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Featured Entrepreneur Interview
Sue Ann Gleason of Conscious Bites Nutrition
This is Stephenie Zamora, CEO and Founder of StartupCorner, and today I’m here with Sue Ann Gleason, founder of Conscious Bites Nutrition. Sue Ann is a culinary nutritionist, dynamic eating coach, speaker and author. She empowers women with tools to reclaim a more nourishing, playful relationship with food and health.
From personalized fitness strategies to culinary adventures, Sue Ann shows her clients how to reclaim their energy, achieve healthy weight loss goals and explore an inside out approach to radiant health.
Stephenie: Sue Ann, thank you so much for being here!
Sue Ann: Thank you Stephenie, looking forward to it.
Stephenie: Let’s start with you talking a little bit more about your business and what it is that you offer.
Sue Ann: Okay, well, I’m a culinary nutritionist and I’m also a radiant life expert. Basically what that means is I show people how to make healthy eating delicious. Instead of handing them a 1400 calorie meal plan or a point system or a packet of recipes they may never use. I like to cultivate their culinary curiosity. Show them how to lighten up around food, teach them how to assemble meals if they are too busy to cook, but basically get them back into the kitchen eating real food.
I’m [also] a dynamic eating psychology counselor. So I work with the layers of meaning around food, like how people approach food in their life and that gives my work a unique twist.
Stephenie: Definitely. Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind starting this business?
Sue Ann: Well, it was a health crisis. I guess if you look at my life, I sum it up as one big passion project. I was your typical type A personality. Overachiever, always loved what I do but in excess. I think I was wired to be an “excess” person. So in 2005 I was diagnosed with both osteoporosis and also Hashimoto Thyroid Disorder. All I could think of at the time was, “Who is Hashimoto and what is he doing in my body?” I had spent all of my life being a fitness instructor, a teacher, very healthy, committed to exercise and diet and nutrition. And all of a sudden I was faced with two mind-boggling, for me, health crisis.
So after each diagnosis, two separate doctors left a message on my voicemail. Both of them very similar, one say, “Sue Ann, your bone scan indicates Osteoporosis, you can pick up your prescription at the local drug store.” And a day later it was, “Sue Ann, your blood test indicates Hashimoto Thyroid Disorder. We’ve called in a prescription at your pharmacy.” All I could see in my mind’s eye were those little boxes, have you seen them? The Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday, you know the little pill boxes that my parent’s have on their table. And I was just determined to delay that pharmaceutical train.
So in the spirit of my overachieving self, I began a rather tenacious study of cellular rejuvenation. I studied raw food nutrition and then I ended up going back to school to study both mind body healing. I studied raw food culinary arts. I studied the science of raw food nutrition and then I spent a year going back and forth to Colorado to study at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. I basically reinvented myself after 30 years chasing and inspiring frolicking first graders and created a business. I retired from teaching and I am now a fellow entrepreneur. So that’s kind of my story.
Stephenie: Yeah, wow. That’s definitely impressive how much you were able to learn and just teach yourself. Let’s talk a little bit about going from the education portion of your journey and really what happened after you got all the knowledge that you needed. What was the process of getting educated and then getting a business off the ground?
Sue Ann: Well it’s interesting. I started my nutrition education going back and forth between New York at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and there was a facet of that program which was the marketing facet. Where we were given classes if you will about the business end of starting a health practice. But at the time, I was much more immersed in the study of nutrition than I was in the actual marketing of the practice. So once I graduated and actually started the business, that’s the point at which I enrolled at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
But alongside that, I had this parallel study going on. I would be traveling each month to Colorado to study the psychology of eating at the same time I would then travel to Arizona or California. Wherever the marketing guru, who was in my spotlight at the time, resided. I would go and just immerse myself basically in the study of marketing because I realized that I was a very skilled counselor, but I wasn’t a very skilled marketer. So I just made this commitment to learn everything I could and to really, I want to say, explode my practice, but that wasn’t the intention. The intention was to just do this with expertise instead of trying to figure it out on my own.
Then what happened for me as I was studying at IPE, people who had graduated from my program years before me, people who had been in practice for six or seven years started asking me if I would coach them in growing their business. I realized that what I had done in a very short time, in a years time really, was pretty remarkable. In terms of growing my business and just really honing in on the things I needed to do in order to have a solid practice.
So then I had this dual thing going. I was a health counselor, culinary nutritionist and I became a business coach to a very small but select group of individuals who sought me. So that’s kind of where I am now, I have a dual role. I’m a holistic health counselor and I’m a heart centered business coach.
Stephenie: Wow. As far as the marketing guru portion, how did you determine who was somebody that you really wanted to immerse yourself in their knowledge?
Sue Ann: Well, I started to just watch. I think I took, initially, the approach of, “Who’s the most successful person out there? I want what she’s having.” And so I started that process by traveling and watching people and engaging in conferences. But then I started to get a little bit more pointed. By that I mean, I decided, “Okay, I love to speak. I love to present.” So then I would see who’s really the guru for speaking from the stage? And I would travel out to San Diego and I would study with Lisa Sasevich.
So I started studying with a variety of people, but I will say to you that I got really swept up in this mentality that I needed more. I needed to study with the next guru and I found that I wasn’t really giving myself the time to implement what I was learning. So my commitment now is to just really slow down and go inward. Really look at what it is that I want to do next and make sure that I’m giving myself time to implement. I love Marie Forleo’s line, she talks about looking under the hood and looking for the timeless principles that these beautiful marketing gurus are using. Really use the principles of their work, but then redefine them in what works for me and who I am in the world. So that’s pretty much where I am now. That’s my journey through the marketing gurus.