What I can tell you is retreats have been something that had been on my spirit for years and I just did not quite know how to bring them forth. And so if it’s something that is within you, it is in your spirit, you have come across, Darla, you have been in some of her free content, which is amazing that you’re like, Oh my gosh, this is what I want to be doing, this is for me, then I truly believe you owe it to yourself to give yourself the opportunity to explore it. Just explore.
This is what business is about. It’s about exploring, being curious, looking into new ideas that have come to you and just giving yourself an opportunity to see what could be.
– Alycia Huston
Darla LeDoux: Hello and welcome to Retreat and Grow Rich, the podcast. I am so excited to be here in the midst of our transform the leader series, and when we’re talking about transforming leaders and transforming leadership, we have the best guests for this conversation today.
Our guest today is Alycia Huston, and Alycia mentors senior leaders and leadership teams who know that sustainable business growth happens when they uplift the people around them. Now, I know all of you retreat leaders are committed to uplifting the people around you and we’re going to have a little bit different conversation about this today. Prior to founding Alycia Huston Leadership Coaching and Consulting, Alycia cofounded a biotech company in San Diego, serving over a decade as COO and later CEO to scale the business and eventually sold it for multi seven figures.
During the early years of business ownership, Alycia learned that it was her ability to mentor other people that made the difference in her company’s performance. She now works as a leadership coach, mentor and consultant to executives and leadership teams called to lead in this way. Alycia, welcome.
Alycia Huston: Thank you. Awesome to be here.
Darla LeDoux: I am so delighted and honored to have you here. And the first thing that jumps out at me in just sharing your bio and presencing you here for our people is that you were a COO and then CEO and I immediately go, whoa, you got skills that I don’t have. So talk a little bit just about what that journey was for you and how that brought you here.
Alycia Huston: You got it. And let me preface that by saying, you know what, you have the skills because Alycia didn’t think she had the skills either until she was in it, and lo and behold, there they were.
Darla LeDoux: This is going to be even more juicy than I thought. Awesome. I’ve got my pen to take notes.
Alycia Huston: Awesome. For me, that journey really began in the realm of nonprofit work. I was working in a nonprofit as an executive director and realized that the work I was doing could have a bigger impact. And this was in 2004 when entrepreneurship was not sexy, right? It was not like it is now. It wasn’t this thing that people were striving for. It was this thing like, you want to do what? You want to open your … You want to leave corporate and open up what? Like, who does that?
Darla LeDoux: I was in that conversation then, but I wasn’t brave enough to leave just yet.
Alycia Huston: It’s all good. It’s all good. So stepping into that space, fast forwarding a little bit to actually opening that business, I cofounded, so there I had a couple of partners and there was a beautiful woman who had the CEO experience already from healthcare. And so she was our CEO and I was right under her as the COO because I was an operational queen, honey. That was my gift. I was an operations queen and so it was a beautiful fit. And I was so grateful though because she stayed with us for about four years, and through that process, she was mentoring me and cultivating me to, I didn’t realize it at the time, step into the role of CEO. She was always very communicative, collaborative, and bolt me in everything so that I was always in the know to the point that I was like, Oh gosh, this is a lot I’m dealing with. Doing this ended up doing what I have to do, but she had a plan.
And so really from that point, I didn’t even understand I was being mentored, to be quite honest. And so when she decided that it was time for her to go, she was great with the startup process, kind of getting things together, and then she liked the action. She loved that part of it. And so when it was time for her to make the shift into her next whatever realm that was, my partners that were still there said, you know what, you’re the one who can be CEO. And let me tell you, Darla, first I was humbled and then I was freaked out. I was like, this is so much. And then I was like, but I’ve been doing it. I can do this, and my partners believe in me, so why would I not say yes? And what are we going to do? Hire someone else from the outside who does not know our culture, who does not know how we operate, who doesn’t have the same level of love and creativity that we had for the business? So I said yes, obviously, and the rest is history.
Darla LeDoux: I want to go back to you were the director for the nonprofit and you jumped into this role as COO. People thought you were crazy, but you were filling this hole. Was it that there was a need that wasn’t being met or was it just let me try something different? What do you think was that the source of calling you in that direction?
Alycia Huston: I can tell you that … I can answer that question very easily. So I was at a nonprofit and just very candidly, the board of directors were all white males. They were all very verbal with their Republican status. And I’m just being very candid, and they let it be known to the point that when I would fight, well, we need better healthcare, one of the gentlemen who has a position on the board and he said, well, just send them to my office. Not understanding that these individuals deserve autonomy to choose who they would like their practitioner to be and privacy. They may not want one of the board of directors knowing what’s going on with their history.
So there were conversations like these that were very biased, one sided, and it became clear that what we wanted to do, we had a charge that we had a lot of single mothers, we had mothers. If they were out, there was a question, well, are their children really sick? There were just all of these questions that in that time were quite offensive to women in the workplace, and it became clear that, you know what … And we would request things. So we would request new technology because we’re working in the field, we’re seeing these new technologies that are coming on the horizon and we wanted to be ahead of the game. And many times we were met with a resounding, no. It’s not in the budget. It’s not necessary.
