How to Find Inspiration & Why I Went On Sabbatical to Spain!

Recently, several people have asked me where I find my inspiration. I’ve written so many books, you have so many ideas, where do you find it?

Inspiration to me is tapping into your intuition, your divine inspiration is like God tapping on your shoulder and you can either listen or ignore it.

Here are a few steps you can follow to tap into this inspiration:

  1. Meditate – “Listen to be present to Listen”That means that you you can use your sense of hearing to become present to your surroundings and your body. Then once you are more present (not in your mind), you can begin to listen to answers from your intuition, God/Universe.
  2. Get Away – Take some time to yourself or go on sabbatical like I did
  3. Try Passions – Do something you’re passionate about that taps into your creative juices
  4. Ask – You’ve heard of Ask & You Shall Receive–ask God for inspiration

I dive deeper into all these areas in the short Facebook Live video. Take a listen now for the full lesson:

 

How do you find your inspiration? Share with us in the comments below.

Be Perfectly Imperfect

Photo of me at templar castle, Peñiscola, Spain
Photo of me at templar castle, Peñiscola, Spain
Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion. Just do and be your best.
 
How has trying to be perfect impeded your growth or held you back?
 
I’ve struggled through this need to be perfect throughout my life, feeling that I had to change myself or be something else because I sought approval from other people. It’s affected everything from my career choices (I used to be a former banker), to relationships, to my body image.
Trying to be “perfect”, essentially something I’m not and can never live up to, has been a huge form of pain. Fitting a mold others’ put on me has caused me to go into professions and industries that were not mission-driven. Living up to others’ expectations, and also expecting those expectations on others has hurt countless relationships, personally and professionally. Even the need to be perfect caused a delusional tug-of-war in my mind that created guilt in the form of a distorted negative body image and even led to an eating disorder when I was a teenager. 
Perfectionism–AND lack of being perfect–has been a convenient form of self-sabotage. Apart from everything else I’ve mentioned, it’s kept me small, blocking the creative flow and preventing me from stepping up into the highest and fullest expression of myself. 
 
Again, perfection is an illusion. I choose now to be perfectly imperfect and rather strive to do and be my best, which I do every day. 
How about you? How have you tried to be perfect and how has it affected your creativity and authenticity? What helps you move past this?
Please share in the comments below.
 

The Answers Are Simple If You Listen

Answers are simple

As you all know, I have been in self-induced, self-reflection mode as I’ve been traveling the last few months. I wanted to share a simple strategy I’ve been using when I’ve been stuck and need answers.

One such message I channeled: “The answers are simple. WE are the ones that complicate things!”

Step 1: Sage or try another energy clearing on yourself and your area (If you don’t clear the energy, your signals may get crossed!)

Step 2: Be still in the present moment, and set the intention to speak to your higher self/God/Holy Spirit

Step 3: Ask specific, empowering questions (see more below)

Step 4: Listen and write down your messages in your journal.

What do I mean by Empowering (vs disempowering) questions. For example, a general question such as “What should I do with my life?” implies you’re stuck or lost, and may lead you on a perpetual cycle of feeling stuck or lost.

Instead, a tip I learned from Oprah, ask something as simple as “What is my next right move in _______?” This can be applied to your life’s path or your business, or even a conversation or a game. A specific question like this not only gets your mind thinking strategically, but also connects to your soul, intuition and higher self.

Remember: The answers are simple. We are the ones that complicate things

What works for you to still your mind? Let me know in the comments!

~Alexandra

Wait Til Next Year To Change?

Photo Credit: Alexandra Figueredo, Montserrat, Spain
Photo Credit: Alexandra Figueredo, Pano shot at Montserrat, Spain

Time and Space are illusions.

When you understand this concept of time and space, you realize that almost nothing is impossible. It might not appear possible in this moment in time, but with a decision and inspired action, the wheels of motion can be set that will bring it into reality. If it is real to you, it is real.

About 6 months ago, I was on one path in my life, my Plan A, as I call it–a path that was heavily inspired and guided by my own intuition and crafting. I was getting new clients, creating new brands and programs, and gaining more success in both my personal and professional life.

Then suddenly, in a moment, I received an intuitive hit in just one meditation: “I need to move to Spain.” I didn’t know why or for how long. The timing was most definitely not perfect; in fact I’d call it bad timing because I’d have to leave everything I had spent that year working on. I was excited yet skeptical. As a Missionpreneur, I knew I needed to follow this inspiration, so I answered the call. I was entering the Gap of Faith.

