Sustainable Living in a 2.0 World with InStep Consulting and CompostIFY’s Colette Ellis

September 2, 2015

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John Shegerian: Welcome to another edition of Green Is Good. This is the Green Festival edition of Green Is Good here in beautiful Washington, D.C. We are so excited to have with us Colette Ellis. She is the founder of InStep Consulting. Welcome to Green Is Good, Colette. Colette Ellis: It’s wonderful to be here. John Shegerian: Colette, my fellow New Yorker. Colette Ellis: Yes. John Shegerian: Talk a little bit about your journey before starting InStep Consulting. How did you get excited about sustainability? Colette Ellis: I got excited about sustainability – actually, it started with getting excited about wellness. I’m actually also a certified stress-management and wellness coach as part of my business and so back in 2006 I was actually dealing with some health issues, digestion issues and it was going through the program that helped me realize that there is a connection between anxiety – being a new business owner – and what is going on in my body. And it seems like a no-brainer when you think about it now. John Shegerian: Right. Colette Ellis: But then I didn’t know. So that is what has made me want to help other people to do better and learn more. John Shegerian: Talk about the launching of Instep Consulting. When did you launch it, and what was its pure mission when you started it? Colette Ellis: Sure. We launched in 2004. John Shegerian: OK. Colette Ellis: And the mission was and still is to help people to really learn about their strengths and abilities and be able to use those in the marketplace. So we do that with team building and leadership development with individuals, and then we also go into organizations and help them with workshops and employee development. John Shegerian: So InStep Consulting, for our listeners and our viewers out there, they can find Colette and InStep Consulting at You are 11 years into this now. Colette Ellis: Yes. John Shegerian: With the growth of mindfulness and sustainability and your evolution as an entrepreneur, what do you know today that you have integrated and learned along the way that you have integrated into your consulting practice, and how have you watched it and helped it grow? Colette Ellis: That’s fantastic. So what I just shared with you is I walk the talk. So really being a newbie business owner realizing that it takes energy and passion and also needing to be mindful of my health, right? John Shegerian: Yeah. Colette Ellis: Because if I’m not healthy, my business doesn’t thrive. John Shegerian: That’s right. Colette Ellis: So those are probably one of the hardest lessons to learn, and I actually, at the time, I was launching my business, unfortunately, saw some others around me who weren’t taking that lesson to heart, and so I sort of started to really think about, “OK, if I really want to grow this business, I need to be looking at my own health and wellness so that I can help others to be able to do the same. John Shegerian: We’re at the Green Festival here in D.C. Tell me what your role here at the Green Festival is as a thought leader. Colette Ellis: Yes. I am actually speaking tomorrow – Sunday – and my talk is calle “Slow Down to Speed Up: Sustainable Living in a 2.0 World,” right? John Shegerian: I like it. Right. Colette Ellis: Because it’s again about being mindful – like you said – and not getting sucked in by all the technology. And also the connection between wellness and sustainability, that we all have stake in protecting not only our health and well-being but also protecting our planet. So looking at that connection sort of from the individual to the collective to the environmental impact. John Shegerian: Talk a little bit about the rise of thought leaders like you that are helping us hack our health, hack our mindfulness, just everything that they do but to do thing deeper, better, Arianna Huffington, Rich Roll, Tim Ferriss, David Asprey. Colette Ellis: Deepak Chopra. John Shegerian: Deepak Chopra. It’s an unbelievable ride that you are on the cutting edge of. In 2004, you were ahead. Now the world has sort of caught up to you, and you get to be one of these great thought leaders. How has your practice grown with the growth and interest and mindfulness in sleeping better and deeper, eating better and cleaner and just living a better life and inspiring others? Colette Ellis: I think it has made it easier to have conversations, particularly at the corporate level – so looking at employee wellness programs – finding that more organizations are seeing that as a priority, not just as a nice-to-have. So when we go to health and wellness fairs within organization, you find both the employees are really excited to learn about mindfulness