So all of these components became kindling for realizing that this was not the place to be and that really the talent and the know how lied within our minds. And then just one day I said, we could do this on our own. And then I just blurted out, and they were like, Oh my gosh, we could. I was like, Whoa, whoa, wait, wait. And there was it. So that was it.
Darla LeDoux: So other people left with you.
Alycia Huston: Yes, yes.
Darla LeDoux: This was like Jerry Maguire.
Alycia Huston: Yes. Left, and you know what … And it was very systematic over six months because we did not want the other company to fail because we had love for the employees that were there. And we did not say a word, so it was a systematic exit. So it was with over six months so that when someone left, that another person was hired. So there was no leaving anyone in a lurch. So it was very planned and it just was such a beautiful space to be in, to have the opportunity, and so that’s really what the catalyst was. It was really just down front a lack of respect for our rights, our autonomy and our choices that catapulted this business into fruition. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: So in one sense it was like, Hey, we could do this. Let’s just do this. Maybe a little bit of let’s show them that this is valuable, which honestly, I had that when I started my business, right? I was doing the things, the coachy things that I loved, and I was told, Hey, tone that down and focus more over here because that’s going to be what’s going to get you ahead. And of course, when I started my business, there were the competing thoughts. One that’s saying, well, maybe they’re right and this isn’t valuable, and the other that’s saying, wait, I can’t imagine doing anything else. That has to be valuable. So what was that like saying, you know what, I mean it’s kind of like damn the man, right?
Alycia Huston: Yeah. It was kind of crazy. And it’s like you’re saying with those thoughts, the beauty was within. And when you have that partnership, so we had each other to bounce when we became fearful, it’s like the other one wasn’t fearful at that same time. It’s like girl, we got this. We have the know how, we have the skillset. We’ve written the SOPs that the company is operating on right now. We’ve written the job descriptions that the company is utilizing. So all these things, we would give each other evidence that we could do it. So it was like we were each other’s coaches in that space.
Darla LeDoux: Amazing.
Alycia Huston: Yeah. So when it became time to really do it … and then we were doing it behind the scenes like weekends. I mean we were driven, girl. We would meet on weekends and we would write our SOP and we would do things that we knew because we’re regulated by the FDA. So we had these components and these structures that we knew needed to be in place before we ‘opened our doors’, right? So we were just driven and we were each other’s driving force too. And then mind you, I was still at the other employment where I was still experiencing the pain, so that was a driver too, like, Oh no, we got to get out of here. We got to do something. This is not what business should look like. So there were those drivers, those reminders that kept showing up. And so we wouldn’t meet, we were dedicated, we were consistent, and we stuck with it until we opened.
Darla LeDoux: This is not what business should look like. So you have this example in the way you felt you were being treated and I’m guessing your team was being treated. It sounds like it was kind of a social justice move like I’m standing up for my people.
Alycia Huston: Wow, I didn’t think of it that way.
Darla LeDoux: What should business be like? If that was an example of this isn’t what business should be, what did you decide business should be like?
Alycia Huston: What we decided business should be is that when somebody, their child is sick or their spouse is sick, their significant other, someone they’re caring for, maybe it’s a parent, when they’re sick, you should have the ability to stay home with that person and nurse them. And so in ’04, ’05, we didn’t have the work from home as prevalent as we have today, but I remember we used go to computer and you could dial up and so our people could still … So we found a way that they could still work from home. So they were still able to log into their system from home at that time. We knew that’s what it looked like. You know what else it looked like, it looked like trusting our employees, trusting their word, trusting their heart and trusting their ability, and not second guessing everything. And then also inquiring, you know what, what do you think? What do you foresee? What are some of the experiences you’re having? So really tapping into their wisdom, their skillset and not thinking that we had all the answers just because we had a particular position. That’s what it looked like. It was very collaborative in that way.
And like I said, these are words that we use now, but then this was not dialogue that we used, you know that. It was very heart-centered, truly. Our work dynamic was very heart-centered that it really led to just a level of loyalty that was unheard of. It is unheard of today except in those exemplary companies that illustrate this type of work environment and behavior. And it became very clear to me that leadership is who set the tone. It’s the leadership who set the tone. It is not bottom up, it’s top down. And too many leaders are not held accountable and do not show up powerfully for their people.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. When I made the decision to start my business, it was because my stepdad was sick and I ran out of vacation days and I had to go back to work to show up and be seen. So you’re definitely speaking to me and it was a motivator for me to be able to work wherever I want, and it’s so important these days. So many people will choose that over title or status or some of those things today.
Alycia Huston: So real. Yes, Darla. Yes, yes.