Perhaps as a form of self protection, I verbalized all the practical excuses that I was uprooting suddenly to Spain: to dance in Sevilla, write my book, and work on a travel-related project. Still, some of my family members called me crazy, impulsive and irresponsible. Staying firm to my decision, and checking in with God along the way, before I knew it I rented out my condo, packed my personal belongings, moved out and begin this new journey.

Not surprisingly I fell in love with Southern Spain and more importantly fell in love with myself! I believed I needed to stay at least 6 more months and I was excited thinking about new opportunities and possibilities for my life.

A couple of months later, while I was meditating on why I came to Spain and my course in life, I received a series of messages: “I am a blank slate. I can create whatever I want for my life. It’s time to step up and focus on making a greater impact in the world.” I was inspired to dream and act bigger. Nearly overnight, the original “practical” reasons I went to Spain no longer mattered to me. At that moment, it was no longer in my best interest to stay in Spain. Damn it! I was fearful that once again my family wouldn’t understand and would think I was being irresponsible or flaky. Yet once again, I listened.

When I returned to Miami, the following morning I went to church with my mom. The priest’s homily was about a Florida bishop who had already started his career in finance when he got the call to become a priest and enter seminary. Even though he had started on one lucrative path, he got the spiritual call and answered the call, even when it seemed out of place, inconvenient and hard to believe. I thought to myself “Wow, what a timely blessing this is, and it parallels my life! Now my mom will understand what I’m going through.” But I came to find out, that sermon was really more for me. It was confirmation that I was exactly where I needed to be and that God’s loving call is far more important than any fears or insecurities or worries from my family, friends, society or even my own.

We are constantly receiving messages from God and it’s our job to listen. Every day, I check in to make sure I’m on the right path. I listen and ask, and I act even when I have no idea why I’m doing it. The Gap of Faith can be terrifying, but also shows one’s resilience and perseverance. Since that intuitive hit back in Spain, I have been inspired to create new projects and start new businesses that have the potential to serve millions.

Your life at any moment is a BLANK SLATE

You have the ability to create anything you want right now. You don’t have to wait until the beginning of the year, or the summer, or next year or “when the time is right” to do what your soul desires. You can even start working toward your “Plan A” today and decide tomorrow to course correct or change that path. The timing is perfect. What’s important is that you listen and be inspired to act at this moment.

Try this. Right now close your eyes and be still.

  1. What is your soul urging you to do right now? What have you been ignoring or putting off?
  2. What is one fear or limiting belief that is holding you back from acting on this dream?
  3. What is one inspired action you can take at this moment to get your dream closer to becoming a reality?

No time like the present, as they say.

Feel free to leave your messages in the comments or ask the community for support! Connect with others on their own journey at Mission Muses group on Facebook.

 

If you feel inspired to follow your Mission and LIVE THE MISSION through your best mission-driven life, I would love to help. Click here or email me at Alexandra@MissionbasedBranding.com

 

Super Social Impact At The Super Bowl

Budweiser

Every year brands that want to take a stand on certain causes take the opportunity to do so at the Super Bowl or “Brand Bowl” as it’s often called, taking advantage of larger and more diverse viewership. This year, as opposed to other recent years, there has been a strong public reaction to cause-related ads, both positively and negatively, as many people automatically believe that publicly supporting causes directly correlates to a political view or opinion.

Nevertheless, I’m always for brands taking a stand! Here are four of my favorite cause-related ads at this year’s Super Bowl:

Audi #DriveProgress Big Game Commercial – “Daughter”

Ironically the first pre-released Super Bowl commercial I watched was Audi’s gender equality ad, which I stumbled upon on Twitter from a user that was attempting to minimize that cause.

Audi takes a stand for equal pay, citing a 2016 report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee that finds women were paid 21% less than men on average. They also made a statement that they signed the Equal Pay Pledge in December as part of their ongoing commitment to pay equality.

According to Audi’s YouTube page:

“This is a story of a young girl competing in a downhill cart race in her hometown. As the fearless daughter weaves her way through a field of competitors, her father contemplates whether his daughter’s worth will be measured by her gender through a series of provocative questions. It is a reminder that progress doesn’t belong to any one group. Progress is for everyone.”

