You’re not alone

man despairToday is #WorldMentalHealthDay

Many people may see me as an overly happy, smiley and positive person. My sisters would get so annoyed with me as a kid because I would laugh and sing incessantly. I have family members that still call me “Sunshine,” “Isadora Duncan”(the ballerina), and the list goes on. Most of my life, I’ve been generally pretty happy, smiley and emotionally stable.

But as soon as I became an entrepreneur, things changed dramatically. Without the constant of a paycheck every 2 weeks, my already sensitive nature turned into hot mess emotional. I’ve never had a panic attack or cried uncontrollably until I became an entrepreneur. Some days I still cry multiple times a day.

At first I was really scared because I thought something was wrong with me. I’ve gone to therapy and done other holistic treatments like hypnosis and emotional freedom techniques (EFT/tapping).

“So how do you stay so happy and smiley?”, I get asked all the time.

Over the years I’ve been able to take advantage of these emotions and use them as invaluable feedback.

One thing I do is write, journal, jot down my thoughts and feelings–and if I start crying, get angry or pout, I go with it. I don’t try to hide them, suppress them, judge them, get angry or shame myself.

99% of the time, I feel instantly better after going through this process.

But I am not happy and smiley all the time. It is because I go through this exercise of allowing myself to feel my feelings and emotions and cry that I am able to release those, move on and feel more at peace and joyful.

And if you ever feel this way, know you’re not alone. I’m here for you if you ever want to talk or share your thoughts and feelings.

What do you do to manage your stress and emotions?

Love, peace, joy and occasional tears to you!

About Alexandra Figueredo:

Alexandra’s mission is to inspire, empower and support you to #BeTheMission! She is Founder & CEO of Latina Founders and Mission Based Branding Institute communications agency and training platform for impact businesses and entrepreneurs. This reformed banker turned “Missionpreneur” is also a speaker, author, writer, arts and culture lover, traveler (5 continents and counting!) and citizen of the world! Follow her musings at @OnAMissionAlex.

Ladies: We need you to step up!

Ladies: We need you to step up!

LADIES, here’s a little PSA:

When you get asked to speak, DO IT!

When you get asked to be interviewed, DO IT!

When you get asked to be a leader, DO IT!

When you get asked to write an article, DO IT!

When you have to opportunity to ask to do all of the above, DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!

The only people who should turn down any of these opportunities are those whose schedules are blowing up with invitations and you have the luxury to choose.

air force leaders

I cringe every time I see a speaker docket overwhelmingly (or only) comprised of men. It frustrates me when I read articles written by white men in national publications talking about issues specific to women or minority groups.

We need more female leaders and experts. We need more minority women to step up and serve. We need you!

If you don’t do it for yourself, do it to serve as a role model for your kids, other women, aspiring leaders and your community.

What is one leadership opportunity you’d love to have?

This week I challenge you to either ask for it directly or find someone who can refer you to the appropriate channels.

Oh, and then I want to hear about it! Share with us in the comments.

Much success to you!

About Alexandra Figueredo:

Alexandra’s mission is to inspire, empower and support you to #BeTheMission! She is Founder & CEO of Latina Founders and Mission Based Branding Institute communications agency and training platform for impact businesses and entrepreneurs. This reformed banker turned “Missionpreneur” is also a speaker, author, writer, arts and culture lover, traveler (5 continents and counting!) and citizen of the world! Follow her musings at @OnAMissionAlex.

Don’t Give Up Your Weekends Working

When I was a kid, I remember a family member talking about how terrible it was to be in entertainment or hospitality because “then you’d give up your weekends working.” I think we were either talking about being performers or restaurant owners or both, but deep down I think it was a way to dissuade me from becoming Gloria Estefan!

Well, it stuck. What a shitty view to put on a young person. Do you see how we unknowingly self-sabotage ourselves sometimes based on other people’s screwed-up belief systems?

Subconsciously this taught me two things:

1) You shouldn’t follow your passion

2) You can’t work on the weekend and enjoy your weekend at the same time

Gloriaestefan_ahoyI enjoy food and singing, so I have no doubt I could have been a successful performer AND restaurant owner like Gloria Estefan. Instead I studied finance and became a banker because that was the “right thing to do.” It was safe. It was boring. And eventually I became dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

It’s not surprising that I struggled financially when I finally became an entrepreneur following my passion and working in something I enjoyed (at all hours of the week and weekend) because of underlying belief systems including that damned weekend killer.

