Obstacles into Opportunities

I Spoke This Dream Into Being

Monday, March 17, 2014. It was just two weeks after I had begun my healing journey back from postpartum depression. While going on hormone replacement therapy a week earlier had enabled me to feel like I was close to being 100 percent back to me, the horrors of what I had felt, thought, and projected into the future were still too close to concede everything that had transpired over the last two months since my daughter’s birth was over.

On the aforementioned Monday, my mom had begged me to watch the premier of our favorite show, Dancing with the Stars. And I did. After putting my little cherub to bed, I curled up on my couch, drank some chamomile tea, and watched “the stars” parade across my TV with their pro partners. Having been separated from my TV and commercials so far in 2014, I was surprised to see sports host Erin Andrews co-hosting the show instead of her predecessor, Brooke Burke-Charvet. As she spoke, regal, charismatic, and witty in a form-fitting red dress, I declared, “God, if you truly let me come back from this depression, I promise to make big impact in this world. I’ll get back on stages, share my story, and help other women and men build movements with their message. I’ll give my all to guiding my daughter and nurturing her possibility. Oh, and one day I’ll dance on the stage of Dancing with the Stars.” You know, one for me—the rest for God.

Fast forward to October 6, 2014. I’m less than a month out from the opening weekend of my second Influencer Academy. Less than a month out from the pre-launch of my Your Spotlight Talk program. My daughter is thriving. I’m sharing my time and resources with organizations empowering girls and women. And…I’m dancing on the stage of Dancing with the Stars.

My aunt, Elaine Giftos Wright, has a lot of celebrity feng shui clients including two of the cast members of Real Housewives of Orange County—which she appeared on this season. One of the producers of RHOC is also a producer on DWTS, and long story made a wee bit shorter, she was able to secure VIP tickets for my mom, herself, and me. And one of the perks of being an audience member is getting to dance on the stage with other audience members pre-show. While cell phones are banned from the audience, somebody sitting near us snuck theirs in and was generous enough to take a picture of my family.

 Alexia Vernon, Dancing with the Stars

When Erin Andrews made her opening remarks with co-host Tom Bergeron, it was one of the most climactic moments of my life. Approximately seven months after one of the most difficult, “come to Jesus” moments of my life, I had created a new story and was starring in it.

Whether I’ve been hanging out in your inbox for years or even for just a few weeks, you know I’m all about the story. The story you create moment to moment in your head. The stories you share on stage. And the stories you communicate in your business.

I’ve intentionally chosen to surround myself with masterful storytellers—as friends, colleagues, and mentors—because we all know that our inner circle has a profound influence on our identity and our work in the world. There’s no doubt that I’m able to narrate the stories I do because I live my life in community with women and men who consistently choose to see opportunities rather than obstacles.

I’m often asked who I recommend for a variety of business services, so I’m thrilled to introduce you to five women who use their gifts of story to serve in the world.

First, while I love putting fingers to a keyboard, even strong writers need writing wingwomen and wingmen. Mine is Stefanie Frank. I had the privilege of working with Stef both in my Influencer Academy and Step Into Your Moxie Mastery. And at the culmination of both programs, I realized how much she could help me scale my business by taking on so much of the writing and editing I was afraid to let go of. Plus, she knew my voice better than anyone after seeing it in action over a year—and sometimes, I think she even knows it more than me!

Whether you love writing like I do and just need to outsource, or you recognize writing is not one of your zones of genius and it’s time to delegate it to someone who’s masterful at it, the right copywriter can give your words the wow they need to drive the results you seek.

Another copywriting genius in my life is Nikki Groom. I’ve recently had the privilege of supporting Nikki to birth her spotlight talk. Through this process, I’ve been SO impressed by Nikki’s ability to ask stellar questions that unearth the raw material she needs to tell her clients’ stories. She also is unparalleled in her ability to create an About page or engaging professional bio.

Stories, of course, are not only told through our words. They are also told through our style. And in our digital world, that means our online presence—from our social media profiles to our websites to our blogs to the way we interact in chats—all of it communicates who we are and what we stand for.

I’ve been blessed to have a lot of web design geniuses in my life since hanging up my own shingle in 2007. Currently, I have someone permanently on my team overseeing all design, Marcie Braden. Working with Marcie I’ve learned how important it is to surround yourself with smart and talented people, (I can’t wait to share with you the gorgeous sites, membership areas, and forthcoming products Marcie has created), who also will tell you when you’re wrong. Marcie tells me this weekly, sometimes daily. And my business is so much stronger for it.

