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Conversations with the Inspiring Ann Kasunich

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ann Kasunich.

Ann, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
At first, it seemed that this work happened by accident since I wasn’t actively looking for it. However, in retrospect, it’s super clear that I had been building to this my whole life. I’ve always had a strong curiosity about people, what makes people tick, how the world works, and how that affects people. I was one of those kids that perpetually asked: “why?” And I am still that kid in adult form who continues to ask “why?” and “what’s behind or underneath that?” on a daily basis. This curiosity serves me well as a Certified Professional Coach. I’ve also somehow always been able to separate who people really are from the issues or challenges they carry. Everyone has issues and challenges – it’s part of the human condition. I’ve never believed those things define who we really are and this helps to put clients at ease during our coaching sessions. I seem to be able to connect authentically with most everyone I meet, and have done this quite naturally from a very young age and perhaps most importantly, in the context of professional coaching, I’ve always enjoyed it. On a more tactical level, my career progressed in a natural and logical way, each experience building to the next. I’m super driven, by both my work ethic and my curiosity to learn new things, so I’ve had a lot of fun and great experiences along the way. My natural tendency is to dive in to learn and experience as much as I can, so the possibility of becoming bored with repetition was always a reality when I worked for a company. I need work that offers continuous challenge as well as continuous opportunities for growth. I’ve also experienced burnout a few times.

During the most recent bout of burnout, I came to the conclusion that I needed to change my approach – really shake up some patterns that had served me well up until then but no longer had a place in my life. I was in the middle of some very important work that my family and I had wholeheartedly committed to and simply wanted some unbiased support. I had heard about executive coaching, but the organization I worked for didn’t have the budget to support this. So, when I looked  deeper, I discovered that I could train to become a certified professional coach, receive coaching during the process, and also create an opportunity to bring these new coaching skills back to my employees. I decided to go for it. It was awesome and life-changing – I enjoyed the process so much and it was so much more than I could have imagined. In experiencing the power of coaching both as a client and as a coach during my training, I knew this would be the next step in my career. It’s been such a joyful journey to be able to build upon my previous work experience and grow this coaching company from a place of caring and service – without burning out this time. Diving in deep, taking on big challenges, dedicating my heart to a worthy cause is still very much who I am – that hasn’t changed. I’ve learned to do and be this without excluding my own health and well-being and I love coaching others in doing the same.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are certainly “bumps” along the way, with some bumps being particularly unique to entrepreneurs who are developing new concepts and services. This is the first time that I’ve created a business from the ground up based on my own essence, eg. who I really am. For example, via the coaching training process, I identified the very thing that made me successful in my career, distilled it out and built a company around it. If this sounds esoteric, it certainly was while I was conceiving the initial idea. And I also just knew it was “right,” as it was created from a place of deep caring, experience, and passion. As such, I found it challenging to promote and market my offerings. I believe this is because I am so close to it. I created the Well Chosen Lifestyle System™ and BurnoutSolved™ from scratch and from my heart. As odd as it might sound, it seemed much easier to market a $500M global software product in an established industry than what I do now. In other work, for example as a marketing and communications consultant in the technology field, it was easy to explain my company’s offerings because it was already well defined in the marketplace, so prospective clients understood what I did without the need for much explanation beyond how my particular value proposition was different.

My advice for young women starting their journey is to always be curious, open, and be a lifelong learner. You never know where information or inspiration may come from. Choose work that makes a positive difference in the world. What are we here for if not to make the world a better place for all? Learn how to run a business. My sales, marketing, communications, project management, operations, systems, people management, leadership, and technology background along with my M.B.A. are resources I rely on every day. And when I don’t know or understand something, I get help from someone who does – so don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Someone out there can help. Trust your intuition and trust your gut. If you’re creating something that didn’t exist before, you are among the few, and there will be people who may discourage you simply because they don’t understand or because they are projecting their own fears on you. Know that this isn’t your problem, it’s theirs. And of course, engage with a certified professional coach to support you along the way in all areas of your life and business that want attention to help keep you moving in the direction you desire.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that, like others, I need to watch myself carefully for “shiny object syndrome.” I always have multiple ideas and concepts in development, and it’s easy to get distracted by my next great idea (a.k.a. shiny object) before my current great idea is implemented. LOL. For example, I am currently writing a Well Chosen Lifestyle™ cookbook, developing a Well Chosen Lifestyle handbook focused on each of the system’s foundation principals, building out BurnoutSolved, and have a tea/brain tonic (among other food and beverage products) to brand and bring to market. I am also working on a new initiative called PeaceableWorld, which began as a Facebook Group to share positive uplifting news stories. PeaceableWorld seems to be evolving into an ecosystem of sorts – where PeaceablePeople and PeaceableBusinesses work and play in a way that raises all up – mirroring the way that coaching supports clients’ upleveling, which in turn extends to the people they are with. My advice for young women beginning their journey is to be aware of “shiny object syndrome” by being detailed and to keep thinking big. Stay focused on what needs to be done day to day in order to grow your business into what you want it to be and to ensure that you have paying clients to support you and your business. Keep a journal of sorts (paper and/or online) to track your great ideas, so you can remember them for when your choice to invest your time and effort in expanding them. For example, with my cookbook, I invest about an hour a week at most – that’s it for now because my most significant positive impact and revenue stream comes from coaching. I love cooking and creating in the kitchen and have been asked by friends for years to share how I do what I do for years. So, I’ve begun the project. I purchased a small desk that sits next to my kitchen, so the cookbook literally has its own space and I can work on it here and there throughout the week, mostly when I am preparing meals. And also, to keep it out of my office, where it could easily distract me from my primary focus. So, be alert to ‘shiny object syndrome,” it’s really a thing.

