After receiving a shocking diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Barbara began pursuing an integrative approach to wellness. She moved on from her high power, high stress job in healthcare and became a certified wellness coach and consultant, motivational speaker and published author. Her interview inspires us to stay out of the trap of listening to what everyone else is doing and instead, find what feels right and works for us.
What inspired you to become a holistic entrepreneur?
In a matter of mere seconds on a Thursday morning in April 2006, my life changed forever. While at work, in the blink of an eye, I experienced symptoms of what appeared to be a stroke at the mere age of 44. After three weeks of various doctors and a whirlwind of uncomfortable tests, I was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. Eventually I was laid off from my high power, high stress job in healthcare and while I was getting my life back in control, I decided to pursue an integrative approach to wellness. This all made me realize the importance of living life as healthfully as possible and helping others do the same, especially as they age, so I pursued wellness coaching certification and the rest is history.
Tell us about your business or practice.
As a motivational speaker, published author, certified wellness coach and consultant, I inspire people to look and feel younger longer, even with a chronic illness, through mindful health and a meaningful life. With the publication of my first book, Live in Wellness Now (Love Your Life Publishing), I am recognized as an expert in the growing field of an integrative approach to proactive wellness.
As a seasoned professional who authentically walks-my-talk every day, I educate and inspire motivated middle-aged professionals to stave off age-related disease and learn to be present, be purposeful and be well. By combining healthy living, spirituality, and neuroscience principles, I help people understand how to be proactive in their health care versus reactionary in their sick care so they can feel great in their body and in their life. My greatest wish is to never hear a person say, “I should be taking better care of myself.”
What is your current business model?
Primarily I am a motivational speaker and address groups from 10 to 300+ people. I also offer workshops in-person and online as well as group programs (with a minimum of 4-6 people). For a select number of VIP clients, I do offer one-on-one coaching via the telephone or Skype once a week.
What has been one of your favorite moments as a business owner thus far?
One of my favorite moments was when a workshop participant informed me that she took what she learned in our class back to her boss at J.Jill and they were so excited to learn of this tool that they incorporated it into their regional employee team meetings. Talk about initiating a positive ripple effect!
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in running your business or practice?
It’s difficult to always stay the course as a solopreneur. When working in corporate America, I found it useful to share ideas with fellow co-workers, especially when times were tough. Now that I’m on my own, it is more challenging to seek out other like-minded individuals to brainstorm, share, etc. as well as feel like I’m still part of something bigger. Thankfully social media assists with this and makes it easier to stay in touch with people across the globe.
How have you overcome those challenges?
I have joined several groups on social media and participate in discussions that are relevant to what I do as well as initiate conversations with questions I may have. From my coaching program, there are several colleagues with whom I’ve stayed in touch and we speak on a regular basis to share ideas and support one another.
How do you find new clients?
I find new clients primarily through word-of-mouth and referrals. Any satisfied customer is the best form of advertising.
What have you found to be most effective in securing new clients to sign up for your services?
The most effective method of securing new clients for my services is personal interaction. I take the time to speak with them whether in person or on the telephone to ensure we get to know each other in order to decide if we are a good fit. I also suggest people follow my blog and read other articles I’ve written to give them a realistic view of who I am and how I work so they can decide if it is what they seek. My work with clients is a partnership and we both have to want to work with the other in order to make positive growth.
What do you do to keep your existing clients engaged in the long term?
Social media is a great tool for this. I post several times a week to my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. I also write blog posts not only for my own website, but for other people’s blogs too and include links back to my website. I also write a complimentary newsletter once a month that goes out to my entire mailing list. Inclusive of the newsletter, I always ask questions and ask clients to respond via my social media pages because I’m always curious as to what they are thinking.
As your own boss, what is your best strategy for staying focused and productive during your workday?
To stay focused and productive, I keep lists of what needs to be done along with their due dates. Plus I block out specific hours each day for work on my calendar so I do not book anything else. I also schedule exercise, naps, necessary errands, etc. so I don’t miss out on getting everything that is necessary accomplished.
If you could start your business over again from the beginning, what would you do differently?
I would do my best not to fall into the trap of listening to what everyone else is doing. There is information overload in the world of coaching and no one can do everything that everyone else is trying. I would listen more to my gut and do what I felt was right for me. Unfortunately there are a lot of coaches out there telling other coaches they don’t know what they’re doing and they have all the answers in order to drum up business for themselves. It’s so easy to buy into being told you’re clueless even though you most likely do know what you’re doing. Have faith from the start – it took me years to develop mine – and you will find your path to success.
What were some of the first mistakes you made that you would tell a new holistic entrepreneur to avoid?
I would tell any new holistic entrepreneur don’t listen to other coaches’ hype. Figure out who you want to be, believe in yourself, try things that are free first to make sure you really want/need them, and network with others who have gone before you and are like-minded asking for advice and/or guidance. Finding a great mentor is very helpful for navigating your journey.
What are the top three business tools or resources you couldn’t live without?
1) FreeConferenceCalling.com is a free service to hold, record, and manage conference calls and/or teleclasses; 2) Mail Chimp is a free service to maintain all lists and campaigns plus it is easy to use; 3) Pay Pal is a free service that ensures you can securely accept payment from clients without waiting for a check to be mailed.
What has been your most effective method for growing your business?
The most effective method for growing my business is referrals. Wherever I speak or whoever I coach, I always ask for a testimonial plus suggestions of where else I can offer my services while using their name as my introduction.
In building your business, was there any specific mistake you made, “oops!” moment, or “I can’t believe I did that!” time that you look back and laugh at now?
My first homemade video was so bad. I had never used the camera on my laptop before and I had a hard time getting my pitch correct since I couldn’t figure out how to have notes in front of me while looking at the camera. Needless to say, my first video took about 30+ tries and I simply had to laugh at myself for being such a novice with seemingly easy-to-use technology.
What is your favorite indulgence?
Cheeseburgers and fries or pizza. Yes, even those of us in the field of wellness have a weakness for junk food. And, on occasion, it is okay to splurge.
Most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
Sweetbreads. I tried it once at a dinner provided by the renowned Charlie Trotter and let’s just say that once was enough.
Most memorable place you’ve ever visited?
Hawaii – it truly is paradise.
Last book you read?
10% Happier by Dan Harris. It teaches about meditation from a humorous and factual viewpoint and shows that anyone and everyone can do it.
If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, it would be…
Protein – I cannot live without it. Primarily I eat fish/shellfish yet I also love red meat, eggs and cheese. Of course I try to always choose organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, lean protein to be as healthy as possible.
What is your go-to breakfast?
I call it my “anti-inflammatory cocktail” – it’s a smoothie made up of all of my anti-inflammatory vitamins along with either mixed berries, orange juice, banana and Greek plain yogurt or unsweetened almond milk, natural peanut butter with flax, cacao powder, banana and plain Greek yogurt.
What do you find most fascinating about the human body?
Its ability to heal and repair itself.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
I love what I do so I never “work” a day of my life and I’m able to impact so many lives for the positive. I am truly blessed.
Barbara B. Appelbaum is a Motivational Speaker, Published Author, Certified Wellness Coach and Consultant based out of Deerfield, IL. You can find out more about Barbara and her business, Appelbaum Wellness LLC, by visiting www.appelbaumwellness.com.