Episode OverviewIn this episode, Alex shares how she built a successful sales career in New York City, only to leave the glamorous lifestyle and buy a one-way ticket to Brazil. She tells us about dealing with a pre-cancer diagnosis at the age of 24 and battling fear, insecurities, and awakenings all at the same time. We further discuss the importance of stepping outside of your environment and unapologetically being yourself.
CEO - Edvo
Alex SmithAlexandria Smith is a seasoned Sales Leader that has worked for some of the hottest startups for the last decade all over the country. Currently leading Global Sales Development at Headspace, she is best known for developing happy, healthy, high performing sales teams that help win revenue targets, acquisitions, fundings, IPOs, and scale. She is passionate about bringing awareness and discussion to diversity and inclusivity within sales orgs and leadership teams with a strong focus on reversing a “CRUSH IT” sales culture and its impact on mental health. Alexandria is also a world traveler and educator on the science and benefits of meditation and mindfulness and is a certified yoga and breath-work instructor.
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Shireen Jaffer 0:00
Hi, everybody. Welcome to the Edvolution podcast where we question what makes our life truly ours. I’m Shireen Jaffer. And I’m very excited to introduce you to some incredible people with fascinating stories. I’ve got Alex Smith here with me who is has just become a dear friend of mine in such a small amount of time. I met Alex in January, so just January 2020, so just a handful of months ago, and I met her by going to an event where she was speaking on a panel, and she was telling her story of what I like to say is her waking up. And her really recognizing that, you know, for so long she had been doing what she thought she should do. And she was killing it. She was just crushing it. But then you know, life life happened and something monumental happened that really helped her. open her eyes do a major reflection and questions. You know why she was living the way she was living? So anyways, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m so excited for all of you to meet Alex. And to hear her story. Alex, thank you so much for being here.
Alex Smith 1:10
Thank you Shireen I’m really thankful that you’re doing this now, because we have a lot to catch up on. And I really appreciate the introduction. So I’m excited.
Shireen Jaffer 1:19
Yeah, absolutely. So I really want to get into obviously, the story of what brought us together you were talking about it all kind of started when you joined sales, you know, straight out of college in New York City, is a completely different culture. So let’s start. Let’s start with, you know, in college one, why did you choose to go into sales and then just talk to us about that first year out of college?
The Path to a Job in Sales (1:46)
Alex Smith 1:46
Yeah, so there was definitely always something about me that was selling things. I grew up in theater and acting and loved to be a part of the show. And so I would actually, you know, not On every one of my neighbor’s doors and tell them that there was going to be a concert on Friday night, and I was going to be singing until like, set up right out front. And so I’ve always had this like very strong will, I guess, or something to say, I don’t know, one of my favorite quotations that I’ve heard Michelle Obama to say was like, you know, I wasn’t bossy. I was a young woman with something important to say. And I feel like I’ve always been like that for sure. And whether I like it or not, that’s led me to a career in sales, where I’m able to have actually a lot of formal training on how to communicate point of views and negotiations and have healthy discussions and or disagreements and debates on things. And I didn’t even know that that was cooking. During the time that I was in college. So I’m a first generation college student. I’m the only college student so far in my family. And when I started going to community college, that was obviously because my parents had told me if you want to go to college, you got to find a way to pay for it. So it wasn’t really easy. For me to just say, I’m going to go to a four year university. So I started out at a community college. And I said, Okay, I’m doing only summer here, because that’s all I can afford. And so I need to figure out how I’m going to get my school paid for if I want to continue getting an education. And so I ended up scoping out on the community college campus, all the different types of groups and things that you can join. And I came across from my poetry teacher at the time who was so sweet and so old. And I used to read my Poetry Out Loud, and she was like, do you do theater, you need to meet this man named john Schultz, who runs the theater and Speech and Debate program. And so I checked out the speech intubate program and theater program. I loved it. They also told me immediately that if I’m that good at it, they offer full ride scholarships for things like this. And so I just decided that I was going to commit myself to it. Obviously, I saw a couple of people who were on the Speech and Debate Team at some time, and I was so impressed I’ve I’ve never met people that smart in my lifetime, up until that moment. And so I just knew that I wanted to surround myself with that type of thinking and that type of diversity and that type of discussion and so you know, little dyno obviously that that was the first training rounds to being in a career in sales.
Shireen Jaffer 4:22
Yeah, that’s, that’s really funny. I love that you were able to discover that sales part of you and then of course have it empowered throughout, you know, theater and just school. So tell us now about graduating college. And what that How did you find your first company and then ultimately, what was that first year like?
Alex Smith 4:45
So I was a communications major when I was at the University of Alabama, which is where I got a full scholarship from from Tallahassee Community College. So I moved from Florida to the University of Alabama. That was a wild cold chalk in itself, by the way, being from South Florida, I never seen somebody like like dressed people and kind of uniformed kind of ways. And it was I was definitely in a twilight zone while I was there. But that’s a another conversation for another time. But, you know, after college, I had graduated. So I thought, you know, the only thing that I knew that I was really good at during college was that I was good at speech and debate. And I had done so well that I had made it to national rounds and public speaking where I was eligible to win the the university a national title, just like you were the title and football and I thought you want to know what like, this is what I need to do. I should be a teacher, I should study this more. I should be a speech and debate coach. And so I did all my tests. I was like, so set on and I’m like, I’m going to get my masters and I’m going to be a coach for the Speech and Debate Team here. And I’m going to continue my scholarly journey. And then I’m a horrible test taker, absolutely terrible. I bombed my sgts bombs, you know, everything else out there during the time. And when I also went to take the qualifications that I needed in order to get into the School of Communication for my master’s program, I ended up again scoring really low, but I have super high everything a 4.0. And like all my classes and everything. And so I was admitted, but I didn’t get the scholarship. And I obviously can’t afford to do it. So it was out of the question for me, and I was devastated. So I’m like, I’m going back to Florida. I’m going to bartend I’m gonna figure it out. I’m going to work two jobs and see what happens. But I’m going to just do what I know right now. And sometimes you got to do what you know. And then sometimes there’s a time for you to take a leap into something totally unknown. And that was that time that I just kind of needed to do what I know and figure it out my next move. And so one of my really good friends that I was friends with in college I, you know, would call him to catch up and he’s like, Hey, I’m riding a bicycle right now I’m about to pull up to a bar here in New York living my best life. And I was so intrigued, and I was like, What are you doing? What’s going on out there? I’m so interested and he’s like, you would love it. Um, and so he actually connected me with a friend that he knew, was working for a company that had a lot of attraction was a hot startup in New York at the time, and I definitely didn’t know my own potential. And you know, that’s the blessing about friends. That is the last thing about getting to know people and building relationships is that they actually pull out things from you that you cannot see yourself. So making sure that you always investing in the people that make you feel good and vice versa. But he had always said to me, I think you would be so Good in sales it would be a no brainer for you to just give that a try. And so we connect to me with a friend. Next thing you know, I got my job offer to start a position a sales position in New York. And so I moved from Florida to New York City. And so that was the next step.
