Confidence And Presence – Interview with Alexa Fischer

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Episode Summary

Alexa Fischer was laying down, pretending to be dead, on the set of Bones, when she had an awakening. She loves acting, but she thought, “What am I doing with my life?” Call it luck, call it a sign, but less than a week later, Alexa got a call, out of the blue, to become a media trainer, and this is how she made the shift out of acting and into coaching. Today, she teaches her high-profile clients how to speak with confidence — not with arrogance — and how they can cultivate engaging conversations with the people they serve.

Confidence And Presence – Interview with Alexa Fischer

Hi. Welcome to The Successful Pitch podcast. Today’s guest is Alexa Fischer. She uses the skills she learned at, no less, the Yale School of Drama, which I believe Meryl Streep went to as well. We can ask her about that. She’s been on countless prime time television shows to help people speak with confidence and stay calm in any situation. Not only is she talented, but she’s versatile and her methods can be applied to board room pitches, public speaking and even cocktail small talk and probably pitching for funding. She’s worked with Fortune 500 companies like Trader Joe’s and Sony and worked with smaller philanthropic organizations like Step Up Women’s Network and Dress for Success.

She works with clients in group workshops, online training, one on one. She’s all about polishing your speaking and presentation skills. We can never get too many of those tips. She’s the creator of her signature program, Radiate Confidence; How to Create 1,000 Watt Presence, as well as launching her first physical product Wishbeads. Can’t wait to hear about that. Alexa, welcome to the show.

Thank you very much. You are correct, Meryl Streep did go to Yale.

That’s an impressive place to get into. I’m sure the auditions for that were not easy.

No, but you know what, it’s a great story. Because I will tell you, it was all about being in a great state of mind. When I went to that audition, you actually go to a hotel and there’s lots of different graduate programs all auditioning at the same time. I had just come from another audition for the University of California San Diego. I had so much fun in the room and I had worked with one of my personal heroes of stage. I went from that audition and literally walked into my Yale audition. I must have just been literally radiating this good energy because I was not thinking about, “Dun-da-da-da, it’s Yale. There’s a lot of pressure.” It was just great. I’m telling you, it was probably the reason why I got in, truthfully.

Listeners, we can take that right off the get go. There’s some great takeaways right there because auditioning for schools, colleges, whatever, is very similar to getting in front of investors. You probably do multiple meetings sometimes and your mindset before you step in that room is everything. Before we get into all of the goodies Alexa, paint the picture a little bit about your background. You made the decision to become an actress, and then when did you decide and why, it’s always the interesting question behind that, to become an entrepreneur?

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Confidence And Presence: The reason why I was drawn to acting was truly because of my love of people.

For people who are not really familiar with how the entertainment industry works, is that it all seems so glamorous from the outside. Again, I was very honored to work at some really amazing television shows and some films and a ton of commercials. What you discover is that there is so much downtime, there is so much sitting around. For me, the reason why I was drawn to acting was truly because of my love of people. I’m fascinated by people. I’m fascinated by their motivations, by the way they express themselves. That’s really what great acting.

Yet, two things bothered me. One, I felt like I was wasting a lot of time sitting around on set endlessly. The second thing was, I fundamentally was bothered by this idea of people comparing themselves to the airbrush images of celebrities on People Magazine. It drove me crazy because celebrities are just like you and me. They really are. Some are fabulous, some are not so fabulous. They look like you and me, believe it or not. There’s is not anything super magical about them other than they have a very high profile job.

I’ve told this story because it is the God honest truth. I was working fifteen hours in at the shoot, filming an episode of the TV show Bones. I was playing a lawyer, something bad happened to my character. In the movie, in the script, I’m lying on the floor with blood coming out of my mouth, fake blood. I literally had that moment, after all of my training, after all of my dedication, after all of the countless successes and rejections of being in the entertainment industry, I had that moment where I said, “What am I doing with my life?” Because I’m lying there, just looking like a jerk, in my opinion. So ridiculous.

I literally put a call out to the universe internally and said, “Give me a sign.” There’s so much passion that I have. There’s so many talents that I feel that I have. Why can’t I put them to a higher calling? It’s not to say that I didn’t love acting, I still do. That was the shift. I kid you not, it was less than a week that I get a call out of the blue from a friend, a contact that I’d made in the entertainment industry. She was looking for a media trainer for a very high profile client of hers. She said, “I thought of you and I think you’d be terrific.”

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Confidence And Presence: It was a journey of incredible tenacity but a great deal of curiosity

Boom, I was set on a different path. It was a journey of incredible tenacity but a great deal of curiosity because I was driven by this idea of, wow, I know how to do this instinctually but yet I’m going to have to learn how to build a program, to build a website, to market myself, to meet new people, to learn about branding, marketing. I began filming myself before people were really making online video classes. I was really pioneering that. It was a lot of hustle, a lot of heart but a lot of humility because I had to really find out information, I had to study.

