To me, Allison Walsh is e v e r y t h i n g a woman should be. She is classy, wise, kind, encouraging, intelligent, motivated, empowering, disciplined, authentic, giving, and hardworking. I first met Allison back in 2013 when I first got involved in the Miss America Organization. I was quite directionless and inexperienced when I sought out Allison for pageant coaching, and all I have to say to that is: thank goodness Allison worked her magic. I went on to be the youngest contestant at the Miss Florida Pageant in 2014! As I have gotten older, Allison has stuck by me, believing in me as much as my own mother (and to those of you who know Mama Sabet, you know that is a LOT). Allison has been nothing but a blessing. She asks questions that, when I find the answers to them, I also find parts of myself. I owe much of my success in my career to the boss-lady skills and practices she instilled in me. Because of her, I not only have the confidence I need to use my voice and establish my presence as a leader in a male-dominated field, but I can confidently live my purpose.
Allison is a big part of my inspiration for Lift & Be Uplifted because she took her knowledge and passion for a cause, and not only turned it into a career, but she held the door open for other women to succeed through coaching. After serving the state of Florida as Miss Florida 2006, she utilized her personal challenges to launch her career in the behavioral healthcare industry. She also the founder of Allison Walsh Consulting, where she works with individuals on full service personal branding so they can reach their greatest potential. In addition to kicking booty in the professional world, she is a stellar mom to 3 beautiful children and a devoted wife. I admire Allison deeply and I am so excited for you to learn more about her perspective in this very special spotlight.
If you are struggling with your purpose or brand, look no further - Check out her consulting services below!
1. Rarely is someone's journey linear. Can you explain what you wanted to be when you grew up, and how your career landed where it is at right now?
My career definitely hasn’t been linear, more of a winding road that is just now starting to all make sense. When I was a child I wanted to be Miss America and on an anchor on the Today Show. While I definitely chased the Miss America dream, and love helping others to do the same, I realized television wasn’t for me after an internship at a local news station.
I had started a nonprofit when I was a freshman in college that was focused on eating disorders prevention and awareness after recovering from a 3 and-a-half year battle. I had no idea how much I would learn from that passion project and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to serve my community in that capacity for the last 18 years. That was also my entry point into the behavioral health world which is what I still do to this day. In 2013, I was the 2nd person hired to open a residential treatment program. Seven years later, we operate in 5 states (almost 6) and have almost 1,000 team members. It’s been an incredible experience and I have learned so much about leadership and how to scale a business.
I find my greatest motivation, and sense of purpose in helping others achieve their goals, so I have also owned and operated several other businesses over the past decade that have allowed me to pour into others so they can be the best versions of themselves. My company, Allison Walsh Consulting, started off with the intention of me only working one-on-one but has evolved into a full service personal branding agency that also offers online courses as well.
2. Which single word do you most identify with?
Empowered - My motto for life is: “the whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.” For the longest time I sought the approval of others, and at times what felt like permission, to step into who I was and what I wanted to become. While I still value and respect the opinions of others, I’ve realized that this is my one chance on this planet to make meaningful things happen and I refuse to let myself down by not going for it.
3. What is the biggest barrier you experienced as a woman in your career?
I had to shift my mindset pretty early on in my corporate career. Looking back, I’m certain it was because I lacked confidence in myself and at times I even felt like I was undeserving to be sitting in the seat I was in at the table, with so much responsibility, at such a young age. As I invested more in my professional development, I realized that not only was I qualified and capable, I had the ability to shape the culture and create an incredible team.
In our early days of the behavioral health start-up, women were underrepresented, but as we’ve grown, I’ve had the chance to work with some amazingly talented women that I greatly admire. I’ve also sought the support and mentorship of others outside of the organization so that I could gain additional perspective and guidance as I navigate my career and aspirations.
4. What advice would you give other women going into the professional world?
Don’t sell yourself short and always throw your hat in the ring. I have continued to see women mute themselves or not go for it because they didn’t feel like they were ready. On the other hand, I’ve watched my male counterparts chase down opportunities that they weren’t necessarily qualified for, but because they believed in their abilities to “figure it out” they earned additional opportunities. It’s really important that you show up for the position you want, do your best and demonstrate your desire to advance. Do not be afraid to ask for what you want and have difficult conversations. Nothing epic happens in your comfort zone so don’t be afraid to learn new things, take on projects that require you to stretch, or collaborate with team members in different departments. You’ll learn so much and be able to see opportunities through a different lens.
