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Shifting the Paradigm: How One New Venture is Setting Out to Change the Food Industry

Alison Daniels is one of our fantastic contributing writers in this month's issue of En Root. Sharing her story on how she is turning her own vision and passion into a revolution, Alison is a perfect fit for our month dedicated to the new venture. Today, we take a look behind the venture, interviewing Alison on what drives and ignites her, and learning what advice she has for those looking for their true calling.

Give us your best pitch: Explain what you are building and why it matters.

I am building Monster Shift Coaching and Consulting - a coaching program that was specifically designed to cater to food service employees looking for balance and forward momentum in their lives, as well as to the restaurants and bars that employ them looking to build a healthy and successful workplace. The best things about the bar and restaurant industry can also be the most challenging, and I combine traditional coaching strategies with the personal experience and expertise that I have in making the restaurant world work for my life to improve employee fulfillment, from bussers to owners.

A bar or restaurant can’t function without people working at every level and it can’t function efficiently and effectively without employees who feel motivated and focused. Through individual and group coaching sessions, I support owners and managers in creating workplaces that encourage the employee satisfaction that results in the high retention rates that help a restaurant or bar run more smoothly. I also offer individual and group coaching for folks that want to empower themselves separately from their employers. I am committed to industry employees' abilities to lead fulfilling lives both at work and outside of work.

At OutGrowth, we are committed to giving access. Tell us what access means to you in, and how you achieve access in the business you are building.

I would assert that Monster Shift's foundation is based around access. In my experience, there are certain aspects to what many people consider everyday life - particularly in the realms of well-being and finance - that feel inaccessible or difficult to access for members of the restaurant industry. I'm working to open a space in which restaurant and bar employees feel that they can thrive in a non-standard industry that brings them joy while still having access to those elements of society that someone in a traditional job might deem "normal."

Explain a time when you were impacted by or had an impact within the food/farming industry. Why was this experience significant?

Seventeen years ago, I took a job as a hostess/busser at a small family-owned restaurant in Harford County, Maryland. It didn't seem significant at the time. What I didn't realize is that it was the launch pad for an entire career and an opportunity to touch the lives of thousands of people.

How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?

What started as a fallback industry when I needed quick money with a flexible schedule grew into a career that eventually launched a vision for my own business. It provided me with a unique understanding of an entire subculture and allowed me to identify a need there, which in turn opened up the opportunity for me to design the life that I've always wanted while providing value to a community who truly are my people.

What would you say are the top three most important steps that students and young professionals can take today in their journeys to build a life and a career full of meaning?

1. Forget what society tells you a career looks like. So much of what we consider normal life only exists because we as a society have agreed that's how it should be. But you have the power to write your own story.

2. Decide what your own personal benchmarks for success are. Maybe you want the traditional six-figure salary with a house and 2.5 children. Maybe traveling for 6 months out of the year is more important to you than a 401k. You get to decide what makes you happy. Then practice not caring if people question the way that you're doing things.

3. Find or create a job that fulfills #2. I'm not even going to necessarily suggest that it be something that you are passionate about. Sure, that would be great. But I also know people who are completely happy putting in 40 hours a week at a job that they enjoy, but aren't passionate about, because it affords them the opportunity to spend 128 hours a week doing everything that they love in life. I love by a simple motto: If it doesn't bring harm, then you do you, boo.

Given your current passion for entrepreneurship, if you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

I know that this might sound self-serving, but I swear that it's true - I would have told my younger self to hire a coach. I left a lot of unfinished and unfulfilled dreams on the table when I was young. Looking back, I have no doubt that with someone standing for me to have the life that I was imagining, and partnering with me to work through the obstacles I encountered along the way, I would have seen my dreams through to the end. I also would have told my younger self #1 from above. I spent a lot of energy trying to make my life look a certain way when I was young, only to discover that a lot of the time, there is no "right way" to do things.

What are some words of wisdom that you would offer students exploring the possibility of an immersive experience as a component of building their own way forward?

Yes. Yes yes yes. It can be so difficult to see beyond our own preconceived notions of life without getting out into the world and immersing ourselves in communities with different perspectives. The cornerstone of my business is based in having immersed myself in a world outside my own. Monster Shift wouldn't exist without it.

What is your favorite quote?

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way." - W. H. Murray

What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2019?

Monster Shift is really still in its infancy. Next steps are -

1) building clientele

2) finding like-minded community members to continue creating a support network

3) continuing to build awareness of myself and my brand

4) continuing my training and certification process as a coach.

I'm starting by building ongoing Coaching Groups for restaurant industry employees. Direct support has always been the life's blood of my dream for a shift in the industry. From there, I plan to lead a revolution.

Alison is the creator of Monster Shift Coaching and Consulting, a coaching program designed to cater to members of the restaurant and bar industry, as well as the Communications and Events Director for Penn Social, one of Washington, DC's biggest sports bars. She plans to effect change in the industry on a national level. Her drink of choice is a whiskey flip with allspice dram, and she is not great at updating her social media accounts.


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