It all started back in September 2018 as a podcast — Offline — a series of honest conversations about True Self with the people behind your favourite Instagram accounts, and the teachers who help us on our way.
After over 60 episodes, hundreds of thousands of downloads, and a sold-out national tour, the time has come for Offline to evolve — and that evolution has been lead by its loyal and engaged community.
While Offline launched as a podcast, it quickly became something more — a community for women to connect and explore the concept of True Self. Today, Offline is a self development offering. Alison offers one-on-one coaching sessions, offline experiences (to kick off once again when social distancing restrictions are lifted), and now, a school called Self Study.
I’ve known Self Study was in the works for the last 12 months — that’s how long Alison has been working on its development. So when we’d catch up, I’d hear about how it was progressing, evolving, and developing. I know the deep level of work that’s gone into creating this platform. I was lucky enough to take course one (Make Contact With Your True Self, Align to Your Purpose and Redefine Your Success) before it launched, and I came out the other side with a deeper knowledge of who I am. I recommend this course for anyone who is feeling stuck or lost, or really, for anyone who has never paused to reflect on who they are. Before taking the course, I’d never really stopped to think about my True Self. And in my view, this work is not because you need to change, but because it can help you better understand your approach to how you navigate through the many situations life throws your way.
I interviewed Alison to learn more about Self Study. I still find it so strange to interview people that I’m so close to, but here we are! Below, Alison and I, having our own very honest conversation.
Amanda Bardas: So obviously I know a lot about Self Study, but for people who might not be listeners of Offline, can you please talk us through what it’s all about?
Alison Rice: Well it’s an interesting thing, isn’t it? Because you’re either going to come through the podcast or you’re going to find it as its own entity. I’ve been thinking a lot about the journey for women coming in and experiencing the brand and that’s been a big part of how I’ve created and launched Self Study.
For me, it does start with the podcast. I’d been publishing for four seasons but the time I started thinking about what was next was around season two. I launched the podcast to be a resource for women to explore this concept of True Self. And what ended up happening, was it got a lot more popular than I expected! I think that’s an interesting thing in itself when you launch things. True creativity doesn’t have number or performance metrics against it, and that was my story — it was just a piece of work that I thought had to exist. I think because it came from my heart, that’s what people really connected to. But it was actually the audience that made me aware of the fact it was much more than a podcast.
It’s been a really interesting journey because they listen to me, but then I started listening to them. I moved into this place of observation and asking a lot of questions. I have very active Instagram DMs, and an inbox full of really beautiful feedback, and so a big part of it was me saying, “What else do you need help with? Offline is helping you move through these particular life moments and a lot of career transitions, but how else could I be useful to you?” And I started writing it down, what people were saying. And the really big one that kept coming up was how do I find my True Self? And so then I got to thinking about how do we do that? We do that by moving into self reflection and studying ourselves. And that’s not very sexy work by the way. Exploring and experiencing ourselves internally is often more difficult than what we present externally.
So then I got to thinking, how do we study ourselves and what could I do to help other people experience themselves more internally?
“It was just a piece of work that I thought had to exist.”
AB: And where did the name come from, Self Study? It’s genius, of course.
AR: I actually don’t know where the name came from. I’m sure it came to me in a meditation because my best ideas usually do, but Self Study was born and I thought, could I create a series of really considered online courses that help women explore themselves at their essence? And then take that self-inquiry and direct it into their business or their career path or how they think about their purpose? And that’s an interesting thing in itself, because I don’t believe our purpose necessarily has to be our profession.
AB: You’re pioneering in this space, especially in this country. What made you come to the conclusion that Self Study was to live in the format of an online learning platform?
AR: I think it’s my rising Aquarius. I’m actually quite an introverted person, very private. But my rising sign, which is the way we present ourselves to the world, is Aquarian and it’s all about individualism and being a futurist and a pioneer and exploring the unexplored.
I often think a lot about that because it’s quite polarising for me. One side of me is very introverted and private and the other is very explorative and wants to be out there changing the world. So I think that’s where my ambition comes from — that desire to explore and bring light to things that aren’t often spoken about.
What came through for me as I sat with the concept of Self Study and what exploring and studying ourselves might look like, is this idea that self-learning and self-education is a form of self-empowerment — particularly for women. For so long we’ve subscribed to this idea that we must walk this well-travelled path and we must study these degrees and then intern and then find entry level jobs and then climb this corporate ladder.
And that’s actually not very empowering at all — to be subscribed to quite a patriarchal view of education and success.
“For so long we’ve subscribed to this idea that we must walk this well-travelled path.”
I also think sometimes we can feel a bit silenced by not having the piece of paper or the accolades that society says we need in order to teach. But a big part of what we explore in the first course, is that we are actually our own teacher. A lot of our knowledge is waiting within us, but it’s our programming and our conditioning that’s really pushed it down.
So we start to question what we know. And a big part of the journey we go on in the first course is making contact to source and our own truth. And then really feeling into our truth and understanding what I call Not Self — which is what are our stories? What have we been conditioned to believe we want and need? And then asking ourselves actually, is that true for me or not?