The 1-minute ad ends with the phrases Equal Pay For Equal Work and Progress for Everyone as well as the hashtag #DriveProgress. The tweet from Audi during the Super Bowl has already received 24k likes and 9k retweets, with some extra love from actress Elizabeth Banks, who is affiliated with Audi and the campaign.

This ad hit me on multiple levels. Emotionally I can connect with the father’s compassion toward his daughter and his desire to see her succeed and not be devalued simply based on her gender. As a woman, surely the equal pay issue is something that I can connect with, although I personally have never worried or cared about this myself, as I have always viewed and used my gender to my advantage. It was applauded by women’s and diversity rights groups, but didn’t come without controversy of course, from seemingly misogynistic persons who want to taut equal pay as a nonissue despite the research.

Click here to see the Audi ad.

Budweiser 2017 Super Bowl Commercial | “Born The Hard Way”

This is the second and only other prereleased ad I saw before the Super Bowl. Budweiser’s YouTube page says: “This is the story of our founder’s ambitious journey to America in pursuit of his dream: to brew the King of Beers”. The commercial shows a fairly realistic portrayal of Budweiser founder Adolphus Busch as he travels from Germany on board a ship and sets foot on U.S. soil and eventually meets co-founder Eberhard Anheuser in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s truly the American Dream story of two foreign-born immigrants that meet in the U.S. and create what’s now known as an “American” brand.

With the relevancy of the anti-immigration policies that President Trump is supporting, Budweiser is taking a bold move supporting this cause by possibly alienating its fan base with this immigration story. Again, many people want to perceive cause-related support as playing politics rather than just seeing it for what it is: the true story of the founding of this company. There are many German-descended immigrants in the U.S., especially in the midwest, so why not embrace this? Not surprisingly, it had it’s trolls who created a #BoycottBudwiser (notice the misspelling) that trended on Twitter, with both sides weighing in. But the video has received the most views of any commercial so far, with 24 million on YouTube, and the Budweiser tweet during the Super Bowl with hashtag #ThisBudsForYou has received 51k likes and 24k retweets so far.

From my perspective, as a child of immigrants and an entrepreneur myself, I believe this is a beautiful portrayal of the American Dream–making the most out of the resources and opportunities one’s given and becoming successful doing it. It’s the story of every immigrant–it captures trials and tribulations, emotions and opportunities, and many people can empathize with it. Great job Budweiser!

Click here to see the Budweiser ad.

We Accept | Airbnb

Airbnb has responded quickly to create a massive social campaign over the last 2 weeks using its platform to round up volunteers to help house immigrants who have been affected by the U.S. immigration policies and Executive Order. The company’s commitment to help refugees and immigrants is augmented by its pledge to support 100k immigrants over the next 5 years and donation of $4 million to immigrant and refugee related charity groups.

#WEACCEPT AIRBNBSo why this ad? According to company founder Brian Chesky via Twitter, Airbnb decided to pay for the Super Bowl
spot just this Thursday and ended up filming the ad that same night with Airbnb employees. “It’s always been part of our family’s value system to love everyone. We all belong to this world,” was tweeted by Airbnb.

The ad promoted loving everyone, accepting diversity no matter who you love, who you worship etc and used the new motto along as the campaign hashtag #WeAccept. The tweet posting the ad on Twitter has already received 52k likes and 26k retweets since it was posted last night. Once again, some people on Twitter took to sharing their discontent with Airbnb’s stance and criticized the company for politicizing.

It’s really hard to not approve of this message when the message is more about love and inclusiveness then it is specifically about immigration. You must really have a chip on your shoulder to not like the message of this sweet and sincere ad. As a child of refugee immigrants and an Airbnb host and guest myself, I strongly support the company’s mission and pledge and I believe it was a compassionate move for Airbnb considering the company now operates in over 119 countries around the world. Also great move using the company’s own employees to also reflect and promote diversity both in general and at the company.

Click here to see the Airbnb ad.

84 Lumber Super Bowl Commercial – The Entire Journey

Okay so who is 84 Lumber? The company took the opportunity to directly tackle the immigration issue.

A post on Twitter said “See a mother & daughter’s symbolic journey toward becoming legal American citizens.” The full uncut film on YouTube page shows a mother and daughter in Mexico that leave their home town in search for a better opportunity in the U.S. They travel through not such pleasant circumstances, like riding in the back of a pickup truck, trekking through the dessert, and running through rain. At the end they come up against “the wall” and are visibly saddened and defeated, only to find a door that opens up to their new opportunity in the U.S.

