Obstacles into Opportunities

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.

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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.


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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?

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Did He Really Just Call Me a ‘Slow, Stupid B*tch’?

Alexia Vernon Step Into Your Moxie

Moxie Camp

That’s the question I kept asking myself as I drove out of the Whole Foods parking lot over the weekend. To be fair, I was definitely backing out of my parking spot slowly. (When you load your groceries on top of a stroller in the trunk of your Prius it blocks most of your visibility. So I had decided to do quadruple checks over both shoulders to ensure I didn’t hit anyone or anything as I pulled out.)

My windows were down, as I allowed the initial stink from my AC to blow out, and during my final head check over my left should I locked eyes with what appeared to be an 80-something man.

He also had his windows down. And I heard him scream at me, “Hurry up you slow, stupid b*tch.”

I replayed the incident the majority of my twenty minute drive home. While part of my wanted to laugh at the multiple layers of humor surrounding the fact that an older adult pulling out of a handicapped space at Whole Foods on a Sunday was suffering from a serious case of the snarkies, his use of the word “stupid” was really bumming me out.

I was fine being called “slow.” I’ve been called the “b” word before – and accept that it’s the downside of having a strong point of view. But “stupid”? That’s the insult that stung.

And I’m glad.

When I was a women’s studies student at UNLV, one of my professors shared during a lecture that she once asked her husband, “Which do you think I am more – beautiful or smart?” She knew she had married the right man when he said “smart,” although to be fair the stakes weren’t all that high for her since she was pretty foxy too.

At the time, a couple of my friends sitting next to me whispered, “I would be heartbroken if my husband said that to me.” But I agreed 100 percent with my professor. I have always wanted first and foremost to be recognized for my ideas.

While I can brush off most criticisms, if you want to really hurt me, insult my intelligence. I’ll apparently still be recovering half a week later.

As I wind down the first year of Influencer Academy, I find myself asking this of my women a lot. “What do you want to be recognized for?”

It’s not my business whether one’s answer is “pretty”, “funny”, “philanthropic”, “transformational”, “smart”, or anything else. But…it is my business, my life’s work, to ensure that people are clear on their answer and use their influence in all areas of their lives to present themselves as such.

In my early career I wasted a lot of time getting in my own way of who I wanted to be seen as. While I was pretty successful in high school and college at owning my ideas, irrespective of the cost, by the time I was in my mid-twenties I was terrified that people wouldn’t like me or I wouldn’t get promoted if I said what I really thought. It was shortly after I discovered TED talks as a public speaking professor that I realized I had a lot of “ideas worth spreading.” And if I allowed fear and ego to stop me from sharing them, I was never going to be the person I aspired to be. I would never make the impact I knew I was put on this crazy planet to make.

So now I ask you. What do you want to be recognized for? And how are you ensuring that you use your influence to solidify this identity in the heads and hearts of the people in your company and community?

Please let me know.

Leave a comment. Or send me an email.

Decide that you are ready to become the person you know you can be.

Posted in Adult Learning, Coaching, Leadership, Women's Issues | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Here’s Why You’re Not Closing

IMG_2489There are two key reasons why smart people with good ideas, products, or services don’t close. The first–they don’t ask correctly. Or as is often the case, they don’t ask at all.

After working with my Influencer Academy women on pitching, I have recently realized that the second problem is one that doesn’t get enough discussion. Until today. And it’s failing to ask the right questions to get the person, people, or company you are trying to get commitment from to realize s/he or they are a ‘yes’ before you ever have to ask.

In one of our role plays, which I’m going to be a little vague in outlining as I know there are people reading this who will be participating in Influencer Academy next year, the cohort was broken up into teams of four. Each group was charged to develop a pitch for a new book launch for a famous client.

The pitches were creative. They were confident. They were a fit with the client’s culture. But…and this is a big but…the groups pitching spoke 80-90 percent of the time during the pitch and few if any questions were asked of me, who was playing this dream client. As a result, each group was trafficking in quite a few assumptions and had to work unduly hard to “convince me” that they had the best proposal.

Afterward, when we debriefed, each group confessed that they knew they should ask questions but they just weren’t sure which ones to ask. Or they worried that if they asked too much they would come across as unprepared. And I get it. I’ve self-talked my way into over talking rather than asking questions many times in my career. Yet what I know without a doubt — from pitching, being pitched to, and coaching people and organizations on their presentations–is that when people have the opportunity to speak out loud where they are coming from, what they care about, what they fear, or what success will look like and mean for them, the act of speaking their truth organically binds them to the person or people doing the asking. Plus, those asking know where to focus their proposal to make it as relevant and sexy as possible.