Darla LeDoux: It sounds like you discovered a lot about leadership through your own experience and obviously running this company. How does that inform your work today? It’s like what made you decide to sell? What made you decide to become a coach and really help people with leadership so that more companies can create this magic?
Alycia Huston: I will tell you, it’s very multifaceted because before we even sold, I had the soul calling that something more was out there. And it was at a time in my own life where I was going through a struggle with weight. I was 220 pounds. I was going through just a lot of internal struggles, and I decided I wanted to go to school to learn how to be an integrative health coach because I wanted to not only help myself, but I wanted to help others. And I loved integrated health because one, I love science. I’m background in science and that love. And then also because integrated is whole body. That’s what I believe is health, it’s whole body. And so that was where I received my first coaching certification and I just loved it. And so I started…
Darla LeDoux: I love it, because people like us who would say, Oh, I would like to lose weight. Let me just go get the degree.
Alycia Huston: Yes, yes. I know.
Darla LeDoux: All in.
Alycia Huston: All in girl. Myself, I was practicing it. I was able to lose 60 pounds. I mean all of these things that I was doing transformed my mind. In the process, saw things so differently. And then it was in that time where I was really aligned in my whole being that the opportunity came for us to sell. We were not seeking it out. It found us. It magnetized to us to the point that we went through about three different conversations with different VCs and they taught me so much in that process to when we found the right one. The right one who had many of the same values. I was telling my partners it’s so important that we are core values because it was important for us. We started this business for a reason and we didn’t want …
The other companies wanted to close it and then bring things in-house. We were like, Nope, done. We’re not a fit. And had the beauty of aligning with this particular firm. And then we actually stayed on as executive leadership for a couple of years. But I will tell you that was painful because coming back under the corporate umbrella, and that is again, Darla, where I experienced the, well, you don’t need to be coaching, be quiet. You don’t need to stand for these employees. We got this. That’s where that energy started showing up again. And then there became some issues within the employees. And so that’s when I will say, honestly, I made the connection about leadership and about how businesses thrive.
There’s different ways we can do punitive leadership. Absolutely rule with an iron fist, you’re going to do this. We can do manipulative leadership. There are so many things that we can operate under that I saw a while back under the corporate umbrella. But the one thing I know for sure is our growth, mind you, our growth was just organic. And so I became very clear that it was from the way I led that company, the way I empowered the leadership of those individuals in my company that really grew the productivity, it grew … Their energy was magnetic for our clients. They would go to conferences. People were like, where are you working? Tell me more. They were so in joy that it called in new clients when they would be at a conference, out in the community at another event because they were just so … they felt so seen, heard, a part of. Their voice mattered.
And unfortunately, that is not the norm. We’re not taught that. And I can’t speak to what it looks like today because I’m not there. I don’t know. I choose not to know or to ask questions. Just steer clear, Alycia.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. I can’t imagine selling your baby and then watching what’s happening behind the scenes. That had to be emotionally challenging.
Alycia Huston: It was so emotionally challenging, and I protected my employees a lot. There’s a lot of things they didn’t know. I protected them a lot as we do, right, to the point that … I mean I can say this, I mean I got written up because of something I said to a senior VP, excuse me, we’re equal. I don’t care what you think. We’re equal. This is my company. I’m a senior executive leader and I’m going to tell you like it is. You can tell other people like it is so I’m going to tell you like it is in a language you can understand too. And I got written up and I just thought it was just so comical that I’m getting written up yet you have these other senior male leaders leading in a certain way that they may receive a slap on the wrist. And it’s what led to ultimately them eliminating my position. Let’s be clear, because Alycia was verbal. Alycia stood up for her people. That’s what we do as leaders. We stand up for our people. We show up, and sometimes it’s not pretty.
Darla LeDoux: Were you able to see that at the time and go, okay, this is … And was it a white male leadership team and then Alycia?
Alycia Huston: Yes, it was white male that were at the top. There was my direct leadership report to the COO. She was a white female, but I want to be very honest that the power was not hers. The power was not hers. It came from above. And I started to see this truly, Darla, I’m going to tell you, I had the calling to leave probably about a year prior, but those golden handcuffs, I’m going to be honest, were so good. Come on. It was good. It was good. And you start thinking, Oh my family, oh this. I had forgotten about how I got into this in ’04. I had forgotten that piece, and I had come into this space where I was-
Darla LeDoux: Sure, we get comfortable.
Alycia Huston: Yes. Yes. And so the source of all said, I’m going to release you and remind you of who you are and what you’re here to do.
Darla LeDoux: That was so beautiful.
