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.

So how do you speak with confidence, connect with your audience and share your message to make the most impact?

It’s taken me years to learn, and I’m going to share some powerful strategies with you at “Pitch With Impact” this Thursday…

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.

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 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

 

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