This interview was featured on the popular site Possibiliteas
Alissa Finerman is the author of Living in Your Top 1%, a book that encourages and helps readers create a personal roadmap to excel in life. Alissa is a life coach and speaker, who traded in a Wall Street career to pursue her passion: helping others bring out their greatness and making “Living in Your Top 1%” a way of life. She has appeared on national radio stations including CBS, Citadel Broadcasting, Clear Channel Radio, and Heartbeat Radio. She is also a regular blogger for PositivelyPositive.com and Virgin.com. Alissa holds an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She received her coach certification from New York University. She is also a former professional tennis player, and was ranked #1 in the USTA National Women’s 40 Doubles in 2008, 2009, and 2011.
Define creativity. What does it mean to you? And how has it inspired your career?
For me, creativity is about innovation, thinking differently, creating space, being expansive, and going beyond what’s possible to see things in a new and different light. The amazing part is that creativity will shine its light for each of us in different and beautiful ways. I don’t consider myself an overly creative person but I’m much more creative than I used to be.
Thankfully, the need for creativity influenced me to leave a successful Wall Street career and look beyond my current career path to explore a non-corporate lifestyle. As a result, I left my finance job and moved from NYC to Santa Monica, CA and became a Business/Life Coach, author and speaker. It has inspired me to go after my dreams, take chances (i.e., writing my first book, Living in Your Top 1%) and see what’s possible outside the finance world. Creativity is about tapping into your natural strengths, opening new doors, and letting yourself shine.
How do you navigate the creative process?
Each project is always different but I do practice consistent rituals. For example, when I was writing my book, which is a creative process, I wrote every morning for 4 hours regardless of how I felt. Sometimes the result was only one sentence that I liked and other times I wrote several chapters. For me, I need to create an open space in my mind to let my thoughts flow…to do this, I may go for a run in the early am, go on a hike, take a yoga class, or read. I need to quiet my mind and clear away all the distractions (phone, email, Facebook, etc) and just focus on what I’m doing. You never know what the result is going to be. That part is exciting to me.
When I’m writing an article, I’ll create my draft and then let it sit for a day before I come back and read it again. I like having some time for my ideas to settle, think through something, and gain clarity.
I also train myself to think in terms of the ideal outcome rather than let any obstacles come into my thinking. I like to focus on the “what if” rather than the “why it’s not possible.” This mindset is powerful for me.
Describe the biggest creative obstacle you’ve faced in the past. How did you hurdle it?
Writing my first book and figuring out how to do everything from A to Z. I talked to as many people in various parts of the industry to learn as much as I could about the writing, publishing, and marketing process, best approaches and then ultimately, I had to make the decisions. There are lots of good people out there who are happy to talk to you. Sometimes you have to check your ego and ask for help.
Who is your favorite creative figure? How have they inspired your creativity?
There are so many creative geniuses, it’s hard to pick just one. I admire and gain inspiration from many people including Steve Jobs (for his amazing innovation), Alvin Ailey (amazing dance company), Roger Federer (creative genius on the tennis court), Steven Spielberg (creating some of the best films and sharing the power of story), and Ellen (talented comedian) to share a few.
If you could choose one quote as your life mantra, what would it be?
Two words that I say everyday in my mantra are love and abundance. One of my favorite quotes is,
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau