All posts by Alissa Finerman

About Alissa Finerman

Alissa is a Business & Life Coach, motivational speaker, and author of “Living in Your Top 1%: Nine Essential Rituals to Achieve Your Ultimate Life Goals." She coaches with individuals and organizations to help them think bigger, redefine what’s possible, and get results. She traded in a Wall Street career so she could give back and inspire others to do what they love and raise the bar in their life. She has worked with Neutrogena, Milken Institute, LA Business Journal, NBC Universal and Dress For Success. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. To learn more and to take the Living in Your Top 1% quiz, please connect with Alissa on her Website, Facebook and Twitter . Check out her book on Amazon.

3 Ways to Make Your Life Story One That Empowers You

leap“Don’t allow your situation to become your world.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes from Oprah’s Life Class

We all have a story. Sometimes it explains why we can’t do something and other times our story propels us forward.

I’ve heard cases where people have the same story — such as lack of money, resources, or knowledge — and one person eventually starts a successful business while the other is out of work and depressed. One story can lead to completely opposite interpretations and outcomes.

When you tell your story, you must…

1. Be honest about your story and stick to the facts.
Nothing more nor less!

2. Create the story that empowers you to move forward.
Never lower your standards!

3. Live your truth.
Establish non-negotiables!

“Does your story empower you or dis-empower you?” – Tony Robbins

We all have stories in different areas of our life. The facts are always available. The only thing that changes is how we interpret them and how we decide to embellish them.

Let’s look at three situations in different areas of your life…

1. Health

Facts: You have two kids, time is in limited supply, and you want to spend time with your kids.

Your Story: You can’t get in shape because you have kids and don’t have time.


Truth: You must prioritize exercising because you want to stay healthy and be around to enjoy your children for many years.

2. Career

Facts: Your career is unfulfilling and you would like to be happy in your job.

Your Story: You can’t leave your job which is un-fulfilling because you will never find another job and you have no other skills.


Truth: You need to move outside your comfort zone to learn new skills and find a job that makes your happy and allows you to share your strengths.

3. Relationships

Facts: You grew up in a dysfunctional home.

Your Story: You can’t have a good relationship because you grew up in a dysfunctional home.


Truth: Surrounding yourself with stable people and creating a positive environment are important elements to have in your life because you did not have either when you were growing up.

Often, my clients have different stories for different areas of their lives. For example, one amazing and successful client has a can-do mindset in business and athletics. In his career, he believes he can close any deal and handle the most difficult clients. In the area of healthy living/athletics, he has the courage to go after his goals and compete in various triathlon competitions with no limits. However, in his relationships, he has the story that he’s had really bad luck and is not cut out for intimate relationships. Although relationships are challenging for all of us, I challenge his story line.

The one thing I know for sure, as Oprah likes to say, is that sticking to the facts opens you up to a more powerful story and outcome. If you have had relationships or jobs that weren’t fulfilling, then say that. Your story is not permanent. Focus on what you want to bring into your life and why it’s important. Create the story that empowers you forward.

Often you have to challenge your conclusions and ask yourself if they are true. Does it really make sense that you can make anything in your career and healthy living a reality, yet relationships elude you? How much time do you spend on the areas you are successful in versus the ones you would like to have different results in? Your story must be the truth. This is the only way to create a top 1% path and share your best self.


Originally published April 2012

How to Discover and Honor an Authentic “Bottom Line”

Bottom line be clear

When we think of the phrase “the bottom line” some people think of profits and money. But there’s much more to the bottom line than dollar signs. The bottom line you lead with will make a huge impact in your life and others.

Sometimes our bottom line is to get what we want in an argument instead of figuring out a solution to enhance the relationship (I just made this mistake). Other times, our bottom line is to get the job done but in the process we alienate people in the workplace instead of looking at the situation from all perspectives to gain support. Or the bottom line can be to make work or health our priority but in the process we completely neglect the loved ones in our life.

As we honor our bottom line we need to be aware of the impact on others and adjust our actions if necessary.

Does your Bottom Line resonate on a heartfelt level?