Shireen Jaffer 8:14
Wow. And that’s that’s another culture shock, I’m sure.
Alex Smith 8:18
Yes, one after another.
Shireen Jaffer 8:20
Yeah, yeah. What was that transition like for you?
Moving to NYC, Experiencing Burnout, and Recognizing the Need for a Change (8:24)
Alex Smith 8:24
So I slept on couches. And it was super awkward to you know, when you got some like cousins, your families connecting you with some cousins that are distant that live out there, but you haven’t seen in a really long time. And then you hit them up and they’re like, hey, come stay with me. And then you get there. And it’s like, they don’t answer that. Yeah. So that’s definitely what happened. But thankfully, one of the things that I love so much about New York City is that, that city don’t play but when real recognizes real In you guys, you know, find mutual ground. I’ve never seen people so generous with the space and the things that they have in the open door that they have to help you out. And I had multiple people want to extend themselves and help me out when I was out there. And that was also a time where, again, don’t be afraid to take the help sometimes. And you know, don’t let pride get into the way and I was really, you know, open at that time to take the help and then give back and then these are some of my best friends that I still have to this day.
Shireen Jaffer 9:31
That’s incredible. And what was the company that you ended up doing?
Alex Smith 9:35
So the first one that I worked on was called single platform, they are now acquired by TripAdvisor, and we are basically the first people to put menus online. So before I don’t know, there was there was listings, right? So at some point in time, you just had your name, address and phone number, right? That’s Those were the early days of Google and Yahoo and all the other search engines but I got to to a point where we recognize that small businesses could, you know, essentially pay to have more information up there about their business and also be able to edit it and change it at any time that they need to, in order to make sure it’s accurate and obviously communicating the right information to their customers. So that was what single platform did. It was like a one stop shop for small businesses to be able to manage their online presence and we were basically one of the first people to sell menus online.
Shireen Jaffer 10:28
Well, that’s uh, it’s cool that you were you got to be part of that journey. How? So you’re, you know, you’re this recent grad, essentially doing a career change. What you had in mind was totally different than, you know what you ended up being in New York pursuing. So talk to us about that time in your life. You know, how did you feel about sales that first year,
Alex Smith 10:52
that first year in sales, I’ve never been so scared in my entire lifetime, but I also knew that failure was not going to happen. Because it wasn’t an option for me to go back home. It wasn’t an option for me to read live whatever story I was telling myself that I didn’t want to live. And so I’ve been very motivated by fear. For most of the things that started early on in my career. You know, after some time, there’s a moment when you realize that you stop doing and you internalize, right? And everybody learns differently. And I’m the type of person that I like repetition. If you have like a structure or a playbook to something, I will look at it, review it and make it better and make it my own and then turn it into a better result. I recognized that this was something that I was good at. And so that took a turning point when I had confidence, and then I no longer feared as much as I had much more faith in myself. Yeah.
Shireen Jaffer 12:02
Interesting. And going from South Florida, to then working in sales and company in New York City. What was that like for you know, being in your early 20s? And just getting a taste of that life for the first time?
Alex Smith 12:19
Oh, gosh, uh, well, my personality with or without New York City is zero or 100. So I don’t really have this in between part of me. So of course, you know, put the 100 in New York and you know, call it this New York or whatever you want to call it, but I did everything that I really wanted to do, until I started recognizing the things that I didn’t like, which was also a necessary part of the process. But I was going out so much, and I was definitely so energized by all the different types of people that I was around 24 seven And then it was so easy for me to say yes to so many new experiences, whether it be going to different places after work and getting drinks or going out super late night and then waking up and working out starting that grind all over again, because things are from, you know, 8am to minimum 6pm in New York. So happy that they went through this pandemic in some sort of ways, because it allowed I think that culture more than anything to show people that you can actually work from home and it’s okay. Um, West Coast is obviously much more flexible about that. But that’s just one thing that comes to mind when I think about New York and work culture. But that, for me, also was very conflicting, because I’ve always worked in very male dominated spaces, and very little people of color. And that’s very strange to me, because I didn’t grow up like that in South Florida. And that’s just not necessarily I really started experiencing what we would call the structural racism and what is definitely embedded in corporate America. Well I started working for startups in tech. And it’s very obvious for people who have worked in tech for a long period of time, unless you’ve gone off to do your other thing, because you also recognize that that’s my stuff out of the tangent. But, but it’s very interesting because when I became a hiring manager, aka when I became a manager, when I got given the privilege to say, Alex, here is your headcount, we want to grow the business by x. And we think that developing a sales development team is going to be a big part of that. So hire six people hire seven people hire these next couple people. That’s when it really hit me when I looked around, because the first questions that you ask yourself is like, Okay, well, if this is my first time hiring people, like I don’t want to obviously screw this up. So, you know, what are other people doing? And then if you look around as that new manager and see that, you know, other managers are only doing one thing like also hiring all people like them. Get a white people, then you’re never going to really break whatever is happening. And especially if is, if it’s not coming from the top, we can’t necessarily expect that that’s going to shake out. And so I think more so than ever as hiring managers. Like when you look at companies right now, and a lot of the outrage that’s happening where they’re like, either client, every single company, or like your entire executive team is white, like, What do you mean? Like, how are you even showing up for this whatsoever? And I as a hiring manager, it’s kind of hard because it’s, it’s, I sit in this position, I’m like, Oh, my God, I am more responsible for this ending. Because the executive team is not hiring people on my team. Yeah, they might not be giving me the education that I need or, you know, the tools that I need or the media accountability, that I mean, not that that should be even a thing. But the reality is, is that hiring managers and the people who are hiring for their teams, they must have an intrinsic will to also Want to bring what’s happening right now? And there’s a major responsibility for people who are in leadership roles to have a conversation with themselves in the mirror. Yeah, I happen.