Another web designer who has always exceeded my expectations is Stephenie Zamora. While Steph stepped away from design for a spell to focus on developing her coaching business that enables people to unearth their passions and create thriving businesses around them, she has recently launched her Jumpstart Package which allows entrepreneurs, professionals, and visionaries to create a beautifully branded personal or professional online presence at a terrific price point. Check it out!

And finally, because I believe branding is just so important, I want to introduce you to Suzi Istvan. Suzi and I are both in a high-level mastermind program together, and Suzi is the bee’s knees when it comes not only to web design but also using design to launch programs and services. Suzi works with her clients in a variety of ways, but the one I’m most excited to share (as I’ll be doing it!) is her Marvelous Brand Mentorship. This November Suzi will convene an exclusive community of creative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs to support us in integrating strategy with authenticity as we create our next sell-out offer. You can get on Suzi’s priority list, here.

While it’s always a pleasure to share with you my experiences and recommendations, what matters most to me is that you are able to integrate my musings into your own life.

What are you able to glean from my story? Where are you strong—and what are you declaring you will narrate differently? Who will you invite into the process?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the blog comments.

And keep your eyes peeled for a BIG, BIG, BIG, BIG announcement when I’m back in your inbox on October 30. Truly, it’s going to be a game changer—for me and you.

Posted in Career Advice, Happiness, Women in Business | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses

Are You Guilty of This?

IMG_3538My friends and family notoriously make fun of me anytime someone is proposing a toast because when it comes time to clink glasses, they know I’m going to insist they look into my eyes. Yes, I’m superstitious and was told shortly after it was legal for me to drink that failing to make eye contact during a toast would subject me to years of bad luck—not to mention invalidate the toast.

But my need to make eye contact when toasting is symptomatic of my desire for more people to make eye contact with me on a daily basis.

In client meetings.

In sales and training videos.

And of course, on stage and in the spotlight.

Maybe it’s our overreliance on hand-held devices. Or our socialization (particularly for us women) that makes us think it’s more important to have cool, wispy bangs that block our eyes than to pull our hair back so we can see and be seen. Whichever is the case, too many of us are not looking into the eyes of the people we are communicating with.

As a result, when we fail to be present with people by avoiding genuine eye contact (live or virtually), we:

  • Suggest that we aren’t telling the truth.
  • Project insecurity.
  • Communicate that we don’t value others enough to see them.
  • Build lukewarm connections.
  • Bore people.
  • Give other people permission not to be seen.

My call to action for you has never been simpler. Make more toasts!

Okay, I’m kidding. Adult beverages are optional. Childlike curiosity, wonder, and connection aren’t.

It’s time to commit to more eye contact!

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Protect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 7.45.53 AMFor business leaders, no matter how well-intentioned we are, there is a never ending stream of problems that have the potential to sink us. Or at the very least make us feel like we are swimming backwards, or even just treading water, rather than swimming ahead.

I’ve, unfortunately, swum into a lot of them over the years.

When I launched my coaching and consulting business, initially called Catalyst for Action, I operated as a sole proprietor rather than as an LLC with S-Corp status. As a result, money that I earned that could have been reinvested in my business to scale it was being paid in taxes.

I also once received a cease and desist letter with a high three-figure fine for using an image in a blog post that, unbeknownst to me, belonged to a museum collection. I had thought linking to the source where I had obtained the image I was referencing was enough. But it wasn’t. An embarrassing, humbling, and costly mistake.

Then, there have been all of the times I’ve drafted agreements for my clients and independent contractors and secretly (well, not that secretly) wondered, “Is this actually protecting me?”

Fortunately, I’ve recently invested the time, money, and energy to get my business house in order to protect myself from naive and costly mistakes. I am so passionate about alerting those with a business or as my friend Jenny Blake says, “side hustle”, to the importance of protecting their work and their legacy that I’ve recently become an affiliate for a few programs that provide entrepreneurs, executives, and thought leaders with the knowledge, tools, and resources to protect themselves.

My friend, attorney Genavieve Shingle Jaffe (Damsel in Defense™) is hosting a FREE webinar on WednesdaySeptember 24 at 12pm EST (it will be recorded) where she will be sharing 5 strategies to protect your business and personal assets.

Genavieve is an expert on trademarks, copyright rules, entity formation, confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements…you know, all the super non-sexy, really important stuff most of us prefer not to think about…until we have to.