5. Go-to ice cream flavor?
Mint chocolate chip
6. You have been a catalyst for growth in so many young women’s lives. Who is a mentor that made an impact on you?
I have been blessed with amazing mentors, but there are two in particular who were game changers in my life. The first was the former CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, Lynn Grefe. I was in awe of her when I first met her when I was 18, but yet was bold enough to walk up and tell her that one day I wanted her job! Not my finest moment - but fast forward 5 years later, and she had completely taken me under her wing and allowed me to run point on a new initiative for the organization, the national Junior Board. The experience I gained and the network I developed was instrumental in leading me to where I am today. After running the Junior Board for 3-and-a-half years, I was invited to join the Senior Board and was the youngest member to have a seat at the table. In total, I served 11 years and I loved being involved in steering an organization that was instrumental in saving my life when I went through my own eating disorder battle in high school. Lynn was absolutely incredible throughout the process and allowed me to bounce ideas off of her any time and also provided candid guidance and feedback, not only regarding the nonprofit world, but also with life. When she lost her battle to cancer a few years back, I was devastated, but I was so incredibly grateful to have had her in my life for over a decade.
Sure enough, shortly thereafter, an opportunity to bring in a consultant to help our sales team presented itself. After researching multiple companies, we brought in Beth Maynard to help our sales leaders better manage their teams. Beth and I had an instantaneous connection and she has become a true confidant, mentor and friend. As someone who had not had any professional sales training, my confidence wavered at times putting together an entire department from scratch and now managing a large, remote team. Not only that, but I was charged with the responsibility to build a massive sales engine that would generate 7 figures in revenue each month. Beth opened my eyes to what needed to be done and also pointed me in the direction to reach our goals. She is still one of the first people I call when anything good or bad goes down. She’s an amazing woman and I am beyond blessed to have her in my life.
7. What do you think holds women back in the professional world?
There are two areas that come to mind. The first is confidence. I see this happen every single day. It takes guts to put yourself out there, but as Wayne Gretzky said so poignantly, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
The second is the lack of executive presence. Executive presence is critically important and encompasses everything from the way you represent yourself, to your communication style and your interpersonal skills. Spending time working on these skills will help you for years to come.
8. You are excellent at encouraging others to dream bigger. Can you tell me about a time when you pushed a client or mentee out of their comfort zone?
I do this daily. I am 100% certain that every single client of mine over the last decade will attest to the fact that I have pushed them to dream bigger, chase larger goals and step outside of their comfort zones. I am also notorious for pushing my clients to be 1% better each and every day. Remaining stagnant is a no go for me and I take the responsibility seriously that my clients have hired me to help them be the best versions of themselves and I will always deliver. One of my favorite quotes, from Oprah of course, is that “the whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.” You can’t evolve if you’re standing still, so it’s important that I am up front with everyone I work with that the ideas will flow, the goals and game plan will be written down, but if they want to reap the rewards, they have to do the work. I will run this race as fast as they do but if I want success more for them than they want it for themselves, we have a problem. If that’s the case I am not a good fit and am happy to refer them elsewhere.
It’s difficult for me to pinpoint just one, especially when I think about the monumental shifts my clients have gone through. I’ve seen them claim titles and accolades, create incredible nonprofit foundations and companies, develop ridiculously amazing partnerships, become spokespeople and brand ambassadors, redefine who they are and how they represent themselves to the world, and knock their goals out of the park. For me, the most rewarding thing about the work I do, is that I get to see them realize that they are absolutely AMAZING and can literally accomplish anything.
9. You have had enough accomplishments to fill a novel. Which accomplishment of yours are you most proud of?
While I’ve definitely had some cool things happen, I’m most proud of my resilience. I’ve had to overcome challenges that I never thought I would face at unexpected times when everything seemed to be going beautifully. I’ve developed quite a bit of grit over the last decade and have navigated challenging times with the mindset of “everything is figureoutable” (thanks, Marie Forleo!).
Right after my husband and I got married (2009), I quit my job and went to law school. Three months later, he lost his corporate law job at a prestigious firm due to the recession. At that moment we were staring at so much uncertainty but one of the things that I knew was that I could depend on was myself. I tapped into the skills I had and launched my first coaching business. I also started working full time during law school and believed with every fiber of my being that we could bounce back. I often look back to those times as a reminder that if I want something bad enough and I’m willing to do the work, not only will I get through it, I will emerge better than before.
10. You are so generous! What was the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
I have the most incredible team. This year, on my 7 year work anniversary, they shared a video with me that filled my heart with so much joy. They had coordinated amongst themselves (for several months prior) and filmed individual messages to me. I can’t even begin to express the emotion I felt then, and even now as I type. I believe in them so much and have watched them grow and stretch beyond what they probably anticipated when they signed up to be on the team. To hear from them in such a genuine and unfiltered way was a beautiful experience.