's not just what's happening next year. You're planning with your family. What does success look like? And it's a good reminder for all of us to do that. It is really such a good reminder for us to be thinking forward thinking into our success and what we define as success.


Suneera Madhani:

And we don't need to be bucketed in any one category. We are multi passionate. As women, we are naturally multi passionate and it's okay to be multi passionate. I was so tired of fighting this stigma. And I used to think that maybe there was something wrong with me. Not that I wasn't fulfilled. I just wanted to do different things. My creativity wasn't pulled in different ways. Stacks is doing amazing. People are like, "Why do you need to have other podcasts? Why do you need to go do coaching and other things?" It's because this is where I thrive.


Allison Walsh:

It lights you up in a different way. And that's very similar to why I love it too. And I think back in the day, one of the first courses that I took, and books. Eventually it was a book. But Marie Forleo was the first one that I really heard talk about being a multi passionate entrepreneur. And it was almost like she gave me permission to just be like, "I can do it. I can have other interests. I can love what I'm doing at ARS and also love what I'm doing in the coaching business. And they fill each other's cup."


Allison Walsh:

I have to fill out my up. Right. And you mentioned something there too, which is very true. The work that we do, people aren't calling us on their best day at Advanced Recovery Systems. They're calling us because they're hurting and they're going through a lot. And their families are struggling. And for me, I need to refill in other ways. And I think all of us do, whatever it is. You're building an empire self, like that comes with a lot of responsibility and stress and everything too. And I'm sure that the women that you work with just fuel your fire.


Suneera Madhani:

Yes.


Allison Walsh:

And you love pouring into people too. And it's like, when I can see somebody else succeed because they are learning from a lesson that maybe I learn the hard way. And it's helping them get there faster, or avoid roadblocks, or obstacles, that gives me so much joy and I love it.


Allison Walsh:

And so, I think as we look at what's next, there is always going to be several things. I don't think I could do just one at this point. It's just not the way that I'm made and I'm okay with that. And I think that we all deserve to have it all, but I think it's up to us too, to decide what is that definition for us?


Suneera Madhani:

Yes.


Allison Walsh:

And loving that and owning it. And I think that's another big piece because I can totally relate to what you said about almost that shame piece. And I think that's why it's so important that we find our tribe. And understanding that the tribe might change as you change and as you evolve. And how important it is for you to seek out other women or other people that understand what your vision is. And can appreciate it and help guide you and support you and cheer you on, because you are evolving every single day.


Allison Walsh:

And I love the quote of the whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you are intended to be. I think that's so true. And when you lean into that and you let yourself grow, everybody might not be growing along with you. And so, it's up to you to find others that are. And when you do, you turn into rocket fuel for each other. You just continue to fuel that fire and go and go and go. And it's like, you just continue to cheer on the vision that everybody doesn't necessarily see. And that's okay. It's placed in you for a reason. And it's up to you to see it to fruition.


Suneera Madhani:

I love it. I just absolutely have goosebumps after hearing you say that. And I feel I have permission too. And not that we needed permission. We never needed permission. But sometimes we have to hear it that we're allowed to do whatever we want to do. There's no shoulds. We should all over ourselves all day long. We literally should all over ourselves all day long. And my coach, Laura, tells me that all the time. She's like, "Suneera, stop shoulding all over yourself." And I always die laughing every time she says it. She actually used it in her newsletter last week. She's awesome.


Suneera Madhani:

I wasn't planning on going here, but now that you brought it up, I feel inclined to talk about this. When you said as you're growing and sometimes the relationships around you, you needed that tribe, that support system. Let's talk about that for a second, because I do feel like that changes and it's unfortunate. And I feel like sometimes, the friends that I've had in my life, everyone evolves and changes differently and people don't understand. Sometimes I don't feel understood by the same group of humans.