For more details and to register, click HERE. Trust me, this content is important. You want to make the time.

And speaking of making good use of time, have you taken a moment to grab a spot on the VIP List for Your Spotlight Talk? If not, hop on over. ASAP! My team and I have put together a super offer for less than the price of dinner that will only be available to people on that list. See you over in Your Spotlight Talk land.

 

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THIS is what you were born to talk about

Screen shot 2014-09-02 at 12.34.40 PMIt’s been exactly a month since I started working one-on-one with my final group, at least for the foreseeable future, of individual entrepreneurs, executives, creatives, professionals, and thought leaders on their spotlight talks. It’s been a wild and truly awesome ride. Through their collective passion, experience, and expertise I’ve had the opportunity to learn about everything from bodybuilding, health insurance, and ESL to web design, copywriting, and building wells in Africa. I feel like I should receive an honorable PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies soon.

While some of these soul-stirrers have been speaking for a while and just want to up their game, others have not and initially struggled to identify exactly what they should speak about in their first big talk. Because this is such a common source of ‘stuckness’ for emerging and seasoned speakers, I want to share with you one of my favorite strategies for choosing the right “idea worth spreading”, the foundation of any TED-style talk, and the right opening story.

Here’s an excerpt of what I share in greater detail in Your Spotlight Talk, born out of my work with one of my client’s, TEDx speaker Sandi Herrera.

When Sandi and I first started talking about her life and the stories she could share, she was in one of my women’s public speaking programs and she had previously been petrified of speaking publicly. She would get the shakes, her voice would quaver…the whole “I think I’m going to die” negative self-talk loop was…well, constantly on loop. When I asked her to go through her life and identify her stories, a lot of different ones came up. Like most of us, Sandi had no shortage of moments that had brought her to her knees. But she was initially stumped by what she would identify as her signature story for her first spotlight talk.

Truthfully, so was I. So I asked Sandi to imagine all of her key stories in conversation with each other. I wanted her really to picture her life speaking to her, because I wanted her to identify a theme that emerged. When she did everything, and I mean everything, changed.

Sandi realized that every story was about searching for purpose, and that what she was called to do was help children and the educators who work with those children have a means for finding their purpose. The vehicle that had worked for her, and that she would use with them, creating core values.

In the first talk I coached Sandi on she shared her journey to finding purpose. And not an ounce of the old fear was there because everything that poured out of her was exactly what she was born to speak about. Less than four months later, Sandi had founded her own educational consulting and coaching company, Got Core Values, and she applied to speak at the TEDx I co-organize and co-host.

And she was a no brainer pick. She was super duper clear on her “idea worth spreading” – that to transform our schools and school culture, it’s vital to engage school communities in identifying and living their core values. After all, this idea was the impetus for starting her own business.

Let’s learn a bit from Sandi RIGHT NOW. Think about a few of the stories that feel like they could be the start to a spotlight talk, and imagine that they are in conversation with one another.

What are they saying to each other?

What themes keep reemerging?

How have these stories shaped the issues you are passionate about and the work you are doing (or would like to be doing) in the world?

Once you start to see a theme emerge, like Sandi did, see how you can use that theme as your “idea worth spreading”. Here are some examples from a few of my favorite TED and TEDx talks. 

In The power of introverts, Susan Cain discusses how being an introvert has actually given her an advantage, despite how the world is designed around the needs and desires of extroverts.

In Greening the ghetto, Majora Carter talks about how losing her brother to gun violence prompted her to transform the South Bronx.

And in one of my favorite TEDx talks, The shocking truth about your health, Dr. Lissa Rankin shares how her perfect storm led her to reframe how she thinks about health, and how that ‘aha’ changed the way she practices medicine.

Each talk has a core story. And it leads perfectly into her “idea worth spreading”.

What’s yours?

I’d love for you to share your response in the comments on the blog or over on Facebook. Also, if you are moved by how Sandi is revolutionizing the way schools partner with students, via creating school environments and cultures around common core values, I invite you to take the next 5 minutes to click on this link, learn more about GotCoreValues, and contribute what you can.

 

 

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Who are you shacking up with? And what it says about your communication

Influencer Academy ReunionYou’ve likely encountered the idea, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. For a lot of us those 5 people, or at least the majority of them, are at work. For the first chapter of my life, that wasn’t such a good thing. I worked with smart, creative, generous professionals BUT the majority of us were terrified of a director in our office. And as a result, we constantly walked on eggshells around her. And when she, as she so often did, yelled at us, micromanaged us, or just directed snide comments or facial expressions our way, we would swallow our hurt and fail to speak up.

