This Grey Story is part of our Passion in Progress series highlighting young professionals and millennial go-getters who are learning and succeeding in their careers.
It’s scary to live with your heart on your sleeve. That’s what it can feel like to build a career tied closely to your passions. But when Ali Maffucci discovered she could turn her love of cooking and healthy living into a career, the possibilities suddenly became limitless. Today, she’s building a community around the healthy cooking concept of spiralizing and crafting her own grey journey along the way. Check out her advice on how you can work toward your goals when you’re starting from scratch.
1. How did you find your grey?
In the winter of 2013, my mother was trying raw veganism to help regulate her blood sugar levels. She discovered the spiralizer after dining at a raw vegan restaurant in NYC with me and bought it right away. After inviting me over for a raw spiralized dinner, I was hooked – the zucchini noodles she made me tasted just like regular pasta. I took it home that evening and the next day, I made a dish for my then-boyfriend (now fiancé) and me. He put his fork down and had the same reaction as I had had – he jokingly said, “You should quit your job and build a community around this.” Two months later in June 2013, I built up the courage to do just that. I quit my job and the next day, I started Inspiralized.com. I didn’t yet have a business plan, just a passion for spiralized cooking and a strong desire to help others learn to cook healthfully. I’ve never looked back!
2. What motivates you to grow and do great work?
My readers. Their comments, e-mails and messages encourage me on a daily basis to produce the best quality content. If I’m feeling discouraged, I’ll read through my blog comments and it’ll motivate me to keep pushing, knowing that I’m changing people’s lives, for the better.
3. How do you live in the grey?
I’m happy. Everyday, all day. I think it was hard to be a good friend, daughter, fiancé and sister when I was unhappy and unfulfilled with my previous job. Now, I’m able to be supportive to the people who mean the most to me. Plus, I love to cook, so I get to do what I love every single day, while helping others! That’s the ultimate dream.
4. What is your favorite part of your work?
The cooking! I feel so at ease, so poised and so content when I’m in the kitchen. I’m able to release my creativity. When I’m cooking, I don’t pick up any phone calls or check my phone – I’m totally “in the zone” and I get to escape for an hour. Of course, once I’m done cooking, I Instagram what I’m cooking and I’m back “in touch”!
5. How did you become qualified enough to do what you love?
I read. A lot. I’m always joining networks of other bloggers, learning from those who have been more established. I read articles about social media from a brand perspective. Also, I never knew how to operate a DSLR camera but once I started Inspiralized, I bought a beginner Canon and taught myself, through YouTube videos, Googling and talking to experienced photographers. I take all of my own photos and I always get compliments, which makes me so happy because I taught myself! Cooking has always been a part of my life, so that comes most naturally, but I have no formal training – it’s all trial and error and again, YouTube, books and Google.
6. What’s one thing you do every morning to get ready for the day?
Walking my fiancé out the door. I make sure to walk him out and tell him to have a good day. We always say, “See you in 10 hours!” as a joke because he’s an entrepreneur as well. It’s been such a blessing to have his support and his understanding in this whole learning process. I think it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize, but also, to have a lot of love in your life. Saying goodbye to him and giving him a hug and a kiss starts my day – usually around 7:30-8am.
7. What are three things you try to do everyday?
- Learn something new
- Take at least 15 minutes to eat lunch, not near my work desk. Sometimes, I just sit in my favorite armchair in silence, looking out the window, eating. It centers me.
- Call a friend or family member to check in.
8. What’s something you wish you had known at the outset of your career?
You have to put your mental and physical health before everything and everyone else. Nothing is more important than nourishing your mind and body. You can’t help others or advance your career in a healthy way, unless you are healthy yourself.
9. What advice do you have for someone seeking mentorship and to build their network?
Don’t turn any opportunities away, no matter how small (or big!)
10. How do you ensure your intentions become actions?
Evernote. My Evernote keeps me focused. Each day, I have certain goals I set to keep those long-term goals in check. I don’t end a work day without setting my Evernote checklist for the next day.
11. What advice do you have for beginners in your industry specifically?
Network with other bloggers – no matter how big their “reach” is. Send a kind e-mail to a fellow blogger and ask for their #1 tip or piece of advice for starting out. Most likely, they’ll be flattered and want to help. The blogging community is like my extended family – I love to share great recipes or health tips I find online, whether it’s Pinning a recipe or retweeting an inspirational image from another blogger. We all appreciate the love!
12. Do you have a motto?
My life motto is “there’s a solution to every problem,” which my mother’s father told her when she was a young girl. I never met him, but he sounds like such a positive, loving man and I try to keep a part of him with me at all times, through living that motto. It helps me keep from sweating the small stuff and keep focused.
13. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
“No one’s going to do it for you.” If you want to achieve something, you’ve got to do it for yourself. It’s so true!
Photos provided by Ali Maffucci. You can learn more about Ali on her website, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube or Tumblr. You can learn about her upcoming cookbook here and watch her video below.