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Life By Design and Our Ability to Choose

Driven, insightful and centered, Alison Anne has so much to share with us on the power of choice, and how it has shaped her journey through life and work. Enjoy our Q+A with the Founder of Restaurant Revolution, and be sure to collect more inspiration from her most recent feature in this month's issue of En Root!

This month's theme is all about the power of choice. Tell us about how you interpret this theme, and how it has played a role in your personal or professional life.

My entire career has been built on the power of choice! I came to embrace the power of choice through my work in the restaurant industry. I had so many colleagues who had huge dreams. They were constantly telling me that "this is the year" that they go back to school, save money, get their dream job, create their video game, get back in shape etc. But when I asked them how things were going with their progress? Excuses. Lots of excuses. And I was right there with them! I was technically an actor, but I hardly ever made time to go to auditions because I was so busy with my restaurant job. I felt like I didn't have a choice. I got put on the schedule and had to work my butt off, and then I was tired! It's funny, because I could hear the excuses so clearly from my co-workers' mouths, but when it came to my own excuses - well I was the exception! I really *didn't* have a choice. If only my boss would stop scheduling me so much! So I decided to start a coaching business so that I could be the person who would make a difference for restaurant industry employees. And through my training, I learned the most valuable lesson of my life: We always have a choice.

At OutGrowth, we believe in designing the space and time to reimagine the path forward. How do you believe choice plays a role in growing into our best selves?

This is such a perfect question. Life by design requires that we embrace our ability to choose. Even being our best selves is a choice! We have a lot of internal chatter that might try to tell us that we're less than the whole, creative, resourceful human beings that we are. We can choose to listen to it, or we can choose to know ourselves as the absolute rockstars we are, and then take action accordingly. There's also a lot of chatter from the world around us. Reimagining the path forward requires choosing not to listen to the voices who would tell us that we can't, or that things aren't done that way. It always starts with a choice.

Tell us about your most significant professional moment since the start of the pandemic.

I have always wanted to be a professional speaker. I thought it would require years and lots of hard work! But I just decided to dive in and see what would happen. I had my assistant make some inquiries about the process to be considered for speaking opportunities with some major conferences, and the next thing I knew, I was booked for 4 paid speaking engagements across the U.S. in the spring of 2022 in front of my ideal restaurant clients. (And I suddenly found myself needing to write a speech!)

How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook from pre-pandemic times.

It is just another piece of evidence that things don't have to be hard or to take a long time. We can actually choose for things to be easy if we'll let them. And it often requires choosing to take that first action step that feels scary or ridiculous or out of our league. And even in the midst of a global pandemic, there are endless possibilities out in the world to choose! Once you've chosen one of them, if you're really committed, it just becomes about making it happen in spite of all other circumstances.

What is one competency or skill you hope to develop in 2022?

This might sound funny for someone whose job requires staying in relationship with people, but it's cultivating long-term relationships. I have a tendency to meet a lot of people once or twice and then move on. It feels really challenging and like a lot of work to stay on top of connections with so many people! So I'm looking at how I can adjust my attitude and my support structures to make it easy to be in authentic relationships with a lot of people for the long haul.

What inspires you these days?

The number of people who are working to transform the restaurant industry. For a long time it seemed like it was an industry that was not interested or willing to choose to change. Since the pandemic hit, we've seen a lot of leaders step up to share what they've learned about valuing our workers and creating strong work cultures. It's incredibly inspiring to see so many people who believe that we can reinvent the industry so that all of its workers' lives are improved!

At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource (book, podcast, article, anything!) you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in 2022?

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle! It is a BRILLIANT look at the cultures behind some of the world's greatest teams. I believe in empathy, transparency, and vulnerability as key leadership skills, and this book breaks down why they're so important in building your workforce.

What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2022?

I plan to be on a lot more stages in the future! There are still a lot of people out there who feel like they are the victim to their circumstances. I want to use speaking as a platform to remind everyone in the restaurant industry that they always have a choice. And that choosing who they're going to be and how they're going to act is a radical act of power! I'm starting a number of coaching and training groups that are dedicated to supporting restaurant owners, managers, and employees who want to reach their goals and design their own lives. And for my personal growth? Every day is a new chance to put down the hustle, open my heart a little bit more, and to dance more often. We're all just humans being human with each other, and I want to bring a lot more love, power, and choice to the world.

Alison is the founder of Restaurant Revolution, a coaching and consulting company that believes that every single restaurant industry employee, from the owner to the dishwasher, deserves to live a great life. She lives in Rockville, MD with her extremely sweet and supportive husband and the world's most adorable dog.


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