It was a whole new world which I actually did in parallel to my acting career because it wasn’t like I just had this epiphany, started this new thing. I was still acting, that’s really how I made my living. It was until the consulting and the teaching, that took up so much of my time. I had to really do a dance with my agents, who were like, “Excuse me, what are you doing and why aren’t you available?” There was a crossover.

I love what you said, that curiosity and tenacity are a powerful combination. We’re going to tweet that out from show. That’s a great takeaway. I love that because you need to have both. You can’t just be curious or you’ll, “Okay, but then now, this is hard. I’m stopping.” If you just have tenacity but you don’t have curiosity to keep learning, you probably get bored and stop. The combination is really great.

Before the show, we were talking about the difference between confidence and arrogance. As everybody knows who listens to The Successful Pitch podcast, you have to come across as someone who is confident because investors want to feel confident in giving their money to someone who could execute the idea. They really invest in the team. Let’s talk about your perceptions and definitions of confidence versus arrogance.

I love this idea because sure, as a culture, we get that confidence basically says, you’re wearing this billboard, this fake pretend billboard, energetic billboard that says, “Yes. Yes to life. Yes to meeting people. Yes to pursuing your dreams.” Yet, what really is that? For me, this idea that we have, this light that’s inside of us, it’s something that everybody is born with. It’s not like you have to go get it or someone’s going to give it to you. You have all of the magnificence inside of you.

Most of the time, we block it because of fear. We don’t think that we have the right thing to say, or we don’t have the right connections, or the right knowledge, or the right fill in the blank. We block that. But the knowledge and the light is inside of us. When we can release some of that fear, we naturally let that light shine. That’s what I call unlocking your 1000 watt presence. It’s not so that you can go into the room and blind everybody like, “I’m so great!” No, it’s more of just this quiet confidence.

Now, if you are someone who is pitching an idea, you’re just talking about an idea, you’re connected to this idea. Again, it’s not because you want everybody to love it immediately. It’s this idea that you know why, you know inside, why is this idea important? Why is it going to serve people? Why is it going to be successful? What is your why? When you are connected to that, you are in service to it as you’re meeting people. Ironically, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about this thing that’s coming through you in service to others.

Part of our fear, I think, kicks in when we’re like, “Do they like me? Am I going to get this money?” You’re so self-absorbed, so in your head, you’re not present with the people in the room is what I hear you saying.

That’s absolutely correct. Let’s just take something. I think perhaps women can relate to this more than men. This idea of, “I don’t know if I’m wearing the right thing.” You’ll sit there and go in your closet and you’ll try to figure it out, “What’s the appropriate thing to wear?” Forgive me, maybe men have this feeling as well. You spend all this time. Think about it John, do you really pay attention to what other people are wearing, really? Do you really genuinely notice?

Only if it’s really one way or the other, if it’s really like, “Oh God, you’re wearing shorts to a business meeting?” Or you’re so outrageously dressed, unless you’re a creative artist, that’s not appropriate. I do think there is a whole thoughtfulness that goes into deciding who you are as a brand and having your clothes reflect and your culture.

I totally agree with you. I’m talking about on an everyday basis.

We’re too busy with our own stuff.

Exactly, that’s my whole point. When you have the habit of having a habitual internal reflection, a inner critic narrative going on in your head, you’re blocking yourself from delivering your gift, from being able to share you why, to be able to connect with people and be present. The truth is, most people are consumed with the inner dialogue that’s in their head or their to-do list or what they’re going to do in the future, where they just came from.

When you can think about showing up in life and being able to be present and communicate your light or just let your light shine in front of someone, then there is the flow. That’s the thing that makes people stop and pay attention to you. That’s what’s pretty amazing. I’ll tell you, I have a funny story, speaking about the power of why.

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Confidence And Presence: Be present and communicate your light or just let your light shine in front of someone.

Simon Sinek of course wrote the book Start with Why. I had the privilege, I think it was in 2013, I went to a Marie Forleo’s live event which she had. I think it’s actually called Rich, Happy and Hot, which is kind of a fun. I actually think that’s what it’s called. Anyway, it was in New York City. The morning before it took place, I was at a little coffee shop in the Meatpacking District in New York, which sounds gross but it’s actually very trendy right now.

I saw Simon Sinek sitting with a bunch of people and I just kept on being drawn to his energy and, “Should I say something to him? Should I not?” In that moment, I said, “No, I’m just going to let him … He’s having a business meeting.” Didn’t quite realize that he was the guest speaker at this event. I see him on stage, he absolutely blows my mind, he’s just a wonderful speaker.

