Getting to know Alexis Kanda-Olmstead: women’s leadership coach, brave mama, lover of books

I had the blessing of being able to interview (via email) a fellow blogger, Alexis.

Alexis is known for her heart and her work with women who want to make positive change within their businesses, communities and homes as leaders.

Her goal is to close the leadership ambition gap that exists for women. A gap that equates to lost potential for individual women and for society as a whole.

Alexis does this through women’s leadership workshops, group coaching events, and the annual (Re)Finishing School for Brave Women.

Alexis Kanda Olmstead, women's leadership coach

 

She blogs at alexiskanda-olmstead.com on a personal basis on what’s happening in her life at the mo.

If you are a regular reader of her blog, well, here’s the chance to know her a lil’ bit more. If this is the first time you know Alexis, tadah! Dive in straight away!

Here are 15 questions for Alexis. And her quirky answers.

Describe your perfect day.

I wake up before the sun rises to a quiet house, make coffee, and write before anyone—including the dog—is conscious. (Really, those couple of hours make any day a perfect day, so I think I’ll stop there.)

What are your guilty pleasures?

Coffee, Diet Coke, and wine. In that order.

Describe yourself in three words.

Vivacious, intellectual, and compassionate.

Which person means a lot to you?

My brother almost died this year, and all of the love and emotion connected to him came at me with such force. It was then that I realised once again how much he means to me. We’ve all received a second chance, and I plan to make the most of it. There’s a piece I wrote about the experience titled “I Had Planned for Everything But This.” It captures how much he means to me and will always mean to me.

Something you would love to be good at.

I’d love to be a good singer. Like, Beyonce good.

What was the best thing that happened to you?

It’s somewhat scandalous to say as a woman, but I’d never wanted to have children. However, in my 20s, I was told that I might not be able to have kids due to a physical condition, and some instinctual urge came over me. We got pregnant five months after our wedding, and we were terrified. I have to say now, though, that it is by far the best thing that has happened to me. Having children was a victory of the body and, ultimately, of the heart. There’s no love like it.

What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?

LOVE. I believe with my whole self that this is why we are on this planet. I can’t prove it, but I can think of no other really compelling reason to be alive other than to love others and, ultimately, learn to love ourselves.

What kind of a teenager were you?

Ugh, those years were the worst. Like most teenagers, I was horribly insecure. My dad was in the Army, so we moved a lot—I went to two middle schools and three high schools—which meant I ended up being ostracised one year and embraced by all the cool kids another year. This didn’t help my self-esteem, so I focused on being a really good student, and a good kid in general.

What do you like about yourself?

I can make people laugh and feel comfortable, no matter who they are. I love making people feel valued and seen. It’s a superpower that I use pretty much every day, whether it’s hanging out with my dear friends and family, or just chatting with the person checking out my groceries. Everyone is a miracle to me.

Where do you feel at home?

Target. (Everything is tidy and pretty like a home, so I hope that counts.)

Who is your role model?

I have a billion role models who inform how I live and work, and they’re all authors. Virginia Woolf for challenging systems and speaking the truth about women’s experiences. Glennon Doyle Melton for bringing her beautiful, brutal life to the world and making me feel more peaceful with mine. Charlotte Bronte for showing me the complexities of love. Elizabeth Gilbert for teaching me how to be creative and magical. Shonda Rhimes for demonstrating the power of being a woman of colour.

Do you believe in God? Why?

Yes, although in a way that works for me. There’s no rational part of me that can understand God in a cognitive sense. But I know there’s something more. Miracles, the experience of love, and the fact that we live on a planet in a universe that is one of the billions all point to something bigger. Something more abundant and powerful. Whether you call it God or not is none of my business, but whatever it is, I believe.

What aspects of your job are you most confident about?

I’m strangely confident in everything I do. I think it’s all those good-student behaviours I developed as a teenager, and all of the risks I’ve taken professionally. I know if I work hard, most likely, I can do anything.

Confidence comes from taking risks, and we tend to believe the opposite. That to take risks, you have to feel confident first. This is especially true for women. There’s a great book, The Confidence Code, that explains the neuroscience of this elusive trait. I highly recommend it to any woman who has struggled with self-confidence, which is pretty much every woman.

Describe a turning point in your working life.

I’ve had lots of turning points in my working life, but the most significant has been starting up AKO Collective as a creative venture outside of work. It has been mostly terrifying (like I said, I take risks all the time) but the positive benefits of finding a creative outlet through my writing and creating community among like-minded women have transformed me. I am not sure where it will lead, so I’d say I’m still in the “turn” of this turning point.


 

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