Rebel Uprising Podcast

The Business Changing Brilliance of the 300-Day Challenge with Alice Karolina

What if 300 days is what it took to transform not only your business, but your life? Alice Karolina is on the podcast today and she's sharing the story of how she challenged herself to 300 days of money making activities, creating change that she never could have expected.

Alice Karolina is a brand designer with a business philosophy that is unlike most in the online business industry. She has chosen to move away from scarcity, competition, and The Hustle – towards collaboration and community, where trust and relationships make businesses thrive.

In our conversation you'll hear:

  • Why Alice is rebelling against all things superficial
  • The negative effects of moving fast in business
  • How she's creating space in the world
  • The benefits of a flatter marketplace

If you're burnt out from always being on the go, deep in challenge fatigue, and looking for a way out, then this episode is absolutely going to show you your next step forward.

Tune in or read through the transcript below

Resources mentioned in this episode

Alice Karolina's website

The Ethical Move

Atomic Habits

Michelle:

Hi, Alice. Welcome to the Rebel Rising podcast. I'm so happy to have you on the show.

Alice Karolina:

Hi, Michelle. It's really great to be here.

Michelle:

Well, before we dive into the show, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do in the world?

Alice Karolina:

Well, what a small question. My name is Alice Karolina. I am a brander and strategist for all businesses and have recently created The Ethical Move, a movement for ethical marketing. And yes, other than that, I just play around. I'm a bit of an artist. There's lots of just thinking that's happening about life in general and how we operate in it. Yeah, I think that would probably define me pretty well.

Michelle:

Definitely want to talk about the ethical movement for marketing because I'm into that. But I also want to ask you, what are you rebelling against?

Alice Karolina:

Oh boy. So many things.

Mainly, I'm rebelling against anything that only scratches the surface. Anything that doesn't go deep, that doesn't have actual meaning.

There's a lot of fast paced surface level stuff that's happening out there, especially in the online business world that I find just, I don't know, a little boring. And I just really despise anything that doesn't have the intention to go deeper and understand what it's really there for, or who it is really for or what it does for the world, so.

Michelle:

Can you give us an example of that?

Alice Karolina:

Oh boy. Maybe I should just dip into my own scene, the sort of branding area or anything sort of coachy tends to be fast paced and quick and results have to happen immediately. And you put your website up on a weekend and all these things that just happened very fast.

Alice Karolina:

I don't know if fast is necessarily wrong, there's just... I don't know, just an instant gratification culture that's happening that I find a bit disconcerting because I think it leaves out a lot of the really good stuff. Yeah.

Michelle:

Ooh. So what do you think it's leaving out?

Alice Karolina:

Well, I think anything that actually considers longevity and long term success or the other humans on the planet, or other beings really. The sort of fast paced or fast moving world leaves out a lot of the deeper conversations and the maybe contemplating a bit and taking a break or taking a pause, at least, to just kind of reflect on what we're making and who we're making it for. It tends to be very self centered, I find. Very sort of about me instead of really about the people we're making things for or what we're making, really, and what it's doing for people.

Alice Karolina:

So I find when we go really fast and we try and whip something together, or we try and, I don't know, succeed at a certain speed, we tend to not be able to have the time to reflect and make sure that what we're making is actually worthwhile.

Michelle:

It's interesting because I had a conversation on a consult last week where the client asks me, she's like, "You have a lot of great testimonials, but I noticed that you don't have a lot of testimonials that talk about how much money your clients are currently making." And I was like, "Okay." And she's like, "Are your clients not making money?" And I'm like, "Oh, no, I would say my clients are making money, but that's not the way I choose to advertise my business." I was like, "Some of my clients have done very well from themselves but that's not the important result from my work."

Alice Karolina:

Yeah. Well, it's interesting because that is kind of an image, a snapshot, of what we're looking for when we move fast, is how can we generate income at a certain level? And the thing is we're business people, of course we want to generate an income. Otherwise, you don't have to do this stuff and we need to live, after all. So yes, of course, but there's different ways of living. I found for myself, I like to live on a little less, but have more time. Other people like to dig in and work every day, all night, all week and not take weekends off and they reap the benefits. That's great too. There's no real metric for success, right?

Michelle:

Yeah.

Alice Karolina:

I hope this is common knowledge at this point. So, I mean, income is just a very easy sort of black and white thing to look at, but it also tends to leave out the deeper questions like, "What is important to you? And what does success mean even for your business? And does it mean more to you to earn more or to know who you are and to know what you're doing and to know what you're doing is good." 

