Perfect Pitch: Alison Torrillo French
Founder, Director, Vocalist
Current City: Vienna, VA (Washington, DC area).
Current Job and Entrepreneurial Focus: Founder and Managing Director of Alto Solutions, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) focused on leadership and organizational change and development consulting, facilitation, training, and coaching. Passionate about applying brain science and kindness to her work, Alison founded Alto Solutions (www.altosolutionsllc.com) in 2014 to help organizations and individuals make the right connections to create harmony and success in an increasingly impersonal world.
Notable Prior Jobs: My two most notable jobs were early in my career. When I was first out of college in the mid-90s, I worked for a small hospitality consulting startup in New York where I got to be a mystery diner and write reviews for some of the finest, white tablecloth restaurants around, including Aquavit and Sign of the Whale - as an otherwise financially challenged twenty-something living in Manhattan, I sure had a lot of friends who wanted to be my plus-one for these meals! Another was a stint as Director of Special Projects for the Sons of Italy (now, thankfully, Sons and Daughters of Italy) Foundation in Washington, DC - in this capacity, I had the opportunity to orchestrate an annual black tie, education-focused fundraising gala, where I had the amazing opportunity to work with Tony Bennett, Regis Philbin, and President Clinton (and his Secret Service detail), among others. Aside from those jobs, the rest of my career has been less interesting - Marketing Manager for American University and Consulting Manager for BearingPoint and Deloitte - but, with every job, I learned something and brought it with me on my entrepreneurial journey.
When I Started Performing: Age 4, as a very sassy ballerina in a dance recital number entitled "Come Up and See Me Sometime" (yes, it was about Mae West).
Performing Arts Background: Although my ballet days were numbered, performing arts has been a significant part of all stages of my life. As a young child, I performed on the piano at the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Solo Festival and as Dorothy in my elementary school’s production of the Wizard of Oz. In middle school, I took up the flute and sang in the All-County Choir (oddly, as a soprano back then); I also had several (now somewhat embarrassing) solo turns in my middle school’s annual spring review. I also went back to dance – this time for tap and jazz. By high school, musical theatre had stolen my heart and, in college, it shifted to a cappella, which has been my love for more than 25 years now, having performed with numerous all-female and coed a cappella groups/vocal bands over the years, including three that I founded in the Washington, DC, area. While in college I also sang more traditional music for four wonderful years in the Cornell University Chorus, where I learned that I was, in fact, not only an Alto but an Alto 2, which was a real turning point in helping me find my musical identity and instilling greater confidence. More recently, I have performed as a vocalist and flautist throughout the DC area with several bands and have most recently have been learning how to play the guitar (which may or may not become part of my performance repertoire).
How did your performing arts background supercharge your entrepreneurship? How has it not? For starters, I named my company after my voice part (and the first two letters of my first and maiden names) and everything I do is based on helping people make harmonious connections. Beyond that, my performing arts background gave me the confidence to go out on my own. Discovering my identity as an alto vocalist and rediscovering myself as an entrepreneur are so closely tied to one another, and the knowledge that my voice can make a difference has been truly inspirational. Further, my performance background has done wonders for my self-confidence. As a leadership coach and trainer, it’s critical that I remain poised, even – and especially – in the face of challenges and adversity. And in today’s organizations, there seems to be nothing but challenges. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been in a position to help leaders show their own vulnerability – but I had to be able to show mine first, before I could teach them how to do it effectively. When you’re on a stage performing – especially in a small a cappella group where each member MUST be 100% solid on their own part – you can feel extremely vulnerable. What if I mess up? What if the audience boos? But, you know what? They don’t boo. They get immersed in the close harmonies and don’t even notice that one note you might have flubbed. That’s helped my outlook so much and helped me confidently teach others that what might be perceived as a “FAILure” is really just a “First Attempt In Learning.” As a singer and performer, you cannot be successful without adopting a growth mindset – there is always something to learn, some way to improve – and this has been the driving force behind my business.
Favorite Performer: Incredibly difficult to name just one. In the singer-songwriter performer category, Billy Joel tops my list (I’m a New Yorker after all), followed by the Indigo Girls and Sara Bareilles (also a former a cappella singer AND Broadway star).
Follow this Performer: Alison Torrillo French
Facebook - altosolutionsllc
LinkedIn - /in/alisontorrillofrench/
LinkedIn - /company/alto-solutions-llc