Lastly – whatever you’re focused on, take care of yourself. This is essential for every aspect of your life, including your work. Yes, this is a big part of my business, coaching my clients in creating a Well Chosen Lifestyle and I make sure that I “walk my talk.” I build my schedule around taking care of myself because I know it simply won’t happen if I don’t. There’s always more to do for my business and family, especially as an entrepreneur and as a mother, so its essential to include well-being as a priority in my schedule – otherwise burnout lurks on the horizon. It’s important to discover what you enjoy as this makes including well-being in your lifestyle easier and more enjoyable. Because I love to move and be very active, five mornings a week, you’ll find me at my local Crossfit gym. Sometimes I combine that with running, swimming, biking, or hiking either before class or on the weekends. I always schedule rest days and prioritize sleep. There is a yoga class at my favorite studio at 5:15pm on Thursday afternoons – so that time on my schedule is always blocked out. You won’t ever find an open appointment available on my calendar at that time. I also have an early morning mindfulness practice, plan & cook nourishing meals, and make sure that I get outside. By making these things a priority, I am nourished, rested, energized, focused and feel good during my days. It’s really important to note that I enjoy these things – a lot, which in turn makes the whole of life that much more productive and gratifying. The most important thing for everyone is to explore and discover what works best for you and see to it that you enjoy your choices.

What should we know about Well Chosen? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The foundation of Well Chosen is professional coaching – for individuals and businesses. I am a certified professional coach (CPC) with multiple trainings and certifications in difference methodologies – which allows me to be quite nimble in coaching sessions in service of my clients. I am primarily working with people who want to recover from or prevent burnout. We generally cover a lot of territory in our sessions around career, personal lives, wellness/well-being, transition periods, and client specific goals. It’s important to note that we really can’t separate the various parts of our lives into different silos – they’re happening all at once.  Life is really the intersection of work, home, community, and your private self and my coaching practice is rooted in recognizing that you’re a whole person from the start. During sessions, we focus on client-defined needs and co-create a path to reach desired outcomes.

In terms of my offerings in the work-place, I contract with companies that have or are growing cultures that view their employees as whole people – worthy of support in their professional and personal development, including their overall well-being. In the workplace, we coordinate the coaching effort with each employee’s intentions as well as the overall company goals and objectives. We focus on specific employee performance if desired, be it to improve performance or to accelerate someone’s career path. I also offer an Energy Leadership Assessment (ELI) for individuals and teams. The ELI is an attitudinal assessment that is highly informative as a standalone session and is used to explore developmental possibilities for growth. The ELI 360 Assessment applies the same methodology for teams and departments.

I seem to be well known for my down to earth, non-judgemental, grounded coaching style and my ability to connect easily with different people and different types of businesses across industries. I have a lot of professional and personal experience to draw upon – and I love what I do, which I think shows. It’s clear that meeting individuals and companies where they are is the key to success. So listening closely, learning the unique culture and language of any given organization is important. I ensure that I am connecting with you and not requiring you to learn “coaching lingo” in order to succeed. In other words, it’s all about you and where you are.

I stand in awe of the human potential and I am most proud of my clients’ progress. It is such a joy to walk alongside and be able to observe the shifts that occur during the coaching process. For people suffering severe burnout, it is so inspiring to see them begin to make seemingly small changes that allow them to see and believe that things can and really will get better. Positive momentum is created and reversing burnout is underway. A recent client shared that he noticed other people at work improving, cooperating, and generally being more productive and joyful since he began coaching with me. He discovered that his progress is contagious in the best way because as he’s lifting himself up, others are joining him. Professional coaching really creates a space for each individual to illuminate their best, which impacts the people they know, their families and friends, their businesses, and the companies they work for. I’m proud of my clients’ leadership and the positive impact they make that extends to others well beyond our sessions together.

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
My mother, of course. She rocks. She was a trailblazer in so many ways. Neither of my parents put artificial limits on me, whether they completely understood what I was doing or not. Let’s just say, I am very fortunate to be their child. And my grandmothers – mainly because they were supportive and curious about my early career which inspired me and now I think they’d be fascinated by what I do, proud that I’ve followed my own path in ways that they wouldn’t have been able to both as a mother/wife and as a professional. Their love inspires me and I keep a photo of them together in my meditation space. And I hold all the women who came before us in high regard. I think of the women who bled and died for womens’ suffrage and the right to vote, the leaders and activists in the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970’s fighting for equality and equal opportunity. All these women built a foundation for us to build our lives – personal and professional – upon today. Their work and sacrifice inspire me to continue the cause for today and future generations – as there is still much work to be done. And I am so inspired by all of the women of today, of all ages, who are stepping up, stepping out, supporting each other, their families, communities, and society. All of these women inspire me to keep focused on building a better world. Because, together, I know we can do it.

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Image Credit:
Ann Kasunich

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