We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyssum Pohl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssum, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
At a point when I was unemployed and working 8 part-time jobs that barely kept me fed and housed, I knew I needed to do something different. I took some time to think about what I had that set me apart. What was it that people told me I was great at? How could I turn that into something that could nourish me and others? All my life people told me I was unique or “weird” or authentic, and I honestly hadn’t thought another thing about it til this moment. I realized that I had actually been teaching authenticity through dance and clowning classes, and that these classes were the ones that had the most profound effect on my students. In that moment, I knew that I needed to offer authenticity coaching to more people than just my small world of performers. It felt audacious and scary, but everyone I whispered the idea to exclaimed how much it was needed.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My coaching business came out of an expedition I created for myself in which I solo kayaked the Mississippi River from source to sea, documenting plastic waste and water quality along the way. I had never kayaked before, and the 4+ month journey was difficult work every day. But it was also the most fulfilled I had ever felt in my life. I wanted to share this feeling with others, and I knew that people didn’t have to paddle a whole river to get there. It took me about a year to really break down why I had the satisfying experience I had in terms that would be translatable to any person in any situation. In a nutshell, I was being my authentic self, and that is why I loved the expedition so much. But of course, being “authentic” is different for every person, sometimes different for a single person from day to day! I came up with 8 pillars of authenticity which we delve into in depth in my 4.5 month course, Authenticity Lab. “Authenticity” is a word that people bandy around, “just be your authentic self, and things will fall into place,” but the truth is that most of us have no idea how to do that, or even what questions to ask themselves to get there. My approach is to help people take that journey in a guided and less trial-and-error manner. I’ve learned that people have no idea what an “authenticity coach” is, but they do understand what a “transformational coach” is, and while they may not see themselves as being un-authentic, most people do identify with feeling stuck or frustrated in their life, and long to feel more satisfied and fulfilled. If that’s you, come aboard, I love helping people make that transition. It gives me the same feeling that paddling the Mississippi River did!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of the best kept secrets of the Bay Area is Angel Island. It’s the largest natural island in San Francisco Bay, and the whole island is a state park. It’s amazing to walk around the island, and see San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond and Sausalito all around you, across the water, but to be walking among native grasses with deer watching you. Kayaking the bay is a real treat of a way to experience the natural world here. It puts me in touch with the native Ohlone people who inhabited the area before the settlers came, and I love seeing sea lions, harbor seals, porpoises, and sometimes whales!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to thank Sahira for nominating me for this interview, and my friend Abby who unfailingly tells me she loves me (I love you too!) and supports my work. Abby is a hearty believer in lifting those around you up. What a joy!