and meditation and stress management and also the HR managers and the team leaders are interested in bringing those programs into their businesses. John Shegerian: Interesting. So InStep, do you focus on New York-based businesses, or are your practices national? Colette Ellis: We can be national, particularly with – so the good part of the 2.0 is that we can use various technologies – Skype and other ways – to connect. I have done meditations. I have done all sorts of tapping. I’m also working towards certification EFT – tapping – so I can do that over phone or Skype. So it really does enable the business to grow not just here in D.C. but anywhere in the world. John Shegerian: Anywhere. Talk about your client mix. Male versus female. Corporate versus private. Colette Ellis: As a woman business owner, I do tend to attract more women, but there are definitely men who are taking more interest in their health, which I think is fantastic. And I think we do more business-to-business work. John Shegerian: Really? And you’re in a city that is known to be very progressive – New York – and also probably in the hottest borough in that city – Brooklyn. Colette Ellis: Brooklyn. John Shegerian: Which is just fascinating. Colette Ellis: Shout-out to Brooklyn. John Shegerian: Shout-out. So talk about your own life and how you walk the walk, talk the talk and serve as your best ambassador and evangelist of what you do. Give a day-in-the-life in terms of your eating, your exercise and your lifestyle. Colette Ellis: Sure. Absolutely. Happy to do so. So I wake up in the morning, I do the taping that I mentioned. John Shegerian: Right. Colette Ellis: Talking about EFT. I also meditate in the morning every day. Then, I also am a newbie runner, so I’ve done a couple of 5k races. So I really do aim to walk the talk. And I talk about that in terms of transparency with clients. And I’m also a new composter. I’ve been composting now for six months and, hopefully, seeing that New York City organics program grow in the next. John Shegerian: It’s a great program. Colette Ellis: It’s a great program, and I really hope that they continue to do it. John Shegerian: Talk about sleep a little bit. Sleep has become a big deal. Arianna Huffington helped put it on the map when she talked about her own journey in collapsing at her desk and breaking her cheekbone and going through a very painful experience for a woman who is already massively successful. But it just goes to show you we all push ourselves and our limits, and we all want more or want to accomplish more and make the world a better place even if we’re on the right track. Talk a little bit about sleep and how you try to get enough rest. What does that mean to you, and what do you coach your clients to do with regards to appropriate rest? Colette Ellis: Right. And I mean that fits right into the “Slow Down to Speed Up,” right? John Shegerian: Yeah. Colette Ellis: So we do think by multitasking and doing more that we actually are, but in some ways, we’re not doing more, because if you are sleep deprived, you actually may do more things but you’re probably not doing them to the highest quality that you’d like to do them. So it’s really figuring out what are your own personal sleep patterns and figuring out what your sleep cycles are – because it is not the same for everyone – and trying to get yourself on that rhythm of going to bed around the same time every night and really starting to get your body used to it if you’re trying to change your pattern. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so it’s not like you start today and tomorrow, oh my god, it’s automatically new and different. You have to sort of build yourself up to making those changes. John Shegerian: Right. Talk a little but about green. And for our listeners and viewers out there that just joined us, we’ve got Colette Ellis. She is the founder of InStep Consulting. You can find Colette or hire her off of her website We are here at the Green Festival in Washington, D.C. This is the Green Festival edition of Green Is Good. Colette, we’re talking green. Tomorrow, you’re talking about “Slowing Down to Speed Up.” Talk about some of the trends in terms of sustainability that excite you the most, that excite your practice the most, that you can continue to grow your practice on. Colette Ellis: I am actually excited. And tomorrow I’m going to be talking about sort of the progression of individual decisions that we make – the decision between recycling and composting and making that personal decision – how that impacts us collectively and then what is the impact on the environment because it really does start with each individual choice. I know one of the things I talked about in our prep for the show was the pet peeve. You go to a space like this. They are fantastic in