If you struggle like many of my Influencer Academy women did with identifying the right questions to ask, here are a few of my favorites from Alan Weiss and the Summit Consulting Group.

  • What is the ideal outcome you’d like to experience?
  • What results are you trying to accomplish? What will these results mean for you/your organization?
  • What harm [or problem] would working together alleviate?
  • What is the scope of impact (on employees, customers, vendors)?
  • How important is this to you?
  • In this past, what has occurred to derail projects like this?
  • What, if anything, do you additionally need to hear from me?
  • Is there anything at all preventing our working together at this point?

There are likely some subtle shifts you would need to make to these questions for them to be appropriate for you. Nevertheless, having questions like these in your pocket and ready to pull out when trying to move people to take action with you are paramount to getting them to ask you to partner before you ever have to.

If you use questions as part of your pitch strategy–whether you are in the business of selling ideas to your employees, coaching or consulting packages to individual or group clients, or widgets to warehouses– what are some of your favorites? Please share them in the comments below so that we can enhance one another’s pitching and sales success.


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Focusing on Mistakes is a Good Thing

IMG_2222One of the best things about being a learning and development professional is…wait for it…learning and developing. I’ve been tweaking my curriculum on persuasion for my Influencer Academy and Step Into Your Moxie Mastery women and to do so have been reviewing my notes in one of my favorite books, Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. One of the 50 ways is to focus on common errors when coaching, managing, and training.

Many of us opportunity-centered folks don’t do this. Whether we are espousing our best practices or actively developing our people, we focus on what we want rather than on what doesn’t work. The problem with this is that we don’t let our people encounter the mistakes they are likely to make. As a result, they aren’t able to identify the behaviors and skills to avoid or at the very least troubleshoot potential pitfalls. They also miss out on an opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills to apply what they are learning in other situations. Doing the right thing may feel easy in a conversation or a role play, but often it isn’t as easy when real situations unfold.

One of the most interesting example of this approach I discovered when conducting interviews for 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance. A trainer for a chain of hotels shared that rather than just teach or role play good front desk customer service, he went online to find negative TripAdvisor.com reviews of his properties. Then, he showed the reviews to his staff and used this as an opportunity to discuss what went wrong, why it likely happened, and gave his people the opportunity to role play alternative conversations that better served their guests. As a result, over the next year those nasty TripAdvisor.com customer service complaints went way down.

How can you adapt this strategy in your work?

As I think about how to empower my Influencer Academy women during our final 2 months together, I’m committed to creating case study/role playing opportunities for us to explore what has gone wrong before imparting how to do the “right” thing.

Are you interested in learning more about the unique, hands-on Influencer Academy leadership development program? If you are in Las Vegas, you can meet the women of the current cohort and enhance your ability to access funding, secure sponsorships, and build high-level partnerships at this Friday’s luncheon, Raising the 4%. There are a few tickets left.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2014-2015 Influencer Academy cohort. If you know that this is your time to strengthen your ability to coach, negotiate, persuade, present, and facilitate. To pursue an aggressive and achievable career development plan that lets you make more impact in your company and community. To build lifelong friendships with an extraordinary group of heart-centered women. Then please, apply now.


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The Bullied Can Bully Too

Workplace Bullying. It is a crime. http://www.diversity-report.com/diversity-report/workplace-bullying-it-is-a-crime/

Workplace Bullying. It is a crime. http://www.diversity-report.com/diversity-report/workplace-bullying-it-is-a-crime/

Have you ever had the experience of a book flying off a bookstore shelf and landing in your hands…literally? This is what happened with Katherine Preston’s Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice. As someone who lived through a childhood and adolescence with various orthodontic devices and extreme embarrassment over the impact these devices had on her ability to communicate, Preston’s part autographic, part ethnographic account of growing up with a stutter landed in the right hands. While I’m less than 100 pages in and fortunate not to have experienced a long-lasting speech impediment, I’ve been impacted by Preston’s description of her own anger over her disability.

I’d forgotten how angry I was for so many years feeling like I couldn’t communicate aloud with the clarity my thoughts had when I shaped and listened to them in my head. Like Preston, my communication at times elicited sneers and pity from my peers. And if the term bullying were around when I was a kid, I likely would have placed myself in the category of being bullied.