Afterwards, I’m like, “I absolutely must speak with him.” I find him afterward. The most remarkable thing, when we connected afterward, he had this ability, despite the fact that so many people wanted to talk to him afterward, when he was standing in front of you, he was so present. He was just there.

He wasn’t worried about other people.”I’m taking this moment and I’m looking at you and listening to you.” That whole message of why is so important because investors want to know what’s the why behind your why doing this startup. It can’t just be to make money. You have to be personally passionate about it. Whether you experienced your own frustration or own pain of something that you’re trying to solve. It has to be a bigger purpose than just, “I want to make a lot of money.” Because that’s what keeps you motivated during the tough times.

Exactly. When I met Simon, he gave me this medallion. He literally put a medallion in my hand that looks like a bull’s eye that says, “Why?” When he put it in my hand and closed it around this medallion, I understood the passion that he has for his work. Because it was as if I got the message of my why matters. It’s up to you to bring it into the world. I say that because whatever your business is, now, I’m again, pivoting because I, in addition to doing my business, I’m also building this physical product.

I am, just like many of the people that you teach, on the cusp of sharing it with the world, pitching it in front of people. I’ve already began pitching to people. It was this idea that I even viscerally felt from Simon, which was, my why matters. Even though it is a grand vision, it is up to me to voice it, to find the courage to voice it. Again, it’s that borderline thing. There’s a humility that comes with that, honoring it, allowing this thing to come through me. Not, “Oh my goodness, I’m the biggest smarty pants girl in the universe because I came up with this thing.” No. It’s through me, it’s through me.

What a great example of branding. He’s passionate enough to have a medallion to give to people as a keepsake of who he is but also then it inspires them to live his message. It’s so smart on so many levels. I’m telling you, if you do something like that in a pitch meeting and can give an investor something to remember you by, because they hear so many pitches and your story has to be memorable. If you give them something besides, “Here’s my PowerPoint deck print out as a leave behind,” that is right on brand like that, it really sets you apart.

Let’s get back a little bit to confidence versus arrogance, because I think it’s really important to flush that out just a tad more because most people feel it’s one or the other. Being coachable is one of the key things that investors look for. If you’re not coachable because you’re arrogant and think you know everything, the investors aren’t interested because they want you to take their ideas sometimes and decide whether they work or not. It’s that fine line that you still have to be a leader but coachable, but not be so easily influenced that you’re just constantly changing your strategy all the time. It’s really challenging, I think, for people the figure out, “How do I do that?”

I think that’s a great point. I was having a really interesting conversation with Judy Robinett earlier this week. One sentence that I shared with her, which was, “I know what I know but I also know what I don’t know.” What I don’t know, I’m going to go get very deeply curious about and go seek those answers. Now, I’m not saying you use those words in a pitch, but it’s the energy of humility that I think helps fuel confidence. Before you go into that pitch meeting, you want to be able to articulate certainly what you have done to build this idea, to flush it out, to cover all of your bases. You want to be incredibly prepared. But there is also this energy or humility that must be present, because when you are overly confident, that does come across as arrogant. Arrogance, I think, is really is the mask of fear.

That’s great. We’re going to tweet that out. Arrogance is the mask of fear. Have you said that before? It’s great.

No, I just said it right now.

I love it. Heard it here first.

Yay. The question that comes to my mind is, how do you know the difference? I think someone who is humble listens, is a great listener. I think someone who is humble speaks with warmth and generosity. I think someone who is humble walks into a room and connects with people. I believe that your pitch begins when you leave your house and you’re driving to your pitch meeting. There is an energy there that by the time that you show up, your focus needs to be on the individuals in the room, the people. In terms of just a warm handshake, looking someone in the eye, being lighthearted, being genuinely enthusiastic. That’s a warm energy. It’s very hard to be arrogant when you’re coming from that warm positive place.

I love what you said so much. We’ve never had anybody quite articulate it like that. It’s so great. Humble people listen, show warmth, show generosity and have a genuine human connection. When you do that, folks, you don’t have to worry about coming across as arrogant and you will come across as confident. Fantastic. Really, really great stuff. Let’s talk about your why behind your why. Because stories are so great as an example for people to go, “Okay, I understand I have to have a why behind my why.” If you tell us your why behind your why of your new product and describe how you got inspired by it and what it is.

Absolutely. In my work, what I discovered was there’s some energy that’s inside of us. I talked about it before, this 1000 watt presence. I would go in with CEOs, I would go in with their teams. I would talk about this and I would give them some experiences. But a lot of times people would not really get this idea that what they see, what they imagine, they can achieve for themselves. This sounds a little esoteric, but what I discovered was maybe I could create an experience for people to let them have something that they physically do to help them achieve what they want in life. Because what I realized in my coaching was it wasn’t just about communication and confidence. It was giving people the tools to have them feel confident that they can get what they want.