Shireen Jaffer 16:10
Yeah, no, I agree. And yeah, for sure. I mean, this is an entire conversation we could talk about for hours. But you know, this is realization you had an obviously, you know, early in your career what now living in New York, what other realizations were you having during your time there,
Alex Smith 16:25
I wasn’t feeling good when I was there. And sales produces a lot of natural adrenaline. And when you pair that with going out and partying a lot, and we’re you pair that with a lot of late nights and when you pair that with, you know, expanding your energy mentally and physically, to a point where it’s not sustainable, you get sick, and so that’s exactly what happened to me is I got sick, the type of stress that I put on my body or the lack of acknowledgement for my mental and physical state. Put me in a place where I was very sick. And I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which is a stress related disease. And it is a thing that I will have for the rest of my life because of the type of environment that I tend to take on. And that was a massive reality check. So reality check number one. And then number two is I knew I wasn’t feeling well for a while when I got to like my third year working for this company, I’d moved up, I started making money didn’t really know about money. Definitely the first time that I had as much as it as I did in that moment. I recognized really quickly that you know, shopping wasn’t necessarily My favorite thing to do with the money or going out really eat or drinking and brunch. Like, that just wasn’t going to do it. For me. I was definitely knowing that I was just hitting this very, very surface of life. And that was not what I was gonna stand for. But I decided I’m gonna quit my job. I’m going to sell my things. I really want to be pure in my life for a little while without these things to understand why it is that I’m feeling the way that I feel and what direction do I want to go in and remove some of the outside influence that’s very noisy and consuming and sometimes you just have to remove yourself from these people in places where people
Shireen Jaffer 18:22
that is sorry not to interrupt, but to actually even know this part of your story. So that’s, um, that’s a huge decision. And that’s like, very, I’m sure you know, it probably happened. I mean, now correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming it happened gradually, where you just started obviously feeling sick, and you know, what, what? Yet like, how do you just decide to be like, Nope, I’m going to quit and I’m going to sell everything and I am, you know, whatever you choose to do after that, but like, what, what was that moment like? How did that just happen?
Alex Smith 18:58
So, I have Such an old friend. Her name is Jamie dulcimer. And she’s so amazing. And she was a person that I had known her for two days. And she was like, it’s great to meet you. Welcome to New York sleep on my couch for a month. It’s no problem. I don’t know you. And I love her so much. And so she was such a big part of me really coming out of my shell when I was in New York and really opening me up to the rest of the world. And, you know, my birthday, I forget which birthday it was, but my birthday was coming up and she was like, let’s just close her eyes and pick a place on the map to go to for your birthday. And so we did and we landed on Brazil. And so we bought a ticket to Brazil, her and I for my birthday. I think this was my 24th birthday to go to he auditioned at all and we went and we went for three weeks. And I had the best time of my life. And I came back from that trip was messed up. I was like, Oh my god, it does not have to be like this. recognize how happy I wasn’t that moment. And so why am I going to live another day and not make myself that happy again. And I just recognized that there were so much more also that I could do with the money that I was making. And it was so much more important for me to have a plan to invest that in an experience elsewhere where I knew I would experience happiness. And so I decided, right, going back to the zero to 100 version of myself, when I decided something, it’s definitely happening. And it was a moment when I came back where I kind of looked at my job, I was doing the motions. You know, I looked at the bank account, I was like, Okay, cool. Now that I actually have a little bit of money, like I don’t even want to use it to do anything here because it’s for material reasons. And I was just searching for something so much deeper. And so there was absolutely a switch where I decided and I don’t remember if it was An actual moment or anything, but I just remember coming back in that trip and having that conversation with myself, and a switch being kind of down in the and I think the first step is also telling other people, I’m going to do this. It’s so important. I told people that and then eventually I couldn’t like not back that shit up. Like I had to make sure you know, when I say things like that with conviction to other people look, look at them in their eyes and say that I’m also having a pep talk with myself to know that like, that’s absolutely going to need to happen.
Shireen Jaffer 21:35
That’s interesting. Yeah, I mean, look, I I love that. You had that reality checked from having that exposure to a completely different culture. And I think that’s, you know, I often tell people that are kind of stuck and not feeling great, but they can’t identify why they’re not feeling great my first go to because I’ve experienced the same situation as just setting outside of your environment, you got to step out like yeah, you cannot know, honestly, what’s hurting you. While it’s it’s almost it’s very hard to know what’s hurting you when you can’t actually get away from that pain. You know what I mean? Like, it’s like by moving yourself from that environment, being in Brazil, recognizing what’s possible that you can be happy that there is a different way of living, I’m sure. Culturally, you may have you know, identify things and seeing happy, you know, just different avenues of investing your money and whatever that may be. It’s so hard to have those realizations and reflections until you allow yourself to even step outside of that environment.
A New Tattoo, A Health Scare, and a One-Way Ticket (22:46)
Alex Smith 22:46
Yeah, that’s right. Oh, I am remembering okay. There was quite a bit of a moment where I decided to start doing really what I wanted to do and being like very unapologetic about it and Yes, it was in combination with this trip to Brazil. But I’d also like right after that trip decided that I was going to get a tattoo. And it wasn’t just any tattoo I got a back piece which I have like 30 hours on my back and in I lived in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and I would come home from work and there was this super cool, chillin people hanging out looking happy tattoo shop down at the end of my street. And I remember being really lonely one night and walking in that place and just kind of browsing and talking to one of their newest artists that I was so inspired by. And I ended up you know, thinking about what I was going to do and then it started out to be small and then next thing you know, it takes up half my back. But I guess that comes back to the 01 hundred but I had to confront so many things that I went through that process like what are people gonna think of me? Is my job gonna fire me ever be able to find a guy? Will I ever look beautiful in a wedding dress when my parents disown me all these things. And when I finally did this one thing for myself, it was like, definitely the signal that I no longer cared what anybody else thought and I was the only person in charge of my own happiness. And that was definitely a part of the process.
Shireen Jaffer 24:20
That’s frickin cool. That is dope. I’ve never seen your tattoo. I’d love to see it. That’s awesome.
Alex Smith 24:28
I know not as boisterous about it. Just with all the work stuff I’ve been doing. I don’t know how to introduce my tattoos to it.
Shireen Jaffer 24:37
Even a thing these days I know, right? Yeah, but I mean, look, I it’s funny, those little those. I mean, it’s not really a little decision, I guess. But you know, in the grand scheme of things, it almost feels like a simple decision like that can liberate you. And I’m not telling everyone go get to tattoo right, like, do whatever you want. thing. Like, it starts with that one decision of you being like, I’m going to walk into that store, and I’m going to talk shop with this, you know, tattoo artist, and I’m inspired, and I’m going to do this. And yes, you’re going through that process. And, of course, that self doubt and all that stuff, but that one decision can really unlock a lot of stuff that subconsciously, you know, allow to dictate our actions.
Alex Smith 25:29
It’s definitely the underlying denominator for a change in direction is deciding. And then being open to that experience of whatever it is that you’ve decided. Yeah. And that really sets the tone for what’s going to come next.
Shireen Jaffer 25:48
Yeah, no, I agree. I think I mean, yeah, it’s got to start with you making a decision. You got it. You know, changes are constant in life, and you got to welcome it and frankly, you know, oftentimes on Amazon lever because I’ve done this as you can, you can dictate kind of where to directionally where to go. And you do have that choice, but you’ve got to be willing to make that choice. And that’s where I think a lot of people struggle is they never even, you know, they just don’t make that decision for themselves.
Alex Smith 26:18
And a lot of people, and it’s hard to also make decisions when you feel like you also don’t have a choice. And there is definitely, again, we’ve talked about this earlier, but there are systematic things that limit us, people from being able to, you know, decide things for themselves. However, there is a level of mindset that you can apply to what it is that you’re doing to figure out the way that you know, you need to take in order to make that happen, whether it be this way or that way or look different from the person to the left or right of you, so on and so forth. It’s not to say that that’s the right way, but there are alternatives to being able to get to where you desire to be.