But so many times I’ve proven that statement wrong. For example, I worked as a publicist for theaters and entertainment venues in the evenings and weekends and loved it!

Today I love working with Missionpreneurs.

This week, after long days of work, I’ve spent extra time in the evenings coaching mission-driven startups who are pitching their businesses this Thursday at a pitch competition at Venture Cafe Miami (@VentureCafeMia). Even though I’m doing it pro-bono, I enjoy it, I’m excited about it, I love helping them and I feel invested in their success. It doesn’t feel like “work” (and in this case, I’m not even getting paid).

I’ve often asked my clients and colleagues, what would you do if earning income were not necessary. After the usual “travel for a year,” most people want to do what they love and contribute. For me, I’d be doing what I’ve done today AND tonight — mentoring, empowering and supporting other mission-driven entrepreneurs and leaders.

Follow your passion and do what you enjoy even if you have to work during the evening, during the weekend, during lunch breaks, during your mani and pedi, or giving the mani and pedi…

This is your life.

If it makes you feel good, you certainly shouldn’t live your life by someone else’s standards.

By the way, it isn’t too late to course-correct and start on that path now. I did it at around 30. You can do it at any age.

Shoot, now may even be the right time to become the next Estefan.

 

Do you have a problem working evenings or weekends? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Alexandra’s mission is to inspire, empower and support you to #BeTheMission! She is Founder & CEO of Latina Founders and Mission Based Branding Institute communications agency and training platform for impact businesses and entrepreneurs. This reformed banker turned “Missionpreneur” is also a speaker, author, writer, arts and culture lover, traveler (5 continents and counting!) and citizen of the world! Follow her musings at @OnAMissionAlex.

Pitch With Passion and Purpose

Last week I shared a bit about my story with sharing my message–the traumatizing experience I had, the stage fright that overcame me for over a decade, and my fight to come back from the fear, and do it anyway!

I gave a fun and insightful workshop at Venture Cafe Miami and I plan to do more work in this area.

Attached is my presentation in PDF format, which you are welcome to read and use. Please note, all the processes in this presentation are my own and may not be reproduced or represented with my prior written approval.

Mission Pitch With Impact Front Cover

Click here: Pitch for Impact

If you would like to have a personalized pitch session with me and/or with your team, please contact me at Alexandra@MissionBasedBranding.com to arrange a time to discuss.

From Insecure To Impactful

“Your mission and message are more important than any fear you may have sharing them with the world”
– Alexandra Figueredo

 

MEGAPHONEIf you’re anything like me (human!), you’ve been scared to death of speaking in public at some point in your life…and I’m sure you’ve heard the statistics that speaking in public is feared more than death (at least, in surveys).

My fear of public speaking spiraled out of control to the point that I would sweat just thinking about asking a question in class or even discussing my work with my boss. With that level of anxiety, you can imagine the terror–and sometimes stage fright–presenting in front of a group, which I had to do several times a week. Yet I never really understood why because I could act and perform in front of thousands, but was a nervous, sweaty wreck when it was MY voice.

The week after I resigned from my corporate job to become a full-time entrepreneur, I began hypnosis sessions with a therapist to combat this issue. I knew I was going to start pitching my own business, and didn’t want fear to stop me. Little did I know I’d eventually become a speaker and trainer 🙂

Although the fear never fully goes away–and discussing with other professional speakers has confirmed this is totally normal–I learned to be proactive, finding opportunities to grow and improve myself, and of course share my mission and message with as many people as possible.

Because my Mission and Message are more important than any fear I have sharing them with the world!

When it comes to pitching your business, I’ve heard many entrepreneurs and startups get stuck on the What they do, which may be some really amazing, innovative, disruptive technology—that no one understands. They get fixated on technical details and jargon, but can’t connect with their audience on their Why. Simon Sinek from Start With Whysays: “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” You can have all the facts and figures and technically the best product or service in your industry, but your client, investor or audience will only resonate with it if you can properly connect with them at a more emotional level.

