Stop waiting and start creating. That’s Angela’s philosophy. She doesn’t just walk her talk; she runs full-sprint likely wearing some brightly colored outfit, a silly hat and a smile. Most recently, she created the Speaking School for Women to train creative, entrepreneurial women to become well-paid, in-demand speakers. (Women like me.) Really, Angela gives them a voice and helps solidify the platform on which they stand. It’s not very shocking she found her way to this work. With a big dream and a tiny budget, public speaking was how she got out there to build her career consulting business and promote her first book. Even though, she was a self-described “shy girl,” it didn’t stop her from becoming an award-winning speaker with 500+ presentations under her belt – including a TEDx talk. Beyond all of her professional awesomesauce, she’s one of my favorite people to connect with here in Western MA…for a walk, talk, tacos or some combination of all three. For that, I'm grateful. Now, over to Angela in her own words.
How would you define being a modern woman in 2016?
Being a modern woman means recognizing that there are a lot of different ways to create a meaningful, fulfilling life. The white picket fence, two babies by the time you’re 30 and the husband-as-provider just doesn’t fit the dream most of us have for our life. Then there’s the career path which I could never really understand – the one that tells you to climb the corporate ladder, stay in line, pay your dues, be nice to everyone, follow the plan – that just wasn’t going to work for me. Making up my own rules, building my own version of happiness and creating a career that fits the lifestyle I want has been scary, but it has also allowed me to become the person I really want to be. I think that’s what modern women do because it’s who they are.
What would you like to see modern women give more of a shit about?
Their intuition. Women have the superpower to feel and sense things on a deep level, but we often ignore that sense because we think we’re wrong, we don’t know what we’re doing, we need to read another book, attend another conference, talk to another guru, or get more feedback from our friends. If we gave more of a shit about how we actually feel, actually pay more attention to our own thoughts and instincts, we would all be better off and less freaked out about doing the “wrong” thing.
Conversely, what would you like see modern women give less of a shit about?
I would like to see modern women give less of a shit about doing the wrong thing! I meet so many women who are worried about making a mistake, taking a risk that doesn’t pan out, being overly calculated, and avoiding failure, that often they miss great opportunities to grow, learn, and create something they could ultimately really love. While training the women in my speaking school, I often hear them say they don’t want to pitch themselves for a gig because they don’t want to deal with rejection. Rejection is only way to get to a yes, but they don’t want to deal with the pain of hearing “no.” Sometimes the only way to our goal is through a sea of “no’s”, and a lot of women give too much of a shit about being right and being perfect, so it stops them from moving forward.
When did you realize you were meant to be a trainer of women who want to be public speakers? How did you discover it?
I’ve been doing public speaking for ten years, seven of those years I’ve been speaking for my business. When I started speaking, it was definitely out of necessity! I was extremely shy when I was starting my career and often did whatever I could to minimize my existence. I was terrified of being called on in staff meetings or singled out to run a committee. I would often email everyone on my team to share my ideas just so I could avoid speaking up in a meeting. When I got promoted to director level (damn you, work ethic!), I had to start running staff meetings. This was enough to create a week’s worth of anxiety leading up to the meeting and for a week afterward. Knowing this was the #1 skill holding me back in my career, I decided I had to do something about it. I joined Toastmasters in 2006 so I could work on my speaking. When I started my business three years later, it was public speaking that helped me get out into the community and start building my client base. I quickly discovered that by giving free workshops and seminars, I could connect with new clients, create visibility for my business, and build my brand. After doing hundreds of presentations and getting more and more comfortable on stage, I started to also build more confidence in myself. I became a better communicator in all areas of my life, started to feel stronger and more self-assured in my work, and even gained new insight into myself through speaking. After enough people asked me how I built my speaking business (and wanted to know how they could do it), I realized I would be an excellent teacher of women who want to get on stage and speak. I understand the struggles, the fears, the resistance, the mindset, and the dream of inspiring audiences and making a mark. I have just begun teaching in my new speaking school and I already feel that this is the most rewarding work I have ever done.
What’s your favorite non-negotiable act of self-care you do to decompress or recharge on the regular?
The one act of self-care that never changes is yoga. I used to play competitive sports and when I started yoga, I didn’t really understand that it’s not about “being the best,” it’s about listening to your body and being where you are. When I started to become present on my mat and get lost in my breath and my body, I started to notice the benefits in other areas of my life. Yoga helps prepare me for moments when I fall, moments when I am pushing myself too hard, and moments when all I have to do is breathe. I’m grateful that I realized it’s not about being perfect or getting each pose right, it’s actually a mini version of your life on a 6’x3’ rectangle and it helps with more than just flexibility.
Do you predominantly make decisions with your heart, smarts or guts? What’s the process look like for you?
I recently learned about the two ways we make decisions: by pulling, or by pushing. If you are pushing yourself to do something, that energy is coming from behind you, or your back, and you are willing yourself to make that decision. If you are feeling pulled to do something, that energy comes from in front of you, from your heart. When I learned this, I decided to start paying attention to where my energy was coming from while making big decisions for my business, my health, my relationships, and my finances. I learned very quickly that most of my decisions were coming from will power. I learned that I am a strong person – I can get myself to do almost anything. However, if I’m willing myself to do everything, am I really doing the things that bring me the most joy? When I started to notice the choices I made from my heart, they felt much easier and lighter. My goal for the foreseeable future is to make more decisions from my heart and reevaluate the ones that are coming from my will.
Who’s a fabulous femme inspiring you? What makes her so fabulous to you?
I’m reading Amanda Palmer’s book right now, The Art of Asking. I am so inspired by her vulnerability, ability to follow her heart, and motivation to keep making art that feels good as she grows and evolves. Her book tells the story of her self-doubt, worries about her future, strength to keep putting herself out there, and how her community saved her life.
If another woman wants to connect with you, how would you prefer that happens?
Through my website - www.angelalussier.us