Suneera Madhani:

And I am really fortunate that I have this one solid group of friends that has been my... I know everybody, but I have a very short list of what I call my close friends. But I felt so lonely in this journey, this multi passionate entrepreneur journey. This journey that it's okay, I want to be a mom, I still want to do these things. And it does feel lonely. I'd love to hear your journey on this and have you lost friendships along the way? And what do you say to the women that might be feeling alone going through this?


Allison Walsh:

Yeah, I've had multiple times in my life where I've lost friendships because people didn't understand what I was going through. And really, I mean it started back in my early 20s. I did, and you mentioned in the beginning, I had the chance to be Miss Florida. When I was 23 years old, I was crowned on my 23rd birthday and my life went in this crazy direction for 365 days. And it was a dream job with an expiration date.


Allison Walsh:

But during that time I had so many opportunities where I was exposed to so many things that my peer group at that point in time just couldn't relate with. And that was the first time where I noticed just a real change in my social circle. And I felt very alone and I felt like nobody understood what I was going through. It was like, they saw one side of it, but didn't see the behind the scenes of how hard I was working and everything that I was doing.


Allison Walsh:

And I traveled 80,000 miles that year, 250 speaking engagements. I mean, it was unbelievable and I was 23. And so, that was the first time where I felt, "Wow. I need to also find some other friends that understand." And they were my senior. They were definitely older than me. They had other life experiences that I could relate to. And that was hard. Right. That was one time.


Allison Walsh:

And I do have a couple ride or dies too. I've got some that have been constant, but it's a small handful. And then again, getting into leadership positions and my career accelerating and building other businesses and doing all of these things. It was very hard because it's this drive and work ethic where a lot of times people look at and they say like, "I don't understand why you work so hard. Or I don't understand why you do this."


Allison Walsh:

And it's like, "Well, I don't understand why you make other choices either, but I still love you. I still support you." But it does get to a point where it's almost like you feel like you're not speaking the same language anymore. And I think those were the heartbreaking moments where I didn't necessarily see them showing up.


Allison Walsh:

Not my ride or dies. My ride or dies are always there. But the people that I thought were in it for the long haul. And that was hard. That was really hard. And again, it caused me to pause and reflect and say, "Well, okay. I think it's really important to have circles and support and network and people around me that get it." And so, then it was up to me to find those people. And seek out relationships, seek out a network of support that understood. Going into different circles and asking just for an intro.


Allison Walsh:

And then it was up to me to force the relationships. But yeah, it can be a really lonely ride to the next stop on your journey, especially as people's lives change. And they have every right. They have every right to live the life that they want. And we have every right to live the life that we want. But sometimes, it's not going to mesh well just with the expectations around life, friendship, business, everything else.


Allison Walsh:

And you have to make those decisions. And certainly, you don't want the negative naysayers either. And I think those were the hardest ones. People that I thought were in my corner that ended up maybe being very judgemental. And those, I think were the hardest ones to just say, "You know what? We had our time and bless and release. It's time to go."


Suneera Madhani:

I hear you. I've been there in so many different. And you're right. There's phases of your life that this happens in. It's just a difficult, and it's difficult for a reason. You've poured into something and you're not getting what you need back. But it's also important to realize when it's enough, when it's okay to move on. And that you don't need that toxicity in your life. You don't need those naysayers.


Suneera Madhani:

You need people around you, especially when you are ambitious and you have a goal set out for yourself. You're starting a business, you're scaling a business and you have all these other stakeholders. There's so many stakeholders when you start a business. And you think it's just for yourself. Initially, when you start a business, it's so selfish. It's one of the only times in your life that you are so selfish, but it goes so quickly.


Suneera Madhani:

You start a business to solve a problem for freedom of time, for freedom of dollar, to do good in the world. Those are the most truest, most selfless. That is really exciting when you can be that. But very quickly, as you scale, as you grow, as you're trying to achieve those levels, that next level, it's new level, new devil. Every single level, you have to show back up. It's not something you just turn off and on.


