Burlington’s Emily Eley offers ‘anti-capitalist’ business coaching | Business | Seven days
Emily Eley first used the phrase “anti-capitalist” to introduce herself as a business coach in August 2021. She signed up eight clients for a year of coaching sessions and won $60,000.
It was the biggest success she’s ever had with her year-long Made 4 More business coaching program, Eley said. Her clients have access to online courses, weekly one-on-one coaching sessions, and resources to help them shape their work for the rest of their lives while supporting values beyond pure profit.
“For me, anti-capitalism has always been about people and the environment over profit,” Eley, 36, said as he sipped a chai latte and munched on waffles for breakfast during a recent interview with the Zero Gravity Beer Hall in Burlington. “That’s really what interests me, because capitalism is at its core profit.”
The self-proclaimed “anti-capitalist business coach” tells her clients to slow down and stop forcing themselves to do more, have fewer clients, and sell fewer things.
Eley seems to have tapped on a nerve at a time when a lot of people have become disillusioned with making money for their own good. The first decade of the 21st century brought the Enron accounting scandal, the exposure of Bernie Madoff’s investment fraud, and a financial crisis caused by hedge funds. In the wake of these economic disasters, employees and entrepreneurs turned away from Wall Street in search of other ways to do business.
In the spring of 2020, “Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service,” a survey of Harvard youth that the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics conducts twice a year, only 29 percent of respondents aged 18 at 29 identified themselves as capitalists. Less than half said they support capitalism.
The tendency to add a little conscience to capitalism is not new. The B Corporation movement began in 2006 with a certification program for companies that meet certain standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency – and that put their employees, communities and the environment on equal footing with profit.
“I want to see how we can do otherwise,” Eley said. “I’m curious how else we can meet our need to sell in our business and make it feel good and feel respectful and enjoyable.”
Eley, a Burlington native who returned to the city with her husband and son in 2020, never earned an MBA or even an undergraduate business degree. True to her coaching message, she doesn’t think these traditional formalities and rules are important to a person’s success.
Most of Eley’s clients are like her, she said — solo service providers and small business owners — so they don’t have to deal with employees. She coached a financial adviser, a yoga teacher and a tattoo artist.
Eley is not against making money, she says. She is happy to have a career she enjoys and to earn enough to pay for her 2-year-old son’s increasingly expensive childcare costs. Currently pregnant with her second child, she supplements her coaching income by working as a consultant to organizations such as Opportunities Credit Union and the Center for Women & Enterprise, who hire her to teach group sessions to their members.
Eley does most of the marketing for her business through email, Facebook and Instagram ads. The latest platform is where she posted her first “anti-capitalist” pitch a year ago. His messages are often personal, usually informative and, at times, irreverent. She tells viewers to set “strong AF boundaries” and that business owners can “take naps AND push hard”. A strong anti-capitalist post in January garnered a lot of attention, including hateful trolls, she said.
“The main motive of capitalism is simply to generate more capital,” Eley said in this January video. “So being an anti-capitalist business means you care about all the other things outside of just building capital.”
That message resonated with Ashley Bovin, an independent marketing consultant in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who joined Eley’s program in the spring. Bovin appreciated a business coach who took a different approach to the “hustle mindset” that drives growth at all costs, she said.
“Core values thinking is increasingly common in the business world and in the marketing world,” Bovin continued. “That means for me that I don’t exploit myself in terms of time, energy and work. And I don’t exploit my audience’s time, attention, emotions.”
Eley has been slow to chart her own path in the working world. She attended the University of Vermont for two years, majoring in human geography and Middle Eastern studies, but her academic trajectory left her unfulfilled. A former high school athlete, she also worked as a personal trainer.
In 2014, she packed up her car and drove across the country. Landing in Boulder, Colorado, she rented an apartment with three roommates, one of whom has since become her husband.
While working as a nanny, Eley completed her degree in Human Geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A professor she admired persuaded her to do an honors thesis. His article on “Neoliberalism and the Economization of Academia” focused on the influence of money on people’s relationships to education, work, fellow citizens and the world.
After graduating in November 2016, Eley worked as an outreach coordinator for a nonprofit that lobbies for bike lanes and access to e-bikes. Then her future husband’s employer moved them to New Jersey. In Montclair, NJ, Eley was immersed in an environment that opened her eyes to racism and poverty in a way she had never experienced before, she said.
“What I learned about myself is that I really like being uncomfortable,” Eley said. “I like to push myself to examine and criticize and watch and analyze and wonder where my brain automatically goes, versus maybe where I want it to go or what I want to think about myself.”
Eley continued to work for nonprofits, including a women’s health coalition. A friend from the local CrossFit gym who ran her own diet consulting business, mostly online, started working with her at Eley’s home office.
Looking at her friend, Eley thought she would like to have her own business and structure her career the way she wanted. She has always excelled at job interviews, networking and selling herself, she said. So she started a career coaching business.
Eley’s new job gave him a glimpse into the dark side of business success. Most of his clients worked for big companies and wanted to move up the ladder. Many were women dissatisfied with their treatment as second-class employees, she said.
“I got to a point where I was like, ‘I don’t really think corporate America is a good idea,'” she said. “‘So I don’t know if I really want to coach people [on] how to excel in this space.'”
A client, an executive at a large corporation, decided she wanted Eley to help her start her own consulting firm rather than climb the corporate ladder. This is when Eley transitioned from career coaching to business coaching. Her dietitian friend coined the name Made 4 More.
After Eley and her partner had their son, they married in September 2020. Plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, they moved back to Burlington and managed to buy “the last house under $400,000 ‘ in the New North End, she said.
This fall, Eley is dividing the one-year Made 4 More program into three streams covering market research, ethical marketing and sustainable sales. Clients sign up on a rolling basis and receive four months of coaching on one of the tracks, a more flexible arrangement for people who don’t want to pay for a full year commitment. Each four-month program costs $2,500, or $625 per month.
In the Sustainable Sales section, for example, Eley discusses strategies clients can use to manage their business as their lives change – when they have a child, struggle with depression, or want some time off. free.
“My biggest interest is helping people think critically about their lives, the world, their relationships, how they make money, all of it,” she said.
In the Ethical Marketing section, Eley teaches clients to avoid the traditional business model of enticing customers with flashy “buy now” calls that aim to maximize the number of sales.
“The alternative to shitty marketing is to build real, authentic relationships with people,” she said. “That means you probably can’t do it that fast. And you probably can’t reach that many people. And you might not have that huge, big, splashy impact.”
But the customers you build those relationships with will stay with you, she tells her clients, and spread word of mouth to others.
“What I’m asking people to do,” she said, “is come into discussion with me about how else we might operate in our businesses.”