Anastasia Hisel, Founder, and CEO of a wellness marketplace; Atma, where you can find and book holistic health practitioners, retreats, coaches, trainers on demand. Prior to creating Atma, Hisel created her own prominent modeling and talent agency. She built the company from scratch and within a few years attracted 7,000 clients. After a successful and lucrative exit, Hisel is now prepared to completely disrupt the health and wellness industry with her latest brainchild, Atma.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Anastasia Hisel: I am originally from Ukraine, Odessa. Moved to the states at age 7. Growing up, I was always into sports, activities, and naturally kept healthy nutrition overall. But the one thing that stood out to me the most as a kid, my mom pushed me into martial arts. This taught me discipline. I will get to this later, but this is a significant part of my life.
My career started as an agent at a model agency, I know this is not wellness-related yet – but hold up, we get pretty deep later.
I had models come through my door asking me advice about their weight, the pressure they felt about the industry, and bookings, “how can they lose a few pounds quicker” before fashion week – then I heard so many solutions these girls would find and actually not only follow, but invest hundreds of dollars into their “health” from endless google searches, influencers that really don’t have much credibility posting about skinny teas, waistbands, and so much other junk on the internet.
From nutrition issues to the mental health toll, and the feeling of unknown that all these women kept experiencing – It was sad and overwhelming to see. I had my personal beliefs, opinions, and practices – but it definitely was not enough to be a voice in such a space. After being an agent, I got into tech and created a marketplace for fashion bookings. But something still didn’t feel right. I was not at my own full potential, and even though I discovered a way to be financially free. I was bothered by what was happening in the industry internally around me. In the summer of 2018, I went on my own journey. It all started with a women’s entrepreneurship retreat in Peru.
Experts want to focus on their job; to heal people and not focus on marketing, ads, and research. All of these other things on how to drive traffic to their business, Yet, the consumers that need “wellness” the most can’t afford it or it’s not accessible in their city. The industry was scattered, confusing, and mostly focused on just females, forgetting about the men and half of the U.S.A as consumers. There was a much bigger issue that needed to be solved.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Anastasia Hisel: In 2019 I chose to completely leave the fashion world and surround myself with events, people, and create new habits on developing my personal development skills. Actually, I changed my number, sold the agency, and changed everything on social media. Because I chose to enter a new world, a world I knew I had a bigger opportunity, purpose, and the motivation to make it better. I became obsessed with the human body, health research, and holistic practices. I called myself “the clean slate” because I was just like the average person. I got lost in my career as an agent, I stopped martial arts – the one thing I love most, I worked out just here and there – got lazy, and worst of all…I stopped pushing to be the best version of myself. I left my career to live and breathe everything from health, wellness, nutrition, corporate wellness, mental health, fitness, and the holistic approaches and practices that were out there. I cannot tell you how much I love this journey, the people, and the mission behind this decision.
Atma interviewed over 1000 practitioners, different practices they offer for different health concerns the average person may have. This research showed jaw-breaking stats. Although there are many points that I can go into, I will just say that our system is broken. 90% of healthcare money is spent on preventable chronic and mental issues, healthcare is not wellness – consumers just don’t know who/what/where to turn to. One of the biggest takeaways here – is educating our consumers on the options they have, the problem they are facing, and providing them the exact solution. A lot of opportunities can be created from this point alone.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Anastasia Hisel: We have been working for 2 years now on extensive research with a major focus on collaborations. Creating partnerships between wellness brands, practitioners, fitness studios, retreats, even individuals in health care (or at least discussions in the space to see what we can do next). We are creating discussions and collaborations to bridge these gaps within the space. We could be much stronger if we worked together instead of against each other. Health is our biggest asset, so we need to make sure we create a culture around the space, our daily routines, and the education behind it.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Anastasia Hisel: I don’t think I need a microphone for this. The pandemic was enough said. That was a weird time, for everyone. If you didn’t experience a health concern (congrats). However, you probably felt a social or mental health concern or a feeling, thought, or perhaps pressure from society. Wellness is so much more than fitness.
I will repeat that one more time. There is so much more to wellness than just candle-lit yoga and meditation. It’s everything combined. We are all humans, at the end of the day we feel similar emotions, thoughts, and problems. So much of it is preventable. If we just had enough education, examples, and conversations about these topics – that alone could help. But it’s not enough. We need to change the system, we need to bridge gaps in the industry. We need this now. Because of anxiety, depression numbers continue to climb – this year, to an all-time high.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision or values?
Anastasia Hisel: Atma provides the opportunity to rediscover a new world in order to better yourself as a human being, connect with others, progress, and experience endless discoveries.
Our mission is to bring people together, by providing a platform that brings access to inspiring live streams, unforgettable retreats, exclusive one-on-one sessions with holistic practitioners, therapists, and a wellness community you can really connect with.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Anastasia Hisel: This is an ongoing self-development course that no one can teach you in class, you need to experience it, learn from it, and then pivot if necessary. First, you need to be thankful for the people that support you, the bigger the project the bigger team the bigger responsibilities. Everyone needs to be heard and respected – which sounds basic. But creating that culture has been the most difficult aspect for me personally. It’s almost a full-time job to manage different expertise, personalities, and opinions. A leader will never think they are the best because there is always room to grow. If something is not working, you need to adapt to changes and pivot. I have numerous stories – but the point of this lesson is to be adaptable and listen to people. Customers, employees, freelancers, your lawyer, account – don’t take every advice. But understand to accept it, research it, and apply if necessary. To summarize:
- Be thankful for your humans that support you
- Hear and Respect all opinions, really process it
- Become adaptable to any situation
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Anastasia Hisel: It needs to be an authentic manifestation of who you are and amplify what you believe
How would you define “leadership”?
Anastasia Hisel: Going back to the skill sets you need as a leader. Listen to your people, be thankful for them, and apply actions when it is necessary. Re-build your company culture. This is not a temporary thing anymore. Our company cultures will forever be changed, remote work will be here for 50% and 50%. Finding or even creating a new job is easier than ever. As a leader, this is the time to listen to your people more than ever. I am a total believer in a 4 day work week. I agree that it makes your employees more productive during the hours. Working 9am to 5pm with a 30 minute break is outdated, wrong, and an old way of thinking. Your employees will not be happy with that.
Create company motivative power hours, educate them on how to be the best versions of themself, have a show and tell, hold a weekend retreat, be the place that your people are not going to want to leave because of the people that they connect with, experience opportunities, and be their best self. Create that, and they will be loyal forever. Perhaps, not always as employees but later on as friends if they do part ways. Either way, make people remember you for the good. It will always out win the bad. It is never too late to change that culture
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Anastasia Hisel: Collaborate with people in your niche, create small habits or discipline for your-self, adapt to pivots when necessary, really listen to people and research their opinion to understand their side of view, UNDERSTAND YOUR SELF – it’s great to learn from the people that made it, but you and your practice, your believes, your motives will always be different. Your technique/expertise/beliefs might not work for some yet work for millions of others.
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
Anastasia Hisel: Be thankful for your humans that support you, Hear and Respect all opinions, really process them, Become adaptable to any situation.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Anastasia Hisel for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Anastasia Hisel or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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