Health Leadership Award: Connecting an IINternational Community
At Integrative Nutrition, we are committed to providing the resources and connections our students need to successfully launch entrepreneurial careers in health and nutrition. So when students come to me with a plan to organize their peers and elevate the entire IIN community, I can only respond with gratitude and enthusiasm. Such is the case of this week’s Health Leadership Award winners, Luisa Kerdel Blatnik and Amanda Cook, organizers of the recent IIN London Conference. Their hard work and dedication made the first-ever IINternational conference a reality, and I look forward to seeing other students follow in their footsteps.
Different Paths to a Shared Future
Luisa: Being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – and my fervent desire to discover an alternative to the Western cocktail of prescription drugs - led me to find IIN. I was a little skeptical at first, as it sounded too good to be true and I’d never taken an online course. However, I did my research and discovered the amazing things IIN graduates were up to. What convinced me to enroll at IIN was the fact that I could follow my passion and continue to live in a remote village in the Swiss Alps and travel extensively.
Amanda: I have always been interested in health, wellness and especially food. I had been writing a blog about food, handmade beauty products and natural remedies for two years, but was not earning any income through it. Offering health coaching to my online community seemed like the perfect way to combine my interests while offering a valuable service to my readers. I looked at personal coaching programs, but IIN was the only program that combined food, lifestyle and coaching – it was the complete package!
Distance Learning, Meaningful Connections
Luisa: Given that this is an online course, one thing I had already prepared to give up was the sense of community found at traditional brick and mortar schools. In fact, I was so scared of feeling isolated that I rummaged through the student directory, found all the European January 2012 students and formed a virtual study group on Facebook composed of 27 awesome ladies (IIN Europe – Jan 2012). We meet via Skype on a weekly basis to discuss the Modules and other topics pertaining to starting our own business. We also formed a Facebook group called European IINers Network for all IIN students and alumni living in Europe. The sense of community is incredible! Not to mention the networking and magic that takes place every time you attend an IIN conference.
Amanda: IIN is the most supportive environment I've ever experienced! I always tell people it doesn't feel like studying because the material is something I would read or listen to for fun! The online format has been easy to fit around my schedule, and I also started an online study group for other students in Europe, which has been really helpful for creating connections.
When Opportunity Meets Preparation
Luisa: The conference brought together 111 attendants from 24 countries. It took place only three months after we first pitched the idea to Joshua by the elevator in Long Beach - really gives a new meaning to the term “elevator speech!”
Amanda: Luisa and I organized the IINternational conference in London because the students in our European study groups wanted a chance to connect in person. Synchronicity lead us to meet Joshua in March, and the first IIN International conference was born!
The Success of Supporting Others
Luisa: My company, Sprout Your Health, specializes in cleanses to reboot your system and women’s reproductive & hormonal health. I also set up a support group for IINers with fertility challenges or hormonal imbalances like PCOS called Hormones & Fertility.
Amanda: As business owners, we need to spend time doing what we love and what we're best at, rather than trying to learn how to do everything ourselves. With that in mind, I launched a new business called Wellpreneur to help Health Coaches create an authentic online presence and find clients online!
Advice for Future Health Leaders
Luisa: My advice for future health leaders would be to create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals and to reach out and get support from this incredible community. You are much more likely to succeed if you have clear targets and peersthat hold you accountable. To quote Joshua, “It’s not that complicated!”
Amanda: Don’t be afraid of technology! It's been really fun and rewarding creating Wellpreneur because I've met so many coaches who struggle with technology, and having it simplified and explained makes a huge impact on their business.