Whether you’re a manager, mom, CEO, college student, musician, artist, friend, lover, athlete or entrepreneur, it’s important to be clear on your bottom line and how it impacts others.

What’s fueling your decisions? Is it the drive to create, connect, listen, make the world better, teach your children, honor your values, feel loved, serve your customer, create a better product or to feel connected?

Consider these questions in the different areas of your life?

  • What’s the bottom line with your family?
  • What’s the bottom line in your relationships?
  • What’s the bottom line in your business?
  • What’s the bottom line with your team at work?
  • What’s the bottom line with your personal health?
  • What impact does your bottom line have on others?
  • What changes if any need to be made?

Depending on your bottom line, you may take very different actions. Focusing purely on being right will lead to one set of actions, whereas focusing on collaboration will lead to another. And each will lead to a different set of results. Often we don’t consider our bottom line until it’s too late and then we wonder why the situation veered off course.

The Bottom Line can also include knowledge, experience, inspiration, fun, respect, love, connecting and much more. When we steer away from an authentic, heartfelt and collaborative bottom line the results shift dramatically, often not for the best.

Being clear on our bottom line and understanding how it will be heard by others is a game changer.

Consider one specific challenging situation in an important area of your life such as career, relationships, finance, or health. Ask if your bottom line comes from the heart and how will it be received?

I’d love to hear your responses.

The Time Is Now: 3 Ways to Get Started On Your Next Venture

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela


the-time-is-nowIt feels overwhelming.

The voice in your head tells you no.

All the reasons why you can’t start now keep streaming through your mind.

And then you take a tiny step forward and you see a window of possibility…and you start to believe that maybe you can!

Perhaps you want to be a comedian so you tell one joke to your friend and then you sign up for open mic night

Perhaps you want to get in shape so you take your first twenty-minute walk and then join a gym

Perhaps you want to start a business so you search for a domain name and then you buy it

Perhaps you want to change jobs so you work on your resume and then send it to a headhunter…


The small steps often feel huge and undoable until you take them. The consistent theme is a sense of uncertainty that you don’t know what will be and that’s scary for all us. SO scary that it’s tempting to accept the status quo and do nothing instead of taking that small step to explore what’s ahead. This feeling happens time and time again as you continue to create.

Here are three ways to help you get started on your next venture:

1. Be Mindful of Your Words: While many people underestimate the power of words, they really do matter. So if you keep telling yourself that it’s a difficult environment to raise money or to start a business, then that’s the energy you are putting out into the world.  Realize that the words you use are directly related to the results you get via the following chain reaction.

Thoughts –> Beliefs –> Mindset –> Action –> Results

So if you want to change any piece of this formula, you need to change one of the variables above.  Change your words. Change your life.

2. Leave The Drama Behind: It’s just a small step so please stop making it anything more than that. Whether it’s making a phone call that you don’t want to or setting the alarm a few minutes earlier, just do it. The Nike slogan isn’t “Just think about it,” but rather “Just do it” for a reason. Drama weighs you down. Small steps take you forward. You cannot have both. You must make a choice!

3. Make A Promise To Yourself To Take At Least A Small Step Each Week: If you do just one small step a week for your business or a specific area of your life, you will have completed 52 small steps by the end of the year. My guess is you will be at a very different place after 52 steps. This is very doable for all of us! Small steps help to build confidence and see the potential for possibilities.

There’s usually not a “best” time to start your new venture or journey. You just need to lean into it and take a small step. With each small step you start to experience a series of wins which help you build confidence and believe in yourself. Your life dreams matter. This is the time to get started and share them with the world.

What can you start today? We’d love to hear!

How to Get in the Game in 2013


Happy New Year! Here’s to a wonderful year filled with love, abundance and many more top 1% moments for all!

You’re motivated…

You’re excited…

You’re ready to have a great 2013! Now what? How do you get there? What would a “great” year mean to you?

For those who are open to investing in themselves and doing the work, here’s an empowering and helpful exercise for all to get you started. Give yourself 15 minutes to write out the questions below. This is when you want to think big rather than settle. If you settle when you dream, you will settle in your life. Believe in yourself!