Shireen Jaffer 26:56
Yeah, for sure. Okay, so you come back from Brazil. You’ve been there for three weeks you decide, wow, things don’t have to be this way. You know, you’ve gotten your tattoo, where does where do you go from there?
Alex Smith 27:11
More tattoos. First sure of it. Definitely more tattoos and definitely decided in the workplace after I was there for a while that it was definitely my time to make a decision. And and so part of the reason that I went in the workplace, I think it was something that had happened. I know at the time, I had also met somebody amazing. In New York, of course, all these things happen when you’ve decided that you’re just not going to stay there anymore. Yeah, like data starts going well work is going really well. Right? And then all of a sudden, I decided, Okay, I’m going to make sure that I go to all my doctor’s appointments because I’m not gonna have health insurance for a while. So let me just make sure I’m good before I go on this trip. And so I started going to all these doctors appointments. And then I discover for one of my doctors that I had actually had precancerous cells in my uterus, and that was a smack in the face. Obviously, it was a series of doctor appointments turned into like the regular checkup yearly with the gynecologist to things coming back at normal to things coming back abnormal to like, oh, by the way, we’ve caught this thing. We’re going to need to remove part of your uterus. And this was like a month before I was about to go on the trip. And so I was devastated. And at the same time too, because I have Crohn’s disease. I would I am also doing the colonoscopies to make sure it’s not developing to something like colon cancer. So I have like cancer in like two parts of my conversations with doctor is about checking in on my health as a 24 year old woman that was definitely trying to figure out something different to do and I had the best gi doctor, actually in New York, he’s so amazing. And I remember him looking at me when I had panic all over my face because I was always coordinating him with him, like all the results that I was getting from everything that was happening with the precancerous cells in my uterus. And I was telling you, okay, you know, Doctor, like, please just like, let me know if I shouldn’t be going on this trip, because I have decided to just leave and sell my things. And someone’s moving into my sublease for a couple months. And so I really just need to know if I’m going to be able to do this. And he looked at me and he’s like, Oh, no, you are 100% going on this trip. You are 100% quitting your job, and you are going to be totally fine. And something about those words are so comforting, but I ended up going to the surgery. I was still healing from the surgery, actually the first three weeks that I was traveling because of the way that it was timed, but it was definitely I was so insecure about all of them. When all of that happened, and also, you know, going into the decision that I had made,
Shireen Jaffer 30:06
yeah, yeah, I mean, let’s get a little real. I mean, we’re, we’re real but like, let’s go deeper.
Alex Smith 30:14
Let’s do it.
Shireen Jaffer 30:15
Let’s go deeper. So, you know, when I met you, I was, I think the reason why we just kind of hit it off and I was attracted to you was because I essentially in them, I remember this night so clearly, I walk into, you know, Santa Monica as General Assembly, right? And you’re on this panel, and I’m sitting down and you just start talking about your story and add Oh, how old were you when you when this pre cancer? You know, surgery happened? 2425 2425 Yeah, yeah. So I remember sharing the story. And that was the day Alex that I that morning, and I had come back. And my doctor told me there’s precancerous cells. And I remember just feeling this wave of like, oh shit I’m not alone. No, you know for you it was your your doctor that gave you those words but I think this is a power of people opening up and sharing their stories and you know it’s one thing to obviously read about it and hear about it on a podcast but when you meet people face to face, they see your struggle, or they’re just opening up about their struggle. There’s just some magic in there. But anyways, that was that was a moment where it was so funny was a panel that had nothing to with anything like so business-y, but I still thank you for like on that very, I mean, all the other panels were great and they all got real, which is beautiful, and we need more of that. But in that moment, I’m opening up about that it was so monumental and made such a huge difference in my journey and dealing with You know, my health crisis, which, fortunately, everything turned out fine. And I actually ended up not needing surgery. And I’m very, very grateful that I, frankly did not even have to go through the ounce of pain that I’m, you know, I can only imagine you went through. But just those words in that moment were so important to me.
Alex Smith 32:17
Well, you’re so brave and courageous for even sharing that because, you know, as women, we don’t talk about a lot of the things that we go through in our own bodies very openly. And, you know, when we do open up about these things, it’s incredible to hear how many of us are going through a lot of the same things. And so, I always welcome you know, talking about these kind of things, and also learning how to talk about these things are obviously easy conversations to have, especially when we’re so tied to the identities and the roles and the companies and the things that we do and it’s like, switch over to gynecology health, you know, like it Yeah, so I pretty You bring it up. And, you know, I tend to go very deep, very quick. And that doesn’t work for some people. And I am totally okay with that. But it has, yes, I was gonna say it has led me to the right people just opening up and sharing how I’m feeling. You know, where I come from, you know, I’m not trying to cover any of that up anymore, because it doesn’t make me the right connections. And it doesn’t open the right doors for me that I would even be happy working for if I didn’t have people that knew me. And so I think that that’s also a super important important part about, you know, discovering who we are and how we want to operate in this world.
Shireen Jaffer 33:40
Yeah, and you know, there’s when you and I’ve talked to multiple people, multiple guests on my podcast that have had these huge health scares, more than just scares, really, you know, and they’ve gone through stuff and there’s a way of recognizing how how much time you wait Not doing things that you want to do because you’re too worried about your job and the societal way and all these things. I, you know, I’ve been very proud that for as long as I can remember, I’ve, I’ve done things my way. And I still in in January when this happened, had a moment of reflection and saying, Wow, I am. This really came from honestly, when I started telling some people about what happened going on in my body and some of my some people in my life, their first question was, oh, so does that mean we can have babies? And I was just like, why is that? The first question I like what and these were, you know, these were like certain family members. And I was like, why is that the first question like why is that your biggest concern right now? And it just really made me question the belief sets that were in my friends and family that I just, you know, that don’t align with how I want to live my life. But how those still impacts so much of what, you know, I’ve done in the past, right the actions, I’ve taken the conversations, I choose to have things like that and, and it just made me reflect well, where am I expending all this energy when I only have so much energy to give, right? So all that to say when when you were going through it, so before you obviously, you know, went back to Brazil. But in that moment where you figure it out, you were just told, hey, you know, this is what’s going on with your body. What were some of the feelings you felt during the time?
