“ How I Help Professional Women Navigate Their Careers” With Nicolette Amarillas

I had the pleasure to interview Nicolette Amarillas. Nicolette is the founder of Expansive Voice’s “Professional Women” series — a series of workshops that help professional, boss women, navigate career challenges and advance in their profession. For example, one workshop in the series discusses negotiating a new salary, asking for a promotion, and managing changes in your work environment that may create difficult conversations. Nicolette teaches how women can develop executive presence in the workplace, take control of the emotional and psychological factors that come into play, find their voice and have the difficult conversations (such as negotiating salary) that are necessary to advance in her career.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Currently, I own my own business as a holistic life and exercise coach in San Francisco, founded in 2014 when I was 24. As a postural specialist, I work with clients one on one addressing issues with posture, pain and performance inside and outside the gym. In addition, in 2017 I launched a second business, Expansive Voice Movement, because of a desire to help a larger female centered audience about holistic health and wellness. Expansive Voice (EV for short) is a collaboration of female health coaches, career development coaches and holistic practitioners (we call them Luminaries) who travel and host workshops, retreats and events all over the Bay Area and beyond.
 My history with wellness has been a rough one– issues with food, body image, stress and a lack of love for myself, which is why I have such a deep desire to help women understand healing and growth is ever-changing and multidimensional. EV is platform I wish I had during my journey. It is a resource for women to learn, discover and grow through a large variety of practices and disciplines with a variety of female experts. We acknowledge that growth, both in life and profession, doesn’t have only one solution or one mindset.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Years ago, I used to complain to my partner that I had no girlfriends and how I wished so hard that I did! I would agonize often over the fact that I didn’t have many women in my life. Fast-forward to last year when I started Expansive Voice, with my primary intention not about gaining a bunch of new best lady friends, although now I realize this was a great catalyst, as I have more amazing female connections than I could have ever dreamed! So many, that any time I mention a friend to my partner, I have to also then say their last name and what they do in order for him to keep track. Apparently, I know too many Laurens, Rachaels and Kellys. It’s a WONDERFUL problem to have. And I feel grateful everyday.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The largest reason EV stands out is our foundational idea that professional and internal growth does not happen with only one source of knowledge. Take me for example, during my own healing journey I always wanted to attend retreats but never did because I never felt drawn to any single practice enough to feel connected. I never praised any single guru or school of thought, and I didn’t drink the cool-aid, so to speak. I yearned for an environment that explored a multitude of practices where I could explore what suited me best in that phase of life. I believe deeply that if we look at health (physical, mental, emotional) from a global perspective, that is looking at all areas of life as interconnected, that is where growth starts to happen. EV challenges women to explore and learn from varieties of backgrounds and teachings, creating a global approach to growth.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
YES! Expansive Voice has recently launched a new offering, Developing Executive Presence — a group coaching experience to help women learn and develop their own authentic executive voice through hands-on physicality, communication and visualization learning. It is powerful and something I am completely energized and fully inspired by right now,. We are so excited and honored to share the curriculum we have been developing for over a year. The series explores everything from the science and the execution of appropriate posture, to learning ways to prepare and handle difficult conversations in the workplace, to how to excel and advance your professional career. We have taken the core value of Expansive Voice, as a collaboration of women, and have applied this to the professional development series, to help illuminate women’s abilities to own their physical and mental power at work.