1. Define success? What will a successful year mean to you? Is it about connecting with people, inspiring people, making a certain amount of money, reading to your kids every night, changing jobs to do what you enjoy, or believing in yourself?

2. Write down three or more wins for 2012 that you felt good about accomplishing (ex: writing your first blog, taking a photography class and showing your work, launching a new product, completing a half-marathon, buying your first home)

3. Write down 3 core values (ex: respect, learning, honesty, adventure)

4. Write down three of your strengths (ex: positive outlook, determined, humor)

5. Write down three areas of your life/business that you would like to improve or focus on (ex, health, career, finances, relationships, fun/creativity, personal growth, marketing, business development)

6. Write down at least two goals/intentions in each area, be as specific as you can, when will you complete the goal, does it speak to your heart, why is it important?

7. Put a star next to the three goals that truly speak to your heart

8. Focus on one goal at a time and write down 3 small steps you can take today/this week to start the process rolling (perhaps it’s signing up for a class, calling someone to get more information, registering a domain name etc.)

9. Repeat the process for each area of your life/business with each goal

These are great exercises to get your creative juices flowing and open to new possibilities. Please feel free to share one of your goals/intentions in the comments section below.

Here’s to a great 2013,



And for those who want to dig in deeper with one to one coaching, email I will also be doing a free conference call on goals later this month, and I will be doing free 30-min Skype coaching sessions once a month just to help you all. Email to learn more.

Image: Tom Wang/Shutterstock


6 Strategies for Success in the New Year

Many people talk about all the things they want to do. But success happens when you follow through with your ideas. Some people complain about having no time or disliking their job, yet they don’t take steps to better their lives. You have to decide what you want and the rituals you will put in place to get there.

Resolutions and goals are a solid starting point but they only require words. The real progress stems from the actions you take on a consistent basis.

Consider these SIX SUCCESS STRATEGIES to get in the game and create your best year.


The process of acknowledging your wins helps to build confidence, believe in yourself, and think expansively about what’s possible. A win is an accomplishment that you feel proud about — it can be big or small. If it matters to you and makes you feel good, it’s a win.

Regardless of how amazing or frustrating your life may be, I guarantee you have WINS. Two of my wins include writing my first book, Living in Your Top 1%, and working with three not-for-profits that help underprivileged women. Other wins could include, leaving a toxic relationship, closing your first real estate deal, successfully changing jobs in a difficult economy, calling a friend to start an exercise program, or ordering your first set of business cards. Highlighting your WINS and leveraging past successes is one of the most powerful ways to motivate yourself to continue to take action.

Believe in yourself!


Regardless of whether you run a company or not, you have to step into the CEO role of YOU INC. Being the CEO means you make yourself a priority, take responsibility for your actions, and make choices that align with your goals. This includes fueling YOU INC. so that you can share your best self with your friends, family, and co-workers.

As the talented Director, Tom Shadyac shares in his wonderful documentary, I am — we are all connected and what we do impacts the world. We will naturally create a better world by embracing the CEO role for our life. So the next time someone asks, “What’s right with the world?” Hopefully, we can all say, “I am.” The powerful piece is that your choices, energy, and contributions can create a more positive world.

Step into the CEO role for your life!


We all want success but are you clear on what success means to you? Your definition is dynamic and specific to your values and what’s important to you. It’s much more effective to focus on YOUR top 1% rather than on chasing THE top 1%. Does success mean building loving relationships, making a certain amount of money, buying a house, volunteering, or spending quality time with your children?

Living your best life is dependent on doing what brings you energy, makes you feel alive and connected, and leaves you feeling fulfilled. It’s not dependent on your status, role, $$’s, or education as society encourages us to believe. Take the time to continually redefine what success means to you. These are the ideas to put into action.

Live your truth!