Fast forward almost a decade, and I spend a lot of my professional time showing emerging through senior leaders how to have those difficult conversations so many of us feel ill prepared to have. Sometimes the stakes are low – like the other night when I had a mini-reunion at the High Roller with some women from my first Influencer Academy cohort, and we asked for separate checks from our server. Other times the stakes, and emotions, are much higher. A client yells at us over a scheduling snafu that was as much his/her fault as ours. Until the last few years I would have shook internally during that kind of experience, kvetched about it to a loved one, and never said anything beyond what my face telegraphed in the moment. Now, I take a deep breath, focus on what I need to communicate to be in my integrity, sculpt the message, and deliver it with compassion – for me and the other person who is clearly going through some “stuff”.

This fear and sometimes lack of certainty about facilitating difficult conversations shows up in our public speaking as well. So much so that in one of my videos for my upcoming Your Spotlight Talk program (yes, the program has been renamed – more on that in a future post), I show one of the most common mistakes aspiring TED-style speakers make when shaping their “idea worth spreading”. It’s trying so hard to be liked that they don’t argue effectively for their idea(s). Here’s a snippet from the video where I show participants how to fix the problem – and you can apply the advice whether you are expressing an idea publicly or interpersonally.

Imagine, I’m giving a spotlight talk on why we need to vaccinate our children. Controversial? These days, you bet. This is one of the most polarizing issues facing families today, perfect for us to play around with.

If I were giving this talk, it would be natural for me to be concerned that I might offend some people in my audience. Therefore, I could be tempted to say something like, “Vaccines are important in combatting preventable diseases.”

But really? It sounds like I just plucked that off of Wikipedia. This is hardly a unique viewpoint. 

And having a distinct viewpoint is important. It’s what makes you, you. If you are an entrepreneur, it’s what makes people gravitate your way. It’s what makes your clients become raving fans of you. And in the speaking world, it’s the root of having your idea and your talk go viral.

So let’s revisit the statement again. “Vaccines are important in combatting preventable diseases.”

Whenever you sense you are playing it safe with an idea, ask yourself what you really think about it. What you would say to your partner or your best friend if you were sure nobody else was listening.

If I were to do that with this hypothetical example, what could come out of my mouth might be something like, “Years from now our children, and our children’s children, will look back on this time in history and say, ‘mom’. Or ‘grandma’. Shame on you for allowing unsubstantiated societal fear to undermine your responsibility to protect us from one of the most preventable threats…life-threatening childhood disease. Because of your fear, diseases that were essentially eradicated like whooping cough and measles killed hundreds of babies like us.”

Okay, now THAT’s a viewpoint. One that, if articulated like this, would likely turn off a lot of people in your audience.

That is NOT what I’m instructing you to do. Rather, once you identify how you really feel, then, you can sweeten it up by asking yourself, “How do I communicate what I really believe from a place of compassion so that those who disagree don’t feel like I’m belittling their perspective?” 

If I were to do that with this hypothetical viewpoint, I’d say to myself, “My goal is to show people how I am choosing reason over fear, and invite them to do the same.”

So, my message could sound something like this.

“I take every decision I make for my daughter VERY seriously. And I try to always choose reason over fear. While a red or swollen leg, fussiness, or even a low-grade fever aren’t fun, I know from the stories my grandma shared with me growing up neither is a disease like polio. I have a responsibility to the pioneering women and men before me who worked to virtually eradicate diseases like polio, and whooping cough and measles, not to let their efforts have been in vain.”

How does THAT sound to you?

Even if you don’t agree with this hypothetical viewpoint, you have to concede the perspective is clear. And by choosing a bit of storytelling and painting the picture with less polarizing language, I am better able to connect with audience members across the vaccination spectrum.

What I want for you first and foremost is to surround yourself with people who are committed to stepping into necessary, difficult conversations when such opportunities arise. Remember, your efficacy in this area is determined by the habits of the people closest to you.

And second, I want you to know how to express potentially polarizing ideas with compassion. To do so, always remember you’ve got to get clear on how you really feel. Then, make sure you communicate from a place of compassion so that even people who don’t agree with you can at least listen and consider what you have to say.

