EP 128: Melding Disparate Passions with Herbalist & Spaceship Builder Lisa Akers

The Nitty Gritty

  • The breaking point in Lisa’s life that inspired her to turn to herbalism for answers — and why she decided to study herbalism deeper
  • How Lisa manages her job as a spaceship builder and her herbalism clients
  • What specific strategies Lisa uses to plan and optimize her daily and weekly tasks
  • Who, exactly, Lisa works with through her herbalism business — and how she balances client sessions with the unpredictable needs of spaceship building

Lisa Akers is both a spaceship builder and herbalist (really!) While this might sound like an unusual duo, Lisa demonstrates just how closely the two are related — and how she balances working as an engineer and working as an herbalist.

In this episode of What Works, Lisa shares how she connects engineering and herbalism, what’s so magical about herbalism, and how she optimizes her week around the energy available to her.

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What drew a spaceship engineer to clinical herbalism

“I saw an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and eventually an herbalist who said, ‘here’s what’s going on, sweetheart.’ And she was right. I said, ‘this is magic so I need to learn more about this herbalism thing.’ If she can do that over the course of 90 minutes then I need to know how this works because I could be really helpful and support other people. I wasn’t thinking of it as a business at that point — just to learn for myself to support my own needs and my family’s needs.” — Lisa Akers

At one point in Lisa’s health journey, she ended up in the emergency room, convinced she was suffering from a heart attack. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case — but doctors gave her Xanax to help her mediate the stress she was under from working long hours instead.

Dissatisfied with that solution, Lisa sought additional professional opinions. Every doctor she saw recommended Xanax. At that point, she explored alternative routes in an effort to understand and fix the root problem. “I’m an engineer. I’m trained to search for the root cause so that we can fix it and prevent the symptoms and the indications of failure from happening,” says Lisa.

Through her experience with the herbalist who pinpointed her health imbalance, Lisa knew that herbalism worked — and she wanted to learn more about how she could help herself, her family, and eventually clients.

Pinpointing and working with ideal clients

“I work with a fairly narrow group of people in midlife and later who are finding that the lifestyle they lived as young people no longer works for them in their more mature adulthood. They’re struggling with diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune disease, or maybe even cancer. They need a better solution. They don’t just want to follow down this pathway where they take this medication that makes this other symptom happen that they have to take another medication for that causes something else. They have this downward spiral that ends in their death and nobody wants that — they actually want to make it better so I’m looking for people who want to understand how that works.” — Lisa Akers

Lisa knows exactly who she can help: people who want answers to their health woes that they can’t find anywhere else. One way Lisa attracts those folks is through positioning herself as a scientist.  She’s someone who not only understands plants, but someone who also thinks with an engineering perspective: that we need to get to the root of the issue to truly fix it.

And Lisa’s knowledge and ability to find and understand scientific studies around plants give her a strong foundation to her herbalism business. She’s able to really sit down with her clients and explain to them how this plant works, what the studies show, and educate them. “The stereotypical herbalists know that research and they know how it works,” Lisa explains, “but they’re not taking it and making it a deeper experience for their clients — and that’s where I really see my strength.”

Balancing and optimizing her schedule and energy

“Being an herbalist makes me a better spaceship builder because I understand how things affect me. I am more in tune with how much energy I have. When I set things up on my calendar, I mark them as either draining, energizing, or neutral as far as the energy it’s going to take. By doing that, I can say OK well, I have a whole day’s worth of draining activities — that’s not a good thing. I’m able to move things around based on the other activities that are going on that day. Having that bit of insight into how my day’s going to go before I even start my day helps me not to get into that downward spiral.” — Lisa Akers

Working a job 40-50 hours a week (and sometimes more) with little to no control over her schedule, plus running a business, takes time and energy to orchestrate. It’s a regular balancing act.

Lisa employs a few different strategies to make the most of her available time and energy each week. Her most-used method right now is Sunday planning. She looks ahead at the week with what’s going on and determines how much energy every task takes. “Without that, I don’t know that I’d be very successful in any of my pursuits,” Lisa says.

The Sunday planning also provides a preview of just how much energy she’ll need each day. If she knows ahead of time that she’s going to have a draining or long day, Lisa makes sure that she gets enough sleep, that she drinks enough water, and that she eats the right food to manage it well.

Listen to the full episode of What Works with spaceship builder and herbalist, Lisa Akers, on how she optimizes her lifestyle to meet her needs and how she balances building spaceships and working with herbalism clients.

By Tara McMullin

Writer, Podcaster, Producer. Founder of What Works.

Apr 23, 2018

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support