“Find a happy person, and you will find a project,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, positive psychologist and author of The How of Happiness. We all need something to work toward. And do yourself a favor, set a goal that truly excites you and adds meaning to your life rather than setting the same goal you’ve had for the past ten years but have not completed such as lose 10 pounds. Yes, your goals need to be specific, measurable, actionable, in writing, and have a time target but the real movement starts when you go after something that is both important and a priority in your life. Three suggestions:


  1. START WITH YOUR IDEAL VISION: What would you love to achieve by the end of the year? Don’t let the obstacles push you off-course and compromise before your journey starts.
  2. LIVE IN YOUR STRETCH ZONE: One client, the Marathon Goddess, is running 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer. This is definitely outside her comfort zone but she’s going for it. When you set a stretch goal you strive for something that you might not have thought possible.
  3. TAKE SMALL STEPS: Small steps are the key to building confidence and helping you adjust to the process of change. The Japanese refer to this idea as kaizen, or continuous improvement. Small steps help to avoid all or nothing pitfalls and focus on sustainable progress. Even the process of writing a book starts with one word to one page to one chapter. Small steps lead to big results!

Put your goals into action!


Forget about what other people and society think you should do. If you want to shine in the New Year, you’ll need to seek your truth and pursue ideas and projects that you are passionate about. Go after what makes YOU smile. Invest your time and take action on the goals and priorities that make you happy.

Focus on your top priorities!


Surround yourself with people who believe in you and want to see you do well. And, it’s important to spend time with people who YOU think are winners too! Your Top 1% Team needs to energize and fuel you rather than drain your energy. Your team can include people, books, music, quotes, yoga, YOU time, conferences and more. Basically, anything that inspires you and helps you move forward with your goals!

Surround yourself with winners!

TOP 1% BOTTOM LINE: Ideas + action form a compelling combo to have a positively positive year. You celebrate wins along the way and always seek out ways to improve, expand your thinking, and take on new challenges. The journey starts by asking, “Am I living up to my greatest potential?”

Learning To Live Through Transitions

As soon as I change jobs, then I’ll be able to….

When I finish my book, then I’ll be able to focus on….

Once I complete my move, then I’ll be able to…give my all to my relationship, job, or myself.

 All of the above conditions exist because you let them. Often, we establish a set of conditions that hold ourself hostage for no reason. This doesn’t need to be the case.

You can still be happy or be in a beautiful relationship if you are going through a challenging financial time, stressful time at work, or moving. I’m know saying it’s easy, but it CAN be done.

Life doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Transitions will exist until we no longer do. So instead of trying to get rid of the transitions or challenging times, learn to live with them and breathe through them. Know that you’ve moved through transitions before and will do it again and again.

What if we convinced ourselves that transitions were exactly what we needed to grow and help us take the next step forward? Think about the “wins” (aka amazing experiences or accomplishments you are proud about) you’ve had in your life – has it been smooth sailing the entire journey? My guess is no.

There’s no need to let a bunch of false conditions hold you hostage and cloud over the amazing potential that exists within you.

Take the time to build a supportive team to help you move through these transitions rather than shutting down. It is possible to shift our mindset and how we see challenges. All events are neutral until we categorize them as positive or negative. The process is not easy and requires effort and making something a priority.

Top 1% Bottom Line: Life is a bunch of transitions rolled together. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that you need to just get through this one transition and then you can be happy, dive into a relationship, or whatever. The transitions add texture to your life and keep it interesting. Lean into each one and take small steps.

photo by: SidPix

Keep it Simple

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

~ Albert Einstein

Sometimes life can be overwhelming with all the choices we have to make. A helpful recipe for success is to keep things simple.

I believe that deep down everyone wants to improve and lead his or her best life. Seems easy enough, but often challenging to implement because you need clarity and the courage to take action.

What do you want to focus on and make a priority this year?

Here’s my recipe for success by keeping it simple…feel free to add on to make these rituals work for you.

S:            Define SUCCESS

We all want success but are you clear on what success means to you? To do so, it’s much more effective to focus on YOUR top 1% rather than on THE top 1%. Living your best life is dependent on doing what brings you energy, makes you feel alive and connected, and leaves you feeling fulfilled. It’s not dependent on your status, role, $$’s, or education as society likes to have us believe.

A client recently shared the following…

“I recommend if you have a dream follow it as soon as you can! I stepped into the French Culinary Institute this morning for my class after having 4 hours of sleep because of work deadlines but it didn’t matter, my heart was racing and I felt alive!!!”

Success is doing what makes you feel alive! Take the time to continually redefine what success means to you.