I’d never heard of the company, so from that standpoint this was a good awareness campaign, tied to a strong, relevant cause. Emotionally, as an immigrant, as a mom, as a human, this has to pull at your heartstrings somehow. Of course, not without it’s own controversy from the folks who want to build a wall with Mexico and keep out immigrants. Good move having the immigrants be a mother and daughter, reframing the view of who immigrants are away from this perception of “murderers and rapists” that gets thrown around sometimes.

That said, perhaps because this company is not historically a big social media user (they only have 19k followers on Twitter as of today), they didn’t take advantage of creating a hashtag. I believe the campaign could have benefited from creating a hashtag, also for tracking purposes, even though the tweet received 32k likes and 17k retweets.

Click here to see the full uncut 5 minute Lumber 84 ad promotional film.

Honorable Mention: Coke’s America The Beautiful

And of course, you can’t forget that Coke recycled a previous Super Bowl’s commercial of America The Beautiful being sung in multiple languages. The message of course is promoting diversity, especially as the most recognized brand in the world. Naturally anything that promotes diversity in the U.S. causes some backlash as many people erroneously believe that the U.S. has an official language (it doesn’t!) of English (it’s not!). This commercial doesn’t get old, it’s still one of my favorites!

Here is that Coke ad.

Do you agree or disagree? Did I miss one you liked? Share your comments below.

About Alexandra Figueredo:

Alexandra is a Social Entrepreneurship and Impact researcher and strategist, freelance writer and author and founder of Mission Based Branding Institute research and training platform for social impact. This reformed banker turned entrepreneur is also an arts and culture lover, traveler (5 continents and counting!) and citizen of the world! Follow her musings at @OnAMissionAlex.

Airbnb: Housing For Social Impact

airbnb copy

In the venture capital world, investors typically look for businesses that can scale easily. Scalability is a way to reach more consumers and leverage resources as a company grows. Socially-responsible businesses that are trying to scale, however, sometimes face a problem: how to scale, focus on results and profit, and still make an impact?

According to BusinessDictionary.com, Social Impact is defined as: the effect of an activity on the social fabric of the community and well-being of the individuals and families. Impact could be philanthropic, legacy-building or some other initiative or program internally or externally that aims to make a difference.

One example of a social enterprise that has scaled successfully is Airbnb. Founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky began the hospitality company in 2008 out of their apartment in San Francisco when they played superhost and rolled out air mattresses to 3 guests who couldn’t find accommodations at a design convention in town.

Airbnb’s mission is “create a world where people can belong when they travel by being connected to local cultures and having unique travel experiences.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage during "Introducing Trips" Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb) *** Local Caption *** Brian Chesky
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb

As they expanded beyond the Bay Area, the company targeted political conventions, conferences and other events around the country. They eventually expanded outside of the country as it grew slowly by word-of-mouth until it reached the critical point ripe for venture capital. The multibillion dollar company now operates in over 190 countries.

From the onset, the savvy founders not only wanted to create experiences for hosts to earn extra income while guests gained more affordable and generally better-value accommodations; they also wanted to create experiences. Airbnb guests receive one-on-one contact and maintain a direct relationship with hosts, and because they stay in homes of locals, they tend to assimilate better and feel like locals themselves. Hotel guests don’t typically have such “experiences”, unless they stay at exclusive 5-star accommodations, with 5-star service, and 5-star staff. The company is creating unique travel experiences both for hosts and their guests.

The founders crafted their vision and corporate culture to align with their mission. One of their mottos with employees is in fact, Champion the Mission, which continues to be a priority as the company grows to 3 million listings with over 150 million total guest check-ins (airbnb.com). It’s worth mentioning that the founders truly are altruistic, as evidenced by Chesky, Gebbia and the third co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk and his wife each agreeing to join The Giving Pledge to donate 50% or more of their assets to charity.

On top of that, the company has used its leverage and resources to provide solutions in times of crises. The company’s Disaster Response Program mobilizes locals in disaster areas who volunteer and provide free housing to displaced persons and relief workers deployed to help in the areas. The program was created as a response to Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Caribbean and East Coast of the U.S. in October 2012, leaving thousands of people without homes. One resourceful host in Brooklyn, NY, stepped up to volunteer and house victims, which led to over one thousand Airbnb hosts in New York opening their homes and volunteering to help those who lost their homes or businesses.

