Episode 60: Living an Unscripted Life with Alex Nicolaidis

I'm Shivani Gupta, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I believe that one of the best presents that you can give yourself is time to be able to sit down and ask yourself some questions. I believe that the quality of the question that you ask yourself will determine the quality of your life.

Shivani Gupta 00:39

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I am so excited to have Alex Nicolaidis ladies on my podcast today I had an opportunity to meet her many years ago when we both lived in another state. And now as Alex will share with you, we now live in the same state and only about 20 minutes away even though we haven't been able to see each other as much through COVID. Let me tell you a little bit about Alex, she's got a really interesting and amazing history. She actually now specializes in guiding driven female entrepreneurs, to help them design and execute their ultimate business. She's been referred to as the breath of fresh air that was needed to get her clients out of their own way. And welcome to success both in their life and their business. And she's got this unique and proven three pillar formula. And then formula is mentorship, strategy and mindset. Alex has now propelled over 200 Australian businesses to their next level. Alex, welcome.

Alex Nicolaidis 01:41

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Shivani Gupta 01:45

So nice. It's taken us a little bit right to coordinate and get you in there today. Now, Alex, I know a little bit about you from your history. But I would love for our audience to hear a bit more about your journey and, and on the AskShivani podcast, one of the things we often talk about is your, I guess, your highlights and your low lights or your big positives and your negatives. So, tell us a bit about those things that wouldn't mean a lot to other people, but they were pretty instrumental in your life, and share with me and the audience what they were.

Alex Nicolaidis 02:16

Yeah. So, I think the first pivotable, pivotal, like aha moment for me in my life was when I made the decision to leave school. So, a lot of people will just see me and say what I've, like achieved in my career, and just assume that I did my HSC. And I did well and I went to university and you know, give the path. But I actually left eight weeks into year 11. And four my mother is very studious. And so, for me to, I realize that I actually didn't want to be in school. It wasn't that I didn't like but I wasn't smart, or I didn't love learning I absolutely loved learning was just the environment that I was in, that wasn't congruent with me or how I was it back then. So, like connecting with that fact. And then also like owning my truth and speaking my truth to my parents, and being like shit, I really need to back myself in this decision, because of the environment like that I've been brought up in is that you need to finish your HSA to be able to be successful to be able to be anything in this world.

So yeah, that decision, and then after effects of that was my first like adult moment really in choosing and designing and executing my desired life. Because as I said, like, I was a smart person, I just didn't love what I was learning. So, I wasn't engaged. So, the only reason that my mother would let me leave school is if I had a full-time job to go to. So, I worked at McDonald's, I had worked there since I was 14 years old. They promised me management, which they came through with a couple of weeks after I left school. And I worked there for about five or six years. And that was really instrumental in my business works, which I didn't know at the time, you know, managing 20-30 people at a time, dealing with people all different ages, as I would later learn, you know, owning your business with a lot of older stuff than me. So yeah, really, really pivotal in shaping who I was as a young adult. Then also from a personal point of view, I got to spend an extra couple of years with my father who later passed a couple of years after I left school, and he taught me how to drive. He took me to work, we would have conversations in the car. So that for me was really a special time in hindsight that I got to spend with him that if I stayed at school, I wouldn't have gotten the chance to experience that.

So, the second pivotal moment in my life was then him passing. So, you know, leading up probably his last six to 12 months in his life. You know, he lost 10 kilos, he was a smoker his entire life and he'd gotten down to one cigarette a day. You know, he was doing well at work. He had a stroke a couple of years earlier had recovered from all of that, you know, life was on the up and up. And, you know, my parents never went on holiday because they will always have the mindset of, we need to do everything in our power to provide the best opportunity for our children that we can and that to them meant working every single day saving every single penny, and not in actually enjoying life. So, you know, that was another really big lesson that I was able to experience secondhand through them, when I was creating my desired life, to be like, that was good for you. But I don't need to accept that as my belief, and create that and continue that pattern moving forward. So yeah, as I said, things, were looking up and up, you know, my parents were talking about going on a holiday and I was like, great, they're actually going to be able to leave their life, he's becoming healthier, this is great. And then quite literally, you know, he was getting ready for work, you know, had a heart attack. And 36 hours later, he was gone. So, you know, that period of my life, and you know, that grief, and that, that whole event. It gave me a profound getting choked up. It gave me like, just a connection and deeper understanding to the quote that is floated around so often, that like, to that “Tomorrow is not promised”, like today is the gift that you have. So, I using it to your best advantage, because tomorrow is not a given. You know, the fact that we are here speaking, the fact that I woke up this morning that you woke up this morning, is a gift that some people just don't have. So, you know, are using that time wisely? So, you know, that lesson and that memory, you know, projected me I guess to a different level after experiencing that, and especially at such a young age, like I don't mean, sorry, I was 18 at the time.