I:            IMAGINE your ideal outcome.

I like to encourage people to think in terms of the ideal outcome. This starts with your imagination. If you want to start a business, become a yoga teacher, or buy a house, train your mind to see all the possibilities by creating an inspiring vision for what you want. Then you can work backwards to see how your vision translates into reality. However, if you start dreaming and immediately let obstacles throw you off course, you create a less than ideal outcome.

The work is to have the courage to think without obstacles rather than let your mind be clouded by everything that can go wrong or the challenges that could show up. People who create focus on what can be rather than why something can’t be done. You can train yourself to do the same.

M:            Create a winning MINDSET

We all have a story. Many of us believe our story defines us, but what really defines us is how we interpret the story or facts and choose to move forward.

According to the National Science Foundation, our brains produce as many as 50,000 thoughts per day. Ninety-five percent of these thoughts are repeated daily.

Your thoughts become your beliefs, which, in turn, become your mindset.  Your mindset governs your actions, which lead to your results. In short, if you have a mindset that limits your potential, then you will likely accept limited results in your life.

Start becoming aware of the words you use on a consistent basis and how often you tell yourself: can vs. can’t or impossible vs. possible.

P:            PRIORITIZE What’s Important To You

Making something a priority is different than simply saying something is important.

I have lots of clients who think it’s important to make time for the gym or make themselves a priority but that doesn’t mean they do it. I start every coaching workshop by having people tell me their “wins.” Wins are anything that make you feel proud and give you the feeling of “I did it.” The consistent theme that explains why the wins are accomplished is simple –people make them a priority. So if you want time to read to your kids, have a better relationship with your parents, go to sleep earlier, take a vacation, or take a photography class, make it a priority and you will see different results.

L:            LAUGH often

I learned this one from my favorite yoga teachers, Jen Pastiloff. One of the things that I love about her class is her ability to make us laugh so we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We all know that tree pose or crow is serious stuff, but who really cares if you fall out of a pose? The truth — I do! But seriously, laughing opens up your heart and brings good energy into your life. Would you prefer to surround yourself with people who are laughing and fun to be around or Debbie downers? It’s your choice!

E:            Bring EXCITEMENT into your life

Everyone can use a little excitement in his or her life and the easiest way to do this is to pursue a goal that is truly exciting rather than something you should do. How do you want to invest your time and energy? All the brilliant innovators get 24 hours in a day – the only difference is how you decide to use them.

You will naturally be more motivated and resilient when you fill your day with a purpose and goals/projects that are exciting to you.

TOP 1% BOTTOM LINE: Although life can be complicated, we always have the choice to keep it SIMPLE. To achieve this you need to know what’s most important to you and then focus on your top priorities.  The process starts by gaining clarity on how you define success and then practicing your rituals consistently.

The Path to Your Top 1%

“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Life is a series of choices. Everyday we are given the opportunity to make new choices that align with our values and goals. Our choices can range from something simple such as getting out of bed or hitting the snooze button when your alarm rings (often not that simple) to changing jobs, starting a new business, leaving a relationship, or relocating to another city.

The bottom line is that you have the choice to share your best self with the world every day. Jim Collins in the book, Good to Great, artfully points out that “greatness, is turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”

The question is what does your personal greatness look like?

Seeing the greater possibilities for your life takes courage, honesty, and requires that you turn your ideas into action. This is where life gets challenging! What emerges is the concept of Living in Your Top 1% (my newest book).

A key distinction with this phrase is to realize that living your best life is about living in YOUR top 1% rather than THE top 1%. It’s not a contest and it’s not a comparison. Oprah in an interview with Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, powerfully shared that it IS possible for every person, whether you are a gardener, assistant, manager, mom, or CEO, to reach his or her highest potential, regardless of the starting place.

Living in your top 1% is seeing your world filled with potential and possibility. It’s about having a vision, making progress in key areas, and understanding that small shifts in mindset produce powerful shifts in behavior. It is not dependent on your age, the size of your bank account, or your education.

Top 1% moments are defined by the feelings of fulfillment, excitement, and happiness that come from the experience of reaching for your best, rather than the accomplishments alone. Living in your top 1% is about seeing the world with an “I can” and “what’s possible” mindset.

