Alison Rice is undeniably one of the most prolific women in Australian media. She’s a multiple award-winning publisher, conscious career coach, podcast host and digital leader, who in her former years, launched and led acclaimed U.S digital sites PopSugar, Who What Wear, Byrdie and MyDomaine in Australia. Today, she’s established herself as a leader in self-development with the inception of Offline - a platform that exists to help people make contact with their true self, so they can create, lead and succeed consciously.
Here, we speak with Alison on what it means to connect with your true self, the moment that led her to rewrite the rulebook around women’s media, and the reads, personal rituals and significant pieces in her life that help cultivate calmness.
What was the inspiration behind launching Offline? Can you recall a lightbulb moment that motivated you to pursue your next path?
I was working in publishing when I began thinking about the types of stories that didn’t exist in mainstream women’s media. I was leading four global websites at the time and our directives were to increase reach, audience and sales – both commercial content sales and affiliate. We produced some phenomenal content and pioneered meaningful editorial initiatives, but I began to feel like my creative integrity was being compromised in the pursuit of revenue.
I’d been listening to podcasts for close to a decade and the medium itself really interested me because of its potential to evoke emotion and move people into meaningful action.
My job required me to be online for up to 15 hours a day, so Offline became an escape. And I hoped that the audience would feel that for themselves, too. My intention was to have honest conversations about who we are when we’re offline – without the labels, social media and email signatures. And who better to explore that with than some of the most followed women in the country!
Your podcast advocates for honest, open conversations about true self and ‘life on the other side of the filter’. Why is it important for you to reference social media within the context of your work?
For all of the positives it has given us – like connection, access to information and inspiration – social media has also led us to create these kind of fabricated personas. Many of us find ourselves creating these online identities. We present ourselves as we wish to be perceived, not as we truly are when we’re sitting in our True Self. So through that lens, unpacking social media’s impact on the relationship we have with ourselves and our essence is the reason Offline exists.
Who are we outside of the highlight reel? And how do we build moral code and character?
Since launching ‘Offline, The Podcast’, your business has evolved to Get Offline which includes coaching, online courses and experiences, was this always part of your vision?
I am very grateful to my audience for believing in me and trusting me. Nothing I do exists without them.
I embarked on this project with the purest intention to give people a platform to share their True Self and in doing that, invite the audience to explore that concept for themselves. If that’s all it was, I would have been content. But deep down I knew if the conversations helped people on the level I thought they could, that Offline could be much more than a podcast.
And that’s really the way I think about building a conscious business, brand or offering today. Our role as creative facilitators is to meet the need of the time. To have intention and hope, and let the people we’re serving decide what’s next.
For Offline, that looks like creating more accessible online courses and hosting more digital knowledge sessions. You can find my learning offerings here.
At Marle, we follow a less is more approach to life which truly means something different to everyone. What does ‘less is more’ mean to you and where do you apply it in life?
I think that concept comes through most strongly in my creativity and output. Less content but better quality. Publishing less frequently but having a deeper impact when I do. I talk a lot about creative restraint in my coaching sessions. Media businesses have just as much of a responsibility when it comes to driving conscious consumption as product businesses. We need to move past reach as a metric of success and begin to think more deeply about the habits we’re feeding and the legacies we’re leaving.
"I embarked on this project with the purest intention to give people a platform to share their True Self and in doing that, invite the audience to explore that concept for themselves. If that’s all it was, I would have been content. But deep down I knew if the conversations helped people on the level I thought they could, that Offline could be much more than a podcast"
What are some simple practices that help you find your calm?
I think the main thing is limiting the number of meetings and commitments in my calendar each week. I’m constantly interrogating where I’m putting my time and energy and asking myself if that serves growth and evolution – in any capacity. Time is the one thing we can’t get more of, so managing my time makes me feel calm.
Tell us about your Vedic Meditation journey, how has this impacted your daily life?
I found Vedic Meditation a few months after I’d left my publishing role. Offline was gaining momentum and I was in that deep, seeking energy. I was asking a lot of questions and searching for the highest answers.
The technique itself is self-initiated, which I really needed as I find meditation apps counterintuitive. But it’s actually the branches of knowledge that come alongside the meditation technique that, when paired with the technique, truly impact our state of consciousness. That’s been true for me at least.
Vedic astrology, the holistic health science of Ayurveda and the ancient texts, the Vedas. Living in alignment with Nature has elevated the way I create, lead, host and coach. It’s totally changed the way I’m in the world and my relationship with success, earning and impact.
For anyone NZ-based, I can highly recommend The Still. It’s founded by my friend and Vedic Meditation teacher, Caroline Birch.
What have been some of your favourite reads of 2020?
Like so many people, I’ve spent a good portion of 2020 reflecting on my privilege and all the ways I’ve benefited from it. Part of this self reflection extends to the voices I’ve silenced through omission. So most of the reading I’ve done this year has been about unlearning but also doing – moving into action as an ally to Black, Indigenous, People of Colour.
For anyone else needing to do this essential work, I am learning a lot from Common Ground, Aretha Brown, CC Banks, Marlee Silva, Danielle Prescod and Rachel Cargle's The Great Unlearn.
Beyond that, I study the Veda or re-read a spiritual or self development book I’ve loved. Here’s some of my favourites — all classics: The Untethered Soul, The Way of the Sufi, The Seat of the Soul, Becoming Supernatural, The Drama of the Gifted Child and of course The Power of Now.
You have cultivated a beautiful styled, and relaxing abode. What are some of your favourite pieces within your home that reflect calmness?
My vintage, marble coffee table is my pride and joy. I snapped it up from Mitchell Road Auction House. One of my favourite ways to relax is a long day of antiquing. We’re big fans of Australian photographer Josh Robenstone and have three of his pieces hanging in our apartment. They make me feel calm. He’s a friend of my husband’s so it’s really nice to be surrounded by the work of someone we know. I also burn a lot of Indian Sandalwood so that scent is very relaxing for me. I usually have a stick burning while I do my afternoon meditation. We actually moved recently after nine years in the same rental, so I’m excited to evolve our spaces a bit.
What place does fashion hold in your world? What is important to you when selecting pieces and what kind of brands do you like to support?
You know what, increasingly, fashion doesn’t play a huge role in my life. I spent many years and a lot of money trying to fit this archetype of a female fashion journalist and I’m thankful I’ve transcended that yearning to “fit in”. It was expensive and exhausting!
These days, I focus on supporting local, female-founded brands that choose to create consciously. I wear your new gingham set like three times a week! Other local brands I love to support include Marla Swim and Get Robed for days at the beach, LMND for the perfect button up, Elka Collective for staple pieces and Little Known Makers for handwoven bags. I’m also a new fan of Friends With Frank.
We’d love to ask you the question you ask all of your guests at the end of your podcasts. When you’re sitting in your True Self, who are you?
A conscious witness to it all. When I’m sitting in my True Self, I’m surrendered, unattached, and doing what is most evolutionary in any given moment.