What advice would you give to other founders to help their employees to thrive?
My first business involved my clients and I, but with my second business, I have had to learn how to manage many people and delegate tasks all while still keeping my original vision alive. Through this entire process I always come back to leading with compassion & empathy, in conjunction with always setting a very clear expectation. I have found this incredibly helpful for keeping stress at bay. For myself, I have high expectations as I lead with confidence and expect high results. However, I have learned quickly that we are not all the same in this way (who knew?) and I have learned to never assume someone will create and present in the same way I envision. So setting clear expectations first is a must now that I need to delegate tasks. When I can create a vision and am able to accurately outline it so it’s digestible, it creates a recipe for success and leaves my assistants and Luminaries with a clear goal. They also feel more comfortable asking me questions and will offer suggestions.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
At its core, Expansive Voice is a collaboration, so by default, ALL of the women part of EV have taken pride in its success. I deeply believe that there is no one guru, expert, ideology, system or belief that cures all. It’s a cumulative effort of many disciplines and these women are all experts in their own fields and have undoubtedly helped me create this amazing business. Expansive Voice would not exist without them.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Fundraising events is an essential way for myself and Expansive Voice to contribute on a larger scale. Last October, we partnered with Soul Shapers to raise money for the Her Initiative, an organization that provides clean water and essentials for women in developing countries.
 Ultimately, one of EV’s biggest goals is to get to a point where we can offer sponsorships for women who do not have the resources to attend our events. I want women from all walks of life to be able to attend, learn, experience and grow with us!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Founded My Company” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Use the people around you who are GREAT at what they do, so you can concentrate on being good at what YOU do. — Expansive Voice was built from the hard work of MANY women: our website designer, logo designer, videographer, photographer and so on. It might have been more cost effective to “figure it out” on my own, but instead I let those around me do what they do best. The end product was professional, cohesive, beautiful, and well worth the money. Don’t be super women and men, spend time doing what you know how to do best and let the experts in their field do the same! The end result will be worth it.

Set Work-time Boundaries — I learned quickly that if I let myself, I could work all day everyday. Once I realized this, I set working time boundaries due to not being able to sleep. My cut off time for work is 9 PM and I go to bed at 10 PM. This is a strict cut off time for me (thanks to my boyfriend, who helps me enforce this). If I don’t stop working at least one hour before bed, I will not sleep well and falling asleep is even harder. Once I realized (truly — it took lots of practice) that the world does not end when a task is not finished, it changed my world. I also realized that if I leave a task unfinished, it leaves me the perfect place to start the next morning! I don’t waste time wondering where to start or what to do, I have a task that needs finishing and I get right to it. It’s this mindset that helps me clear stress.

Make your content easily digestible, yet true to your mission — Hard lesson. When creating Expansive Voice, I had all the best intentions of offering this alternative platform for growth and healing, but quickly realized that even people in wellness need digestible and easy-to understand description of what we do. This was a huge lesson! I had to adjust how EV is shared and perceived while still staying true to our vision. Simplify and be concise– use words that are relatable, but paired with a vision that is new and different.

Streamline communication content by creating templates so you can spend less time on the back end — This is one of the most vital pieces of advice I can give! Do as much as you can on the back end to help shorten the amount of time it takes to do daily admin tasks. I learned that I could spend an ENTIRE day just emailing a few people, and nobody has time for that! In order to combat this, I created templates for various types of emails, promotions & social media content. I have templates for introductions to new Luminaries, post-meeting recaps, requests for sponsorships, and more. I cut, paste, fill in, jazz it up a little bit and send!

Don’t lose yourself — Admittedly, I’m still working on this one! It’s difficult when running a business that highlights OTHER women and their expertise to then remember who YOU are and what you contribute. I think this can be applied to many other business owners as well. It is easy to concentrate only on those working for you, with you and the business itself so much so you forget your OWN role! Thats crazy! Every month now, I reexamine my role at Expansive Voice. What are my strengths? Have they changed? What are my desires? Have those changed? What will make me happy? Maybe that has changed too. As humans, we are ever-evolving, so don’t be afraid to change course in order to satisfy whatever it is that YOU need and want.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” — Brene Brown

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 just see this :-)

OPRAH! I have never been one to praise or idolize celebrities, but there is a respect I have for Oprah on a professional level. I admire her interview style and her ability to listen intently to others, while always asking questions sincerely and thoughtfully. As a broadcast journalism major, I know how difficult that is and she does it with ease and compassion. There are few people who can do this and she has taught me a lot.