Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Alli DePuy. I came to Missoula in the late ’90s to attend the University of Montana, graduating in 2002 with my B.A. in Art and K-12 Education Certification. Like many others, I was hooked and Missoula became my permanent home. Fast forward 20 years and I wear many hats including wife, mom, educator, artist, and entrepreneur. I am the co-owner of Inspired Classroom a small company that builds, delivers and facilitates exceptional educational content. We connect people through our unique delivery solutions and interactive distance learning. At IC connecting is learning and the world becomes your classroom.
What is one habit of yours that helps you be productive?
By nature, I’m a ‘doer.’ I would rather make a plan and get to work instead of talking about it. Linear thinking and organization have never been my strong suit. To stay productive I have had to learn the art of list and table making. Recently, I’ve started using project management software that helps organize tasks and keeps me on my toes.
What is your morning routine and how does it help you get the most out of your day?
My morning routine starts with helping to get everyone else in my family ready and out the door. Ideally, I spend a few minutes in the quiet of my house with a cup of coffee looking over emails and planning out my day. Other mornings don’t allow time for this little luxury so making sure my calendar and project management software is up-to-date really helps!
In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?
I’m working on saying ‘no.’ When starting a business, you often take on projects because they make money or sound exciting. These projects and contracts are not always in line with your business goals or direction. As you grow and begin to define and refine your work, projects like these can seriously drain your time and resources. To get ‘businessy,’ it helps to run a cost/benefit analysis on projects before you say, ‘yes.’
This also applies to other aspects of life. Set boundaries in your personal life that will let you focus on what is most important to you. When you are starting a business it is a bit like birthing a baby–exciting, difficult, no user’s manual, and lots of sleepless nights. Accept this, but unlike an actual baby, don’t let it take over your entire life.
When you feel unfocused, what do you do?
Leave. Or, go on a walk, move my body. I can accomplish more in a few focused hours than during an entire day with no focus. Additionally, deadlines. Deadlines help me focus.
What is one piece of software or a web service that you get immense value out of? How do you use it?
Squarespace–so easy to create a website and sell products
MailChimp–I really like the virtual high five after I send out a marketing campaign.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
I typically don’t recommend many business books. Truthfully, by the time I’m ready to read a book at the end of the day, most of them put me to sleep in under a paragraph. I prefer meeting with mentors and actively engaging in the process of building a business. That being said, I love to listen to podcasts when I exercise. A favorite is NPR’s, How I Built This. I also gather ideas from books that are not typical How To’s. Another Missoula entrepreneur recently recommended Randy Olsen’s Don’t Be Such a Scientist. This has excellent advice for anyone who needs to communicate what they are building.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Set your intentions and put them out into the universe. Be curious, listen and ask for advice. Exercise a growth mindset and know that you will probably have to pay your dues while learning how to transition from life as a student to life as an adult.
Ignore people who say, “This is the way we have always done it.”
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
In my office I have a list generated by one of my business mentors:
2. Make a plan
3. Get to work
4. Do what you are best at
5. You decide when to step out of the wheel.