Suneera Madhani:

This is a journey and you have people around to you that just don't understand that. That sometimes making it for events that you probably did before or things where you get, no one's trying to be busy, but then you also have children and family. So many stakeholders and you have to prioritize your time. And what you need sometimes in that moment is those friends that are going to be there just to hold space when you need it. And to understand and pick up where you left off.


Suneera Madhani:

And also, the support, that encouragement because you are down. It is literally the entrepreneurial rollercoaster. We've all seen every single meme of the rollercoaster in entrepreneurship. There are literal days, where days you can wake up and you have the best of news and the worst of news in the exact same day. And people don't get that.


Suneera Madhani:

And I think one of the reasons I will say that, Allison, and correct me if I'm wrong, but my spouse, my partner, my husband is also an entrepreneur. And he gets it on a different level. And I think that that has contributed to how wild my success is. I do believe that. And I think you have this crazy wild success as well. And you have a really supportive spouse who is also an entrepreneur.


Suneera Madhani:

And I think that that's, I would say an advantage that we might have. Because I've heard and I've seen other people's, not only their friends don't support them, but it's so shitty when even partners are not supportive. Especially for women, especially for moms. And that becomes so difficult to either get your partner in line or to have the hard conversations.


Suneera Madhani:

But I just wanted to be vulnerable here and share that because I know there's so many women that are probably going through these different levels. And it's okay, you're not alone, is what I just want them to hear. And it's okay to say that it's time to move on from friendships and people and get that support that you need, because you're going to need a lot of it.


Allison Walsh:

And don't hold yourself back at the sake of someone else too. I think there is a tendency to please. There's a tendency to want to be what you think you need to be for everybody else. But at the end of the day, this is your life. You have one life, you have one shot. Play flat out, play big.


Suneera Madhani:

Yes.


Allison Walsh:

Don't stay small. That's not why we were put here. We were put here to shine like the diamonds we are, whatever that looks like. And if you know that you're meant for more and you've got a calling to do more, don't decline the call. Do it because you're going to live with regrets and regrets are the worst.


Allison Walsh:

And you don't want to go through life wondering, "What if?" Ever, ever. You want to give yourself the gift of at least knowing that you tried. And you learned and you grew and you gave yourself the benefit of the doubt. And you bet on yourself because this is our life. And it's important that we make it happen for ourselves because nobody else is going to do it for us. It's up to us.


Suneera Madhani:

And there you have it. I hope you leave a little bit inspired today after today's episode, I definitely feel so inspired by you, Allison. And I appreciate the vulnerability that you've shared, the honesty that you've also shared. It's so important. And how can we learn more from you? I mean, we're so excited to support you and your journey and all your incredible businesses. How can we support you, Allison, and find you?


Allison Walsh:

Oh thank you, Suneera. If you're interested in the Nobu app, you can go to the App Store and download. It's Nobu. It'll come up. It's not the sushi or the restaurant. It's the app, mental health. Please download that. It's free and you can use it and you can take care of yourself. That first and foremost is super important.


Allison Walsh:

The podcast, She Believed She Could is my podcast. We just really support and cheer on, lift up women on that show. I've also got Dear Mind, You Matter. And we get into a lot of mental health topics there. You can follow me on Instagram @allisonwalsh. You can check out everything that AWC offers at allisonwalshconsulting.com.


Suneera Madhani:

I love it. We'll be sharing all of it below. Thank you so much for your time, Allison. I can't wait to hopefully see you soon in Orlando in person. And congrats to everything that you have going on. Thank you for sharing space with us today at CEO School. We'll see you guys next week.


Suneera Madhani:

Thank you so much for listening to our podcast and show. Our team at CEO School works extremely hard to bring you the best content, authentic conversations and expert guests curated every single week to keep you leveling up in leadership, business and in life. If you enjoyed today's episode, please leave us a five star rating, telling us what you enjoy the most. Thanks so much. We love having you here.



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