Don’t let other people’s definitions and expectations of you define who you are. The greatest influencers, thinkers, and visionaries didn’t let other people define them. They had a burning desire to make their vision a reality. Remember, only you can put yourself in a box and what others think of you is “None of my business”!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Adri Kyser. Adri is the founder of Enlightened Alchemy™ and Inner Beauty Wellness. She is an international holistic wellness expert who has spent the past 15 years helping highly-driven women stop feeling overwhelmed and start stepping into their power. Using her Enlightened Alchemy™ method, she has helped thousands of women worldwide achieve everything from reduced pain and stress to increased confidence and productivity. Rather than drawing from only one modality, her extensive list of certifications (including coaching, yoga, and Ayurveda) allow her to create a customized wellness experience for clients. As a brand ambassador, she has worked with Athleta and Larabar. When she’s not busy hosting retreats around the globe in exotic locations like Bali, Greece, and Peru, she’s being featured on iHeart Radio, Amazon Prime’s “The Focus” and Elephant Journal. Her work has been featured on Elephant Journal, Thrive Global, Origin Magazine, and more. Adri’s the co-author of the forthcoming book “Overcoming Adversity in Entrepreneurship” due out at the end of 2019.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, a South American country. My dad is originally from Colombia and at age 18 he moved to Caracas on his own. My mom is the fourth child of nine kids. She had to work at an early age while going to school to help my grandma make ends meet. Both of my parents come from very humble beginnings and their strong work ethic is something my brother and I learned at an early age.
As a child I was very outgoing. I loved to dance, did well at school and passionately expressed my points of view. According to my dad, I never lost an argument! Some of my favorite memories are laying on my grandma’s lap while she caressed my hair and told me stories. She taught me simple things, like how to knit, as well important life lessons, like truly caring for people. Going on family vacations to the beach and dancing at family and friend’s parties were also a big part of my childhood. Treasured memories for sure!
My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. After their divorce, my mom, brother, and I moved in with my grandma for a while.
During that time, I was heavily bullied by a family member which lead to feelings of “not being good enough” and the inability to trust people. On the other hand, that experience ignited my passion to fight for the underdog and help make things right.
I think I was about 10 years old when I decided I was going to be a lawyer. My dad wasn’t surprised and lovingly would say that based on my track record, I would win every argument.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story?
Growing up in Venezuela was colorful, musical, tropical, and exciting. We lived in the capital, a big city, at the foot of the mountain but with all the hustle and bustle. We were also about 90 minutes away from the beach so we had the best of both worlds. But living in a big city with a single mother of two came with its struggles.
My mom was working twice as hard and even with my dad’s financial help we were struggling. Wanting me to be better prepared for the future, my mom suggested I take a semester off from Law school and learn English in the US. This would help me become fully bilingual and increase my chances of getting a better job once I got back to Venezuela and got my law degree.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that decision transformed my life in so many positive ways. It led me to my husband-to-be, and I started my journey towards a successful career in health and wellness.
I’m truly blessed that I had the opportunity to emigrate to the US in 1995. A few years later, the social and financial situation in my country changed for the worse. Venezuela’s current situation is heart breaking. It went from being a rich country full of natural resources, great opportunities, and financial growth to a country that is an extreme humanitarian crisis.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
At the beginning, being in USA was really tough. As a 20-year-old young woman I missed my family, my friends, and a place to call home. I missed going to Law school and having a sense of belonging. Also, the winter months were brutal especially for a tropical weather loving kind of girl, making me feel sad and isolated.
I experienced hurtful remarks about my accent and being an outsider. Those comments made me feel small, inadequate and once again “not good enough”. I became extremely self-conscious, embarrassed, and ashamed that I could not speak English perfectly. Suddenly, I was voiceless! Voiceless in the sense that, for months, I literally didn’t speak at all in public. During this time, my only conversations existed privately with my husband and my mom.
Thankfully, I had two strong female role models who raised me to be strong and overcome any obstacle. I overcame the language barrier and found the courage to follow my dreams and do something meaningful with my life. I knew I had a mission and living in the US was a great opportunity that many people can only dream about. I was not going to take this opportunity for granted. After all, the US is the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
Yes, there are a few people. My mom for coming with me from Venezuela. We are extremely close and having her was a huge help. One of my aunts for letting us stay with her while I went to school.
My husband for his unconditional love and support. My in-laws who opened their hearts and made sure I felt welcomed and at home. They made sure I knew I was part of their family.
I remember our first Christmas together. They asked me for some Venezuelan traditions we could include in our celebration. Once I became an American Citizen in 2002, my in-laws and extended family sent me a huge package with thoughtful notes and cute presents to celebrate this wonderful moment in our lives.
