UNDERSTAND YOUR SELF — it’s great to learn from the people that made it, but you and your practice, your believes, your motives will always be different. Your technique/expertise/believes might not work for some yet work for million others.
The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.
In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Anastasia Hisel.
Founder of a wellness marketplace; Atma. Where you can find and book holistic health practitioners, retreats, coaches, trainers on demand. After being in the industry and talking to thousands of experts — we got the scoop of what really can make or break the career in the health and wellness.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?
Sure! I am originally from Ukraine, Odessa. Moved to the states at age 7. Growing up, I was always into sports, activities, and naturally kept a healthy nutrition over-all. But the one thing that stood out with me the most as a kid, my mom pushed me into martial arts. This taught me discipline. I will get to this later, but this is significant part of my life.
My career started as an agent at a model agency, I know this is not wellness related yet — but hold up, we get pretty deep later.
I had models come through my door ask me advice about their weight, the pressure they felt about the industry and bookings, “how can they loose a few pounds quicker” before fashion week — then I heard so many solutions these girls would find and actually not only follow, but invest hundreds of dollars into their “health” from endless google searches, influencers that really don’t have much credibility posting about skinny teas, waist bands, and so much other junk on the internet.
From nutrition issues, to the mental health toll, and the feeling of unknown that all these women kept experiencing — It was sad and over whelming to see. I had my personal beliefs, opinions, and practices — but it definitely was not enough to be a voice in such a space. After being an agent, I got into tech and created a marketplace for fashion bookings. But something still didn’t feel right. I was not at my own full potential, and even though I discovered a way to be financially free. I was bothered what was happening in the industry internally around me. In the summer of 2018, I went on my own journey. It all started with a women entrepreneurship retreat in Peru.
Experts want to focus on their job; to heal people and not focus on marketing, ads, and research. All of these others things on how to drive traffic to their business, Yet, the consumers that need “wellness” the most can’t afford it or it’s not accessible in their city. The industry was scattered, confusing, and mostly focused on just females, forgetting about the men and half of U.S.A as consumers. There was a much bigger issue that needed to be solved.
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?
Although this is how I was introduced to the wellness world (unfortunately) I quickly learned that these models were definitely not alone, in fact — 77% of people in U.S.A said it was inconvenient, 50% could not afford wellness, and 80% are matched with incorrect practitioners which leads to 1 month life span seeing a professional vs. an average 7 months when you are matched with the right practitioner. The numbers, the people, and the corruption of this industry made me eager to change it. That’s when atma was born.
Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?
Going back to martial arts. There is a really big difference between a work out here and there and creating a lifestyle, a discipline, a hobby — if not obsession on perfecting something. It could be a sport, even a workout (but you have to commit) or activity, you get it. In my case, I really understood what that discipline meant when I made small daily habits and changes while practicing martial arts.
To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?
Yes I agree, In 2019 I chose to completely leave the fashion world and surround my-self with events, people, and create new habits on developing my personal development skills. Actually I changed my number, sold the agency, and changed everything on social media. Because I chose to enter a new world, a world I knew I had a bigger opportunity, purpose, and the motivation to make it better. I became obsessed with the human body, health research, and holistic practices. I called my self “the clean slate” because I was just like the average person. I got lost in my career as an agent, I stopped martial arts — the one thing I love most, I worked out just here and there — got lazy, and worst of all…I stopped pushing to be the best version of my-self. I left my career to live and breathe everything from health, wellness, nutrition, corporate wellness, mental health, fitness, and the holistic approaches and practices that were out there. I cannot tell you how much I love this journey, the people, and the mission behind this decision.
Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Atma interviewed over 1000 practitioners, different practices they offer for different health concerns the average person may have. This research showed jaw breaking stats. Although there are many points that I can go into, I will just say that our system is broken. 90% of healthcare money is spent on preventable chronic and mental issues, healthcare is not wellness — consumers just don’t know who/what/where to turn to. One of the biggest take a ways here — is educating our consumers on the options they have, the problem they are facing, and providing them the exact solution. A lot of opportunities can be created from this point alone.
Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
We have been working 2 years now on extensive research with a major focus on collaborations. Creating partnerships between wellness brands, practitioners, fitness studios, retreats, even individuals in health care (or at least discussions in the space to see what we can do next). We are creating discussions and collaborations to bridge these gaps within the space. We could be much stronger if we worked together instead of against each other. Health is our biggest asset, so we need to make sure we create a culture around the space, our daily routines, and education behind it.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
One of our accidental projects that has been a surprising hit is our community. We created the community on www.helloatma.com first for practitioners to just have an organized space to connect, in just 2 weeks we reached over 300 + subscribed members, all looking for the same help (marketing, sales, managing their business). We learned that they need each other to connect, make friendships, yet a source to ask for help and a place to collaborate. Our weekly meetups grew very fast.