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Confidence And Presence: In my work, what I discovered was there’s some energy that’s inside of us.

My community over at AlexaFischer.com, my students who take my online courses, they’re on the cusp of greatness. These are my people. This is what I discovered after five years of doing this. Anyone who finds my work, it’s because they know they’re capable of more but they need just a little guidance to get them there.

One day, I kid you not, in the shower, because I don’t know about you, but all great ideas come in the shower. I literally had a complete vision of this product that I was to create. It was to be called Wishbeads. Wishbeads, without going into too much detail, is a bracelet making kit that stems from the idea of the law of attraction. Meaning, when you pause your busy, busy life to really see a moment in time where your wish has come true, that’s the first step of Wishbeads, and then you write it down, you anchor it with language, you physically write down what you saw in delicious detail and you do that on paper that I include then you turn that paper into paper beads, wear it on your wrist. It inspires you to see your wish. It inspires you to keep it top of mind, it inspires you to take action towards your wish.

In this kit, I include a little 21 day action journal to get people to train their minds, to see signs, coincidences, to be taking small decisive steps toward their wish. That literally helps make that wish come true. John, the crazy thing is this thing works. It works crazy, it works really, really well.

I’m a believer. I know that whatever we focus on, we get more of.

Exactly, it’s the law of attraction.

What you’ve done here is you’ve given people a tool to become aware and then literally make your own bead out of paper and then ground that energy into something that you’re wearing, so you’re tapping into all of the senses. I think it’s really great. If I maybe so bold, my guess is the why behind your why Alexa, is your whole intent is to transform people’s lives and you realize that this is the tool to do so. Would that be a good guess?

Absolutely. I’ll tell you, it also stemmed from a conversation with too many CEOs that I was working with. Eventually there’d be this moment where they’d say, “Is there any way that you could talk to my daughter? Is there some way that you could talk to my son?” I said to myself, “I must bring this to young people. I must find a way to work with young people, to give them this idea that look, life is tricky. We didn’t come here for this fun, easy breezy ride. We actually came here to learn something. Yet, the obstacles don’t have to be these barriers in your life. Your obstacles are your greatest teachers.

We can embrace the challenge but also hold the wish, hold the dream and pursue what you want. I have a very big vision of giving people a tool of personal empowerment, helping them achieve their goals, having a phenomenal experience along the way of bringing people together, women together in something I call Wish Circles. It’s been a wild ride to learn how to build a product from scratch. This has been a passion project for about two years in the making. Literally, as I’m talking to you, I’m on the cusp of launching a Kickstarter campaign, which is really a way for me to just get a lot of eyeballs on this all at one time. Then I have a very comprehensive marketing strategy after that.

Fantastic. I know that that’s going to be something we’re all going to be supporting and looking for, because with your tenacity and curiosity, you’re going to transform the world. Before I let you go Alexa, is there a book that you would like to recommend that’s either helped in business or life, whatever, that you think would be great for the listeners?

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The First Key; How to Remove Subconscious Sabotage

I do. There is a woman that have collaborated with for years. We have an online course together. Her name is Dr. Daphna Slonim. She’s a psychiatrist and she wrote a book called The First Key; How to Remove Subconscious Sabotage. She collaborated with me years ago to help her do a DVD series to promote her own book. I ended up doing her work, which is based on a lot of energy, psychology techniques. I ended up doing that work. I kid you not, I believe it was one of the reasons why I had my a-ha moment on the set of Bones, was because something energetically lifted in front of me.

Once I removed my subconscious blocks, which look, let’s face it, everybody has subconscious blocks because we get crazy mixed messages in this lifetime. It was very amazing. Doing the technique with her, just to learn it, I did remove subconscious blocks I had to happiness, to success, to career fulfillment. I will tell you, things started showing up more effortlessly in my own life. I really strongly recommend this book. You may not have any experience with energy psychology but she certainly walks you through it and gives you techniques to do them yourself. It’s a remarkable publication.

I highly encourage everyone to get that. We’ll put it in the show notes. The whole mindfulness concept is so big in Silicon Valley with all the successful founders. If you want to get on that path, this is a great tool to get there. Alexa, how can people get more of you? What’s your Twitter handle and all that good stuff?

My Twitter handle is @1000WattAlexa. You can also find me on my website at AlexaFischer.com. You can also find me on Facebook and you can also check out Wishbeads at Wishbeads.com.

Nice. Again, thank you. It’s been a great episode. You’ve given us so many great takeaways. I think my favorite is arrogance is the mask of fear. Alexa, thanks for helping us remove that mask. We can’t wait to watch you continue to soar.

Thank you, John. It’s been a pleasure to speak with you. I’m actually learning so much from your podcast. Thank you for the work that you do. I will certainly put it to good use.

You’re welcome. Thanks again.

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