Alycia Huston: And so I was released. And I would be trying to be a white light if I said, Oh, I just thought it was the most beautiful thing. Girl, I was cursing them out in my mind. Okay? I was like, how dare you? And so I needed time to really heal through that. I was very professional in that space, in that moment, but I was angry. I was angry. How dare you? All of these things, this is my baby. Just all of those little pieces came into play. This is real. This is real life. But then after a couple of months … I took a couple of months to just be, and then I heard the spirit. I heard saying, this is what the plan was, go with it, let’s get busy. And so then I was able to step into what I was dibbling and dabbling in on the side, doing it, loving it, but not really fully in it. I was truly able to step in just at the beginning of 2018, truly stepped in fully to the truth of my work and the depth of my work and the transformative power of my work, and how it all shows up. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Wow. What an amazing experience to be able to bring your perspective to your clients.
Alycia Huston: Yes. It’s a gift. It’s a gift.
Darla LeDoux: And I get it didn’t feel like that in the moment. A lot of the times, our opportunity to grow doesn’t feel that way. Alycia, I’m in the process of creating a little class for a group of clients on death and destruction, and what needs to happen. What needs to die for you to live your truth, and that’s what I’m hearing in this, right? It’s like it had to die.
Alycia Huston: Yes, ma’am.
Darla LeDoux: I’m also hearing you did your best to screen buyers for an alignment of values, and yet there are, and this is my little soapbox about leadership, there are entrenched patterns of what it is to be a leader in business that have been set forth from the patriarchy, that is, this is what it looks like to lead in business. That regardless of what the values say, and this was an experience I had in corporate, is there’s the values on the wall, but then there’s what you live. So regardless of what the values say, some of those entrenched patterns came through.
Alycia Huston: Yes, Darla, yes. Yes. And you could see, even in my immediate report, you could see the pain, the struggle. She was an amazing woman, but she just had no power. And I could sense her frustration, her struggle. I mean I could see it at times. I was like, Oh, you’re caught up. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: How much of what you do today is around advocating for a different type of leadership that’s specifically more, whether we call it feminine, I don’t know. What would your word be for-
Alycia Huston: You know what’s coming to me, this word that has been coming in my spirit lately is dimensional. It’s dimensional leadership, and it does encompass feminine.
Darla LeDoux: That’s good. Yes.
Alycia Huston: Thank you. And it does encompass the feminine because the feminine is where our power is, let’s be clear. And we’re unaware our power has been siphoned from us as well, so we need to take that back, but it is, it really is. And I thank you for that word, advocate, because I had not thought of it like that. It really is a bit of acting as an advocate on behalf of those leaders who are not clear on what dimensional leadership looks like, and how they can when they operate within that space, how they can change the trajectory of their business. Because so many of us, Darla, let’s be real. Oh, we got to have that social media calendar. We got to have that plan. Oh, I got to have my website. It’s so much deeper than that. It is really about you as the leader and what you’re creating and who you’re calling in. It’s so much deeper, and it’s what I’ve learned since 2004 being in a role of leadership and understanding it. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. I want to take a little different turn and we’re going to come back to teams in this space, in this entrepreneurial space, so how to build a team as a retreat leader. But you do an annual events. And even in what you’ve shared so far, Alycia, I can get a sense of all the transformation that you had to navigate both from leaving the nonprofit to starting this business, to choosing to sell, to then being eliminated from your business you created, and there’s an invitation to grow and transform in every one of those changes. And then when you make a decision to do something like host an event or lead a retreat, there’s this invitation to grow that happens, and it happens … In my experience, it happens for me as the leader first to create this space for people to step into. And if I’m not doing that work, then it won’t feel, it’ll be sticky. It’ll be stressful, right? So talk a little bit coming into this world and introducing yourself as a leadership coach, and then making the choice to have an event. What was that like for you?
Alycia Huston: I’m going to just be … This is a space of honesty, right?
Darla LeDoux: I love truth.
Alycia Huston: The very first time I had an event, I have to have an event because everybody’s having events. So I’m going to be honest, okay, that was year one. It’s like I’m going to have an event.
Darla LeDoux: Been there, done that.
Alycia Huston: Yes. And the turnout was a little lackluster because I really was not even clear on what was going to even happen in the space, what people can expect, who was it for? So that was really, Darla, year one, that’s what it was. Then year two-
Darla LeDoux: Did you have the event?
Alycia Huston: I did. Oh girl, I wanted to cancel it. I’m not even going to lie. I wanted to cancel it, but I had people that were coming, I had people that had already said yes to speaking and that had already gotten plane tickets just to come and speak. So really I think I had honestly about like 15 people, and I was hoping to have like … I don’t need these … I know some people really do well with large events, but I wanted like 50. I like intimate. 50 is yummy for me. And so there was 15, girl. Okay?
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. So let’s talk about that, you’re not the only person who’s ever been there, in that place of number shame.
Alycia Huston: Oh, that is good. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Like me, am I better off delivering this to the 15 people who are coming and going through that unbearable moment of them realizing there’s only 15 people in the room yet, or am I better off canceling it, which then I know I’m just hiding out and my ego is winning. How did you make that choice?