Michelle:

Yeah. It's so interesting because I feel like that's such a big theme that's coming up for my clients, in client sessions. I've done a few podcast interviews in the past few days and that's been a big theme that's come up in those conversations, about really defining what success looks like for you. And it's not in terms of the metrics.

Alice Karolina:

Yeah. Or choose your own metrics. Even in the little workout program that I'm in, do you want to measure your weight? Do you want to measure your girth or do you want to measure your feelings? You can choose, as long as you have your own sort of set of metrics, I guess. If you want to do that, of course.

Michelle:

Yeah. Measure your own way to success.

Alice Karolina:

So yeah, exactly. So if it means, "Hey, I have slept through every single night this week." That to me is a good level of success. If I'm too stressed, I wake up at night and I churn and I don't want to do that. So choose your own metrics, if you want. But, unfortunately, it's just how it happened, that how much income generated tends to be the question that everybody asks because, for some reason, money is the having made it factor. So yeah, fast is the money, fast is like, "Oh, do it in a weekend. Do it in 30 days or 30 minutes or..."

Michelle:

Oh my goodness. Yeah.

Alice Karolina:

Yes.

Michelle:

So, and I'm trying to think of the best way to phrase this and I'm not sure if this is the best word but…

What do you think is harmful about moving so fast all the time?

Alice Karolina:

Harmful?

Michelle:

Harmful might not be the best word, but you know what I mean? It's negative, right?

Alice Karolina:

Well, to my mind it is because, I don't know, I value slowing down just for my health even. I find that if I move too fast, it's kind of even if you're walking around the house, if you're moving too fast, stuff spills over. We've all had those days, right?

Michelle:

Yeah.

Alice Karolina:

In the morning you're like, "Oh, I have to get to the meeting real quick." And then all of a sudden, everything falls over and everything's spills and the quick coffee cup of coffee we're going to make just turns into a half an hour ordeal where you have to pick up all the beans off the floor.

Alice Karolina:

And I find when we move too fast, we tend to just make a mess and then we have to clean up the mess. So I think harmful might be... I don't know if it's harmful to everyone, but I find we lose depth and we lose the... Yeah, like I said, the actual time to reflect. And I think reflection is really important to actually make an integrous choice about our business. If we just have the dangling carrot in front of our face and we don't see the sort of bigger picture or even understand who the carrot is for or whatever. Maybe that metaphor doesn't work very well. But there's just an immediacy about the game that becomes the lifeline instead of having more of a foundation of actually knowing where you stand and being able to take a breath and, I don't know, take Christmas off or something.

Michelle:

Yeah. Well, and I think reflection helps us grow, see how far we've come. And we're recording this in January of 2020. And I know, for me, having those two weeks off between Christmas and New Year's. That's always such a fertile time of new ideas and breakthroughs. And I'm sitting here watching the Mandalorian and Disney films, but it's the most creative time ever.

Alice Karolina:

I agree. I agree. And I think not just for things that we can generate, but also for things we can discover, just the things that pop into our minds that we wouldn't have otherwise. If we were just going, going, going, we don't have any moment for anything new to come into our minds. We just go with what we have right in front of us and what we know right now. So I think having more time and more space invites more collaboration and more openness and more interest in discovery. And I don't know how many times I've had client projects come out of a stage of stalling because we didn't know where we were going to full fruition because we just took a break and just said, "Okay, let's step back. We need to reassess what's going on." And then, often, there's something right there under the surface that we just didn't have time to see.

Michelle:

So it sounds like one of the big changes you want to create in the world is creating that space.

Alice Karolina:

Yeah, maybe, huh? It's really funny. When you said before, like, "Do this thing in 30 days or this in a weekend." There was a time about three or four years ago where that was the craze. Everybody constantly popped in with a weekly challenge this and a 30 day challenge with this. And I'm sure they're still out there.

Michelle:

Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Alice Karolina:

But I haven't paid attention. Oh yeah. Okay, never mind. But what I noticed is yeah, 30 days doesn't do much. I don't really see a significant change. So what I chose to do is create my own 300 day challenge and just do about 20, 15 to 20, habits every single day for 300 days based on sort of one intention or one cause.

Michelle:

Oh.

Alice Karolina:

I know, I know. And the first time I blew it out of the park, I couldn't even understand how much I had grown in that year or almost a year, I suppose.

Michelle:

Wow.

