Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gals We Admire: Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a woman of many talents. The parent educator uses her varied skills to make a difference in the world one family at a time. Plus, she's got some great advice on how career gals can achieve their own personal success.

Name: Alyson Schafer
Profession: Psychotherapist, Speaker, Author, TV Show Host and Educator
Twitter handle: @alysonschafer

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
I like to wake before my kids and start the day with something mindful (meditate, read poetry, run). I like seeing my kids off to school and I do a few simple house chores. Somehow that reminds me to live my life in accordance with my values: family first. Then I put my mind to work. I usually have emails/writing for a blog/twittering tips. I often have a coaching client appointment by phone. By mid-afternoon I start getting ready for an evening talk. From 4 to 9pm I am either speaking or doing family things. That is really my relaxation time. Doing dishes, playing guitar, helping with homework, cooking again. Then I work again each night from about 9 to midnight.

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
A child psychologist was my first idea of a career. I wanted adults to understand what life was like for children. I dropped that idea for years and years, but I guess it was my destiny!

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The joy of helping others and feeling like I am doing my life’s purpose. This job requires all my unique and varied talents. I am making a difference in the world one family at a time.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
Getting paid. Many more people would be parent educators if they could make a living off it. There is no health care or insurance coverage for being proactive in mental health. Something is wrong with our system! I’ve done fine, but I am the minority.

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
Yes, I am the third generation to be a parent educator teaching the theory of Alfred Adler. My dad and grandma founded the original Adler School that eventually become the school where I received my Master's degree. My other grandmother was a children’s librarian and Grampa was in publishing. They’d be so pleased to know I was a published author. I have been on stage acting my whole life. Speaking is like acting in many ways. It’s a great way to be a stand-up comedian but send an important message too.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Always think collaboratively and expansively instead of with a scarcity mind set. There is enough work for all, and more work if you share your learning and resources, are open, and make opportunities for others. Hoarding work will kill you.

Never give up. It takes a long time and many iterations to get to something you’ll feel is your own personal success. It doesn’t mean the other stuff was failure. It’s a part of the journey forward – keep on!

Don’t let the tail wag the dog. This is your life. Everything can wait. You can do it your way. You can decide to only work in ways you like and with people who energize you.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! Very interesting, keep up the good work.