We had the good fortune of connecting with Alissa Stevens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alissa, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
At its root (sorry, had to), environmental sustainability is about creating and nurturing an environment in balance. It’s key for the Earth and all species to not only survive but thrive and get the most we can out of this one magnificent life. I’ve been combatting Mother Nature’s stress, fatigue and burnout for almost 15 years, and starting my own business shined a light on some of the gaps in my living a truly sustainable life. “Get Real” is a startup and became my second full-time job … two weeks before COVID lockdown, no less. It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends when your commitment to a cause is so fiery it could light an entire country—who has time to Netflix, sleep, (fill in the blank) when you’re working to transform this planet for future generations?! What are you to do when your vision literally wakes you up in the middle of the night? You keep going until you sink into survival mode and/or hit a wall. The moment of truth was in realizing that if I burn out, so does the impact I can make. So I had to #getreal with myself.
A lot of balance was restored when I let go of control and the lone-wolf mentality. I hired a team of brilliant individuals (shoutout Annee, Alice, Melanie and Ian) and chose to push the launch date so we didn’t force it and the team could really offer their contribution. Everyone brought unique magic and started owning the brand as their own, allowing it to expand beyond what I could’ve created alone. Teamwork and co-creation were key to getting the plane off the ground. Though we are very much building the plane as we fly it, most days, we can accomplish what we want and enjoy the journey. Best of all, through this experience, we are attuned to the fact that all our listeners are discovering their own balance, so we make sure that every tool, resource and action offered in the show does good for the planet but also improves their balance. That win-win really causes the actions to “stick” and become habits, leading to greater impact.
What should our readers know about your business?
“Get Real” is #realtalk about sustainability. In each episode, we break down complex global sustainability issues, make them tangible and accessible, and provide powerful actions people can take to be an eco leader in their everyday life. Many prominent sustainability voices, important and impactful as they are, use fear-based tactics such as doom and gloom reports, data, science jargon or trendy language to try and get through to people. Add some greenwashing, a forced agenda and a sprinkle of shame about how we as a human race have failed and you have a recipe for people to go into extremist survival mode and/or tune out and/or stare with confusion and/or crawl into a ball—all of which I’ve done. For me, sustainability is an opportunity to mobilize communities and have everyone win and thrive, not just the Earth but people and businesses. It’s not about restricting or sacrificing things we love for the planet; it’s an opportunity for people to have and do more of what they love and crave. I’m not a 30-year sustainability expert—yet—but the overwhelmingly positive response from the “Get Real” audience shows this empowered stance keeps people engaged and inspired to take on. I’m proud of how our team has created this truly authentic global sustainability conversation.
There are many barriers to driving sustainable impact, and messaging will likely fall on deaf ears if those #real-life circumstances aren’t addressed. For example, a small-business owner who planned to switch to more sustainable product packaging in 2020 might have abstained out of need to cut costs during COVID; a family struggling to put food on the table probably wouldn’t list mitigating ocean plastics as a top priority. With “Get Real,” rather than guessing what’s going on in our audience’s minds, we actually ask continually through our various social media channels, and they tell us exactly what they want and need. This allows us to meet them where they’re at and present fresh and realistic opportunities.
We as a society are starting to move away from associating the sustainability movement with certain types of people, namely vegan hippie tree-huggers, the upper class or liberals. I’m so committed to stripping away all labels and silos because sustainability initiatives such as optimizing resources and omitting waste streams are just Good Business 101… and there is tremendous humanitarian opportunity as well. Those who get distracted by these silos will miss out. These are the conversations we bring to the show.
What I want listeners left with is that books, documentaries, webinars … and podcasts (the irony isn’t lost on me) … can provide valuable knowledge and insights, but you have to take action to effect change. If you wait for inspiration to take action, you’ll be waiting a long time; take action and you’ll get inspired.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I grew up in the South Bay and am a beach girl at heart. My favorite way to start the day is a jog on The Strand, finished with a sprint to the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier to sit and take in the ocean. For lunch, I’d take a taco tour of the city or head to Simmzy’s for legendary burgers and beers. You don’t want to miss a Downtown LA experience, complete with an LAFC soccer game, a feast at Grand Central Market or Factory Kitchen, and a cocktail at the rooftop bar Perch. During summer, I love First Friday food trucks on Abbott Kinney and outdoor movie screenings. Lastly, can’t forget family dinner. Almost all my family lives in LA, and they’re a real good time!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To my family: You showed me the world and instilled an insatiable curiosity about what it means to be a global citizen. Who knew all those adventures would lead here. Thank you for raising me to know that my words and actions have a ripple effect bigger than myself.
To my mentor/business partner Annee Nimziki: From the first (wine-fueled) brainstorm to a million whiteboard sessions to now, you’ve been a champion of the “Get Real” mission, holding us down on tough days and elevating the brand with your priceless wisdom. Thank you for getting scrappy with me and for all the laughs we’ve shared along the way.
To my mentor Jen Herda: Thank you for allowing me to see that I have all the tools I’ll ever need to make the impossible possible.
To the “Get Real” listeners: There are tens of thousands of sustainability voices out there. Thank you for trusting “Get Real” and coming along for the ride. Oh, and for bearing with my inevitable bad puns.
Other: Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/get-real-with-alissa-stevens/id1523197655 Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/4oGlMHzGb7PJsEphbnkSQt?si=FAQKFcJaQAOoRXPEzZ3M6A Other platforms: https://linktr.ee/GetRealwithas