Alice Karolina:

And I'm almost at the end of my third one. And I can't even... My life is completely different. There's a space that... Like you said, there's a space that was created that turned into trust and understanding of my own self and how I process things and doing things every day to make me trust myself to a level where I have full confidence in everything that I do now, which I didn't experience before. So had I done it for 30 days, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have had the same impact. But, yeah.

Michelle:

So, tell me a little bit more about this 300 day challenge. I would love to... Tell me if you want to.

Alice Karolina:

Of course.

Michelle:

Tell me a little bit about the first one that you created. What was the intention around it? What happened? I'm so excited to hear about this.

Alice Karolina:

I know. It's so funny, because it sort of started out of a pretty bad spell in my life, as things usually do. I had decided to go fully nomadic. I'm originally from Switzerland and I was living in Canada at the time in a place that I didn't really like. And I had decided, "Okay, now enough with all the furniture buying and selling and wasting too much money. I'm just going to go down to two bags and maybe a third with a snowboard bag and that's it. And I'm going to decide where I live." And so, basically, all I had was a bank account in Canada and a phone plan and that was it. And I went back to Switzerland for a couple of months just to sort of regroup. And all of my clients had sort of... There was a lot of contracts that had just ended. It was kind of a natural time of ending.

Alice Karolina:

So I kind of went back home and to spend time with family and friends. And that part was wonderful, but, oh my God, nomadism and complete freedom... Well, I call it limbo. I was floating, not in a good way. I just didn't have any plans or any set commitment or anything and it was awful. I don't know if you've ever done that, I just had basically taken all the roots out from underneath me and I was floating in space.

Michelle:

Oh wow.

Alice Karolina:

And so, from that space, I had to decide where to live, even what continent to live on and whether I wanted to keep going with my business or whether I wanted to get a job. And what job would I get? Everything was up in the air.

Alice Karolina:

So a good friend of mine actually, told me on the phone. She's like, "Don't be crazy. Come back. Come back here to Vancouver. You have a community here. Build your business again. Don't be an idiot," basically. So I was like, "Sure, I'll listen to you. I don't have any better plans." So instead of going to London or Singapore or wherever I would've wanted to go, I went back to Vancouver, to my sort of community there that I had lived with. And that sort of created, birthed, this idea that I needed some sort of commitment in my life that would not go away right away, that I could hold to. And a friend of mine and I went to walk along the sea wall. I don't know if you've ever been to Vancouver but...

Michelle:

Yeah. Oh yeah.

Alice Karolina:

Yeah. So walked along the water and basically came up with a plan because she was in a similar space with her business. And we were like, "Okay, so this year, we're going to focus on our businesses and do everyday money making activities." And so, we came up with 20 habits and some of them were health habits, yoga and water and whatever the things are that you need to do to keep your health up.

Alice Karolina:

And then some of them were about business making, being visible everyday. That was a pretty challenging one. So being visible on social media everyday for 300 days, in some form or something similar along those lines or be at a talk or be in a community, just be visible in some way. And then lots of other things, but the main category that blew my mind was what I call grit. Where I had to say "No," to something every single day. And I had to say "Yes," to something every single day. And yeah, there were just a few habits around boundaries and setting intentions. And so, the first 300 day challenge was born and I started tracking and I started tracking wins and things that I... Money, talk about money. I actually started to invest in my business in a different way.

Alice Karolina:

And the funny thing is, my business just did what it did. It didn't even matter because the personal gain that I got from it was unreal. Just, I don't know, I reconnected with myself in a totally different way because, all of a sudden, I had this trust and this steady pace that was just relentless, never ending, but in a good way, I don't know. And then, I found out that commitment is really freedom and not the other way around. So there's just, yeah, there's so much to be gained from a solid foundation and a clear path and commitment to oneself.

Michelle:

I have to ask, how far were you into the challenge before you realized that commitment was freedom?

Alice Karolina:

Oh my goodness. I think I wrote a blog post around 150 days in.

Michelle:

So you're about halfway.

Alice Karolina:

But I'm pretty sure... About halfway, yeah. It took me a long time to get it, but the feeling of freedom was so unreal. It was just, I don't know. There's something about solid ground under your feet that just gives you clarity and peace.

Michelle:

Well, and I think when you're doing the right actions, when you know what to do and you see those things working day after day.

Alice Karolina:

Yeah. Exactly.

Michelle:

That you're just like, "Oh, okay, I just have to do these things and it's making my business work." It's like, "Oh, that's simple."

