Schedule wellness like you would meetings. With a busy work schedule, doctor appointments, and our two dogs, my days are pretty hectic. In order to make sure I keep my physical health a top priority, I schedule in wellness like I would a meeting or conference call. I book my workouts and self-care appointments a few weeks out and then I do everything I can to protect those times. In this way, I set myself up for success and I’m reminded that my health and well-being is just as important as anything else on my work schedule.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Alison Hadden, the Vice President of Consumer Marketing at MINDBODY where she leads advertising, content and social media. Prior to MINDBODY, she held a variety of marketing leadership roles over six years at Glassdoor, helping grow the company from 50 to 1,500 employees before its $1.2B acquisition, and nine years with The Active Network, which followed a similar trajectory before its 2011 IPO.
Thank you for joining us! What is your “backstory?”
I’ve been an athlete my entire life, playing team sports up through college and dabbling in everything from yoga and martial arts, to trail running and snowboarding as an adult. I’ve been drawn to work for companies that try and help people pursue more active, healthy lifestyles, so MINDBODY was an ideal fit for me both personally and professionally.
In the fall of 2018, at 38 years old, feeling fit and strong, I found out that I had Stage 3 breast cancer. It was really tough for me to reconcile the reality of the diagnosis with my active lifestyle as friends continued to say, “But you’re the healthiest, fittest person I know.” For the last year, I’ve been undergoing aggressive treatment including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and continued rounds of medications. Maintaining my normal life was important to me, so I’ve continued to work through treatment, which was possible thanks to MINDBODY being such a supportive employer. Focusing on work has helped me stay busy and keep my mind out of the dark places.
Most importantly, I’ve kept my own personal wellness a top priority while battling cancer. Even through chemo, I go out for a run on most days — although sometimes it’s only for 20 minutes and at a snail’s pace. I worked out with a personal trainer a few times a week so I could be accountable to someone when I knew it would be tough to get off the couch. I quit my Diet Coke habit and eliminated all artificial sweeteners from my diet, along with most processed foods. I got regular massages to settle my system, and I continued meeting with my therapist to process all the heavy emotions. The way I thought about it, my medical team would address what they could with Western Therapy, but it was up to me to do the rest. I’ve always had a bias towards action, so doing everything in my power to try and help my situation wasn’t actually hard for me; it’s the sitting and waiting to see what the future holds — the inaction — that’s really tough.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support peoples’ journeys towards a better wellbeing?
· Use tech to help disconnect. Staying calm and composed amidst the external noise of day-to-day life can be a challenge. From alerts on my watch that remind me during the workday to stop and breathe, to meditation apps that I use at night before bed to wind down, technology is fully integrated into my life, so I try and use it to my advantage.
· Schedule wellness like you would meetings. With a busy work schedule, doctor appointments, and our two dogs, my days are pretty hectic. In order to make sure I keep my physical health a top priority, I schedule in wellness like I would a meeting or conference call. I book my workouts and self-care appointments a few weeks out and then I do everything I can to protect those times. In this way, I set myself up for success and I’m reminded that my health and well-being is just as important as anything else on my work schedule.
· Sit less! I recently turned on activity notifications that use gamification to remind me to move if I’ve been sedentary for too many minutes. From sitting in meetings and being in front of a computer for most of my day, I rely on my standing desk and these alerts to ensure I’m not hunched over my laptop for longer than an hour at a time. I laughed at first, but now I’ll find myself hopping up during a meeting to just shake it out for a few minutes so that I can get credit towards my daily standing goal.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Probably the whole cancer thing that I talked about in the first question.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Early in my career, I allowed work stress to dominate my life, which in retrospect, had a severe impact on my overall health and well-being. Staying active wasn’t a priority, my diet sucked because I was just grabbing whatever was convenient when I was tired, plus I was anxious all of the time. Now I think of my own personal wellness like an oxygen mask — I need to ensure that I’m taking good care of myself and my mind, body and spirit in order to be my best at work and lead others.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Our mission at MINDBODY is to help people lead happier, healthier lives. In my role as VP of Consumer Marketing, I’m responsible for spreading the word about our app that helps people find and book the best fitness classes, spa appointments and salon services in whatever city they’re in. It feels great to have people I meet tell me how they discovered a new yoga studio in their neighborhood or got a great deal on a drop-in spin class when they traveled somewhere for work thanks to the MINDBODY app.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would have exercise be medically prescribed to combat cancer and other life-threatening illnesses versus merely recommended by select doctors. Similar to how physical therapy is prescribed to rehab injuries, physical activity would be prescribed by oncologists as part of a treatment plan. Just as a physical therapist would work through exercises and keep patients accountable to heal their injuries, specially certified personal trainers would do the same for cancer patients on their journey back to health, and it would be covered by insurance.
What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
· Life’s too short to not do what you love. If you’re someone who lives to work, try and find something you’re both good at and you really enjoy doing. If you’re someone who works to live, always give 110% at work, but then leave plenty of time for you to do what you love when you’re not on the clock.
· Don’t worry about where you’re going to be in 5 years. You likely can’t predict it and if you’re too locked into the vision of it, you’re not leaving yourself open to opportunities that could be even better.
· Listen more, talk less. The smartest people in the room are the ones that only contribute to a conversation if they can add value, and they’re secure enough to not need to talk and try and prove to everyone how smart they are.
Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide!)
Julie Rice, Co-Founder of SoulCycle.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental Health — I have a lot of energy, I move fast, and my brain is often jumping a couple steps ahead of the present moment, so I’m wired for anxiety. I learned at a young age that in order to avoid destructive self-medicating, I have to seek out healthy ways to channel my energy and settle my system, and that’s a combination of exercise, breathing meditations, and hard work at therapy, which has been a consistent part of my life since my early 20s. I love seeing how the stigma around therapy lessened with this younger generation, but I still think we need to see therapists as life coaches that anyone can benefit from.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for all of these great insights!