Then we opened the community up to consumers, where they can have an organized place of different problems to ask for help without spending hundreds of dollars on 1:1 sessions. If the consumers wanted to work with a practitioner after a few questions here and there that becomes a client. A long term client, the one you created a friendship and a real connection to before committing. We created a culture, a safe place for all, and the best part we are just starting to bridge those gaps in the industry. We are still far away from our goal.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
This is an ongoing self-development course that no one can teach you in class, you need to experience it, learn from it, and then pivot if necessary. First, you need to be thankful for the people that support you, the bigger the project the bigger the team the bigger responsibilities. Everyone needs to be heard and respected — which sounds basic. But crating that culture has been the most difficult aspect for me personally. It’s almost a full time job to manage different expertise, personalities, and opinions. A leader will never think they are the best, because there is always room to grow. If something is not working, you need to adapt to changes and pivot. I have numerous stories — but the point of this lesson is to be adaptable and listen to people. Customers, employees, freelancers, your lawyer, account — don’t take every advice. But understand to accept it, research it, and apply if necessary.
1. Be thankful for your humans that support you
2. Hear and Respect all opinions, really process it
3. Become adaptable to any situation
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?
Working constantly on your social, physical, mental wellbeing. All is important — one is not more important than the other one. But you need to find your “self-discipline” in all off these pillars. That’s difficult, it’s not easy. You are unique, so should your wellness journey be. So you need to first, get tested and understand your unique cells. Based on that information, you can get additional facts on how your specific body works. What foods to avoid, what foods to take in, what exercise might be the right fit for you based on your body type and goals, and even concerns you don’t currently experience or feel but based on the research of your cells you should watch out for because in a few years you might experience health concerns that could have been preventable if you just simply knew about.
As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?
I don’t think I need a microphone for this. The pandemic was enough said. That was a weird time, for everyone. If you didn’t experience a health concern (congrats). However, you probably felt a social or mental health concern or a feeling, thought, or perhaps pressure from society. Wellness is so much more then fitness. I will repeat that one more time. There is so much more to wellness, then just a candle lit yoga and meditation. It’s everything combined. We are all humans, at the end of the day we feel similar emotions, thoughts, and problems. So much of it is preventable. If we just had enough education, examples, and conversations about these topics — that alone could help. But it’s not enough. We need to change the system, we need to bridge gaps in the industry. We need this now. Because anxiety, depression numbers continue to climb — this year, to an all time high.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?
Going back to the skill sets you need as a leader. Listen to your people, be thankful for them, and apply actions when it is necessary. Re-build your company culture. This is not a temporary thing anymore. Our company cultures will forever be changed, remote work will be here for 50% and 50%. Finding or even creating a new job is easier than ever. As a leader, this is the time to listen to your people more than ever. I am a total believer in a 4 day work week. I agree that it makes your employees more productive during the hours. Working 9am to 5pm with a 30 minute break is outdated, wrong, and old way of thinking. Your employees will not be happy with that. Create company motivative power hours, educate them on how to be the best versions of them self, have a show and tell, hold a weekend retreat, be the place that your people are not going to want to leave because of the people that they connect with, experience opportunities, and be their best self. Create that, and they will be loyal forever. Perhaps, not always as employees but later on as friends if they do part ways. Either way, make people remember you for the good. It will always out win the bad. It is never too late to change that culture.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
Collaborate with people in your niche, create small habits or discipline for your-self, adapt to pivots when necessary, really listen to people and research their opinion to understand their side of view, UNDERSTAND YOUR SELF — it’s great to learn from the people that made it, but you and your practice, your believes, your motives will always be different. Your technique/expertise/believes might not work for some yet work for million others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
You know what, this inspired me just now to do something crazy. Ok, let’s create a P.O box. Everyone’s letter/thought/problem will be anonymous. But if this perhaps happens to be a thing, a movement. I will call it a “venting power hour” where I read these letters and I have experts give you advice/opinion/suggestion on this specific letter.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Sarena Williams, I just really connect with her personality, motivation, and the movements she made in her career in the VC world but of course as an athlete as well. I can see her being a strategic partner with atma
How can our readers further follow your work online?
@helloatma or www.helloatma.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you this was fun!