Alice Karolina:

Absolutely. I know it's simple, but it's so funny because you have to remember to take the smallest possible increment. You can't expect yourself to, I don't know... At first I thought, "Well, 20 minutes of exercise every day." And that just doesn't work. It's too much because I wouldn't always be able to commit to that. But I decided to roll out my mat every day. So every day I just rolled out my mat. I could do yoga or stretch or exercise or whatever, or nothing. I could just lie there or leave the mat in a room and walk away. I just had to do it.

Michelle:

You just had to roll out the mat.

Alice Karolina:

I just had to roll out the mat. And it's funny, because once it's rolled out, you're like, "Well, I'd better exercise now." There's no limitation. What should I say? There's nothing to overcome. It's already there, so you might as well.

Michelle:

Yeah.

Alice Karolina:

And you start knowing that you can do it. You just start trusting yourself in a different way. And that's what made all the difference.

Michelle:

Yeah. Yeah. I've read James Clear's Atomic Habits.

Alice Karolina:

Oh yes. I heard of that. Yeah. I had not heard about it until two months ago.

Michelle:

Oh my gosh. You would probably love it because it supports almost everything you just said. But I think he talks... I forget what he calls it, I think it's something like an initiation habit. Where it's just the smallest increment, you roll out the yoga mat. And that's all it is because you start small.

Alice Karolina:

That's all it is, yeah.

Michelle:

If you think to yourself, "I'm going to go to the gym for three hours a day." That's never going to work. But if you think I'm going to put on my gym shoes...

Alice Karolina:

Precisely. It's all about that little bump that you need to get over in the beginning, which is usually it's like starting work. The only thing I do now is bring a cup of water to my desk, that's it. It might have been him that wrote that, I don't know, but I read that somewhere and I'm like, "Oh great. You don't need to battle motivation. You just sit there and do it." You don't have to go through the-

Michelle:

Yeah, It's almost like it's the starting code of it. It's just like-

Alice Karolina:

Exactly.

Michelle:

... "Oh, I got the glass of water and that's the sign that I'm going to sit down and do my work now." I love that.

Alice Karolina:

Totally. Yeah.

Michelle:

I love it. And I love how holistic it was too, because it wasn't just business, it was also about your health and your wellbeing.

Alice Karolina:

Well, I think that, I don't know, you might have a similar experience, but for me and for most of my friends, our businesses really are who we are as well. They're an extension of ourselves and not as a... We don't need it to live. Well, never mind, we do need it to live, but it's not sort of a codependent situation where our business is everything and nothing else matters. Not like that. More like a part of our identity.

Michelle:

Yes.

Alice Karolina:

And when we become, or are, businesses and we relate to it that way, then anything we do for ourselves, by extension, becomes something that we do for our business and vice versa. So I feel like the two really don't... They aren't separated. This is so funny, often in my strategy calls with people almost... No, I would say every single time I have a strategy call about someone's brand or someone's identity, there's always the question, "How do I separate the professional from the personal, or how can I bring in my really cool writing stuff into this totally unrelated other thing." There's always this idea that the two things are mutually exclusive and you can't be professional and also personal and vice versa. There's this idea that has to be separated or something has to be said about it instead of using them together as one.

Alice Karolina:

And often I find, when we find a story behind how the two connect, there usually is no difference anymore. So to me, those 300 days, or taking time or reflecting or creating this space, really is for your business if you're doing it for yourself.

Michelle:

Oh yeah. Yeah, because as soon as I decide to like, "Oh, I'm going to watch the baby Yoda show for a while." That's when my creative ideas start for my business, because I decided to take some time for myself and just kind of relax and-

Alice Karolina:

Totally.

Michelle:

... just unwind because we can't constantly be creating and at our computers and doing. We're not designed like that. We are designed to take these pauses.

Alice Karolina:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Michelle:

Yes.

Alice Karolina:

And especially for the creative process, like you know. I mean, there needs to be that space. You can't keep going and the way that online entrepreneurs especially, I would say any business owner to be honest, you're generating, you're constantly generating, you're doing creative work all the time and you might not notice it, but that's very high caliber work.

Michelle:

Yes.

Alice Karolina:

And so, there's no way you can't... You have to decompress in some way otherwise you run yourself ragged.

Michelle:

Oh my goodness. Yes, yes, yes. I a million percent agree with that. And it's funny, because with the messaging work I do, every once in a while, people will say... Because I see clients every other week and they'll be like, "Oh, but can't we do this faster." And I'm like, "No." I'm like, "This is a highly creative process. We need time to percolate, especially if your three word rebellion doesn't come through right away."

