Alison Ivy Seligson has a simple, two-step response to things she has not yet conquered: figure out how, then do it. Each of these steps she does thoroughly, cheerfully, and with breathtaking speed—usually while doing a few other things, to boot. When we met in Toastmasters, she was already holding down a fancy-pants job as CFO of a prominent commercial production company while training in her off-hours to be a life coach. Once she’d gotten “speaking” under her belt (which she did while serving as Treasurer and whipping the club’s books into shape) and begun her coaching practice, Alison folded “singing” back into the mix (she first made her living as a chanteuse on Maui), while she simultaneously launched a blog, developed her workshop in money education for teens, decluttered her house from top to bottom, and trained as an aesthetician—FOR FUN. (There were also trips to numerous NASCAR races tucked away in there throughout, making Alison the mystery most firmly wrapped in an enigma I have ever met.) And at one point? She lopped off her ridiculously thick and luxurious hair for charity. Of COURSE I love her!
When did you decide to become a writer?
Every day. The truth is that there wasn’t really a “Yes, I’m a writer” moment. I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the English language and especially vocabulary. My mom was a stickler for grammar and both she and my dad are voracious readers so I had some pretty impressive words in my grab bag at very young age.
The expression of creativity through writing has mostly come out of me via short stories – almost always for personal consumption. Now that I am embarking on a new mission of communicating financial sustainability to young people, my words will be finding their way into print much more often and I look forward to that.
Who was your favorite teacher?
I was a pretty sucky student throughout school and made it to high school graduation by sheer will. I was what parents like to refer to as an “underachiever.” I knew I was smart. I just didn’t like the confines of the classroom and the lack of creativity. Yet, at 27 years old, with the encouragement of my husband, I decided to give college a try and my first class was English 1 with Bob Reichle. Bob was not only a fabulous teacher but he gave me a voice through writing that I didn’t know I had. There was full permission to write exactly in my own style with the understanding that he would give his perspective on the work but that it wouldn’t make me wrong. He encouraged the students to be better and I grew as a writer in and from his class. And he loves a good show tune and can write one too!
What do you love to write about?
I love to write about choice and perspective – how we humans see anything and how we respond to everything. Human nature is fascinating to me and writing and reading about it gives me a charge.
What has writing taught you?
Mostly that I have a lot to learn, especially about writing.
How has writing made you stronger?
Each time I’m faced with that blank page and just my ideas, I am absolutely challenged to distill what it is I truly want to say. The process of writing forces me to get clear on what matters to me and why I believe what I have to say will matter to others. I know that the words I write can and do have an impact and I genuinely desire that impact to be of value. Each time I send a blog post out into the “out there” I do it with pride and a big ass knot in my stomach. Writing makes me stronger because it builds my will and lets me say what I need to.
If you could go back in time and tell 10-year-old you anything, what would it be?
- You are NOT responsible for other peoples’ reactions to your truth
- The girls who tease you about being skinny will all grow up to be on diets FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. Eat another double double with cheese, baby!
- Take 50% of every dollar you get or earn and make it grow
What are your five favorite books, blogs or things to read?
Compel by Robert D. Gilbreath. This book presents itself as one that might be for those who work inside companies. I’m here to say that if you’re interested in making any presentation better, this is an awesome book through and through.
This Time I Dance by Tama Kieves. A gal with a Harvard-stamped J.D. who quit the big six-figure job with the big shmancy firm to be a writer. Need I say more?
Get Rich Slowly – J.D. Roth. As a gal on a mission to bring financial smarts to others, I have read many a money book and more blogs on finance than anyone could imagine – even me. One stands out and it’s this one. Not only is the writing great, the depth and breadth of coverage on all things money is outstanding . . . and his book is pretty darn good too – Your Money-The Missing Manual.
The Answer to How is Yes by Peter Block. One of my all-time favorite self-development books. It’s a repeater for sure.
Communicatrix. Is it too “single white female” to say that? Well, f*&k it! It’s my favorite blog and I tell everyone I know who uses a computer to read it! [Editor's note: Aw, shucks. Also, can someone introduce Alison to a few thousand more people?]
Alison Ivy Seligson is a teacher of financial know-how and a master at cash flow management. For the past 15 years she has been a Chief Financial Officer, working with entrepreneurs on the organizational and financial management of their businesses. This year, she is taking on a new mission to educate young people on the wide world of money know-how. She is launching a program to address the needs of younger people to understand how money works, how to use it affectively, and to know how to manage it. Alison has a Master’s Degree in Business from Loyola Marymount University with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and she is a Certified Professional Coactive Coach through the Coaches Training Institute. In her “spare” time, you can find Alison sharing her thoughts about money and everything else at her blog, and singing a tune or two with her big bro on guitar on MySpace.