I’m so excited that hundreds of you have already signed up to be on the VIP List for Your Spotlight Talk. In the program you will be treated to several hours of videos and digital downloads making it breathtakingly simple how to identify your “idea worth spreading”, sculpt your stories and evidence to argue for your idea, get booked to speak, and slay any self-doubt and public speaking wonkiness so you can consistently deliver a TED-style talk with maximum impact. Whether you are looking to speak at TED-style events, professional associations, or conferences, this is THE program for you.

If you haven’t done so already, hop on over to the Coming Soon page, enter your name and email, and be among the first to learn both when the FREE pre-launch video training drops and when special VIP pricing for the DIY, virtual program is available.

 

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The Virus That Changed My Life…for the Better

Alexia Vernon and Daughter on LaptopsSome days my professional life looks like this. More often than not, my daughter and I are sprawled out on her playmat between my coaching sessions and events. And other days, I find myself crying in bed during one of the precious moments when she’s sleeping or napping, and I surrender to frustration over something related to the backend of my business.

This summer I’ve added several people to my business team, and yet I was nevertheless thrown completely off balance when a few weeks ago I realized that my Influencer Academy website was infected. And this particular virus was sending mobile users to an ap for pornography. So not cool. Definitely not what I mean when I tell people I run a women’s empowerment program.

This virus was a bad one; something that my team couldn’t correct. I learned on Facebook that somebody else had the same thing happen to her business site. I reached out, and I got connected to the EXTRAORDINARY Nikole Gipps (That Super Girl!). And super she is. Nikole got to the source of the infection, but more importantly, she identified that my hosting was horrible. My back-ups were inadequate. And that for the scale of my upcoming Your Spotlight Talk launch, she let me know that my server was not prepared to handle the anticipated volume of traffic. To sum up, she and her solutions…added.

The tears quickly cleared. And I got back to playing with my daughter on her playmat when she woke up.

It’s easy when we get sick, whether we have a viral or bacterial infection or just feel exhausted or overwhelmed by what’s going on in our life or work, to ask, “Why me?!” I used to hate that question, but now I realize it’s a good one as long as we make it a genuine question and not a rhetorical one.

“Why me?” might be to save you from a bigger problem down the line.

“Why me?” could be to introduce you to a fabulous person you otherwise wouldn’t collide with.

And “why me?” sometimes is totally random. Nevertheless, it’s an opportunity to practice responding with calm rather than crazy when we encounter the unexpected.

Because of this experience, I feel so much more at ease announcing that my Your Spotlight Talk program “Coming Soon” page is now live. In my first digital training program, leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, and other thought leaders like you who know you have an idea that can create positive change in the world, will learn step-by-step how sculpt it into a transformation call to action and get on stage to share it.

To get yourself on the VIP list for the program, and to be notified when the free video training for the program goes live, drop your name and email address on the site.

 

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I’m Retiring, and Here’s One Last Chance to Work One-on-One Together

2012-05-25 12.08.49Effective September 1, 2014, I will no longer be taking on one-on-one speaking and leadership clients.

I intend be spending more time in Hawaii, as this picture suggests, AND I’ll be focusing on scaling my Influencer Academy here in Las Vegas as well as bringing it to companies around the country. I’ll also be launching a variety of virtual and low-residency public speaking programs. Before I share the why, and a special last opportunity to nab some one-on-one Lex time, if we have been coaching together know that we can continue our work together through November 2014. And I’m happy to facilitate connections to other coaches in my niche for your ongoing development.

I adore the people I’ve had the privilege to coach since beginning my coaching journey as a student at Coach U in 2007. I always thought the most powerful work I would do would come from these intimate professional relationships I’ve cultivated. I’ve been a catalyst for women and men moving from middle-management into senior leadership, for entrepreneurs using public speaking to begin and scale businesses, and for professionals who have needed a safe developmental space to fine tune their pitches, strategies for negotiations, and difficult conversations with significant others and loved ones. What I’ve seen through my group programs over the last few years, though, is that some of the greatest learning, growth, and results comes from the groups I have built. Plus, continuing to do one-on-one coaching has meant that I have gotten in my own way of developing some of the projects I know can bring my work to thousands of people throughout the country, in even more meaningful and interactive ways.

Over the last 2 years, most of my one-on-one coaching has centered on public speaking. I’ve supported close to 100 individual women and men as they’ve birthed their signature talks, keynotes, and company trainings. I know this is one of my gifts–helping thought leaders find the stories, structure, style, and speaking gigs to scale the impact they are making in the world.

So…I will be taking on 10 people this August, from around the country, who want that one last chance to develop or dial-up their speaking careers with me through one-on-one coaching. And I’m doing it at the best price I’ve ever offered for a public speaking/training coaching package.