Alice Karolina:

I know. But also, how could it? You need to give it the space to emerge. There's also something almost a little magical about it. There's a part in the creative process that just... There's nothing. There's just nothing there. And it feels awful, but it's literally the birthplace of everything good.

Michelle:

Yes.

Alice Karolina:

And it just has to be acknowledged and it has to be left alone. And I think that's something that happens. I remember one of my clients, one time she wrote me after a session, I think it was 10 days after our session. And she said, "Oh my goodness, I can't work anymore. There's nothing going on. I don't have motivation. I'm sitting on the couch, not getting anything done." And all I could say is like, "This is normal. This is what happens. We just made some big changes. We just shifted your DNA around a bit. So now you need to let it do its thing. And it doesn't feel like fun, but it's where the gold is. So just let it sit." And then, sure enough, a week later, she's like, "I have my new program. Everything is amazing."

Alice Karolina:

But this is every story ever told in this realm. And, in my opinion, there's always this total breakdown and then something new emerges. Anytime you let your brain relax and you just kind of give in, or not give in, but surrender to it, which such a hype word, I don't like using the word surrender anymore.

Michelle:

Yes.

Alice Karolina:

But there's a handing over, so to speak, to just your brain, to your subconscious, to let it do the work.

Michelle:

Yeah. To be like, "I trust you. I know you're going to come through for me."

Alice Karolina:

Exactly. Exactly, and it always does, if you let it.

Michelle:

Yes. Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. So I have one final question for you.

So if everyone acted on slowing down, taking this pause, letting ourselves rest, what do you think the world would be like?

Alice Karolina:

I think there would be... What I hope for, even with the ethical move, is a sort of a flat marketplace. A place where people have goods that they sell and they sell them to people that need them and there's no hype around it, no psychology around it. There's just a, "Hey, I have this cool thing I made and I see that you need it." And they are like, "Well, okay, what's your price?" I don't know. There's just a flatness to it.

Alice Karolina:

And I think that if we let ourselves be less jostled around by the hustle and bustle that we all think we need to be part of, there would just be more space for real and good products to come out of that. Something that has been created well and actually serves the right people in the right way and not just something that will generate some income until the next thing. We need to be more intentional with our products, even if it's a service, and more aware of the sort of long term benefits or harms of it. And how our clients feel about it.

Alice Karolina:

Is it needed? If it's not, then you don't need to make it.

Michelle:

Yeah.

Alice Karolina:

You need to have that time to reflect, to see, "Okay. So where are my clients? Who do I love working with and who needs what I have?" And if you don't have anything to offer, then reconsider. Think about something that actually would make sense. When you slow down, you might notice that there's not a whole lot there. And if there's not, then it's fine to leave. I went back to a job because I'm like, "Right now, I don't have anything to give. There's nothing here anymore. I'm just stressed out. So I'm just going to go and be a normal paycheck for a minute and get my bearings." And it was wonderful. It was so good. And obviously, you learn so much from any experience, so.

Michelle:

That is so good. And I also think, as far as the buyer's experience, if we slow down and we actually think, "Oh, is this what my business needs right now? Is this what I need? Is this going to get me closer to my goal or further away from my goal? Is this a distraction?"

Alice Karolina:

Exactly. Yeah.

Michelle:

I mean, then we make better decisions for ourselves and for our businesses.

Alice Karolina:

Absolutely.

Michelle:

Yeah. It helps us in the buying process.

Alice Karolina:

Yes, for sure. And there's also the aspect that sometimes we're scared. We're scared of what we're going to find when we slow down.

Michelle:

Oh yeah.

Alice Karolina:

Because if you actually have to reflect, then you're looking at some hard truths and you might not like it. But I don't think I've ever seen someone, not when they actually listen and stop, there's only good that can come from it.

Alice Karolina:

It just seems scary at first because, if you keep going, and have to look and you can stay on the surface, but you'll eventually go down. That's just what happens, I think, or in my experience anyways. And so, I'd rather create something that keeps me afloat well, and not just... I don't want to be just ahead of the charge and kind of waiting for the sort of the charge to catch up with me, and sink me.

Michelle:

Exactly, exactly. Well, Alice, tell everyone where they can find you online.

Alice Karolina:

I am on Alicekarolina.com.  That's where you can find my work and you can book my services.

Michelle:

All right. Thank you so much for being on the Rebel Rising podcast. I so appreciate your time.

Alice Karolina:

I know. It was so fun. I love this.

Michelle:

Thank you.

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