My friend Bruce Turkel from Building Brand Value: Seven Simple Steps to Profitable Communications says when attracting your audience, you must connect first with “Hearts. Then Minds.” That’s why I developed MISSION-Based Branding.

Remember this the next time you speak or pitch your business. It is possible to speak with confidence, connect with your audience and share your message to make the most impact!

It’s taken me years to learn what works for me, so let me know in the comments below what works for you.

 

If you want to learn some powerful strategies, join me at “Pitch With Impact” this Thursday…details below

Pitch With Impact

Do you feel like hiding every time you need to get in front of an audience? Do you want to share your message but find it difficult to make a lasting impact? Are you seeking funding, pitching your business or sharing your message before an audience? Then Pitch With Impact is perfect for you!

You’re going to learn strategies to effectively pitch your business, share your message more confidently and effectively, and make the biggest impact! Along with practical steps to ensure the perfect pitch for your audience, we’ll use fun and interactive speaking techniques to get you out of your comfort zone and feeling more confident, prepared and quick on your feet. Who can’t use more of that?

After taking this workshop you’ll walk away with:

  1. Key steps to emotionally connect with your audience and pitch with impact
  2. Fun and interactive exercises that will get you more comfortable speaking in public
  3. Other professional strategies specifically for pitching your business or services/products
Learn more and register here:
https://impactpitchvc.eventbrite.com
Looking forward to see you there!

~Alex 

Focus Impacts IMPACT

FocusOn my quest to be the best “Missionpreneur Mentor” I can be, I am constantly searching for what I refer to as the “hypotenuse solution” in all areas of business for myself and others. If you remember anything from high school geometry, the hypotenuse is the shortest distance in a right triangle–well I do that with business as in life.

As a Missionpreneur, my bright idea for a hypotenuse solution was to apply to a couple of startup accelerator programs for a startup I have been “starting up” for several years and now trying to revive. The thing is, I’m also running my own agency and involved in a few other ventures and charitable projects. You could say my attention is divided, and the startup is possibly the last on the priority list. Plus the startup itself is in the process of reinvention, so there is no clearly defined business model.  Not surprisingly, my startup didn’t get chosen for any of the programs I applied to.

At the same time, a close friend applied to a few accelerators and got chosen for one and is interviewing for another. These accelerators are extremely competitive, with over one thousand applicants for each. The fact his business got chosen as one of five teams out of over a thousand is a real accomplishment in and of itself. Not to mention the proverbial door-opening to resources, education, collaboration and of course, potential investor funding.

When I assess the difference between our two scenarios with respect to our startups, it comes down to FOCUS. Firstly, as the CEO of his startup, my friend focuses most of his time and attention on building that business, even though he is also a consultant who earns additional income outside of the startup. Secondly, that business itself has a very focused, clear and specific brand and mission; it’s not trying to do or be everything to everyone, although there is potential for future expansion. Thirdly, he made the accelerator application process a priority because he knew that this opportunity was the best way to accelerate and potentially skyrocket his business, revenue and investment potential quickly. He just knew he was going to get accepted to one of the programs, and although it was still a highly stressful process wrought with frustration and doubts, he never gave up until he made it. This inspires me as an entrepreneur.

It got me thinking about the founding of other startups that are now billion dollar businesses–Facebook, Airbnb, Apple, Lyft–and how their focused attention on one key product or service has helped them grow and scale and make a bigger impact on close to a billion people (or nearly two billion as of today in the case of Facebook). Or look at iconic brands with one key product such as Kleenex, Nike and Jacuzzi that still exist today and still lead the market and industry in brand recognition.

At the same time, there are some so-called impact aggregators with a huge mission to impact billions of people; their mission is inspiring and they are trying to find global solutions in many different areas. But instead they are so unfocused, scattered in their attention, chasing after several bright, shiny objects in multiple categories, that they are not quite making the big impact in any one area that they desire. In fact, I have a friend who is an industry expert and thought leader who works at one of these impact businesses and flat out told me in her professional opinion I would make a greater impact working at Facebook. Sure, none of the aforementioned businesses are perfect and their paths have certainly never been “easy”, but in terms of impact, FOCUS was a stronger strategy than trying to be everything to everyone.