Alycia Huston: I really went into a conversation with the beautiful mentor I had in this space and she shifted me. She’s the one who shifted my mindset to see it doesn’t matter if you have 15 or 50, Alycia. You were here for a purpose. These 15 said yes to be in this room, so what you have to offer is for them. And so I was like, okay. And she said, and it’s going to be beautiful. And Darla, it was awesome. It was so good. There was the shame, I’m not going to lie, when I first walked in on the stage to welcome everyone. It’s just like, only 15 people. And then the room was big, girl, okay? I was like, Oh my God.
Darla LeDoux: Well, you said stage. So did you have the rise there and everything?
Alycia Huston: I had the rise there and it was not even necessary, okay? We could have saved that money too, right?
Darla LeDoux: Yes.
Alycia Huston: These lessons that I learned, and I can laugh about it now. But all of these lessons … But the biggest lesson I got from that was to show up, to show up no matter what. And so that was something that went with me for year two, which was awesome. I got a smaller room for year two, just a little bit smaller. I was still growing, and I was still in the corporate realm, and I had 35. That was awesome. I loved it. Just such beautiful energy in there. Oh, it was good. Darla, it’s just this process for live events and there’s this thing that I thought, Oh, you create and people will show up. Yeah. No. It doesn’t work like that. There is a process.
Darla LeDoux: Darn that Field of Dreams movie.
Alycia Huston: Yes. There is a process to all of this, what we’re creating and inviting people to experience and to really say yes to themselves too. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: And one of the things that I find happens, and then I’ll be curious your thoughts on this, is even though there was probably a part of you that understood that your leadership was unique and your perspective was unique and there was something you were doing that was intangible but magical that really worked, it’s like it feels arrogant to say that or admit that, right? So then we think we’re creating a value proposition that’s very practical. Like you come for three days, you get this, you get that, you get this, this speaker and that speaker, whatever, organic food and the things that matter but don’t matter in a lot of ways. And yet talking about that magic that happens is really a whole other ballgame.
Alycia Huston: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so good
Darla LeDoux: So I’m guessing that when you led to the 15 people, you learned a little bit more about your magic, and then when you led to the 35 people, you learned a little bit more. Can you speak to that about how actually leading the event helped you understand what you do and what your magic is even better?
Alycia Huston: Absolutely. Because Darla, you’re liking it too. You can study. I’m a basketball girl, so I played basketball in high school, and you can study a playbook, honey. You can study your playbook, you can study a playbook, you can have all the strategy. Oh, I’m going to make this play, that play. But until you get out there on that court and you make a mistake or you see something, you see a different opening, you cannot really speak to what can be created until you actually do it. And so for me actually doing it was magic in and of itself because it actually allowed me the opportunity to experience myself in a different light, and to … Like you said, there’s this space of, yes, be humble but also understand that you in that space of leadership are there to create a transformation and people are here for the transformation you bring. So I don’t think, I know I would not have had that experience had I not said yes to year one. And even in the flop, and even in being in the red, let’s be clear because I was in the red year one-
Darla LeDoux: I got the math in my head, girl.
Alycia Huston: Of course, yeah girl. Going into year two still saying yes to, I know this is what I’m to be doing and let’s just be clear with the vision. Let’s get a little more clarity on the vision here so that it meets me and supports me where I am. And then stepping into that again saying yes, again, it grew me again as a leader, as a woman, as an individual, as a mentor, all of those things. So yeah, you have to get in the game in order to experience the winnings, the fruits, the spoils. Yes.
Darla LeDoux: I know for me, my favorite phrase I feel lately is two things can be true at the same time. So I’m thinking back to, I also did big events because that is what people do and that’s how everybody knows you’re successful is if you’re having these big events. So that’s what I did. And there are places where I learned really quickly, Oh, that’s not me, right? So for example, I worked with an event team that said, okay, you have to have PowerPoints and they have to be like this, this is how many. You’ve been to my retreat. I don’t do PowerPoints anymore. But at that time I was like, well, they are the experts of course. And so I was miserable creating these PowerPoints, but I’m going to do it because that’s what you do. And that’s the only way I learned that maybe some people need PowerPoints, but some people don’t use PowerPoints. You have to get, exactly, get on the court.
Alycia Huston: Yeah. I love what you’re saying. And for me and my speakers, I’m like, you don’t have to have a PowerPoint. If you want one, make sure I have it by this time, but if you don’t want one, I’m totally cool with that, because like you said, we all teach, facilitate, meet our people in different ways, and we want to hold space for those different ways of operation, and I love it, girl. I like when people don’t do PowerPoints and then others do. Or some people are like, I’m going to pass out some worksheets just so you have a visual, that works for me. I love it. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: Has your event always been called Transcend?
Alycia Huston: Yes, it has. I will tell you that is an event name that was given to me just through the spirit. I didn’t even know what that meant year one, girl, but year two, I understood. And then I understood even more year three. So now just moving into year four, I have transcended. I have transcended obstacles, challenges and stepped into new lights and new avenues and new opportunities. Like you said earlier, we as the teachers, the facilitators, the space holders, we must experience it first to be able to teach it and bring our people along, right? And so it has always been Transcend and it is just…
Darla LeDoux: To me, I get, well, that’s what you’re doing with leadership, right, transcending outmoded forms of leadership and ideas of leadership, so it’s really beautiful.
Alycia Huston: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: I’m curious, Alycia, what was your year three lesson? Now, looking back since that’s most recent, when you can look at it from a different vantage point, what was the personal growth for you there?
Alycia Huston: So here’s year three, okay, because there’s always the lesson, right? So year three I said, okay, I need all of these people, my team in the room with me. So year three was at a new place.
Darla LeDoux: It’s going to be juicy.
Alycia Huston: Yeah. It was in a new place. I was like, I need this person, I need this person, I need this person. So I brought these individuals with me from my team. And what I realized is although they are invaluable in the space of my team, they did not need to all be in that room. So it was learning that everybody doesn’t have to be in that room to support you. They can support you from afar.
Darla LeDoux: What happened?
Alycia Huston: Nothing bad happened, but what I realized is, listen, this money could have gone to something that could have been a different experiences.
Darla LeDoux: The expenses got a little…
Alycia Huston: Yes. The expenses, this could have gone to this. I could have allocated this to this budget. So it was really just an evaluation of the expenses that, was that really necessary? That really wasn’t necessary.
Darla LeDoux: So we go below that decision to have the whole team. Where was that coming from?
Alycia Huston: I believe it was coming from, well, these events, you have team to support you and to do A, B, and C. So it was something that really wasn’t Alycia’s. I had picked this up from outside of me.
Darla LeDoux: That’s what other people do.
Alycia Huston: Other people do. Also they have teams. And it was like … And so I was in this event realizing that when you bring more team with you, there’s more explaining, there’s more conversation, there’s more because you have to direct. And so what I realized it was more work for me to have them in the room and on the site, because they’re like, what do I do? What do I do? So they’re coming to me, what do I do? What do I do? And I was like, wow. So I had to look at how I did not lead appropriately as I wanted to in that space. And it wasn’t a judgment against myself, it was some observation. It was like, okay, so we’re not going to recreate this again.
Darla LeDoux: So you hadn’t done it before in that way, so you didn’t even know what kind of questions would come up?
Alycia Huston: No, no. It was a new experience and I appreciated it, and they’re all still on my team. But it was really funny because one of the ladies said, Oh, so when we go to Transcend this year, I was like, Oh, that’s not going to happen. I’m going to have one team member with me, just one. And she serves a particular purpose. She’s really just kind of like an armor bearer too for the space and she’s great with energy, and so I knew that this one was the one to be there. And I told the others, no disrespect, this is what it is, but this is what we have to do as leaders. We have to stand in our power and what we know is true. And so that’s what it was. And they were like, Oh, I’m disappointed. Yeah. Okay. Well, you can purchase a ticket and come if you’d like, but this is what it’s going to be. It’s not going to be on Alycia’s dime this year.
Darla LeDoux: I know. I’ve learned to even say that in interviews. Like, yeah, everyone wants to go to the events. Everyone wants that to be their job. So let’s just set that aside. I can get plenty of people who will do that for free.
Beautiful. Beautiful. And I love that you said, I’m taking my power as a leader. This is how I lead and this is how we are going to do things. Sometimes you do have to get on the court and do it the way other people are doing it because you don’t know. We always take the stance with our work of getting as clear as possible about your way and how you’re designed and what works for you in advance, but we don’t always know.
Alycia Huston: No, we don’t. That’s right. And that’s part of the journey, right, the uncovering and discovering that, oh, that part right there I didn’t quite like that, so I’m not going to repeat that. But then like you said, just still learning that and owning that and then working that out and what does that look like. Yes. Yes.
Darla LeDoux: Beautiful. I know you have Transcend coming up again shortly and by the time this airs it will have happened. So I’m super curious about what your lessons are this year, but you might already know. For me, they often show up in advance. We talked a little bit before we started recording about you came to our retreat this year and how that’s influenced how you’re leading going forward. So what are you anticipating this year? Or tell us a little bit about what’s up for you now.
Alycia Huston: You got it. When I went to the Retreat and Grow Rich, it really fired me up because you know what, it was confirmation for certain things about how I do things differently. So leadership in a lot of ways, a lot of people or many people don’t do it the way I do. So I believe leadership can be … it is a process. It can be over working with a mentor over a certain amount of time or it can be us coming together in retreat form and really deep diving into some areas or instances that we really want to work on and create something different and transform.
And so it was a beautiful space to be in because it showed me, it actually demonstrated to me, because I will be honest, I was starting to second guess myself that maybe retreat, maybe this is not for my people. Maybe it won’t have the transformation I’m looking for. But to see it demonstrated in the space with all those amazing leaders that were right there by your facilitation and the conversations, I was like, okay, this is confirmation. This is a breadth of work that I’m going to start to bring into my corporate clients too because it will benefit corporate clients as well as small business owners. I just see the value across the board, and I don’t have to start big. That was a big thing too that I learned, it’s you really don’t have to start big.
