Start With the End in Mind…

Stephanie
Below is a beautiful post from my friend Stephanie D. Riggs, who works with elderly and hospice patients.
I’m reminded of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and reading the section on thinking of the end in mind, literally changed my life. It was one of the first times I pondered this concept of values, mission, purpose, legacy. A couple of years later I resigned from the corporate world and have pursuing my mission since, and helping others do so as well.
When you reflect on the possibility of dying tomorrow or in a month or in a year, it puts everything into perspective. The first time I realized my own mortality, I was 30 and the thought of potentially dying spurred me to write my first book in just 3 weeks. It was divinely inspired and I just kept writing until I finished!
What am I here for? I knew a book could be part of leaving my legacy. That was a precursor to my company and method Mission Based Branding.
Who are you called to be? What are you called to do? Read on…
・・・
Repost by Stephanie D. Riggs: When I ask my hospice patients about their regrets there’s never mention of frustration over not being the skinniest or prettiest, or wishing they had more money, fame or status. Instead, these are the top 5 regrets of the dying:
1) I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself instead of the expectations others had of me.
2) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3) I wish I had the courage to express my feelings more often.
4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends even with the distance and the passing of the years.
5) I wish that I had let myself be happier- because happiness IS a choice.
Everyday, take a moment to sit at your deathbed and see what your dying self has to say about your Life. Is there anything that needs to change? ✨
Do you know there’s something more to your life, but you’re just not sure what that is? Would you like to step up, step into your mission and share your message with the world Now (or eventually)?  If so, schedule a Discovery Call  with me and I can help you gain clarity. To your mission! -Alexandra

M is for Mission-Based

blue target iconA couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about turning resolutions into achievable goals.

Following my own advice, I set a goal for myself to close 5 new clients in January. 2 weeks in, I had taken lots of steps in the article, started getting tons of leads and even got a couple of new clients.

But I discovered something very interesting. Although my leads were soaring and I started getting prospects really interested in working with me, many were not my ideal clients. Although I could technically offer what they were looking for, there were enough differences in each type of client that I would have to dedicate extra time, energy and resources to working with all of them. I would be all over the place.

They were not my ideal clients because they weren’t in line with my mission and how I can best serve humanity.  

So I was stuck having to make a decision: do I close these clients who I’m not super passionate about working with and potentially not deliver my best and be drained working with them?

No. You see, this is not a sustainable business model.

It is true that many times we must follow one path that doesn’t feel like it’s fulfilling our mission, but that provides us income to survive and certain skills we need to strengthen and prepare ourselves to continue fulfilling our mission.

I have a client who is an attorney entrepreneur who was doing mindless freelance work, when I helped her get clear about her mission and path about a year ago. We were both really excited, and she had and still has so much potential. A month after our Mission M.A.P. session, I did a follow-up with her in which she told me she replaced her freelance work by becoming an independent agent in a completely different industry. She still wanted to pursue her mission, but needed to gain some stable income first and couldn’t do the mindless legal work anymore.

Recently I spoke to her and she told me that looking back, she was just not confident in her abilities and her competency back then to go all-in with her mission. Over the last year she has built her network, learned how to be a salesperson and gained other valuable skills that are going to be important once she goes all in into her mission-driven business. Very importantly, she was clear that the job she’s in now is not her forever career.

A sustainable business is not one in which you close whatever clients are low hanging fruit just to get a check. That is survival. There is no strategy to that. Looking back over the last 7 years, I realized I went through periods of this. This is a recipe for burnout, not success.

You can have 1 or 2 clients or business avenues like this to build a financial foundation, parallel to building a sustainable business model with your ideal, mission-based clients.

Remember knowing who you want to work with (your target clients) and how you can best serve them (unique value proposition/client offering), is part of the Mission-Based Business & Branding process.

So to add to the previous article, make sure you create S.M.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Mission-Based, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

Has this ever happened to you? Share in the comments below.

 

*For more guidance clarifying your mission,  creating your brand, setting business goals, and creating plans for action to achieve your goals, I’m offering new year coaching specials through the end of the month. If you or anyone you know needs that extra push, now is a great time to start! You can also set up a complimentary Discovery Call with me to learn about the Mission Based Branding and Business Method and see if it’s right for you.

Turn New Year’s Resolutions into Achievable Goals

SMART-goals

Has this happened to you before? You set a few great new year’s resolutions, feel empowered into the first two weeks of the year and then seem to lose momentum by the end of the month. By February you’ve forgotten you even set any resolutions.

Why does this happen? Many of us lose focus and motivation, get distracted by other daily issues or don’t commit to follow through and take action. This can happen both with personal and professional goals.