Kellie Bentz, Airbnb’s Head of Global Disaster Relief, who started a disaster recovery project called HandsOn New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, said “Throughout my career, I’ve seen the terrible devastation that disasters can inflict, but I’ve also seen the powerful ways that communities come together to respond and recover. At Airbnb we have a real opportunity to use our disaster response program to help these communities in a time of need.”

After the rollout of President Trump’s controversial immigration plan during his first week in office, many U.S. residents, immigrants and refugees were left stranded in airports across the world, prevented from entering the U.S., or deported back to their home countries. Airbnb decided to deploy the concept of the Disaster Response Program and create a special page for affected immigrants in need of housing. Chesky sent out a series of tweets January 28-29, 2017 from his Twitter account @bchesky:

Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected. Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing. If you’re able to host refugees in need via Airbnb, you can sign up here:http://abnb.co/VH9hWbChesky, Gebbia and Airbnb encourage those who wish to volunteer their homes to sign up as hosts for said immigrants and refugees who have been displaced all over the world. Much like Facebook’s Safety Check that uses the social network’s reach to allow those in disaster areas to confirm they are safe, Airbnb’s response is a perfect example of how resourcefulness, leverage and social responsibility can make a major impact on individuals and communities around the world. Ancillary benefits to the business include a big boost in PR and social media exposure, not to mention increased goodwill among customers and shareholders that share in the company’s mission.

For companies like Airbnb, making social impact a priority is just good business.

About Alexandra Figueredo:

Alexandra is a Social Entrepreneurship and Impact researcher and strategist, freelance writer and author and founder of Mission Based Branding Institute research and training platform for social impact. This reformed banker turned entrepreneur is also an arts and culture lover, traveler (5 continents and counting!) and citizen of the world! Follow her musings at @OnAMissionAlex

Alexandra Figueredo Speaking at Women’s Empower Expo in October

WEX
Alexandra will be speaking at this event on October 15, 2016 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
She will be sharing her signature talk:
How To Turn Your Mission Into An Irresistible Brand – As mission-driven entrepreneurs, our mission to help and impact others is the driving force that moves us to create our businesses. But we may not always tap into the power that our mission holds to create a strong brand. So just how do you create and promote an irresistible brand in a way that feels true to you
Alexandra Figueredo is a Missionpreneur Mentor, brand strategist and founder of Mission Based Branding Institute, specializing in working with mission-driven businesses. She is an author, speaker, multilingual performer, president of the Greater Miami Holistic Chamber of Commerce and member of the Evolutionary Business Council. In 2011, she released her first book Sculpt Your Life From Sketch to Masterpiece, a practical and inspirational guide helping readers discover their mission and create a mission-driven business and life, and is an author in a 2014 bestselling collaboration book Shift Your Beliefs: Conversations That Make A Difference which has among other authors, Sharon Lechter and Dame DC Cordova. She received an MS in Global Strategic Communications and a BSBA in Finance.
To learn more and register, click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/women-empower-expo-tickets-20795664392

Writer’s Retreat: Write Your Book, Share Your Message With The World

Mission Muses Writers Retreat

Are you a leader or changemaker with a message that can serve thousands or millions?

Do you know have a book in you?

Mission Muses Mastery Series: Write Your Book, Share Your Message With the World!

When: Full Day Writer’s Day August 28, 2016, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Where: Center For Social Change, 2103 Coral Way, 2nd Floor, Miami, FL

In this Mastery Program, we will cover the following:

Recorded Webinar #1: Choosing A Topic

  • Why Are You Writing A Book?
  • The Right Topic For You
  • Tying In Your Expertise & Branding
  • Home work will be given in advance so you are ready for the Writers Day

Full Day Writers Retreat**

  • Finalize Your Topic
  • Brainstorming Content
  • Write Your Outline
  • Start Writing Your First Chapter

Recorded Webinar #2: Title, Conclusion, References and More

  • Tips For Choosing A Title
  • References & Research?
  • Testimonials, Biography & More

Recorded Webinar #3: Business & Complementary Resources

  • To E-book, PDF or Print, or all three?
  • Writing a Proposal and Case Study with Dr. Gabrielle Pelicci
  • How to Create Your Audio Book with Tina Dietz
  • Other Resources: Editor, Marketing, PR and more

Learn More: MissionWritersRetreat.Eventbrite.com