But if I’m honest, I also could be the bully. The anger I at times felt towards the effortless communicators in the world and the self-loathing I felt for myself for not having been similarly granted an access pass meant that I could be really awful to other kids if and when they were more vulnerable than me. And as I grew up, shed the metal, and experienced some status at my all girls’ high school, I definitely got–I think it would be fair to say–a little more awful. I felt entitled to gossip. To make-up excuses to avoid hanging out with certain girls. To flip flop between best friends depending on who served me more on a given week. I’d paid my dues in elementary and middle school. Up until Preston’s book, though, I didn’t have a chapter in my autobiography for my brief stint as a bully. I was simply the ‘victim’ until I wasn’t.

That’s the danger with how we think about bullying–whether we are talking about it on the playground or in the boardroom. Most of us have found ourselves in both the role of bully and bullied, yet very few of us identify ourselves by the former behavior. It’s something we do, but it’s not the truth of us. Unfortunately, as conversations with a few people I went to high school with would prove–I suspect–we might be deluding ourselves to think that others don’t define us by our at times bullying behaviors.

While most of us recognize that when we are yelling we are entering our bully zone, we can ignore and fail to take responsibility for curbing some equally dangerous adult  bullying communication behaviors.

1. Using  jokes and sarcasm to wrap insults and judgments. Trust me, as the recipient of much of this from a s0-called friend when I was in my early 20s, the recipient always knows you are not really kidding.

2. Making feedback personal. Focus on the behaviors you want someone to adjust. Leave the story you’ve created around what happened, somebody’s personality, and your own ego out of it.

3. Giving ultimatums–be they spoken or implied. Use your power to give people choices. Even if none are perfect, there is nothing more crushing than someone with more power than us using her or his authority, knowledge, or position to make us feel backed into a corner.

4. Triangulation. If you’ve got an issue with someone, step into your moxie and go speak directly with him or her.

5. Sharing a confidant’s private information. If you feel that you must share, let the person know. And as scary as it must be, tell her or him why.

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Why Saying ‘No’ to Your Biggest Opportunity May Be Your Biggest Opportunity

I am back! I don’t use these three words lightly. While I am still navigating the unfamiliar territory of integrating my professional life into my personal one since the birth of my daughter, I know that the storm clouds that settled over me during the first few months of her life have lifted. Many factors have played a role in overcoming my at times suffocating postpartum depression, which I eluded to several weeks back. One of the most important ones was saying ‘no’ to what a year ago I would have called a dream opportunity.

The day I received an invitation to debate the merits of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In on a cable news show, I had spent the morning on my couch hugging my daughter while simultaneously trying to shield her from seeing me move through many rounds of tears prompted by insomnia, anxiety, and what I would learn a few weeks later were dramatically low levels of progesterone and estrogen. Nonetheless, I could feel myself learning towards saying ‘yes.’

Get gussied up, fly to New York City in a week, and film a segment on a topic I’m passionate about…that sounds like a dream vacation away from myself.

Which is exactly why I ultimately said ‘no’.

I knew that saying ‘yes’ felt easier. And if there was any hope of me beating my PPD, I needed to be all in to my recovery. I needed to be present with all of the discomfort of how I felt in order to move it through. I needed to be present with my daughter, even though I was embarrassed by the mother she was seeing, to continue the bonding process that was stagnating. And I definitely needed to be present to get to the bottom of what I sensed was a chemical misfire in my body to reclaim my life. Saying ‘no’ felt scary as hell, so I had to say it.

Now that some weeks have passed, my hormones are regulating, and I have watched the segment I would have been on, I also know that the context was off. This was a cable news show where I would be arguing the minority position. While I love a rhetorical challenge, getting positioned as a wacka doodle in the midst of a depression may not have been as perfect of an experience as I initially made it sound to myself. It’s easy to idealize an opportunity, or as I did for a couple of days, convince ourselves that if we say ‘no’ we are making a drastic mistake. Sometimes almost right is entirely wrong…as this would have been.

Another key factor in passing was recognizing I couldn’t prepare the way I would have wanted. Yes, I had spoken about Lean In during a previous TV interview, but I have been out of the TV game since I’ve been pregnant. And there is a big difference between rehearsing for a guest expert interview and rehearsing for a debate when the host of the program you are on, and the person you are debating, are both taking the other side. I don’t believe that all press is good press. Without having the time to prepare out loud my main and supporting points, having studies and statistics at the ready, and feeling at ease receiving snarky comments, I would have under performed. And as a result when I time traveled back to my ‘real’ life, I would be returning feeling weak in the one area that had previously been giving me strength…setting me even further back in my healing.

Finally, I was tricking myself by framing this as my ‘biggest opportunity’. While I still am passionate about developing my media platform, participating in another TV segment no matter how high profile would only be fulfilling what is now a secondary goal rather than a more primary one–recovering from PPD and enjoying the miracle that is my daughter. In hindsight, I see I often have a habit of clinging to an outdated goal rather than giving voice to the one that represents where I am now. Has this ever been true for you?