Alex Smith 35:39
I was very insecure because at the time, I was very single, and, you know, I was embarking on this trip abroad and I wanted to be open in a lot of different ways, like spiritually, obviously, to love and the possibilities of, you know, meeting someone from a different culture in a different language and, you know, it just felt so open minded. body was not like for sure. And it’s interesting how much your body affects your own confidence and emotions and the way that you communicate and speak and move this world. It’s very interesting. But I was super insecure for those first couple weeks, because I felt like I had, you know, people that I was hanging around that had a level of freedom that, you know, I didn’t have because my body was, you know, internally, it felt like it was not working right, I felt like very disconnected from, you know, my femininity, and obviously, that affected my confidence. And so I found myself having a couple breakdowns those first couple weeks, where I was questioning myself and my body and the decision that I had made and whether or not it was safe and so on and so forth. And then it’s just so interesting, you know, when you have injuries or when you go through things like with your body where you know, you physically heal, but that process is so powerful. Because you are reminded that you absolutely will prevail, it is just a matter of time. And all that stuff in between is definitely the thing that is the most mentally challenging. But if you can find a space to overcome that you will never let anything consume you. And so that has become a part of the life ritual to be able to understand. And that is something that I hold really close to with meditation, and yoga, and natural practices that helped me not necessarily realize that I am my body. Like I actually have more control over the situation than I think even when things might feel like they’re shutting down. And so that was essentially in a nutshell, like what I was feeling during that time.
Shireen Jaffer 37:53
Yeah, thank you for sharing about I I completely aligned with you and you know, when you go through that It really helps you recognize how powerful your body is like how quickly it can heal, like things that can do. I mean, your body is sure it’s so beautiful and you absolutely have, you will can absolutely align yourself with your body, right the things you do the things you consume, the, the environment you choose to put yourself in everything impacts your body, and your frequency and your mental health and everything like that. So it’s absolutely a beautiful reminder, when you’re going through that not so much. But at the end of it when you’ve got out of it. You’re like, oh, man, my mom went through some rough shit and it Yeah, we prevailed and is a very powerful moment for sure.
Alex Smith 38:48
Shireen Jaffer 38:49
So okay, so you know you’ve had your surgery and fortunately it goes well, and now you’ve bought this one way ticket to Brazil. First of all, why did you buy a one way ticket Have you What were your expectations for this trip going on?
Alex Smith 39:05
I wasn’t planning on coming back. No, I’m just kidding. Um no so the one way ticket really was because I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to travel. And so I didn’t want to get a return flight and have to deal with that. I had been living such a life of prescription and I was I’m so by the books I’m so by the calendar. I’ve probably one of the most organized calendars to date that I know of anybody I know. And I was at that point. So ready to be done with all that, that I didn’t want a destination really I didn’t even want to return. I just wanted to go there and show up and figure things out for myself. And this is one of the reasons why I love your podcast so much. And I love listening to all the people that are on this because this whole concept has been rooted in the fact of you wanting to empower people to think for themselves, which is obviously why a lot And why I’m here and what we are friends, all the good things. But truly, it was about giving myself the opportunity to learn for myself. And we forget that we have to do those things because it’s so easy just to consume. That’s the thing, there has to be a will and a way to discover something different if we really want to break a lot of these cycles instead of just consuming like what’s being given to us. And that was so important for me to figure out for myself, because I was taking in all of these things that I knew that were not me, these ideas, ideologies, what it’s like to be a woman, what it’s like to be, you know, a person who grows up without a mom, how do you do mom, so many different, you know, things to live up to that are socially constructed, and I wanted to unwind that because that never felt right to me. And so, but you have to again, you have to be willing to go through that process, if you actually really want to evolve
Shireen Jaffer 41:01
Alex Smith 41:03
Yeah, it’s not easy at all. And I can’t even imagine what it’s like for some other people. And, you know, I am obviously a white woman, I have a lot of privilege and I just can’t even imagine what it’s like for other people. And I’m only, you know, talking about my own experience, but I’ve known for a long time that things have not felt right. You know, when I look at them, it doesn’t see right here right now. I know nothing about it. And I’ve tried to run in the other direction. Sometimes that’s look like running away from the problem at times, but, you know, that was me needing to understand.
Shireen Jaffer 41:42
Yeah, okay, very, I mean, freakin powerful and awesome. So those are your expectations. Go again, as I go, just, you know, focus on myself. Learn from myself. I mean, I always say this to people and it always sounds woowoo until I think people feel it as well. I feel like all of us have the answers. Like we have to listen selves. And this really does come from my you know, I guess it’s spiritual. And this is, you know, the social construct, but it’s something that I’ve just learned along the way as I spend so much of my time, especially as an entrepreneur, especially as a woman of color, just you know, looking at Okay, well, what can I do better? And who is you know, the expert, and how can I consume the information that’s out there and learn from that until one day? Well, all of that all that journey brought me to a point where I was like, I don’t think I don’t think any of us know what we’re talking about. But I think everyone has an opinion, and whatever works for them, right? And they and they, they’re beautiful and wanting to share with others, which is great, and I encourage it, but no one’s truth is going to be mine. And so I just have to kind of look inwards and do a lot of increasing my own self awareness and my own alignment, you know, mind body soul and really finding truth inwards. And ever since I’ve done that before we even started recording, right You and I were talking about this is it’s just, it’s our bodies will tell us what they need. They have a great way of telling us we need, whether it’s by breaking down and saying, dude, you got to stop. I’m not gonna keep going this way. Or just, you know, giving us the encouragement and the positivity and the vibes we need as long as we’re open to receiving them. So anyways, I go on a tangent. But um, yeah, I, I love that you made that decision for yourself and found yourself in Brazil. So how long were you in Brazil? And what were your experiences?
Several Months Traveling in Brazil (43:32)
Alex Smith 43:42
I was in Brazil for a couple of months. So I had been earlier in the year for three weeks for my birthday. And again, I came back to the states and that’s when it’s like the thought to like really set the tone for all the things that were emotion and so when I went back to Brazil, I was angry. For a year, or not a year, excuse me a month, but I was abroad for a year. And I went and visited a guy that I had that when I first went to Brazil over my birthday, and I just remember him being so warm, and I would never hold bow I like look back and like, wow, I have a lot of courage, just to kind of show up there and say, Hello again, you know, coming from the United States back to Brazil, to the front doorstep of this person that I met that I felt like had had such a light about him and opened so much curiosity for me. And I was so anxious to be by myself in the middle of the trip, or at the very beginning of the trip really. I’d went to Carnival with a group of friends so I was with people for like the first couple weeks of my trip, but then there was like a part when I broke off so low, where that’s when the real work started. And I’ll never forget that first month. Oh my god, I cried. Oh my every single night, I was terrified to go out, I was unsure and insecure and all these things actually, that we socially construct in even America to where we’re just kind of like built to not trust anybody, you know, to like, yeah. And I need to like, really have this person come through with you for something in order for you to like kind of feel good about this person being in your life. And I just realized how stupid that was, and how much love is rooted in so many answers when it comes to openness when it comes to experience. And there’s so many good, beautiful people out there in the world that just also want the same thing as you which is to experience and have a good connection and conversation and that obviously didn’t start till after a couple months, but you know after that first month Never forget when I went to my first country after that by myself on a bus for 48 hours to eat away. And, you know, I just ended up meeting people on the bus and then next thing you know, I was traveling with them for a couple of weeks and it sounds like such a fairy tale right now. But in the moment, there was no hesitation about anything and it’s so interesting how much time we spend wasting about what if, and I even found myself doing about now, you know, not traveling anymore. Coming back to the corporate I spend an ridiculous amount of time questioning myself which is not healthy. It’s like how do we actually will live a life where we don’t do that. That’s something I’m seeking. So if you have the answer, let me know. But
Shireen Jaffer 46:48
that’s awesome. Thank you get well, it’s just you know, I want to clarify also, when you say questioning myself, I’m assuming you mean like self doubting, right? really questioning what You’re doing and what if this? And what if that? Is that what you’re referring to?
