An Emmy award-winning news anchor, Allison launched online publication Working Woman Report with a mission to cover female entrepreneurs around the world.
The New York City-based digital maven shares her thoughts on creating engaging content, social media marketing and building communities.
A few years after starting Working Woman Report, Allison discovered another way to support boundary-pushing thinkers and doers. For NÜHANZI, an online store and community, she was inspired by strong women in China who call themselves nühanzi (which means “manly woman” in Chinese) and built a community to celebrate the nühanzi woman.
Allison says she created the nühanzi necklaces so that women would have something they could wear close to their heart and physically hold to remind them that they are a badass!
A few words of advice
On digital skills...
"We’re living in a digital and visual world, and there’s a whole set of skills that comes with the territory. If you’re trying to tell a brand’s story -- or in my case, other women’s success stories -- you should be able to navigate the digital realm in terms of social media, visuals and storytelling."
"A big part of that is video -- video is crucial to storytelling if you’re working in an online space, because that's how people are consuming content."
"Even if it’s just with your phone, you should be able to turn, shoot and edit videos, and take decent photos. It is really an important skill. That doesn't mean you can't get help, but you should be able to fend for yourself if you’re starting a business in a creative digital industry."
On keeping it real...
"It seems like a trite thing to say, but authenticity is something that I feel very strongly about. This is what consumers want."
"Brands need to find that authenticity and find the real story, and then tell that story and build a community. What is the real message here? How are you connecting people? If you’re authentic and can communicate what your brand stands for, you will build a community that identifies with your story."
"But sometimes people are not going to like what you have to say, or they are going to be critical. And I think that's part of the deal."
On building communities...
"It can be really tough to find people who really connect with the mission or message -- not once or twice, but people who keep coming back and are engaged."
"I always ask myself: How can I stand out from the crowd? To me, that answer is by being authentic. Not everyone is going to like what you or other community members have to say, but it is important to provide a safe space for people to share their ideas, thoughts, and dreams.
On contagious ideas...
"There's a certain entrepreneurial spirit that is just electric. I would encourage budding entrepreneurs to go out there and find other women who are doing similar things. Ask them how they overcame specific hurdles and explore how you can help each other or collaborate."
"Other female entrepreneurs get it, because they have been there. In my experience, these relationships have been invaluable -- they have guided me along the way and I’m happy to do the same for others."
"Of course, sometimes you’ll encounter naysayers. But you’ve got to block them out. All the negative people, tell them to shove it.You can't let yourself be around people who are trying to pull you down."
"When you are hiring people, my advice is to find people who are excited about what you’re doing, and who have their own ideas about how to help the business grow. I always want my colleagues to want to work with me and to continue to stick around for a long time. That excitement is important."
"When I am considering collaborations, I try to surround myself with people who are passionate. I look for people with enthusiasm, and who care about other people."
"The ones who want to see an idea germinate and grow -- you can see it in someone’s eyes or even hear it in their voice when you're talking over the phone. If they don't have that spark, then it's probably not the right fit."
"Sometimes, I just reach out to people. I don't have a particular project in mind, but I think they’re fantastic and I want to get to know them. I don’t always know exactly how we can work together... but once we touch base the opportunities become clearer."
On new ideas...
"I love people who are creative and have ideas. I gravitate towards those souls, male or female. That’s the exciting part of entrepreneurship -- we try something new and maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. But embrace that. Cherish that. That's where it has to begin."
"Once I heard a woman at a conference talking about her startup and how she failed miserably at something. She gave herself two hours to cry, scream, and get it all out. And then she moved on. If you look at every failure as an experience and you learn from it, that is the only way to go forward."
A few more questions
How do you unwind?
"I love going out to eat. I find something very wonderful and soothing about trying new restaurants, and that's great living in New York City."
Where do you find inspiration?
"I love to take walks and people watch. I live a few blocks from Central Park. I go there a lot and I’ll just walk around. Sometimes, I meet people and their stories inspire me. Even if that’s working, that’s also relaxing to me."
Any apps you use to clear your mind or focus?
"I recently found that app called Calm, and it's really awesome because it's full of soothing soundtracks -- you'll be listening to a river or chirping birds, and I find it helps me relax."
What is your go-to drink in the morning?
"I live right on top of a Starbucks! I have a strange habit -- I order two drinks: one hot, one cold. Usually, it’s a dark roast with skimmed milk, two Sweet'n Lows, and a little cinnamon on top. And then I also order a Cool Lime Starbucks Refresher."
What are your favourite apps or tools for productivity?
"When it comes to creating websites and organizing content, I find that WordPress is the way to go. It’s very simple and easy to navigate. And if you’re introducing e-commerce, WooCommerce for WordPress can help you manage and process orders."
Any parting words?
"I'm one of those people who tries not to dwell on regrets. I don’t think it’s productive. My advice? If something doesn't work out, learn from it. Don’t live in it."