How can you apply this to your career/business? Follow these three steps:

  1. What is your one big business goal or dream? Define that and make sure you are devoting most of your time and attention on this. If you can’t do that for any reason, then it shouldn’t be a surprise if you’re not progressing as well as you’d like in that venture.
  2. Does your career/business have a clear, focused mission, brand, business model and key service/product? If not, do an analysis of what is working and what isn’t working. Be as specific as possible, and focus your business and messaging on what works and transition out of what doesn’t.
  3. Prioritize opportunities to accelerate your impact.  Now that you’re focused on a venture that has a clear and specific brand and business model, you will more clearly see the opportunities that will skyrocket your business. Seek those opportunities and believe they are possible. You may even have clients and investors seeking you out! [As it turns out, one of the principals of the accelerator that accepted my friend actually found his startup on AngelList, a site focused on resources for startups!]

How has Focus or lack of focus helped or hurt your business? Is there a step I’m missing? Feel free to add your comments below. And remember, when in doubt:

Focus on Focus!

~Alexandra 😉

 

P.S. – Also if you need help focusing and clarifying your mission, brand and business, we can help! We offer full day or half day Mission M.A.P. sessions or Strategy Programs to get you to clear and stand out in your industry and attract your ideal clients. 

 

I am Clear That I am Unclear

Clarity

“I am clear that I am unclear”

That’s the message I heard several weeks ago in my morning meditation. You see, I had a moment of fog and cloudiness. I couldn’t see clearly and started to feel sorry for myself, sulking that I was unclear about my path. And I’m supposed to be the one helping others be clear about their mission and brand!

Once I consoled my ego, I realized it’s perfectly okay to be unclear. This is a part of life. People and businesses go through it all the time. In fact, once I assessed what was happening I realized part of my challenge is that I was being asked to step up into a new space in a big way, unchartered territory I’d never been before. Certainly there should be moments of uncertainty, anxiety and overwhelm.

What did I do? I put marker to white board and started brainstorming for a few hours through a process I call a Mission M.A.P. (Mission Action Plan) just like I’ve done with so many other clients before. Except I was my own client.

Starting with my Mission and going back to my core, I got really honest with myself and tapped into the vision for my lightbulbhighest self. I have too many a-has to share from that experience, but the biggest was that I’d been spending too much time and energy in a few business areas that were depleting me instead of empowering me, and this was making me loose focus from my core Mission. When I became at peace with releasing these areas not perfectly in alignment with my Mission, it opened up several other much bigger opportunities that were better aligned to my mission and vision. The answers appeared during the process and I felt an immediate sense of assurance, peace and relief.

In fact, I didn’t understand how powerful a process it is until I shared my findings with my accountability partner, who knew of my fogginess and was both surprised and thoroughly impressed at the outcome. It  made me realize the importance of MISSION-Based Branding. When you start with your Mission and Why, it’s easier to know when you’re not on the right path and out of alignment. And very importantly–How you do it or What you do aren’t as important as Why you do it–you can change jobs, change industries, change cities and when you’re in alignment with your Mission, the Why stays the same.

And interestingly, it’s happened to me several times through the years. Inevitably it happens at a point when I’m empowered to step up in a bigger way, and I begin to question my current path and where I’m going. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable in my business, or my growth stagnate or deplete, I do a Mission M.A.P.

Coincidentally this week I was getting my car serviced, a “tune up,” and it hit me that’s what a mini Mission M.A.P. is: a periodic tune up of my mission, vision goals, business, brand and message. We commonly hear about annual or semiannual spring cleaning or a juice cleanse and I’ve done both to start fresh and set myself on a new, more powerful track—now I can appreciate how valuable and worthwhile it is to do a periodic business or professional tune up (if you’re interested in learning more about one of these, see below*)

Here are some questions you can ask yourself if you are going through a similar fog, plateau or discomfort in your life or business:

  1. What’s my Why–what do I/my business stand for? Reconnect to your Mission and core values.
  2. What’s the Vision for my highest self, and who do I need to Be and how do I Live?
  3. How will you [God,Universe] use me today/this week/this year?
  4. What is my next right move? (credit goes to Oprah on this one)

Feel free to leave some of your answers in the comments below.

Here’s to a mission-filled life!