terms of the bins and everything that is set up. John Shegerian: Sure. Colette Ellis: When I am at events and I see people hesitating because they are not sure “where should I put the bottle, where should I put the plate,” part of that is how do we make it easier for people to do green and do it well? Let’s not make it difficult. Let’s make it easy for them. John Shegerian: That is so interesting. I have a friend who runs the labeling part of recycling – Recycle Across America – and her thesis, which I believe is absolutely true is that you’ve got to recycle right to make recycling even legitimate and credible. If you start mixing up the pizza box…. Colette Ellis: Contamination. John Shegerian: Contamination. If you start mixing the diapers with the aluminum cans with the pizza box, everything becomes worthless. So you are absolutely right. So that is a big trend. Composting – you mentioned – in New York. And New York also has – I think – textile recycling now? Colette Ellis: Yes. John Shegerian: And electronics. Colette Ellis: And electronics. Yes. John Shegerian: So they are again on the cutting edge of three of the things that are closest and more near and dear to us – the electronics we use, the textiles, the clothes we wear, the food we eat. How do we recycle them and get the city involved and get the people of the city involved? Colette Ellis: And, like I said, I think people do want to. I mean I’m a newbie composter, as I like to say. John Shegerian: Yeah. Colette Ellis: And once I found out how easy it was to do it, it’s a no-brainer. John Shegerian: We talked about sleeping a little bit. How many hours a night would you say you sleep? Colette Ellis: In between six and eight. John Shegerian: Six and eight, which is sort of the norm of good sleeping hygiene. Colette Ellis: Right. And that’s the transparency. I can’t sit here and say, “I sleep 10 hours” – when do I get any work done, right? So it’s looking at sort of what is the balance and what works for you. John Shegerian: Right. How about food? How important is eating well to you in terms of clean, and where are you on the spectrum? Collette Ellis: By choice, I don’t eat meat, but that is just my choice so always looking at sort of whole foods and vegetables and plants and that kind of a thing. John Shegerian: Yeah. Colette Ellis: And looking at buying locally when I can in New York. And events like this are fantastic. I always feel like my system feels so much better after these events. Between all of the different probiotics and all the great things that you can drink, it’s like for a day after the Green Festival, my body is so happy. John Shegerian: Exactly. That is really great. Talk about your business practice. As you say, more HR directors are open to wellness programs. How has that now grown since 2004 to 2015, and how are you out there? How do you go and reach the HR directors of the world? Colette Ellis: So one of the ways that I talked about is we have a couple of partners that we work through that organize corporate health fairs for employees, so that is one way. We will have a table and we will be sharing information with employees and then connecting with the HR directors directly to talk about different types of seminars and programs that we can do, attending similar events like this, but within the HR and training and development industry to meet again with those influencers that want to bring in wellness programs into their organizations. John Shegerian: And what can our listeners and viewers find on your website? If they go to, what resources do you offer there? Colette Ellis: So there is a section actually talking about the coping with work and family stress program, and there is actually a stress skills ladder, so talking about how you can continue to move up the ladder and use more proactive ways to manage stress like some of the things we’ve been talking about – managing your response and meditation and positive affirmations all the way up to problem solving, which is really trying to look at how do you remove some of the stressors or triggers in your life. John Shegerian: Any final thoughts today before we say goodbye here at the Green Festival? Colette Ellis: This is fantastic, and I’ve had such a great time talking with you – a fellow New Yorker. John Shegerian: A fellow New Yorker. Colette Ellis: Doing green. Doing good. John Shegerian: Thank you. And for our listeners and viewers out there that want to do green, that want to do good and that want to make yourself or your business better, contact Colette Ellis at InStep Consulting. Go to You can find her there. Colette Ellis, thank you for making the world a better place. You a truly living proof that Green Is Good. Colette Ellis: Thank you, John. John Shegerian: Thank you.

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