Here’s what my 10 future speaking supernovas will receive individually through our time together.

  • 4, 45-minute, one-on-one coaching sessions conducted via Skype or phone to develop your speaking/training topics and content. Note: All sessions must be completed by October 31, 2014. (Value – $897)
  • An action plan to get you speaking in your desired markets within 90 days. Whether you are an entrepreneur, HR or business leader, educator, or creative, I’ll share with you the specific opportunities that align with your goals-and how to make them a reality. (Value – $197)
  • The copy and design of a professional speaker one-sheet to get you booked. (Value – $497)
  • A customized pitching template for you to submit yourself to speak/train at TED-style events, conferences, and companies. (Value – $297)

Total value of this coaching package – $1888

ONE TIME ONLY PRICE – 2 payments of $547 or 1 payment of $997.

 

Do you want to be considered for 1 of these 10 spots?

Simply send an email to “Info@AlexiaVernon.com” with “I’m ready to speak” in the subject of your email, and we’ll schedule a time to chat in the next 7-days to see if we’re a good fit to jam together this August-October.

Hear from a few of the people whose lives have soared as a result of our public speaking work together.

Toshia Shaw HeSince speaking at TEDx, I am no longer afraid to approach any speaking opportunity or stage. Within 1 year of speaking at TEDx, I have been a beacon of hope for other sex violence survivors, seen an increase in my life-coaching business, and even secured a top speaking agent.  What I know now is that I deserve to be on a stage, to tell my story, and that there are no limits to where I can go as a speaker. I have been able to transform dreams into reality and that wouldn’t have been possible without Alexia’s exceptional speaking coaching.

Toshia Shaw

Founder of Purple W.I.N.G.S., behavioral health expert, sexual health educator, change agent, and TEDx speaker

 

Christina AmbubuyogWorking with Alexia was phenomenal! Even though I was coming from a background facilitating workshops and classes and I was comfortable teaching in front of groups, I definitely wasn’t fully comfortable speaking in front of an audience. I knew I wanted to “find my voice”, get cozy in my skin while on stage, and weave in the ability to tell stories for greater impact with my message. Alexia provided me with all that and more. What I love and appreciate about Alexia is that she gives you very detailed ways to make new changes and enhance your natural communication style. Knowing how to reshape those old habits while claiming what’s already great about how I communicate has really helped me feel like I already got this, now it’s just about good old practice. Thank you Alexia! I feel like I truly have a voice now.

Christina Ambubuyog

Founder, ILoveIntuition.com and TEDx speaker

 

Stef YTWTI was nowhere with my speaking prior to joining Alexia’s program. This wasn’t due to lack of ideas, talent or skill – it was because I had for YEARS ignored my desire to speak in front of an audience. Alexia saw that desire in me – and through her ability to meet me exactly where I was, helped me create a tour de force talk that is a full on 100% expression of who I am.

Alexia’s coaching style is the perfect blend of compassion, professionalism, expertise and cutting edge tools. She guided me to create a talk that bolstered my confidence in myself, lifted my spirits, and benefitted my business. Professionals I deeply respect called my talk “amazing,” “profound,” “funny,” “honest,” and “moving.” 

Speaking at Alexia’s Mastery was a game changer because it felt like I had finally stepped into my calling – I re-claimed a piece of me that was missing from my career and business. Alexia’s program helped me recognize anew the value I bring to my business, my clients, and the world.

Stefanie Frank

Content Strategist, Writer, Speaker

 

Adria DeCorteI used to rely on PowerPoints or notes and ramble a lot when speaking in public. Throughout her public speaking program, Alexia gave me actionable pointers that I was able to take and immediately apply for huge results in my performance and confidence. She is detail-oriented, and her advice is spot on. With her guidance, I advanced ten times faster, including getting my first live on-air TV interview. On the first day of her program, my speaking was awkward and rehearsed, and I felt embarrassed and phony afterwards. Three months later, at our final performance, I was able to look into audience members’ eyes while I spoke and feel a true connection. Family and friends in the audience later told me they were blown away by my delivery and clarity of message. I finally feel like when I speak it’s about more than just remembering words. 

Through Alexia’s exercises and insightful feedback, I’ve evolved my message to reflect my true calling and found the confidence and know-how to pitch myself as a speaker. I spoke at an event the day after our program final performance, and, thanks to everything I learned in the program, I was able to craft a 10-minute speech with a single day’s preparation and perform it authentically, from the heart. I knew I was finally inspiring others when the host called me a “powerful speaker”.