Sometimes we can get grandiose in our thoughts, like I said, even with my first Transcend. So it was a reminder to me too that transformation does not have to be on … it can be these beautiful, beautiful pods that we’re creating of incubation and transformation that we launch out into the world. When they work with me and then they’re launched, and then, oh, they might come back again for a little more tune up, and then they’re launched again, and then they’re going to touch their communities. So it was really beautiful. It was a beautiful reminder and invitation to me that this work is so profound. The work that I’m doing. And I can actually go deeper in a retreat space because we’re all together for these periods of time that we can really go deep, but then we can make sure that anything that is opened up, we’re able to close too in that space. Yeah.
Darla LeDoux: I’m thinking about the numbers game, right? And I love that you mentioned that lesson about your team because when we do have smaller numbers, it’s not feasible to fly your whole team to every retreat. That doesn’t work very well. Financially, it’s tricky and it’s also weird, right, if you have a small group and the team is as big as the room. But it’s so doable to have a super lucrative business with small numbers. And I fought it, Alycia. A little of my trajectory, I was working with a coach who had big events and hundreds and hundreds of people. And so that was kind of like the gold standard. My first event, I had 85 and it was nonstop on the phone calling, a lot of effort.
My second event, I had a similar number. I had sponsors, but my whole team … I had learned so much from that first one that I knew more what to do the second time. But what I realized is then I had my whole team for at least six months dedicated to, as they call butts and seats in this event, right? And our whole cycle of our life was about this event, and this was just year two. So I learned from year one, oh, you can’t just wait. So year two it was like, okay, we’re doing this. But everything in the business becomes about filling the event, which isn’t bad, but it’s not everybody’s purpose. And so I have learned to appreciate people whose purpose is to gather large groups. To just honor and value and love that about them, and know my path as well.
And so I think I might have taken a year off. I don’t know that I even did, Alycia, because I said, okay, no more big events. I’m the retreat person. This is for me. But then there was this part of me that said, yes, but you need to gather more people. So then I did. I kind of reinvented the event and I did it in this very creative way, which ended up making me lose money, but I was like, okay, I’ve got to find a way to make this work. And I learned so much. So I did that event twice before retiring it and going … And there was a moment before my fourth event where I said, I was having this conversation in my mind, Oh, if it weren’t for this event, everything would be so easy in my business right now because everything else was just working and flowing.
You have your event coming up, you have a stage, you have speakers, you have all of that. I don’t know. You know your purpose if it’s big groups, small groups or some combination. But anybody listening, I just want to give people permission to go within and ask themselves, what does that look like for me? And maybe it’s mostly small groups and you have one big group. Or maybe it’s like, you know what, what it takes of me energetically to do a big group, it just isn’t in alignment for me, and it’s okay to do that, and it doesn’t make you less of an entrepreneur or less of a business owner. I earned as much profit on a every 10-person retreat as I did on my 85-person retreat. I still made money and it was successful and all of that, and lots of people would love to have that, but it wasn’t any more successful than the small retreat. And everybody’s got their own way.
Alycia Huston: Absolutely. I love that perspective. Wow, it’s beautiful and it’s real because who knows. Like you said, as we grow, I know you’re in a transition with your business and allowing it and we grow.
Darla LeDoux: Honestly, I’m in that same conversation of like, oh, does this iteration, is there a bigger group, is there not? And I don’t have an answer, Alycia.
Alycia Huston: Yeah. I love it. This is what it’s about and we have to allow for it. And I’m with you because who knows. Will Transcend be around in the next two years, I don’t know. I just feel each year, okay, is it coming? So I know there will be a year five, but I can’t tell you there’ll be a year six.
Darla LeDoux: I just knew each year is it coming? So what would you leave people with around leadership? And I’m going to insert this idea of you said, Hey, the name just came. You said spirit told me clearly, you’re meant to go. So there’s a spiritual aspect to how you’re doing this and approaching this. What would you leave people with around what it is to be a leader of a retreat-based business in this day and age, where we’re going? Take as much time as you need, because that’s a big question.
Alycia Huston: That’s a huge question. What I will tell you is I can only speak from where I am, right? I will be very transparent. I’ve co-led a couple of retreats and they did not lucratively turn out the way I would have liked, but at that point I had not spent time with you yet either, Darla. So what I would tell people around retreat-based businesses is first be careful who you start sharing that with until you have become clear yourself with what it looks like. Because what you will allow people to do unbeknownst to you is project some of their insecurities, some of their questions, some of their misunderstandings onto you. And if you’re not clear and grounded in what that looks like already for you, you don’t have to be perfect, but if you’re not clearly grounded in what that looks like, you may allow yourself to be swayed. And you may allow yourself to believe that this is not for you.