So that when I was, you know, at cornerstones, or like, you know, people, other pivotal moments, I was like, I was able to use that lesson to say, am I actually living how I want to live? am I choosing what is true for me? You know, what am I am I taking? Sorry? Am I accepting second best? Like, that's not good enough for me? You know, what is what do I actually desire, because today may be my last day, I don't know what's coming up. You don't either. So how I live today, as if it were my last. So, in the spirit of that, you know, context, I had went to university, I went got in through a different pathway besides my HSC. So, I was only one year behind my actual school cohort, then do my Commerce degree got into accounting. And I've been working in a few different firms for about four and a half years as an accountant. And I was sitting there one day doing some work. And I was thinking, this is actually what I want to be doing with my life. Like, you know, I could see the charge out rate that the firm was charging for me, I knew how much I was being paid, I knew that I was, you know, extremely confident in the work that I was doing. I had that fire within me to be like, I know, I can give this a real good crack. And that memory that I learned from, you know, having my father pass that if I didn't take the chance and take that risk on myself. Like, am I actually living my best life? So, at I just turned 25. And then I went out on my own, I waited for a property to settle so that I had some sort of asset behind me. And then I put my resignation in the next day, and then started my business on the following Monday.

So that was a six year long journey, which all of the highs and all of the deepest, deepest lows that you could that yeah, that you could imagine there was, you know, it just skyrocketed from went from day one because of the relationships that I'd formed as an accountant. And then when I transitioned into bookkeeping, you know, accountancy and bookkeeping is all based on trust. And I'd already built that throughout my accounting career. So, you know, I hired I started at, you know, the October and I hired my first person in the January, and then by the June I'd hired, you know, three, I think I had a team of four by then. So, you know, in a really short period, I'd had all these pebbles, these people behind me and all these clients and yeah, I mean, it sounds fantastic on paper, and you know, wow, someone's probably listening to this and go, oh my god, I can't believe that that's happened to this person. But there's also, you know, the side that no one sees also the side that, you know, you don't allow people to see have, you know that imposter syndrome of horseshit? Like, can I do this, this I'm now responsible for other people's families, and their, you know, livelihoods. You know, so whilst it may look glittery and pretty, it's also quite consuming from for you as a person. And also, I was still, I was only 25 years old, like, yes, I've experienced a lot in my life. But it's still daunting. So, you know, I had to go through my own, you know, dark nights to be able to flourish, and be able to manage that team as it grew. And as clients came in, and clients went out and managing all different personalities, and, you know, managing my own emotions and how I reacted to other people, you know, I, most of my life, I had been out put this label on myself, that I was a Virgo, I am a Virgo. But that to me, meant that I was a perfectionist. So, when I brought a team in, and needed to rely on them to serve my clients, it was like, that's not perfect, that's not to my standard. And so that was a really big hurdle for me that I needed to push through, to be able to allow that business to grow. And for me, in my own development, to actually allow people into my life, and accept help, really, when it comes when you come down to it.

So, yeah, I think like, I had that business for about probably a three-year mark. And I think, like on the business journey, you know, you go through certain phases, your birth, but in my terminology, I birthed it, and then I took it to primary school. And then, you know, when I took it to primary school, you know, that's when I pivoted again, personally, and, you know, one of my core beliefs, you know, in coaching, and ever, what I've learned is that your business cannot grow, or it can only grow rather, to the extent of the business owner or the management as they grow personally. So, you know, the business essentially hit a wall, because I hit a wall personally. So, then I, you know, confided in a mentor at the time, and, you know, got some help to move through those barriers. And then from that, time in my life, I really pivoted to opening up this whole new way of living, which is, you know, how I live now. And it really just put a spotlight on the lessons that I've learned, you know, in my earlier years, to just level them up, again, to be like, okay, this is why you went through that. This is why you struggled with this, you know, seeing my walls for what they were, and actually knowing that I have the key inside of me to be able to open that door and bring them down. It's just that I wasn't ready yet. But I was at that time. So, you know, the divine timing of everything that happens, everything happens as in when it needs to.

So yeah, like, opening that door to leave in new paradigm was exactly what I needed at that time, and also what the business needed. And then it went into primary school, and flourished again, because of my, because of my leveling up my next journey that I'd opened the door to, and became more vulnerable and honest with myself and also with my team. And that resulted in them providing me on the business with a lot more. There was just a better vibe about the business, everyone was more connected. And therefore, you know, when you nourish yourself and your team, the clients then get the benefit of that.