When I think about learning today, I mean, how do we learn? We learn through beautiful podcasts like Offline, and we learn through content that we consume on websites like yours. It’s in our power to continue our education and take that into our own hands.
AB: And you’ve already taken your own advice. You took learning into your own hands, and what many people might not know is that you built the entire Offline platform yourself. Which is remarkable. Can you talk us through the process of how you taught yourself to build this platform?
AR: Well I would start by saying in the beginning I had to overcome a lot of limiting beliefs about my own capabilities. I think this is a big thing particularly for young creatives — we automatically lean into “I should probably get a web developer to do that”. But the internet is our best friend. Anything we want to know is available to us. Somebody has written a tutorial for it.
I think the question to ask yourself is how big is your appetite for development? Mine is huge. And I’ll be honest with you, I explored designers and developers in the beginning. One of the deciding factors for me was I didn’t have the money. The Australian digital industry is under-resourced which makes it expensive. When I got the quotes in, it came down to the fact I didn’t have the money to invest so I had to do it myself. And I think that was a really positive thing. Because if I’d had the funds, I wouldn’t be able to sit here today and tell you how much I’ve learned!
“It’s in our power to continue our education and take that into our own hands.”
It’s been quite beautiful to go through it myself, and it now makes me a better business coach because I’m able to talk about my experience and give recommendations. I wouldn’t be able to coach people on this if I hadn’t gone through it myself. But look, it was a lot of really late nights. A lot of 12, 15 hour days trying to figure out one thing.
And I will go back to what’s become my own creative mantra that I share a lot on the podcast, and that’s “slow, intentional, deliberate”. Any time I felt like I had to rush to get this out there, I had to bring that mantra back and just say, no, this will be ready when it’s ready and when it’s ready, it’ll be right. Just take your time and get it to a point where you can really stand behind it fully. And that’s where I got to when I launched in April.
AB: I actually remember when we worked together, you had on a Post-It on your computer with the words ‘slow and deliberate’. You advised me to do the same because I can sometimes try and rush. Usually because I’m so excited about getting a job done. And that has really helped me throughout the last few years of my career. To always remember, no, just slow down and you’ll do your best work.
AR: I think this is the work for us to do — especially as digital creatives — because the pace of the internet and particularly digital media is so fast.
Nothing good happens in a short amount of time. The intention for Self Study is extremely deep and thoughtful and considered. I’m asking people to reflect on the essence of who they are. That’s not something that I can just crank out in a month. This has been the thing I’ve put my entire awareness on the past 12 months and I’ve gone through every single detail and considered every single thing for the audience and the students.
When I think about good creative work, I think there’s a frequency to it. Good creative work has elevated energy. It takes a long time but then also I would just say it takes as long as it takes. Like sometimes you know something is ready but you’re resisting putting it out there because you don’t want to feel exposed or embarrassed and you’re fearful of what might happen. But one of the best things I did leading up to my own launch was define success for myself. This has allowed me to stay out of a lack mindset and fear that it didn’t “work.”
“One of the best things I did leading up to my own launch was define success for myself.”
AB: Because you get to define what “work” is.
AR: Exactly. That’s one of the biggest pieces of advice I give to the women that I coach. If you have your own goals and you have your own success metrics, then who is someone else to tell you what’s big and what’s small? What’s successful and what’s not? If you’ve clearly laid it all out for yourself, then you’ve got this incredible focus to go and get around something versus putting stuff out there and crossing your fingers.
AB: The curriculum you’re building for Self Study — was part of that developed by what’s raised during your one-on-one coaching sessions?
AR: I will say the one-on-one coaching sessions have informed a lot of what I’m thinking about in terms of curriculum, alongside the feedback that I get from listeners of the podcast. Things they’re challenged with and the things that they need help moving through. Broadly the way I’m thinking about the curriculum is where my expertise is. What have I spent the last decade doing and what do I believe I do really well? That’s why I created four, what I call homerooms, which are True Self, Leadership, Communication and Strategy.
You’ll see as the courses start to roll out that they really are deep in the areas that I believe I’m an expert in, and have that proven track record.
But the reason we started with True Self, is because my belief is that it’s not until we know ourselves intimately that we can be authentic leaders, that we can be authentic communicators and write a conscious strategy. It all comes from that foundation of knowing who we are, before we actually get into creation or leadership or communicating.
AB: Where do you see the future of learning evolving?
AR: So beyond the other online courses that I’ll be putting out, my hope is the courses create really conscious pathways to us connecting more as a community. How do we learn and share our stories with each other? Again, we all have very relevant experience based on our lived experience. And so if I think about the future of Offline, I do think it’s about us connecting and sharing what we know with each other. I’ve always been a big advocate for sharing our knowledge and taking other women with us as we progress.
“I’ve always been a big advocate for sharing our knowledge and taking other women with us as we progress.”
That’s my hope — that we come together and have really meaningful interactions and exchanges of energy and information.
I also think about the university system a lot. Can it keep up with our appetite for self development? That’s a big thing going through my mind.
AB: In my experience at uni, that was really not part of the curriculum. Self development was very much an afterthought and it was not part of any coursework that I worked through.