Living in your top 1% is a continuous journey rather than a race with a start and finish. You celebrate wins along the way and always seek out ways to improve, expand your thinking, and take on new challenges. Your top 1% level is dynamic and constantly evolving. True top 1%ers always looks for ways to raise their game and ask, “Am I living up to my greatest potential?”


“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~ Steve Jobs


Here’s a snapshot of three of the nine rituals I share in my book, Living in your top 1%:


One of the best ways to lead an empowered life on a daily basis is to start with your most important asset – you. YOU INC. represents all the different areas of your life including Career, Relationships, Finances, Healthy Living, Fun & Creativity and Personal Growth. You need to invest in and be mindful of each of these areas to present your best self on a daily basis. The key theme is that you are in the driver’s seat, not someone else. This means making yourself a priority, taking responsibility for your actions, and not being afraid to say “NO” or “YES” in different situations. Before we can truly be a leader for others, we need to be a leader for our own life.

What impact could you make if you made yourself a priority on a consistent basis?


The only way to experience growth is to move outside your comfort zone and into your stretch zone. There are three zones: The Comfort Zone (holds your existing habits and your mind is less stimulated), The Stretch Zone (the zone about learning and growth), and The Stress/Danger Zone (the zone where you often feel overwhelmed and lack clarity).  The ideal zone is the stretch zone. This is the zone where you are taking on new challenges (ex: taking on more responsibility at work, starting a new business, or learning a new skill), adapting, and building confidence. There will be successes and failures to fuel your learning.

What zone do you need to operate in to be your best?


The power three — do you have them? Practicing two out of three will produce different results than implementing all three. If you are only committed to your workout routine on Tuesday and Thursday you will see different results than if you are committed five days a week. The formula is simple but putting it into practice is difficult. Your results are directly related to your ability to make consistent choices that align with your goals, stay committed to your top priorities, and consistently practice your best set of rituals. You need to own all three of the components above to produce your best – two out of three will leave some of your potential on the table.

What area of your life could you practice greater consistency to raise your game?

Top 1% Bottom line: Regardless of where you are in your journey, you can live with a powerful set of rituals. The laws of success don’t change. The only thing that changes is how we practice them. The quest starts by asking yourself, “What does my top 1% look like?” The next step is to turn your powerful ideas into action.

photo by: Ant1_G

Redefining What’s Possible: Living in Your Top 1% Interview with Jennifer Pastiloff

Jennifer Pastiloff interviewed by Alissa Finerman

The goal of the “Living in Your Top 1%” interview series is to break down the qualities of people who excel and to show that you can be successful and achieve personal greatness from any starting point in your life. The interview series looks at people from all different careers and industries. Some names will be familiar and others may not. The purpose is to understand and borrow from the “best practices” of winners to develop a roadmap to YOUR Top 1%.

This week’s guest is Jennifer Pastiloff, one of the newest bloggers here at Intentblog. Her story is one of inspiration, courage, and passion and shows that it is possible to change paths and do what you love. She is an ambassador for Lululemon, founder of, and a master yoga teacher who leads workshops all over the world. She is one of my favorite yoga teachers and sources of inspiration. She shows that it is definitely possible to re-write your story.

* Since we did this interview in 2011, Jen has appeared on Good Morning America, been invited as a VIP guest to Oprah’s Life Class in NYC, and has interviewed some movers and shakers on her site including the best-selling author and spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer and Christy Turlington, founder of Every Mother Counts.

Alissa Finerman What’s the most important strength you possess that allows you to be successful in your role?
Jennifer Pastiloff: Compassion. I have been nicknamed the ” Connector” and I believe it’s my compassion for others which has led me to this role of teacher/connector. I also have a sense of humor. I laugh at myself a lot. It is KEY in my teachings. I have a rule in my classes that I live by as well: “If you fall, you must laugh.” I also live by the question, “How may I serve?” A big thing I believe in is picking others up and helping others shine their light. “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ( Marianne Williamson)

AF: What inspired you to change careers and become a yoga teacher?
JP: Honestly, I was severely depressed and yoga saved my life, so to speak. People who knew me suggested because of my personality and my love for yoga that I might enjoy teaching. I was not interested at all until I taught my first class. Then, I knew I had found my bliss.