Shivani Gupta 14:43

Yeah, absolutely. And Alex, you've already probably alluded to this, but you almost seem to have a bit of a process like people process challenges that can be way really differently. And you know, those challenges are sometimes really small challenges on a daily basis are the bigger challenges or the life challenges. You've very beautifully interweaved some of your personal growth areas, as well as your business growth areas and the risks that you took to get to where you have today. And so, do you approach challenges a particular way? Do you have a process or a methodology or what do you do when stuff keeps you?

Alex Nicolaidis 15:18

Yeah, I think this is definitely something that I've learned over the years and I need to be mindful. And even still now, that when I do face a challenge, that I don't downplay it, because that's my default of going, oh, this isn't too bad, like, it is what it is, you know, and it's because of my solid belief in everything happens as and when it needs to, I automatically go, this is meant to teach me something, what do I need to learn, as opposed to woe is me, the world is against me, everything's happening to me. You know, and just getting into this downward spiral. Because that's what I used to do. So, you know, I think it's the, that two-pronged approach of going of having that belief and the trusting everything happens as and when it needs to, therefore, this is here to teach me something and to grow and to learn. And, you know, it's also come on to my doorstep, because I've asked for it, and be I'm ready for it. So having that trust and faith in also myself, and my experiences I've had in the past and the path that I know that I'm, you know, on and going towards, that I'm able to handle whatever's in front of me, that gets me through. And then you know, and then when I share with people, it's sorry, when I when I reflect, and then I'm able to share with people, then it's the connecting with the pace that, you know, I may not think that this challenge is large, or it was difficult to move through. Because of my previous experiences, but to other people that may be a massive hurdle. And I need to remind myself to not downplay it, and to be able to share with people because that's how, you know, by me having courage to move through a challenge, it gives other people permission to do the same in their lives. So yeah, that's, that's my how I move through challenges.

Shivani Gupta 17:31

That’s great. I love that philosophy. That was going to be one of my other questions. And, you know, certain people, people live by those philosophies. So, what about now? What's the next thing for you? What are your future aspirations? And sometimes people, particularly the circumstances we live in, they go, yeah, can I see a year? I know, some people talk 10 years out, but whatever your timeframe is, what are some of your future aspirations of what you go? you know, if I get to that, or if I achieve that, that will feel really good as part of my next part of my journey.

Alex Nicolaidis 18:01

Yeah, so I'm going to go a lifetime, because I'm a big picture person. And in my life, the rest of my lifetime, my goal is to impact 10,000 female business owners or executives, to be able to connect to their truth, and then execute what their desired life looks like, you know, for them to be able to live authentically and intentionally is just, you know, it is speechless. Because, no, it is just a profound experience to, you know, see a client come into my space, and, you know, not have any confidence, I don't really know what I'm doing, I know that I kind of don't like what I'm doing at the moment, but I don't know what's next. You know, I have a bit of an icky feeling about this situation, but like, I'm too scared to, to move there, or to think about that, or even to play with that idea, to be able to, you know, help them through, working through what that actually is for them, what's their truth in those steps in their life and to start living, that, you know, intentional life, to stop being on autopilot, and just going with the flow and essentially living someone else's life, you know, through this, you know, just owning what it is for them that lights them up and actually moving forward in that path. Like that is just, you know, it is the ultimate goal for me, because essentially, like, that's what I've done for myself in my journey. So, you know, I believe that I'm on this earth to have experiences, and then to share them with others, to educate and inspire. So, you know, that's where my goal has come from. And that's where I'm going towards.

Shivani Gupta 19:52

Yeah, awesome. That's great. Um, you've talked a bit about your philosophies. Alex and I can relate to, you know, when you're coaching and mentoring people, you kind of need your own practices. So, what are some of your things that you do around your wellness? Do you have certain rituals that you follow? And again, are they daily or is it an annual retreat? Like what are some of the things that you do to take care of you? And I guess fill your cup.

Alex Nicolaidis 20:23

Yeah, so we'll start in the morning. So, first thing when I wake up by a 15-minute timer to meditate, I've got this app that I use to help me meditate somewhere between five and 10 minutes. And then first thing I do after that you'd go and exercise, whether it be at the gym for a walk for a run somewhere to move my body, I found that, in my darkest days, I had no exercise or no movement in my body. And as soon as I flipped that switch, and committed to my health and my fitness, that was a huge, huge turning point for me. So, I know that if I don't exercise first thing in the morning, I know that I'm not living my best life. So, I make sure that the exercise is absolutely there, the meditation has only come in, relatively like in the last probably five, six weeks. So that's something new for me. Which is also something that's part of my ethos, and something that fills my cup is, is trying out new things, trying out new experiences. So that's one thing for this year.