Whether your goal is to finally follow your passion and mission, gain more clients, write a book, turn a hobby into a business, or any other personal or professional goal, the following tips can help you become more successful in fulfilling your goals this year:

  1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals For The Year! Visualize your ideal life in all areas, including Mission, Business, Finances, Health and Lifestyle. I challenge my clients to choose one or two major goals over the next year and make it their mission to accomplish them. The trick is to make your goals S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. For example, a S.M.A.R.T. goal for your business may be to earn $100,000 more in total sales over the next 12 months. Vague goals are harder to carry through to completion.
  2. Write Down Your Goals! Playing off of that old saying, think “In sight, in mind!” Write down your goals on your fridge, computer, flash cards, journal, vision board, or some other written or visual format that works for you. Make sure to review your goals at least once every day! For example, write down your ideal client or account you’d like to land and make sure you see it every day. Keeping your goals top of mind will help you to reach them.
  3. Create a Plan for Action For Major Goals! Write down your plan for action, broken down into major task items along with deadlines. If this feels overwhelming, start with just the first month or week. Schedule these deadlines in your calendar or agenda in advance. For example, suppose you’d like to obtain 5 new recurring clients this month. Write down the major tasks to accomplish this such as: Week 1, research and make a list of potential leads; Week 2, contact each lead; Week 3, set up follow-up calls or meetings; Week 4, provide quotes to interested leads, etc. Then of course, make sure you actually do each action item, or refine the plan as necessary.
  4. Find Support or Accountability Partners: Share your major goals with a mentor, friend, Master Mind group, your partner or family members you trust. Tell the ones that won’t be judgmental, will hold you accountable for your actions, keep you on track and support you when you start to lose motivation. Having accountability partners provides you the support you need, making it easier to follow through on your goals.
  5. Work On Mindset: A very important part of ensuring you actually follow through on all your goals is to work on your mindset. That means that you become aware of any self-limiting beliefs, thoughts, habits, decisions, patterns and actions. Once you are aware, you can stop yourself before you sink into a black hole of your own self sabotage. Clues you may be self-sabotaging include: making excuses, procrastinating, indecision and anxiety, to name a few. It takes a lot of dedication and self-work to identify these and act in spite of them (remember, “feel the fear and do it anyway”). The best accountability partners can also help you spot these and help you move past them.

Setting goals that are S.M.A.R.T., writing them down and reviewing them every day, following a plan for action, finding others to support you, and identifying self-limiting patterns, are all powerful ways to accomplish your goals.

By the way, the S.M.A.R.T. concept is in line with getting clear and specific about your mission, target clients, business offering, and brand, that is all part of the Mission-Based Business & Branding method.

If you need extra help or want to do it faster, hire a coach trained to help you with all of these steps to accomplish your goals.

May this be your best year yet! Here’s to your success in 2018!

*For more guidance clarifying your mission,  creating your brand, setting business goals, and creating plans for action to achieve your goals, I’m offering new year coaching specials through the end of the month. If you or anyone you know needs that extra push, now is a great time to start! You can also set up a complimentary Discovery Call with me to learn about the Mission Based Branding and Business Method and see if it’s right for you.

Screw Credibility as a Motivator

credibility2This week in my year-end reflection, I looked back on my business and my entire 15-year career with clarity and compassion. I realized that at varying times I’ve toggled between being in growth/learning mode or being in contribution mode as motivation in my career. [Note these are part of the 6 human needs according to Tony Robbins — lower ego needs: Certainty, Variety, Significance and Love; higher spiritual needs: Growth and Contribution]. Although I’ve tried, rarely have I ever been motivated fully by both Growth and Contribution at the same time.

Another thing I noticed is that at times I was motivated by attaining Credibility. I’m referring to the titles, the degrees, the certifications, the courses, you name it. There’s a big difference between gaining all those notches on your belt out of a genuine passion for knowledge — or out of a need to feel important or better about yourself (aka Significance). Or because you believe you’re not enough (limiting belief).

Whenever I focused on gaining Credibility for myself or my business, I plateaued or eventually faltered. It’s because I wasn’t fully creating with passion and purpose; I wasn’t fully focused on serving others, rather my own ego. Not surprisingly, although there may have been some learning, it rarely resulted in much expansion and growth.

I’ve even spouted “increased Credibility” as a benefit of using some of my branding and positioning services; and that’s okay, but it’s not necessary. I know many mission-driven entrepreneurs who chase the next certification because they don’t believe they’re good enough right now to be trusted, reputable and taken seriously to gain clients. No judgment — I’ve been there too!

This is actually a form of self sabotage, because really, when are you credible enough? There’s the 10,000 expertise hours Tipping-Point theory according to Gladwell. But why spend years of your life to try to perfect a talent you were born with or experience acquired on your life journey?

Because my traditional understanding of success meant acquiring degrees and climbing up the corporate ladder, I was truly humbled when I first became an entrepreneur and saw others who were extraordinarily successful with no degree, no certifications and just a passion and mission to grow and contribute through business.

Needing all those graduate degrees, certifications and rolodex of contacts only serves your ego and not your clients. Sure, they may want to see a degree or license to intellectually validate their decision to work with you, but really your experience, learnings and most importantly your desire and passion to help them is what most serves them.

Of course, there are always some ego needs to fill. But if you want to be successful as a Missionpreneur, screw the credibility factor as a motivator and focus on your clients and doing what you’re passionate about, serving others and growing for your sake and the sake of who you are serving.

After channeling this message in my meditation today, I took a risk and started honing a new skill in my branding and business coaching business. It is not something I can necessarily flaunt my titles and degrees to show how “credible” I am. And yet, I know that it will serve others in a huge way.

Takeaway: You don’t need all the degrees and titles to start or have a successful business. You can help others no matter where you are in the process or how many certifications you have or don’t have. You may not see it right away, but find the way that best serves others where you’re at right now!

If you’re still stuck and need some guidance making it through murky waters, set up a time to chat with me for a complimentary clarity call: calendly.com/alexandrafigueredo!

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.