AF: What motivates you on a daily basis to keep going?
JP: Seeing the breakthroughs my students keep having, mostly off the mat! Also, seeing that I have true power in manifesting what I want in my life and wanting to share that endlessly with people, especially those that are stuck, as I was, for years and years.

AF: What role do goals play in your life? Tell us a few words about your goal setting process.
JP: Goals are a fairly new idea to me. Until recently I did everything impulsively and on a whim. Now, I create vision boards and from there set goals based on 1, 5, and 10 yr increments in the areas of Health, Career, and Personal Growth. I am also very compassionate towards myself so if a goal doesn’t come to fruition, I do not beat myself up, but rather re-evaluate and relax. I spent way too many years beating myself up and, frankly, that never got me the results I wanted. (please note, Good Morning America and Oprah were both on Jen’s vision board and they happened!)

AF: What’s the toughest challenge you successfully overcame?
JP: I overcame a major eating disorder (anorexia) and I also have a major hearing problem (I wear a hearing aid) so that is something I still deal with on a daily basis.

AF: What are some of your most meaningful accomplishments?
JP: 1) Leaving my job of 13 years as a waitress to become a successful yoga teacher in Los Angeles, leading sold out workshops all over the world, and being an ambassador for Lululemon
2) Creating which gives free yoga to kids with special needs after my nephew was diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome
3) Getting picked as one of ten young poets in the Nation to get a writing fellowship at Bucknell University for the summer while I was at NYU (Stadler Center for Poetry)
4) Creating Manifestation Yoga and helping people manifest what they truly want in their lives
5) Having the charity I started,, be featured in the Huffington Post

AF: What do the top performers/students do differently to excel?
JP: Walk the talk. I teach certain principles and I believe that people who excel live by these principles: thinking FROM the end, not about it; letting go of what is no longer serving them; visualizing what they want and acting AS IF; following through and committing to their own word; and being specific in what they ask for! And most importantly, being honest with oneself.

To learn more about Jennifer Pastiloff, please visit

Photo: Joe Longo

Your Starting Point Does Not Define You

“Your story is where you take it to, not where you start.” – Tony Robbins

Let’s be honest and get a few things out on the table…

Your starting point does not define you.

It only matters where you want to go rather than where you are right now.


Your starting place is just that, where you start. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s neutral.

Steve Jobs started Apple in his garage. Most people would think that was a pretty terrible place to start but he built Apple into an amazingly successful company (and don’t forget he was fired as well). Iyanla Vanzant, an author and self-help guru, went through a divorce, lost her daughter to cancer, and lost her home. She is now a New York Times bestselling author and will soon have a self-empowerment show on Oprah’s network OWN. Although, we tend to classify our starting place as drastic, it’s just a starting place. No need to be dramatic!

“We can think, speak, and bring the best possible outcome into existence by focusing on where we are going, not on where we think we are.” – Iyanla Vanzant

Do yourself and everyone around you a favor, please stop being so tough on yourself because your starting place is difficult.

Your starting place may be that you don’t have enough money, education, contacts, or knowledge to start your business. Or, your starting place could be that you have all the money in the world and a successful business but you’re not fulfilled.

I had a solid starting place when I was in New York City…working on Wall Street for a top tier investment bank, making good money, living in a nice apartment in NYC, and having a great lifestyle. Most people would not have given up the lifestyle I had, but it wasn’t what I wanted, so I had to start again. Later, when I wrote my first book, Living in Your Top 1%, I started from scratch…no prior writing experience, no contacts in the business, and no knowledge of the industry. It’s amazing what you can learn when you really want something and are determined to make it happen.

Your starting place is irrelevant. Yes, I know this sounds crazy.

What matters is your clarity, choices, and commitment to take action and create what you want.

TOP 1% BOTTOM LINE: It’s not about where you start but rather where you want to go. Big difference. People are frustrated by what they have AND don’t have. Your starting place is a point of reference when you look back to see how far you’ve come.

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