Adria DeCorte

BodyLove Wellness Coach and Speaker

 

Samantha CunninghamAfter working with Alexia I have found confidence as a leader and public speaker. Previously I was timid, vulnerable and insecure with my wording, topic, posture and voice.  I evolved by taking her course and learning how to uncover attributes about me that I did not know existed based on stepping out of my comfort zone. I have given multiple presentations in front of groups larger than 40 since I worked with Alexia. I FINALLY feel comfortable with myself and presentations. Alexia connects with her students and makes sure they are successful and feel comfortable about their speaking.  

Samantha Cunningham

Account Executive, Robert Half Technology

 

Get yourself on my lengthly list of success stories.

Simply send an email to “Info@AlexiaVernon.com” with “I’m ready to speak” in the subject of your email, and we’ll get a call on the calendar.

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I Did a Bad But Brilliant Thing!

Introducing the Women of Step Into Your Moxie Mastery

Introducing the Women of Step Into Your Moxie Mastery

I want speakers to succeed. And sometimes, when I’m in an audience watching one stumble, I’ll do something to help him or her shine.

A couple of weeks ago I was part of a group that was interviewing principals for funding. Each principal had about 20 minutes to share the story of his or her school and how some bucks and community volunteer power could help. When the final principal presenting came into the room, I could feel her nervousness. I could also feel her desire. I wanted her to be the one our group selected. There was just one big ole problem. She had what I refer to as “tense face”. Her lips were tight, her jaw muscles contracted, and although she was painting a compelling story within the first 2 minutes I could see she was losing the room.

It was time for a smile smackdown. I wish I could say I did something really sneaky and slick, but I didn’t. While yes, I probably did manipulate the funding outcome for this woman did wind up getting a near unanimous vote from my group, I didn’t say a word. I just started to smile and make eye contact with her. She began to direct more and more of her pitch to me, and within a few minutes tense face was gone. And she now felt comfortable looking around the room as she had reenergized it. She was telling stories about her students with more ease and at certain moments outright abandonment. She was laughing, her hands were moving, and she was endearing herself and her school to everyone in the room.

And it all happened because of a smile.

You can use the technique of smiling, with your mouth and your eyes, whenever someone is presenting an idea and getting in his or hew own way of high impact delivery by allowing seriousness to trump playfulness. It disrupts whatever judgy self-talk is going on and lets the person redirect focus to the audience. People perceive speakers who smile and appropriately use humor, particularly in their examples and storytelling, as more effective, honest, and credible. Help a sister or a brother out by smiling, and increase your enjoyment of the presentation as a result.

Of course you can also apply this information when you communicate. By remembering that what you say is never about you, it’s always about the people you are seeking to impact, it reminds you when you dial-up the fun in what you say and how you say it that you also are enhancing the impression you have on your audience.

Want to see some speakers who do this well? Take a peak at the women in my most recent Step Into Your Moxie Mastery group as they share their signature talks.

Posted in Communication | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

How to Find Your Words When Your Boundaries are Violated

Fake DiaperMy dad recently came for a visit, and during his stay we went out for many meals with my almost 6-month old daughter. While she is pretty chatty just like her mother, overall she fairs just fine. Actually, a little too fine. She loves flapping her big baby blues at whomever she sees. As a result, she is a magnet for unsolicited baby touching.

During the dinner when this picture was taken (yes, K is wearing a makeshift diaper held together with a changing pad liner – a story worthy of its own blog post), one overzealous grandma came over to our table and began to fawn over my daughter. While I’ve gotten better with my germaphobia and no longer go into shallow breathing whenever a stranger crosses the unspoken two foot barrier around my girl, my heart did start skipping beats when the woman got close enough for K to touch her chin.

“Oh sweetie,” I muttered quickly, “Mind your manners. Let this lady have her personal space.”

I wanted to snatch her out of my husband’s arms, but my desire not to embarrass him or this woman got the best of me.

When the woman responded, “Oh no, this is exactly what I wanted. She senses that I’m a grandma and love babies,” I thought to myself, “Oh crap. Well, at least it’s not flu season. I’ll just have to rub some extra Thieves oil on her feet when we get home.”

I hated that I was letting my boundaries be violated. But because I had missed my opportunity to establish them just as they were being broken, I figured I just needed to suck it up and recalibrate now that the window for polite conversation had closed. The problem with surrendering like this, though, is that in addition to feeling like crap your boundaries just get broken in more and more places until words are finally necessary. And usually by this point, they aren’t pretty.