I’m grateful to hold space for a lot of my clients’ deepest desires. Yet I’m realizing that a lot of what they are chasing, and a lot of how they are talking to themselves, building relationships, pitching their visions, etc. while they are doing said chasing, runs counter to what they say they really want for themselves…now. ‘Big’ is not always ‘best’.

Which opportunities that you are seeking would allow you to live what thought leader Danielle LaPorte refers to as your core desired feelings? Go after these. Identifying how you want to feel in the process and after the achievement of your goals and asking yourself whether your goals would enable these feelings is your best litmus test for whether you are on your best path. For aren’t we all just trying to achieve and sustain the feelings that make us feel like our truest selves?

I know that my core desired feelings are joy, gratitude, impact, and of course moxie. And right now, my greatest act of moxie is committing myself fully to hearing the new sound of my voice–one that has as much space for my insecurities as my successes, that can articulate my clarity and confusion, that can speak the awe I feel for the incredible being I gave birth to even in moments where the only ‘aw’ I’m experiencing is followed by a ‘ful’. Fortunately, the more that I make moment-to-moment as well as more long-term decisions with this in mind, the more that ‘awe’ wins and the ‘ful’ abates.

How can you consistently create space as well as design and rework your goals to hear the truth of your own voice?

Posted in Career Advice, Communication, Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Musings from the 4th Trimester: The Message in the Mess

It’s good to temporarily interrupt my newsletter/blog leave of absence to offer you fresh content this week. Wow, has 2014 given me a lot—the greatest joy I have ever experienced in the form of my daughter, Kaia, and…a big kick in the tuchus (as my dad would say).

I wish I could report that my first weeks as a mom have gone exactly, or even remotely, as planned. After all, I had one of the most idyllic pregnancies. Sure, there were some minor speed bumps—an unexplained fully body rash in my second trimester, a week of sciatica shortly after, and some discomfort in previously mentioned tuchus in the third trimester (I promise to be light on details and allow you to visualize whatever you choose to or choose not to see.) The point is, all in all, I felt great.

Moxie Maven Alexia Vernon Prenatal Yoga

As this picture taken just a month before I delivered suggests, I was (for the most part) active, glowing, and ready to be that mom whose picture makes other aspiring moms think, “Okay, I can be a mom and a moxie maven.”

Now, I want to smack that mom and, honestly, anyone who paints a picture of her or his life as so perfect it saddens or outright shames others who are comparing themselves against that unattainable ideal.

In the last 24-hours preceding Kaia’s birth it became very clear that the so-called plan—from labor on—wasn’t going to happen. My fantasy of a non-medicated, hypnobirth followed by a happy, breastfeeding baby was as much an illusion as the pictures of celebrity moms on the covers of magazines I’d idealized and internalized.

At 40.5 weeks, after various medical professionals I trust swore that my amniotic fluid was low despite how it was measuring and strained their faces with worry after noticing fetal distress on my electronic monitoring tests, the choice was made to induce. Within 24-hours of having just about every medicine or procedure I specified in my birth plan I didn’t want administered, I delivered my 7 pound kiddo, complete with a head of hair that would make most older adults seethe with envy. During the first hours as she lay on my chest flickering her baby blues up at mine I thought, ever the optimist and positive protagonist in her own story, the mess is over. I’m in love with this heavenly creature I somehow created, and it will be smooth sailing from here. Time to put Kaia in the Ergobaby, head to mommy and me yoga, and grab a green juice on the way home.

Kaia's Baby Blues - Reduced

Silly, silly me. While my daughter was essentially healthy, thank goodness, the next 48-hours would bring what felt like a constant succession of sucker punches to my very fragile body. From learning I had almost no milk supply, to discovering my girl inherited the posterior tongue tie/tongue thrust I’ve made a staple of so many of my presentations, to the first love of my life—my cat Plato, passing, to an emergency visit to the pediatrician over precious Kaia not passing any urine, the blows just kept on coming.  I would go on to spend the majority of my first month hooked up to a breast pump, battling a variety of different infections in my various female parts (again, I’ll spare you the details), and pushing through postpartum depression and extreme anxiety.

I know the so-called blows will keep coming. I’m the mother of a newborn. And a human being designed to encounter setbacks. As I write to you today (several weeks before you are reading this), I have a mask on my face. For despite holing myself up in my home most days and using obscene amounts of hot water and soap on my hands, I somehow managed to come down with a cold and I’m desperately trying to protect Kaia from it.