But what I can tell you is retreats have been something that had been on my spirit for years and I just did not quite know how to bring them forth. And so if it’s something that is within you, it is in your spirit, you have come across, Darla, you have been in some of her free content, which is amazing that you’re like, Oh my gosh, this is what I want to be doing, this is for me, then I truly believe you owe it to yourself to give yourself the opportunity to explore it. Just explore. This is what business is about. It’s about exploring, being curious, looking into new ideas that have come to you and just giving yourself an opportunity to see what could be.
And so retreat based, I am very clear because I have experienced that being on other retreats as well as Darla’s coming into kind of more of a facilitation retreat, but I’m clear on what’s possible. And those of us usually that have said yes to stepping into a retreat-based business, it’s because we know what’s possible in those spaces. Yeah. And so I would just beckon anyone to give yourself an opportunity and to realize that even in what you may quote, like I said, my first event, I had 15 people, you may quote deem, Oh my gosh, this was a failure, I guarantee you, it is so much more than that. You will learn so much more and then you will be better prepared for your next retreat. That will just continue to evolve. You grow, you grow your leadership, grow the people that say yes to themselves, transform you, transform them because that’s what it’s about, you as the teacher and the leader going first. Yeah. So I say do it. If it’s within you, yeah, do it. And just remain curious, and just have-
Darla LeDoux: I love that idea because we want it to be perfect. We don’t want to make a mistake. We don’t want to be embarrassed. We don’t want to look like we did it wrong, at least I don’t. I know you don’t, right? Those of us who we’d like to do things right, we like to be good and do it by the books. But it’s such great advice. And I love what you said about become clear within yourself. And I’m guessing, because others can project their insecurities, and that can happen with your friends, obviously it can happen a lot with your family, but it can happen with your friends, it can happen with your team. So being really clear about your leadership allows you to set the tone for people, kind of to tie back to what you said, so they’re so excited and happy about what you’re doing and lucky they get to work with you, and you’re not even leaving space for that doubt to creep in.
Alycia Huston: Correct. Correct. It’s so real. And I think that’s where a lot of us sometimes, like you’re saying, in the creation space, we don’t convey clearly with enthusiasm, and so it leaves the gray space. It leaves people, what about this? So yeah. Yeah. I 100% agree with you. Yes.
Darla LeDoux: So if someone wants to create that kind of unquestionable leadership and that dimensional leadership, they can reach out to you and they can find you through your website, alyciahuston.com.
Alycia Huston: Yes.
Darla LeDoux: And who’s the right person to reach out?
Alycia Huston: Listen, my journey is from small business. I absolutely love small business owners because a lot of times we get into questioning our own heads and we don’t have someone to really help hold the space and bring us back into alignment. So I love small business leaders. Those are my people. And I also love leaders that are in corporate. I do have a few clients that are in corporate who are looking to create environments of rising together, of empowering their team and that understand the value of cultivating themselves, because in that cultivation it does nothing but trickle downhill. So those are my people. Yes.
Darla LeDoux: Yeah. It’s a whole different kind of leadership, and it sounds like you came by it naturally and this process. And I feel like I need to underline this for people because you come to this conversation, so vulnerable and transparent, right? And it’s like that is such an advanced skill. So you came by this leadership naturally of really empowering people and trusting them and getting them involved and inspiring them. And then we get in this journey of teaching the thing that we’re so passionate about and we have to do our own transformation to be at an even greater level. It’s such a vulnerable journey. And if folks in corporate could bring just this much of that vulnerability and truth telling to the way they lead, the world would look different. Coming from corporate, I know this and I know you do too.
Alycia Huston: I do. Thank you for that. You’re so right. Yes. Yes.
Darla LeDoux: So if you’re someone who’s listening to this and you’ve been drawn to like, Oh, maybe I want to host retreats. I’ve been on retreats. I know why I want to host, but you’re in corporate, get Alycia’s support in … If you can bring that type of leadership to your corporate job, even if you decide to leave, you’ll be so much better prepared. Get that support because we’ve got to infiltrate and do things differently.
Alycia Huston: Oh, yes, we do. Yes, we do. Let’s change it up. Yes. Thank you, Darla.
Darla LeDoux: Yes. Awesome. Thank you so much for being here, Alycia. Thank you for who you are in the world and getting up every day and leading in your own way. I so love you.
Alycia Huston: I love you too. Thank you for having me.
Darla LeDoux: Bye everyone.
Alycia Huston: Bye-bye.
Are you ready to take the first step to growing a profitable, fulfilling business that makes a real difference in the world?
I’m so happy to share with you a FREE COPY of my book Retreat and Grow Rich: The entrepreneur’s guide to powerful, profitable retreats to help you get started!
This book contains everything I’ve learned in leading over 40 transformational experiences plus the steps you need to use this approach in your own business.