Alex Smith 47:03
Yes. And read, replaying the email, replaying the conversation replaying myself in the way that I presented myself in this situation, whether it be personal or professional, just so many things.
Shireen Jaffer 47:19
Yeah, you know, I’ve, I’ve really reflected on this in the last like, actually, honestly, quarantine has helped me a lot and I’m coming from a privileged place of where quarantine ended up being more of a you know, it’s I was fortunate where I didn’t lose my job. And, you know, obviously, it hasn’t had positive impacts on the world. And I’m very sad for that. But one opportunity, that thing that came out of it for me personally was it gave me a lot of time to reflect. And it gave me a lot of time to kind of exit the warp zone that I’ve it’s like, this is how I talk about it to myself, as I’ve realized when I’m on my computer, Or when I’m going back to like, when I’m emailing when I’m working when I’m on my phone, I can literally feel like a war, where I’m just like, I don’t even know if that’s the right word for it. But I literally feel like a pull from my phone, my computer, my email, like, it’s a pull of I am in it. I’m so damn zoned in. And unless I’m aware that I can actually feel the war, and I can see the difference. Unless I’m aware of that it is so easy for me to go down this whole like, you know, consume being consumed by my emails and how I acted in a specific situation when the witch in the grand scheme of things doesn’t actually matter that much, right? And just being in this vicious cycle of like self criticizing and constantly just being like, well, what if I had done it this way? Not in a healthy way. Right. I think there’s a healthy way to do that. And odd experiments and reflect like, I think that’s beautiful and that there’s a healthy way to do that. But I was the way you’re, you know, referencing, I can totally align with and understand is that negative that like self doubt filled the more anxious build questioning. And so what’s helped me Alex is just really being able to see kind of the boundary of anytime I go down that thinking, I just take a step back and I like put my phone away, I put my computer away, I go for a walk, whatever it is, and I just say, oh, there’s a lot to life. Then this one email that I’m obsessing over or this one client or this one meeting, there’s so much more to life than this obsession right here. So I’m not saying we shouldn’t care for our clients, right? Like I just like you like I care deeply about the work I do. I care deeply about the projects I’m involved with. I care deeply about being my best self and communicating well and all of that is great to care deeply about, but not at the expense of Mental sanity, right and confidence and also like a little bit of just like so render and trust that you know, when you put it out there and you just kind of like have to deal with it and and that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. So that awareness has just helped me a lot.
Alex Smith 50:18
That’s really good advice. And you know, these things they may seem so even simple when we hear them, we’re like, why don’t you think of that, but they’re things that we constantly have to remind ourselves. So I’m super thankful that you have reminded me of these things that are absolutely in my control, which is my mindset.
Shireen Jaffer 50:38
Yeah, yeah. mindset awareness. Absolutely. So yeah, so Okay, so you’re, you’re now you’re solo traveling or you’re meeting people along the way and traveling with them. What are some lessons that you’re learning about yourself, you know, putting yourself in this very new environment and a really long time. What are some lessons you learned about yourself?
Alex Smith 51:03
materials don’t matter for sure they do not. And it’s a little hypocritical to say because I’m obviously, you know, not traveling anymore in a backpack. But truly, I will always know the way that that makes me feel and know where I’m the most happy. And it has become an anchor for when things get a little out of control. And when I feel like I’m compromising the things that I feel to be not authentic to myself in business. And so what do I mean by that? I had a little backpack that I traveled with, I had like four different outfits, five different outfits that I wore for a year straight. And I had never felt so confident in my body. And I never looked at myself in a mirror because there weren’t really a whole lot of mirrors in the places that I was at. And I also became so much more celebratory of my shape, and You know how I just moved and I was less critical about certain things about my body not functioning the way that again, we’re socially constructed to think that they should look and feel and move. And I just became really one with that and embrace my shape and ate what I wanted and drank what I wanted and did what I wanted and had a spirit about me that was very pure and playful and full of joy. And it’s just so interesting, because, I mean, she you got to know this, and I’m sure people who are listening can relate to this too. It’s so easy to be so serious life is not easy, and it’s not getting any easier. For sure. So, it’s very, um, you know, it feels less frequent to live a life with a lot of joy and play and find things like that. And it’s always good when you’re reminded how necessary that is for you, and how conducive that is to your own happiness. And that is definitely something that traveling also pulled out of me. I also love being around nature and gardening. gardening is very therapeutic for me. And so when I worked on a farm for a while I volunteered in Colombia on an eco farm for eight weeks. They grew pot plants there, they grew all sorts of stuff there. And I would work in the garden. And I would also, you know, work at the juice bar that they had there, which was all from the whole property. And I just also was reminded how much you can live off the land if you do and how much everything else is just a herbies so much about consumption. And we’re so bought into it, I’m bought into it. But these are the things that I recognized when I was traveling, that if I had not traveled I You know, don’t know how what I would have encountered some of these realizations?
Shireen Jaffer 54:05
Yeah, two things. I want to call out one. The latter parts like when you see you cannot unsee and so I you know, I think people give each other a really hard time where I’m sure you probably I’m sure people come to you and say this as well Alex, you did this whole year and you recognize what makes you happy, then why are you in LA working in tag subjecting? Right? But I always say like, you know, what, to each girl, right? Like, you got to live your journey and you got to do what feels right. And, you know, that’s, that’s a process. It’s not like we figure it out one day and then just like, do that, right. Like, I really want that for more people. But we come with all these like obligations and societal constructs that we can’t just break overnight. It’s very hard to do that and it’s unrealistic to expect that Have someone else. So that’s just my kind of rant on on that piece of things. But because you’ve gone on that journey, you have this level of understanding and awareness that you cannot ignore. So when you do find yourself back in a place, which you mentioned, right, you do find yourself in a place where you recognize, okay, well, I’m living a different life than I was obviously traveling abroad. And I’m okay with that. But there will be moments where the life brings in brings behaviors that you absolutely do not want in your life. And because you’ve had that exposure, because you’ve had that recognition, because you felt that free, spirited, joyful, playful, Alex, you know, she exists. You know, she’s as part of you as anything else, that you don’t want to let that part of you go and so you’ll naturally say no to a lot of things that without this experience, you probably would not have known to say no to.