What I’m getting pretty clear on, and what I think matters about my messes for you, is as follows:

1. Plans are important. As is knowing when it’s time to toss them. While I really really, make that really really really really wanted a natural childbirth, and spent hours concocting a birth plan and making enough copies for everyone who might possibly come into contact with me in the hospital to know what that birth plan was, I knew when it was time to take it off the wall and file it in my new mommy memory book. Same thing with so many of my other “this is how I intend to mother” plans. I don’t, however, regret making any of my plans—although I wish I hadn’t made so many of them so black and white. Or, I hate to admit, quietly judged other women who made choices counter to mine. Tremendous growth happens when we have a strong intention, we use our personal power to try to actualize it, and it doesn’t happen. Even greater growth and heaps of humility happen when we find ourselves living plans we had previously judged others for making.

2. You can ALWAYS find moments of silence. While infants may sleep 16-18 hours per day, the truth is that most of that time this mom is running around cleaning bottles, doing laundry, prepping meals, or planning for my Influencer Academy sessions. And when my little dumpling is awake and not crying, she needs me for food, to change a diaper, to soothe her, to entertain her…sometimes it feels like all of the above simultaneously. Yet on most days, we still manage to meditate together. I hold her on my chest, play a guided meditation, and we breathe together. Sure, I’m not in perfect posture. Sometimes I’m having to do a lot of shushing throughout. Yet whether we make it through 2 minutes or 10 minutes, both of us emerge more present and still as a result. I need that time. And you need that time. Make it happen no matter what your circumstances are.

3. You have to feel what you are feeling—and tell the truth about it. The baby blues hit many women, yours truly included. And when they hit on top of you grieving the loss of a loved one, as mine did, they can be ugly. The problem for me was that I spent my first 3 weeks pretending I was fine. Tired, but fine. And then I came home a few weeks back after a pitch perfect Influencer Academy session and sobbed secretly in my bathroom like I’d never sobbed before. And unfortunately that sob gave way to a lot of crying and at times dry heaving over the next week. (Oh, the poor cashier at Target who asked how my day was and didn’t know what to do when I started a round of tears at her register.) I wish I hadn’t waited to feel what I needed to feel. Perhaps my milk supply might have come in on schedule, I wouldn’t have gotten sick, I may have been able to sleep when Kaia did, and most importantly, I would have healed a lot faster. Physically and emotionally. You can’t suppress emotions. You can keep them in a bottle but eventually the pressure will pop the lid off and then you have a real mess to clean up.

And while you are feeling all that it is you are feeling, or at least shortly after when you have your stamina back, be honest about it. That has been my saving grace. I’ve spoken to my family, my closest friends, my Influencer Academy women, and now several thousand of you about the reality of my first weeks as a new mom. When we pretend that everything is fine or even worse, make it sound perfect, we miss an opportunity to show others that it’s normal and okay to experience rough times. And so much of my pain, and I believe others’ pain, is wrapped up in thinking that other people are thriving in the same situations we feel like we are sinking in. We need to hear more stories of people struggling in their careers and lives AND how they are bulldozing through.

4. Sometimes the only thing that you can intuit is that you are in way over your head. When that happens, ask for help. While I spent a lot of hours of my pregnancy in birthing classes, decorating my home, and doing a lot of other relatively fun but in the grand scheme of things useless activities waiting for Kaia to move from womb to world, I did not spend any time mastering what I really needed to know as a new mom—like how to change a diaper, swaddle a baby, or even get a car seat in and out of the car. The best thing I did in my initial postpartum days was plead with my husband to extend his leave of absence from work and encourage my mom to live with us until I got up to speed. It’s great to build a strong team to support us in advance, but sometimes we don’t know the people we need on a team or the roles we need them to play until a crisis feels imminent or is actually unfolding. In these situations it’s vital to use our most direct communication with the people we have around us and say, without mincing words, “I need your help.”

I’ve thrown a lot at you in this blog post/newsletter. My hope is that whether you can relate to some of the messes I’ve described or not that you recognize that your messes are here to teach you.

To strengthen you.

To show you the complicated, vulnerable parts of yourself you likely strive never to put on display or even have to look at in the privacy of your own home.

Within each and every mess there is a message for you about how to get through. And more importantly, how to evolve as you figure out how to make your next move.

I hope you accept the invitation.

And when you feel ready, speak the truth about what you are living and overcoming to the people who’ve earned the right to hear it.

The world needs heroes who are honest about the journeys they have been on and are going through.

Posted in Family, Happiness, Personal Development | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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