~Alexandra

 

*P.S. – I’m offering mini Mission M.A.P.s: a half day “Tune Up” session in which we will map out how you can:

missionmap-logo-copy

  • Be The Mission: start with Why, clarify your Mission, core values and principles
  • Live The Mission: align your Mission to your business/vocation and get your team on board
  • Share The Mission: create the right message and step up and share your mission with the world

I only do a few of these a month, so if you’re interested in getting a mission-based branding “tune up” (lol), click here to learn more and message me to set one up.

Tangible Benefits of Mission Based Branding

I talk a lot about the importance of BE->LIVE->SHARE for your business and brand:

  • Be Your Mission: start with Why, clarify your Mission, core values and principles
  • Live Your Mission: align your Mission to your business/vocation and get your tribe on board
  • Share Your Mission: create the right message and step up and share your Mission with the world

But how about real life tangible business benefits to Mission-Based Branding?

There are many reasons that Mission-Based Branding makes good business sense. Here are the top 5 C’s of Mission Based Branding:

1. Clarity: Starting from the top, when the Founders and CEO are clear about their Mission and their Way, it provides a strong foundation for the organization. Without a strong Why, your company will lack focus and direction, which will create losses in your employees’ time, energy and efficiency.

TOMS is a great example. Whether you agree with TOMS’ mission or business model or not, the founder Blake Mycoskie had a clear Mission and knew what he and his brand stood for from the beginning.

2. Company Culture: When you have a strong mission, you can get your whole team on board around your common goal and purpose. That creates a strong environment of trust and engagement between employees and stakeholders inside and outside of the organization. Strong company culture translates to happier, more active employees, so turnover is lower and you lose less in sick/unproductive time.

Starbucks is a perfect example of a company whose baristas have fun working there, and they’ve created a strong corporate culture around their mission. Sure the company’s mission may have gotten fuzzy along the way, but we know that Starbucks stands for not only the ambiance but also helping to develop sustainable and green business practices.

3. Connection: A company with a strong Mission creates interaction and connection with its fans, followers and clients. This creates loyalty and consumers keep coming back for more. And you can easily measure client loyalty.

Apple seems to do this right. People wait in line for hours to get a new iphone, they swear that their Macs are better products, and they feel cool sporting an apple sticker on their laptop. How many brands can say the same?

4. Consistency: With a strong Mission, Why and direction from within, you can begin to create a strong, consistent message externally. When you have your internal compass as a baseline, it’s easier to know when you’re aligned or out of alignment and base your decisions that way. Similarly, you can gauge all messaging, advertising, communications, promotion etc against your core Mission.

Warby Parker, similar to TOMS, has its one-for-one business model, but is even simpler than TOMS. Its core business is making customized glasses, and they provide glasses for those in need in developing countries. Anything that is not aligned with this messaging is easy to see both internally and externally. Your ROI on all communications campaigns will be higher when you have a strong, consistent message.

5. Competition: I am a firm believer that mission-driven brands can stand on their own, are unique and differentiate themselves in the market. And there are plenty of examples to prove it. Apple and Airbnb are just two examples of market leaders, but not because they compete on pricing or other factors. They are missionaries versus mercenaries (a quote I heard from Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky, from one of his investors).

The best recent example is Lyft. When looking at its much bigger competition, Uber, after the immigration reform policy in January 2017, Lyft stood out immediately because they paid a large donation to the ACLU, while a #DeleteUber campaign erupted on social media. The Lyft founders know what they stand for (Clarity), have aligned their core mission to their business and employees (Company Culture), their clients get it (Connection), their message is alignment (Consistency), and even as a much smaller company, they are able to stand out among their competition. Meanwhile, Uber is under investigation and being sued left and right for shady and possible illegal business practices. Time will tell how this will affect Uber’s investors and valuation, but there is clear evidence that they’ve at least lost millions in negative PR and potentially lost clients, while Lyft has gained millions in new users (including me!) and publicity.

What do you think? Do you have another C to add to the list? How has your brand used any of these principles in your business?

Feel free to share in the comments!