Recognizing When Our Environment Isn’t Right (55:58)
Alex Smith 55:58
Yes. And you Other caveat to all that, really, it’s all a double, right? Because that experience brought me to be the happiest version of myself to be the truest version of myself that I know today. But there are also times where my lows are really low because I have a perspective. And I think that’s a root of a lot of ignorance that we also have as as people is because it doesn’t feel good, to be low and to think about things that you’ve seen or done or experienced, where you recognize XY and Z and so it’s much obviously easier to like turn, you know your head the other way, but I’m so happy we’re not living like right now. We’re actually living I think in a spiritual and cultural awakening, thank God for at least one group of people. There’s everyone else has been awake for a while on certain topics, but people are also coming along that but i think that that is definitely something that happens in the processes. That is a pivotal moment of realization.
Shireen Jaffer 57:02
Yeah, yeah absolutely and the second thing I wanted to call out when you were talking about discovering that playful part of you I totally aligned with and I you know I found for me people actually very surprised you you know this part of me now but people when they first meet me are surprised by how casual and quirky and weird I found like when they really get to know me they’re like, wow, I would have totally thought you were this like very serious human being based on what you do in your profession. And and I you know, as it’s taken me I think growing up I was really playful and then somewhere along the way, you know, I mean obviously moving from you know, focus on to that like, a white suburbia is not at all where I come from growing up without a dad because he was stuck, you know, due to immigration issues like seeing my mom just, you know, battle mental health. And work three jobs like that as a way of making you serious. So I think somewhere along the way, I became serious. But there were moments, there were moments where I was and there’s moments where I was myself, I was quirky, I was funny, I was playful. And now I’ve realized as an adult now 99% of the time I’m that person, which I’m so happy that I’ve kind of just like, built a life that allows me to be that playful, but you know, what? It made me realize where I’m going with us is in the moments where I’m serious in the moments where and I mean, serious, not from the lens of like, you know, having a serious conversation but serious in the moments of, I’m not really enjoying anything I’m very like, like, How do I explain it? I’m just very, not happy. And I’m not responding with enthusiasm. I’m not responding with energy. I’m, I’m blocked. That’s actually the perfect word. I am when I am serious. In all these different definitions, I’m saying I’m blocked, that it really now helps me realize, Oh, why am I not this quirky, playful person? What’s going on? Why did I? Why did my mood just change? Why did my energy just change? And now that awareness because again, I’ve seen and I can’t unsee I know who that stream is, I know how I want to feel, in my happiest moments. And now that I have the pleasure of feeling bad, happy, so much that in the moment when I’m not, it triggers me. And then I take a look. And that usually comes down to Oh, crap, I’m talking to someone that I really don’t align with I, that I, you know, I’m in an environment that I shouldn’t be in like, immediately. It’s a moment of recognition for me.
Alex Smith 59:49
Yes. And it’s so crazy that some of us have a choice to do something about that. When we feel that Some of us do not. And I think that is so hard to even talk about or to even think about. It’s like how do we if we’re really going to change the world, like what advice can you give someone that’s doing what they need to do because they need to do it and there’s not another option? I think about that all the time. I really, really do. And it comes back to me just kind of thinking I guess about my own experience or people that I have known that really had to climb and claw and it’s been like, Great in upside down and then sideways at certain points and, you know, how is it then do we get to this place again, where we’re being true to our awareness, but able to also block out certain things that don’t affect our energy because that’s also part of the skill that you’re talking about is not taking on the energy of others that do not serve you because you can’t use always choose not be around them. You know, That’s also another, I’m gonna say some controversial. I was,
Shireen Jaffer 1:01:06
I’ve been I’ve been thinking about this so much, you know, I my everything I’ve done in my career is I don’t want people to feel helpless. I was just telling my husband about this last night we were on the balcony and, and we were just talking and you know, I was reminiscing on these visceral map like memories I have just that are just so vivid in my head. And they’re usually a memory where I felt I felt someone’s helplessness. And I just empathize so deeply with that, and in that moment, wanted to do something so badly, to let them feel and let them know that you do have a choice. There are options like you know, I just want to help you through this. So I think about this a lot. And I will say I think there’s always a choice however, as a society, I guess we make a really hard For people to know they have a choice. Because of the constructs we’ve set I had someone come to me you know the other day and they’re in a really terrible marriage and you know and and she’s from a South Asian family and you know, in South Asian, like culture divorce isn’t a thing and and you know, she’s got like two kids and there’s this whole thing and in her reality she did not have a choice but she had to be there she had to do this for the kids and I said, No, you do have a choice you can leave you can choose to say no to the you know, cultural norms that you come from Yeah, it sucks dad probably means that you’re gonna have to say no to your parents you’re gonna have to possibly you like it’s their their hard decisions. Like there’s no doubt about it, but there is a choice. And and I think there are other situations, right? There’s a health scare. I mean, there’s things you don’t have choices. And if you’re, if you’ve got cancer, there’s like only, so My choice you have over that. So, you know, I’m very aware of those things. But I think there are many situations. So I’m not going to say Actually, I shouldn’t say there’s always a choice. But there are many situations where you do actually have a choice. And you refuse to see it, because of how hard our society makes it for someone to see it. And it’s, that’s why I’m such a big advocate for you gotta take your success in your own hands, you got to succeed in your own way, which means, which means you got to see things for yourself. You can’t rely on others to you know, unveil. You know the truth or reality or show you the path you just can’t because our Unfortunately, our society has a great way of staring you down a path that makes you feel like you don’t have that many choices and that you have to do things a certain way to get to your destination. I just don’t think that’s true.
Alex Smith 1:04:00
And I was very well said, and I agree with so much of what you were saying. And I can’t even necessarily come back with something right away with the way that you’re describing it. But what I can say is that there is something that happens when you tune in to the fact that something doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t look right. It doesn’t sound right, right. You’re not seeing it, right. Like, there is something that happens within your mind and your own body that is you only, you know, whatever you’re consuming on social media or whatever is being fed to you, whatever, you know, thing that you’re listening to, right. There’s something that happens intrinsically in your body and in your mind, where you get a feeling about you where you question whatever it is that you’ve ingested. And there is something about listening to whatever that is. And while you may need Do what you need to do to get to where you need to go. You do not lose sight of that inner voice because that inner voice is the thing that takes you in the direction where your truest desires are. And it obviously is not going to be an easy path. It’s going to be harder for, you know, many people over others. But I think that, to your point, it’s about the education that needs to also happen. And people don’t even necessarily know that they even have a choice in these situations, which is why it’s so important that we all like really show up in November. I hope we’re not living in one big conspiracy and that we can just get through this next election. But, you know, I’m feeling really empowered to personally educate myself as much as possible to be able to make the decisions that I know are going to hopefully have an influence on our future.
Shireen Jaffer 1:05:51
Yeah, absolutely. Who I mean, I know we need and I am glad we did well. to circle back and close the loop, obviously on and not really closing the loop your story goes, will continue to go. But what happens when you come back like after a year, you’re coming back to the States? How do you decide what type of life you want to live at that point?