So how are things going today?
I’m living my version of the “American Dream”. It wasn’t always easy but boy was it worth it! I overcame many obstacles and detours that thankfully made me stronger, wiser, and more determined to achieve my goals.
I have the best husband in the world, a wonderful son, my family, and an incredible business that brings me so much joy and fulfillment.
I didn’t become a lawyer, but I got to fulfill my dream of making a positive impact on people’s lives on a daily basis. I’m blessed that I get to wake up each day surrounded by the people that love me and get to do what I love for a living.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In a world where technology advances continue to surprise us, like worldwide communications within seconds, drones delivering groceries, and self-driving cars no longer just in our imagination, we are faced with new problems and epidemics related to wellness. Sitting in front of a screen is the new “cigarette”. Sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression continue to rise, and people feel more isolated than ever due to the lack of “in person” social interaction. A true disconnect from humanity. World Health Organizations recently projected that Mental Health will be the primary cause of death by 2020.
For the past 15 years, I’ve been blessed to have a platform that allows me to address the importance of our physical, mental, and emotional wellness and how this wellness impacts our health, relationships, and business. I’ve been able to make wellness simple and accessible by helping people get the tools they need to improve their physical health, manage stress in healthy ways, and find new levels of fulfilment even with the busiest of schedules.
You have first-hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?
This is a very complex topic and I understand there are no easy or fast solutions.
First, I would urge the President and Congress to work together in finding ways to improve the immigration system and update the current immigration reform. The last reform is from 1986 and it is hard to comprehend how a reform that is over 30 years old can address the current pressing and urgent issues of today.
Second, I would suggest making the process of becoming a US citizen more affordable to those that are legally in this country. The current naturalization fee for a U.S. citizenship application is $725 ($640 for application processing and $85 for biometrics services). These fees are nonrefundable, regardless of whether the U.S. government approves or rejects an application. In addition, many people require legal counsel, increasing their cost to get the process started. There are many hardworking immigrants that can’t afford the high fees making it even harder to get their citizenship.
Third, I want to emphasize the importance of teaching our children and future generations acceptance, kindness, and respect towards every human being regardless of the color of their skin, background, or beliefs. I’ve seen firsthand how immigrants get mistreated, insulted, and stereotyped regardless of their legal status.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
The American Dream has its roots in the Declaration of Independence which states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In other words, we are created equal and have the same rights regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic background, religion, and social status. This means that each person can obtain their version of happiness, success, and fulfillment.
My 5 Keys to Achieving the American Dream:
- Know Your Why. It’s important to know what you are passionate about and why you do what you do. Having a clear vision of “your why” will help you stay focused and put in the time, effort and dedication needed to make your dream a reality.
- Don’t be afraid to try again. If you fail, try again. Often, people give up before they get started because they are afraid of failing or coming short. Successful people never give up. They try again and again, each time learning a valuable lesson. When you see failures as steppingstones that are leading you to a larger success, you will be more likely to try and try again until you achieve your goals.
- Step into your power. This is a phrase I use a lot. It refers to your ability to own who you are, embrace your gifts, and take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. When you know who you are and are guided by your “why”, you can set healthy boundaries and everything you do is in alignment with your core values and goals.
- Don’t let other people’s definitions and expectations of you define who you are. The greatest influencers, thinkers, and visionaries didn’t let other people define them. They had a burning desire to make their vision a reality. Remember, only you can put yourself in a box and what others think of you is “None of my business”!
- Have the courage and determination to follow your dreams. It takes courage and determination to make something you are passionate about a reality. You will have to take risks and sometimes struggle and wonder if it is worth it. You may encounter your share of obstacles, “Nay Sayers” or simply people who don’t understand your vision. Only you have what it takes to make your dreams come true. You don’t have to do it alone, but you do have to give it your all.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
First, I have to start with the American people. I think Americans are extremely generous when it comes to helping their neighbors and other countries experiencing hardships and disasters.
Second, I’m very optimistic seeing a new generation become more inclusive, care about the environment, embrace gender equality, advocate movements like #MeToo, and break barriers by supporting the LGBTQ community. There is still much work to be done but the momentum has started.
Third, I’m grateful to see more people with diverse backgrounds be represented in politics, media, and leadership positions.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have lunch with Oprah. It may sound like a cliché but I want to get to know the woman. The woman who had to overcome adversity and barriers in her life and career. I would like to know what were her defining moments that kept her going and not giving up.
I love listening to her talk about mediation, wellness, spirituality and how she has such a wonderful garden. I have a hard time keeping house plants alive and maybe I can get some pointers.