AR: I think that’s why I speak on behalf of a lot of other women. We get to our early thirties and we have this realisation that we’ve over-subscribed to success and we’ve under-subscribed to self.
We get to that point where we feel something’s missing. We feel we’re not fulfilled. We’ve worked so hard and we’ve gotten these jobs and these salaries and we’ve ticked all these boxes, but there’s this hole inside. We don’t feel like we’re purposeful or fulfilled or like we’re making a difference.
So my view is the gap we feel is the connection to the essence of who we are. It’s an interesting thing that we don’t learn about this. Until now!
And that’s certainly what I hope Self Study becomes — a place for people who have had that realisation. Offline and Self Study exist to facilitate emotional, professional and spiritual epiphanies, but now also provides the support framework and the resources to help you move and grow through them.
“Self Study exists to facilitate emotional and professional and spiritual epiphanies.”
AB: And how do you think about accreditation and permission to teach?
AR: That’s been rolling through my mind for the past 12 months. Where I’ve arrived is what I would go back to — are we still subscribed to a very patriarchal idea of success and education and who has the right to teach? How much of our knowledge — for women especially — is actually passed down orally through the sharing of stories and experiences? And how much of the way we develop is reflecting on those experiences?
So when I think about permission to teach, I believe I have a responsibility to hold this right. And also to lean into my expertise.
But again, I’d go back to really interrogating that word “teacher”. Part of the way I frame my role in Self Study is being a conscious guide and there’s lots of conscious guidance that we can access in life. But at the end of the day, we are our own teacher. We do actually have inner wisdom that’s been suppressed through the degrees and the internships and all the jobs that we were told to go out and get.
“At the end of the day, we are our own teacher.”
A big part of this is connecting back to our own truth. And I don’t think anybody has any right to label what is our truth and what isn’t. But it’s an interesting one, right? Because there’s a lot of people out there selling courses who aren’t experienced. There’s a lot of life coaches out there who don’t have their own shit together. I don’t think they should be teaching other people how to live their best lives. And because of the responsibility I feel, there’s things I just won’t do.
I’m being really honest with you because we have a tendency to interrogate women who haven’t asked for permission to speak or teach. And I think a lot about that. Is that a position I’m going to find myself in? Possibly. Australia has a really strong history of Tall Poppy Syndrome and pulling women in senior positions down — especially women who have been celebrated. If they get to be too celebrated, we start to pick holes in their story and find reasons to shame them. I’m hyper aware of that but at the same time my intention is pure, so I can only hope I won’t find myself in that position but then not be surprised if I do.
For anyone who might be reading, I would ask you to reflect on yourself in any moment you interrogate somebody’s authority or whether they have permission to do something. I would think about whether the criticism is actually a projection of the limiting beliefs you have about yourself.
AB: You answered my next question without me having to ask, which was how would you handle that if it were to happen to you.
AR: Well to add to that, I would say have a think about the community you’re serving. Have a think about who you’re helping and just stay very directional with your intention and your service. Do your best to block out that noise because nothing good comes from engaging with that very low frequency energy.
I would do my very best not to personalise it because it wouldn’t be about me. It would be a reflection of whoever’s saying it and their state of consciousness. What’s required of us as conscious female leaders is to rise. And that’s the hardest work we’ll ever do. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. When I was a new to leadership, I found those shadow parts of the role very hard — the personal attacks on my character.
One of the hardest things I ever had to do was pull myself up out of that criticism. And that interrogation of the way I was choosing to lead, and get back into a higher frequency and just keep serving.
AB: You’re spot on. And can you share more of what’s to come from Self Study. What will be some of the takeaways or courses that we have to look forward to?
AR: Stepping up as a new leader, authentic leading, conscious strategy, creating intentional content… And then of course intentional podcasting! I would really love to help other people launch their own podcast in a way that is meaningful and valuable to a niche audience.
And then some really just practical stuff, like how to bring your True Self to a job interview. I think anything I can do to help women succeed in the room, I’m pretty focused on that. But I also want to know what people want so I can put that that coursework together.
AB: It’s exciting. It feels very new, fresh and different.
AR: I’m really excited. I’m glad the launch is over.
AB: Can we talk a bit about the merch that you have coming and what we can expect to see in Offline’s shop?
AR: Yes! I started thinking about what conscious product could look like. I’m not really interested in just creating more stuff for people and I’ve been really wary of capitalism disguised as spirituality. That’s a pretty big theme and maybe a conversation for another day.
But I guess that theme started to get me thinking. I held that in consciousness for a year and one thing that came through for me is there’s a bunch of tools I use to deepen my connection with my True Self and things I use to move through my own True Self practices, so I wanted to make them available to people who engage with Offline.
So beyond my pre-order-only merch, I’ve got some beautiful True Self smudge sticks and custom-designed mala beads coming. I’ve also got something special for 2021 that will help us move through the year with a lot of purpose and integrity. So that’ll be out around November.
I’ll add more things if and when they become relevant.
AB: It’s very, very exciting. I’m so proud of what you’ve created.
AR: It’s very exciting. Mandy, thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about it all.