The handsy grandma began to stroke K’s face. As K made a beeline for the woman’s fingers (meaning they were going to be made into teething toys in less than 15 seconds), my dad who was sitting across the table from us rather forcefully said, “P-L-E-A-S-E, we’re eating. Get your hands off the baby.”

As I’m sure you can imagine, a supremely uncomfortable 30 seconds or so ensued for everybody. My husband and I froze. The woman got defensive. And K sensed the tension and started leaking out of her diaper.

I teach how to facilitate difficult conversations so that they are daring ones, and yet I still can be my own catalyst for epic fails in this department. As I was reminded in this incident, when you are not direct the moment a boundary is violated, you just set yourself up for a more difficult conversation later on – whether you are the one having it or, as I was, are a bystander in it.

Here’s what I know for sure, even as my behavior is striving to catch up to my cognition.

There is ALWAYS a way to be direct and delicate when a boundary is broken.

Had I simply said compassionately, “We are teaching our daughter not to touch or be touched by strangers,” the situation would have been resolved. No need for my dad to intervene on my behalf. No potential shame spiral for the woman. Maybe spillage out of our last diaper would have been avoided. Maybe?

What gets us, particularly women, out of our power and into paralysis in such moments is our inability to reconcile our desire to say what we want AND protect the relationship on the line. Even if that relationship is with someone we’ll never see again – a lot of us don’t want to anger another. Or in my case, be the cause of someone else’s embarrassment.

When a boundary is broken we need to immediately ask, “What do I want? And how do I say it with compassion – for myself and my needs and for the other person?” 

When we ask these simple questions, rather than an action-inhibiting one like, “Can I just blink my eyes and make this go away?” we honor our needs by finding the way to communicate them directly. And as a result of making it easy for the other person or people to understand what we want, we diminish the potential for future discomfort down the road.

 

Posted in Adult Learning, Communication, Family | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses

I Got Schooled During My Pedicure

toesLast minute appointment cancellations used to drive me bonkers. As a new mom, they now are my excuse for impromptu self-care. During one such incident last week when I was already on the road, I decided to use Yelp to identify the closest nail salon.

Within 15 minutes my feet were soaking in a foot spa. The man performing my pedicure asked what I do, and rather than go into all the facets of my work, I settled on, “I teach public speaking.”

Oh, that’s easy, the pedicurist said.

I joked that he better not tell that to the people I work with. Then he asked, People really pay you for that?

Okay, I was intrigued. While my ego could have gotten the best of me, I was curious how this gentle, twentysomething Vietnamese man had come to a place of such confidence with public speaking.

Andy, as he finally introduced himself, explained to me: In my country we don’t have fear of public speaking. We look at everyone in audience as family. When you speak to family you feel safe. You don’t change your voice. You speak like you. And the people you speak to lean in if they can’t hear you and everybody understands.

I asked Andy about the situations where he does feel fear, and he quickly shared, my U.S. Citizenship test. I take it in one month, and I’m worried I won’t get enough answers right.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a conversation with a stranger where you felt like time just stopped. Where you knew you were meant to collide with person before you so that you could help each other gain insight. Then, the exchange was over. You both went on your merry way. And you knew instantly you were no longer the same. Your consciousness had palpably shifted…for the better.

I learned 3 key things from my unexpected hour with Andy.

First, as I would go on to share with the women in my Step Into Your Moxie Mastery that same night, practice the “family rule.” When you look out at your audience, see your loved ones in their eyes. It really does help quell the jitters.

Second, when you speak in front of an audience, don’t change your voice. So often we adopt an unnecessary affectation when we speak publicly. We put a strange emphasis on certain words. Or breathe shallowly in pursuit of throwing our voice a greater distance. Let the pomp and circumstance go, and just have a conversation.

And third, and in my opinion most importantly, remember that how you have overcome fear in one facet of your life can be applied to other areas where fear is surfacing. I asked Andy how he can take what works for him in public speaking and apply it to his test preparation, and he chuckled at the obviousness of it all. I connect each question to something in my family, and then I remember the answer.

I would have never thought of that as a memorization strategy, but I’m sure it will work for Andy since thinking about his family allows him to tap into his strength and get out of his own head.

What are areas in your life where you have overcome fear? How can you apply what worked to other contexts where fear is getting the best of you?

Posted in Communication, Culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Responses


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