I used to be an aspiring author

About 7 years ago I was an aspiring writer. I was writing about 3 books at a time but never had a clear focus or purpose other than to be an author. Then one night I woke up suddenly and it hit me like a lightning bolt–write a book entitled Sculpt Your Life From Sketch To Masterpiece. It felt like it was part of my legacy to write a book, a way to share my mission and message that could serve hundreds, thousands, even potentially millions! It may sound extreme, but I was motivated by an internal drive to get that book written as quickly as possible before I die, and 3 weeks later the book was written and in 3 months it was released.

Then a few years later, I was an aspiring bestselling author. Looking back, part of me wanted to have a bestseller as a sense of achievement and accomplishment. Nothing wrong with that, except that these types of goals bring temporary happiness and fulfillment. A much more impactful reason for having a bestselling book is to provide greater awareness, credibility, exposure and prominence so once again, I could get my mission and message available to hundreds, thousands, even potentially millions! A book is a tool for doing just that, along with a way to position you and your brand.

No matter your Why, you have a message in you that can be shared in your own book. And you definitely have a potential bestseller in you. If you’d like to learn how I did it *accidentally* just a couple of weeks ago, click below:

How My Mission Accidentally Turned Into A Bestselling Book

What will you learn on this webinar:
  • My Why and planning steps I took to launch my book promotion;
  • Top 3 reasons my book became a bestseller;
  • How I continue to leverage my book and mission to brand and co-brand myself; and more!

[Note you will be signed up and asked to confirm your email before getting access to the webinar]

Oh and for the rest of the month of March, 100% of the proceeds of Sculpt Your Life From Sketch To Masterpiece ebook (listed at ONLY $2.99!) will go toward arts and empowerment charities serving girls. Click on the sidebar for more details, THANK YOU!!

Helping to transform the world one mission at a time,

-Alexandra 🙂

How I accidentally got a bestselling book

Bestseller secrets

March is my birthday month and also Women’s History Month, so I knew I wanted to do something to celebrate and also give back in a bigger way. I’m in the middle of a few big projects, so I decided quite last minute to host a promotion for my ebook Sculpt Your Life From Sketch To Masterpiece--the recently updated 5-year anniversary edition of my first book.

Last week on March 8th, International Women’s Day, I offered the ebook for free as it’s part of my mission to share my message with as many people as possible. Well, with little preparation and zero advance promotion, I ended up getting way more downloads of the book than I expected! I was ecstatic! Missionpreneurs, students, retirees, people searching for their mission and many others who may not otherwise know about my me or my book were downloading it!

Quite unexpectedly, and quickly, it became an Amazon bestseller. In fact, among other free books, it got to top 10 in several categories and even reached #2 in one category where the #1 book was from an author I greatly admire. It even reached bestseller in the entire category of “Business and Money” for free Kindle books! I was floored!

After the free book promotion ended, I continue to promote the book as offering 100% of proceeds for the paid version during Women’s History Month to charities I support that empower girls through the arts, a cause I’m particularly passionate about. Again, quite unexpectedly and with little promotion, I reached bestseller in my category where the likes of Tim Ferriss are fellow authors. On top of that, it’s helped co-brand me and my business, especially when reaching a new audience that didn’t know about my work previously.

Wow! How did this all happen with little preparation and zero advance promotion?

I’ve come up with some answers and I’ll be sharing those on an upcoming webinar:

How My Mission Accidentally Turned Into A Bestseller

What you will learn:
  • The planning steps I took to launch the book promotion
  • The top three reasons this book became an “accidental” best seller
  • How I continue to leverage my book and mission to brand and co-brand myself
  • And more!

Sign Up To Watch The Replay of This Webinar

[*Note: You will be signed up and asked to confirm your email, then redirected to webinar.]

 

Do you know anyone else who has a book in them? Please forward this to them, thank you!

Transforming the world one mission at a time,

-Alexandra

If you have any questions, please email Alexandra@MissionBasedBranding.com

Alexandra Figueredo is a brand strategist, author, publicist, trainer, singer-performer and founder of Mission Based Branding Institute. She’s on-a-mission to help mission-driven businesses and entrepreneurs share their message and help transform the world. She has authored and coauthored multiple Amazon bestselling books including most recently “Sculpt Your Life From Sketch to Masterpiece – 5 Year Anniversary Edition” and “Shift Your Beliefs To Get What You Want.” Alexandra has received a master’s in Global Strategic Communications, bachelor’s in Business and Life Coaching certification.