Six Months in an Ashram (1:06:18)
Alex Smith 1:06:18
Well, I didn’t know what I wanted to live, but I definitely knew what I did not watch. And I was very stubborn and extremely strong about what I did not want. I did not want conversations that were not deep. I did not want conversations that were not real. I did not want conversations that were passive. I’ve obviously had to adapt myself back into that language because unfortunately, in the business world works a lot with passive language, especially internally in politics and so on and so forth, at least in the experience and places that I’ve worked especially working in a very male dominated industry, white male dominated industry to be specific. And so it was I was reluctant to go back, I thought that I could never go back. I thought that what I had experienced before and after my trip, it was a complete 180 of what I believe. And I also, at that time, had so much past trauma come up for me. And I’m so happy that it did. It sounds daunting. And it definitely is not a fun process to reprocess your early childhood as an adult and realize like how neglected you were how, you know, abuse of a parent was or how, you know, things just were when you didn’t even really have a sense of what was going on then. And so I did therapy and a whole bunch of other stuff, but it’s definitely not ready to go back to the corporate world. I was interviewing, trying to get myself into it and I would go into these interviews. I would feel like a Martian. I was there just talking and I wasn’t going in my ear. There wasn’t even going out the other way. And I started recognizing that I wasn’t ready for that. And it was really important for me to connect more with my physical body and my mental health, especially because I had been traveling for a year. And I was so excited to learn more about yoga, because I had actually discovered yoga when I was traveling in Peru and stayed at a meditation house for 10 days. And that’s when I realized, Oh, my God, what is this meditation yoga thing? I feel great. I definitely want to understand this a whole lot more. And so when I came back to the States, I took some time to invest in learning about yoga. And again, I do things all the way. So, you know, I decided that I was going to get my yoga teacher training, and I didn’t want to just do some program. I like core power yoga, or some of these other like, commercialized places. I wanted to really understand where yoga comes from where It stems from and so I moved into an ashram in San Francisco and I studied there and did a six month teacher training program. And it was also another like very, I went from like one very intense period to another intense period, but I was in the mood for that, for sure. I was at major self discovery mode. And I welcomed it. And at that point, I knew that it was definitely going to be something that was only going to make me a better person. And it was also like, what my heart wanted to do in that moment, regardless of if everybody thought I was, whatever crazy, you know, I dropped off the map. And then now I’m living in an ashram and you know, my family is from the south, they thought I was like joining coal, and that was a whole nother thing. And I talked to my family for a while. Um, and so but I’m so happy that I did that. And then I taught yoga full time for two years did the program works for a very hot startup in
San Francisco. I basically met this chick and she was like, I want to be the soulcycle of yoga, and I was like, I thought you I can do business development and sales. And we can make this whole thing happen. And she was like, Okay, well, you know, you can teach here and you can like, help me do that full time. And I thought, oh my god, this is sweet. And everybody I talked to was like, Oh my god, are you a full time yoga teacher that that industry is like, unheard of. And I had no idea what to even think about during that time, as I was learning and then I learned so much about the yoga industry and also how, in a lot of ways, well, the intentionality behind a lot of these studios is unfortunately not so good, my friends, at least that I’ve learned in my experiences, but that’s a whole nother conversation. But it got to a point. I was so broke, so tired, so emotionally drained. I had done so much self discovery for the last three years that I was actually so freaking excited and ready to go back into a business world and just apply all of this self work that I had done to hopefully inspire and develop people along there. way in their lives. And so I don’t look at my current job right now is like, I’m gonna get you better at work and get you more money and you’re gonna get promoted. Like, I truly hope that I just also continue to meet people who, you know, I’m inspired by and vice versa, we get to learn from each other. And people just do what they want to do in their lives, whatever makes them happy and more focused on bringing that out of people than, you know, most of the time ever even talking about the numbers. And that has inevitably contributed to the success in being a sales manager. And it’s, you know, when you think about it, it’s like long lives the tactical manager No, not anymore. I would argue that if you focus on what brings the most out of people, that they will take that potential, and they will just light the way for the for the world and change and so I just hope to be a part of that process. And that’s really what it’s all about for me, and that’s the most important part to me, other than the fact that it’s not, it’s nice to not be like totally super, super, super broke, just teaching yoga full time.
Shireen Jaffer 1:12:13
It’s beautiful that you’ve been able to identify an opportunity that allows you to bring your self you know, and and really apply that. All of that understanding about awareness, which is beautiful. And it goes back to setting that intention for yourself and being very intentional about the opportunities you choose to entertain, even as you’re thinking about, you know, what you want to contribute to. So, that’s awesome. It’s beautiful.
Alex Smith 1:12:38
Thank you. And it’s really important to me to give opportunities to people who have historically not been able to have opportunities, like I’m very focused and very responsible for building a diverse and inclusive team. And it’s not because it’s a checkbox, it’s because I know truly, that it is what this world is. means and it is about love and is about connection. And it is about learning and growing from each other. And I’m so excited to have the, you know, obviously the privilege to be able to do that. And to really actually, like, start change movement, especially through sales. Sales is one of the worst departments for D and I no doubt, like they’ve been hiding under the fact that like, don’t put you, Phil’s people on blast because they’re responsible for revenue for most of the organization. So we don’t want to kind of look at sales leaders and CEOs and all these other people that fall under revenue departments, but there’s so much work to do inside of them. And I feel like I’m motivated by something much, much deeper than I can even express. And I told you this earlier, right, like I’ve been waking up a lot lately and I just say, you know, Mother Earth or whoever you are, just use me, you know, I want to be used in some sort of way. And I think, you know, to our conversation, you had made a great point about like asking, you know, a different question and, you know, even wrote it down of, you know, what do I want to experience today. And I think when we route down into that we open ourselves up to love and kindness and empathy and compassion. That tends to be, again, a route for a lot of change at Mass. And so I’m just hoping to inspire that in other people as well.
Shireen Jaffer 1:14:27
I love it. Well, good. I’m obviously very supportive of your journey and so excited to see it through. Alex, where can our listeners also stay updated with you? How can they find you? How can they get in touch
Alex Smith 1:14:41
so the best way to keep in touch for sure is through LinkedIn right now. I’m definitely open my Instagram is a lot more kind of personal and just my style and not very corporate. So if you’re into that, I also would love to connect on there either so you can DM me on there. You can also DM me on LinkedIn. And you know, I’m super open for conversations and connecting with people who, you know, think that they can benefit from hearing, you know, some of the things that, you know, I can potentially help with. So I think those would be the two best.
Shireen Jaffer 1:15:17
Amazing. Thanks, Alex.
Alex Smith 1:15:19
Thank you, Shireen. I super appreciate you and thank you so much for an amazing conversation that took so many twists and turns and I appreciate you being so open
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