The other thing for me is healthy eating, I've been a vegetarian for going on eight years now. And I feel that, you know, that changed for me in, you know, taking out all of the meats and those sorts of things, has really just allowed my body to, you know, enjoy all the foods that go into my body and out of my body. And yeah, I just feel a lot more healthier in being vegetarian. Alcohol is pretty much not a part of my life, I go through stints of like, three to six months where I don't touch it at all. I'll have like a couple of weekends where I have a few wives. And I'm like, okay, I'm good. Like, you know, it doesn't need to be a part of my life, I find that when I do go out, you know, with the girls and have a night out, I'm pretty, you know, depressive stayed for like two or three days afterwards. And I don't want to do that. That's not a choice that I want to make regularly. So, I've made an active decision to pretty much cut alcohol out of my life. And, you know, thinking about alcohol on extreme like it is a drug, so and anti-drugs. So, I'm like, why would I want to put that in my body like I want, I cherish and honor this vessel that I have. So why would I want to please in that. Then along with my healthy eating at least two liters of water, the ultimate is four liters of water again, just to flush out everything, make sure everything's working well.

And then I have a gratitude practice as well, throughout the day, and also at night. So, I've got this poster board on my wall. And it says three things that went well for me today. So, every single day, I have three things that I write down that went well, for me, it doesn't need to be massive achievements. It can be as little as I didn't want to go to the gym. And I actually did. So, you know, recognizing those small wins and appreciating the fact that I had a little voice that said no, but I actually said yes. And you know, that was an achievement for me. So, I wrote that down. And that also really helps when I'm having those down days to look at that wall because I've got many pages on it now. And just reflect back, but using my old past self as an inspiration for myself, when I'm having those down days to realize how much I am achieving or have achieved or, you know, there are so many blessings in my world or in my life has been a really good tool for me to you know, fill my own cup when I'm having those down days.

Shivani Gupta 24:24

I love that. I love how many you're so like layering new themes into your practices around what you do too. But it sounds like it's a big part of your life. And I know it's been a while since we've caught up but I remember times that I've caught up with you you'll often have as I'm saying this, you're drinking water but you'll often carry a water bottle and like quite a large, I'm saying that comment here you are you pick up the water bottle and drink. You know, point proven. So, Alex, tell me a little bit about how people come in contact with you find out more about you want to follow you find out more about your services. What's the best place to follow you?

Alex Nicolaidis 25:07

Yeah, so I'm mostly active on Instagram. So, my handle is @alex_unscripted_. Other than that.

Shivani Gupta 25:18

Okay, you've got to explain that to me, right. Most people will have their name or their brand name, I know I follow you; I want to know why that handle? tell us a bit of the background of why that particular handle.

Alex Nicolaidis 25:29

Yeah. So, in the last probably like five, six years of my life, I had a few influences. And super super. There was a really large influence on scripting. And it got to a stage for me personally, and I believe that scripting absolutely has its place. If you need to have a conversation with someone that's quite difficult. Or if you're uncomfortable or awkward, what have you, there is always a time and a place for scripting, and it does have its purpose. But for me, and how I took on board, the purpose and the need of scripting, it took over my vocabulary, every time I would have a conversation with someone or think about having a conversation with someone, I would pause and reflect and it'd be like, is that the right word to use? Should I use that? Should I use this? Should I use that? Or is that right? Is that wrong. And I just got caught so caught up in my own head, and, you know, bringing that perfectionism back in to be like, I need to have this perfect conversation. And they need to have, you know, this perfect response. So, they can have this perfect reaction back to it. So, you know, what something that actually that does have a place somewhere for me, it became this, you know, the devil on my shoulder, essentially. And it really was not beneficial for me to be so focused on that scripting, because, you know, I started to feel really disingenuous when I was having conversations, because I was so caught up in my own head, about what I was saying and how I was saying it. And I just felt really all in authentic. And, you know, one of my values is authenticity. So, I was not living in alignment for a few years there for this one factor. And when I started this business, and I was like, okay, you know, living intentionally, what do I want to create in this space? That lesson came up for me. And I was like, you know what, that really rings true for me and what I want to create in this business, because I want to be unscripted. I want to speak from my heart, I want to speak my truth. And I know that whoever needs to hear what I have to say will land with them. When I'm unscripted. If I'm scripted, I'm putting a face. I'm putting a facade. And I'm not being true to me, and I'm not being true to you. So yeah, I just really wanted to strip myself back and be authentic.

Shivani Gupta 28:03

That is awesome. That is such a good reason to have a look at what some of the great work that Alex is doing. We'll obviously put that in the notes. Alex, it has been a pleasure talking to you today. Thank you for being on.

Alex Nicolaidis 28:16

You're so welcome. Thank you for having me.

I'm Shivani Gupta. And you've been listening to the Ask Shivani podcast where I'd like to ask some questions. Thank you so much for listening. Please follow Ask Shivani on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you haven't done so, please go to the Apple podcasts and subscribe rate and review this podcast. It would mean a lot. Thank you.