October 19, 2020

The Human Sunbeam and The Leaders’ Leader: Meet Allison Krawiec-Thayer, Founder of PoppyLead

By Emily Merrell

Raise your hand if you consider yourself a leader. What does a leader mean to you? Can you be considered a leader when you are your own boss? Allison Krawiec-Thayer, founder of PoppyLead, has the answers. It’s an organization that helps you embrace the leader you are!

There are humans you meet that light up a room and light up everyone else too. That’s Allison. Allison is the injection of confidence that every leader needs. Learn more about Allison, her talk show and how she became the leader’s leader. 

Finding joy and leadership with AKT. Courtesy of Amanda Mathson

SDS: You are a human sunbeam. How do you find your sunshine when the day feels grey?

ALLISON KRAWIEC-THAYER: I have always had this inherent sense that things are going to be okay and that something larger than me is in charge. At the very core of my being, I believe in “Good” and “Evil” – ultimately, “Good” will prevail. I realize that even in the face of despair and agony, I choose my response and this innate fighter pops up as if to say: “I see you ‘Evil’ and you’re not going to win against me. You can’t steal this sunshine.” (Everyone reading this probably thinks I’m super intense now!)

On the more day-to-day level, I typically find sunshine in that choosing of my response though. I basically say, “Well, that wasn’t great… I can either let it ruin my day and have a way bigger effect than necessary…or I can accept that it happened and approach it with curiosity.” (Admittedly, sometimes the curiosity comes after a period of letting myself feel emotions about whatever happened.)

SDS: As the founder of PoppyLead, you help entrepreneurs find their inner leadership. Why is leadership such an important topic for you?

AKT: I view leadership mastery as a bit of a superpower and I love helping people harness it! I feel like “leadership” can be a little stuffy and people have a hard time relating to it, so I want to make it accessible. If I can help people find confidence, self-awareness, self-trust and ultimately feel more in charge of their life, then chances are not only am I impacting them personally, but also in their career/business, relationships, productivity, wellness…so many things! 

Plus, I’ve just always had this strange fascination with finding examples of leadership in my life. I’m the person on the subway thinking, “What would happen if this group of people just got stranded together? Who would become the de facto ‘leader’ of our little crew here? How do I get my name on that list ASAP?” I can’t help but see it around me. We started watching Star Trek during quarantine and I find myself taking notes and dreaming of blog posts as I watch Captain Archer negotiate. (I even wrote a blog post about Leadership Hacks from Settlers of Catan!)    

SDS: What does the name of PoppyLead mean to you?

AKT: I love that this question asks what it means to me. Not just, what does it mean in general, but including that underlying aspect of what it means to me is great to reflect on. PoppyLead is actually the second iteration of my private coaching business, and to me it symbolizes so much authenticity with the business I want to create and who I want to be as an entrepreneur. I also remember the resiliency as I’ve walked this road. It’s almost a permission slip of sorts to create whatever my heart desires in this fun, peppy playground.

The story of the name in itself is actually quite sweet. I wanted a fresh start for my second iteration and wanted a playful and fun name. I had no idea where to start but put this sunny energy out and trusted that the name would come to me. On Father’s Day 2020, it did.

When I was 8 or 9 I briefly called my dad “Pops”. Somewhere along the way I decided it would be *hilarious* to change his nickname to “Poppyseed.” It ended up sticking and he became Poppyseed. Fast-forward to 2016 and I’m in the throes of trying to figure out what to do with my life (oh hey early twenties!). Poppyseed has just passed away at 56 years old. In the days immediately following his death I discovered the world of coaching for the first time and decided I want to be a certified life coach. Then, I unfortunately discovered how much coaching certification costs. Nearly as soon as I began coming to terms with having to wait, we discovered that my father had a life insurance policy that would allow me to start my coach training right away, paying in full.

He gave me this gift, which became a huge part of my life (and my legacy). Having a name that speaks to his spirit, while evoking leadership and playfulness, is everything I could ask for. 

SDS: What are the biggest misconceptions of leadership you see come up for entrepreneurs?

AKT: It was not long after I started introducing myself as a leadership coach that I realized, people do not like to consider themselves leaders. I’d meet people at events and they’d say “Oh, that’s not me. I’m not really a *leader*.” I began noticing that we put a huge price of entry on leadership. We believe we need to have the certifications, degrees, years of experience,  fancy title, direct reports and all the skills in spades. 

So the biggest misconception I see here is basically “I’m not a leader.” I would argue that we are all leaders, whether of ourselves or others. Whether you believe me or not, I believe you are a leader. (Check out my article on Flique Editorial for an in-depth look at the five leadership myths that might be holding you back).

The second biggest misconception I see is that leadership is purely external. We think about leadership as a relationship between someone in charge and someone following them. I would say that our single most important leadership role is that of leading ourselves – though in fact, this world of “self-leadership” is where my real passion lies!) Whether or not you have a leadership position at work, you are still responsible for yourself as a human – eating, sleeping, moving, staying hydrated, etc. And guess what, you’ve kept yourself alive and functioning thus far – so as far as leadership goes, you’ve got a great start!    

SDS:  Tell us about your talk show! What was the inspiration behind creating a talk show and what’s your angle?

AKT: Ah yes! My quarantine creation! So admittedly, I’ve always been a bit fascinated with Ricki Lake. I dreamed of having a chair and microphone, fancy clothes and guests to chat with! So, starting in July I launched the Confidently In Charge virtual talk show! The show is available on my YouTube channel with new live episodes on the first Thursday and third Thursday of the month. There is also a podcast version of the show as well!

The idea for the show was born from my extroversion and really started with breaking down misconceptions. We don’t see ourselves as leaders and my goal is to break down those barriers by highlighting leadership stories from people who have found themselves stepping into the spotlight in a way. I love featuring entrepreneurs and discussing their journey with leadership as their business grows and suddenly people are looking to them for what to do, or chatting about the tools folks use to lead themselves and stay motivated. 

I am also passionate about shining light on some of the shadowy corners of entrepreneurship like self-sabotage, loneliness, mental health, imposter syndrome, etc. By naming these things it sort of harkens back to what I said about remaining sunshiney: “I see you ‘Evil’ and you’re not going to win against me. You can’t steal this sunshine.” So, I aim to have those conversations and highlight our stories of leading ourselves out of these heavy places.

PoppyLead founder Allison Krawiec-Thayer. Courtesy of Amanda Mathson

SDS: What can we expect in the months to come from PoppyLead and how can we find out more?

AKT: Yes! So many exciting things for PoppyLead! The best way to stay in-the-know with the action is to join my weekly newsletter here! In the coming months I have some phenomenal guests coming up on the show/podcast (including Lexie Smith of the PR Bar Inc. telling us about being a VP before 25 and Monica Stockhausen of NerdyGirlsRock chatting innate confidence, boundaries and having our own back). If you want to catch the video (with my modern takes on Ricki Lake fashion) keep an eye on YouTube. If audio is your jam, catch us on all your favorite podcast platforms! (Apple, Spotify, Google.)I am also finalizing a group program focused on self-leadership that will be launching this fall. This program is everything I’ve ever wanted to share with people and will take you on a journey of: finding your unique strengths with a research-backed approach, developing innate self-trust to make decisions and take action with ease and learning exactly how to be your own best success coach! We’ll use 1:1s, group sessions, guided meditation and journaling prompts to help you get out of your own way once and for all! Make sure you’re on the email list or tuning in on IG to catch all the details when it launches!

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