On. Off. On again. And then, off again. 

For more years than I care to remember, my relationship with my voice was dysfunctional—and deeply dissatisfying.

I would have moments where I stepped 100 percent into my moxie. I’d speak out about an injustice. Nominate myself for an opportunity. Champion a change initiative.

Then, just weeks—and sometimes days or even hours later—I would do something to undermine my confidence. To chip away at my power.

Whether I apologized unwittingly for a mistake that wasn’t my own or swallowed an idea before testing it out on an audience, my sense of self—and ultimately my sense of worthiness—would diminish.

As a recovering serial overachiever, I’ve never been short on accolades or press hits. Yet, until I hit my thirties, I lacked the understanding that heart-centered, high impact communication is as much about the inner work as it is about finding the right words, employing the right body language or telling the most illuminating stories. 

I live by the belief that if we want to use our influence to engineer extraordinary results in our companies, communities and in the world, we MUST stop prioritizing action steps over kind and forgiving self-talk. We MUST use our communication to build mutually beneficial relationships, rather than go at our goals alone. And if we are really serious about moving other people to take brilliant and bold action, we MUST use our speech to show them how to do it.

From keynoting conferences and leading corporate trainings, to facilitating retreats and workshops, to coaching and mentoring visionary thought leaders, I know from the deepest recesses of my intestines to my innermost gray matter that a well-led (and well-spoken!) life can only be created when consciousness, creativity, change making and above all, clear communication, are present.

Let’s build such a life and foundation for leadership together, so that you can leave the legacy you were put here on this wacky, wonderful Earth to make.
Defining Leadership Moments—The good, the bad and the confusing

My body is my body. At four years old I speak up and out about being sexually abused. It’s the first time I can remember being terrified to tell a story. Yet I do so anyway, knowing that the fear of staying mum is worse than what will happen when I expose my perpetrator.

My voice will quaver, and people will laugh at me. At eight years old, the day after getting headgear (and a bunch of other metal accouterment), I stumble big time during a current events presentation. My classmates laugh at me, I cry and I go quiet for a lot of years.

My knowledge has a price. In middle school, I receive a full tuition scholarship to dance at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Part of my scholarship entails co-teaching a toddler ballet class. Recognizing that those who ‘can’ most definitely do teach, I also start teaching dance and social studies classes to the children in my neighborhood (taking Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as compensation).

I was born to lead transformational events. As a high school senior, I speak publicly about my sexual abuse at a high school spiritual retreat that I co-organize and co-lead. I realize that telling my story allows me to be of service to others AND that the best shot of adrenaline I’ll ever receive comes from leading intimate, game changing, soul-stirring live events.

They picked me! While I enter the competition for all of the wrong reasons, at 19 years old I’m picked as Miss Junior America. I’ve got a juicy college scholarship, a diamond necklace and a down payment on my own apartment. And most importantly, my speaking and training career is launched.

My legacy is who and what I leave behind…empowered girls. My sophomore year of college, I enter a young women’s business plan competition. And again, I win! I use the financial award to execute the nonprofit I pitched, an all girls’ after school leadership development program.

If you don’t ask for it, nobody will give it to you. After earning my BA in women’s studies, I accept a presidential scholarship to attend graduate school at New York University. And somewhat by default and a little bit by design, I wind up working in professional development for a nonprofit arts education organization. Owing more in student loan money (despite my juicy scholarship) than I make in the course of a year, I love many elements of my professional work but know that I’m under earning. I negotiate for a promotion, get it, and continue to negotiate my way up to directing a New York City-wide teacher development program and arts festival serving 400-500 teachers and young people each year. (I also start secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, teaching negotiation to my female coworkers after hours and ultimately decide to go to Coach U and formalize my coaching training.)

TED-style speaking transforms lives. In my transition during my mid-to-late twenties from employment to leading my own communication and leadership development consulting business, I begin teaching at several universities. In my public speaking classes, hungry to engage students and prove that good public speaking really does change lives, I begin to show TED Talks. My students love them and I re-ignite my own speaking career.

Women and men speak differently, and we need to talk about that. Several years into my business, I arrive early to keynote a social innovation conference, just in time for the participants’ Pitch Festival. Out of a group that is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, all of the competition finalists are male. I adjust my keynote to address this, and I discover that even the most educated and enlightened of our world’s future leaders define “good” public speaking and pitching according to a masculine model of delivery.  I vow to myself, and to whoever will listen to me, to rectify this. Less than two months later I launch my Step Into Your Moxie platform.

I’m birthing two babies. The day I launch the website for Influencer Academy, my 9-month, face-to-face women’s leadership program, I discover I’m pregnant. I very quickly learn that a lot can happen in nine months, and that some of my greatest lessons as a leader will come from my difficult delivery, postpartum depression, and from finding my voice again as a new mom.

Digital is great, but the world is starving for quality, high-touch, face-to-face experiences. In my desire to spend less time on the road and still reach thousands of people each year with my communication and leadership work, I begin to bring my work online. The results are massive. My tribe grows, as does my bank account. But in an online, technology-saturated world, I rediscover what I’ve known all along—true, lasting skill development and growth happens best in intimate, live learning environments. I excel at creating a safe space for visionaries and change makers to try out their learning, make mistakes, receive real-time coaching, and transfer their discoveries into action.

To be continued…I’m not sure where my leadership journey will take me next, but I sure hope you are a part of it!

Alexia Vernon In ActionProfessional Bio

Branded a “Moxie Maven” by the White House Office of Public Engagement for her unique and effective approach to developing rising female leaders, Alexia partners with female and male executives, startup founders, entrepreneurs, media personalities, bestselling authors and change agents to use public speaking and heart-centered, high impact communication to radically and positively transform their people’s lives, grow their audience and increase revenue. Alexia is the Founder and Director of Influencer Academy, a holistic and experiential women’s leadership development program that provides high potential women across industries and sectors coaching and training in public speaking, persuasion, negotiation, coaching, facilitation and stepping into thought leadership. Alexia leads a series of public speaking training programs including Your Spotlight Talk (which provides step-by-step instruction in developing, pitching, booking and delivering a TED-style talk) and the Spotlight Speakers Collective (a high-level mastermind for female entrepreneurs and changemakers to create massive impact and profit through speaking). Alexia has shared her advice with Fortune 500 companies, at prestigious industry conferences, with the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women and with media including CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal, Inc., Forbes, the European Business Review and Women’s Health Magazine. Alexia will release her book, Step into Your Moxie (with New World Library and Penguin Random House Audio) in 2018. She is also the author of the ATD Press book, 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance.