Your vision for your life is not going to look like anyone else’s. I have published nearly 100 interviews of ‘The Success Diaries’ asking people about their definition of success. While they all began by pursuing the same definition, what each person realized is that in order to find fulfillment one must define success on their own terms. It’s a similar journey I took and I wish I had known to do this sooner.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Bri Seeley.
After struggling through her first eight years of entrepreneurship, Bri pivoted from her award winning fashion brand into entrepreneur coaching. During her years in fashion, Bri was able to achieve some remarkable milestones but she was never able to create the money and time freedom she desired as an Entrepreneur. Within her first year of her coaching business, she went from being unable to pay her rent to creating over 6-figures in revenue.
Over the last six years as an Entrepreneur Coach and professional speaker, Bri has taught thousands of entrepreneurs how to create long-term, sustainable success… on their terms!
She knows that one-size never fits all, so her approach is customized and tailor made to each client. Bri works with established and emerging businesses using her extensive knowledge to increase their impact, monetize their vision, laser-focus their actions, streamline their systems and boost their profits.
Bri was awarded a Silver Stevie Award in 2020 for Coach of the Year — Business and a Bronze Stevie Award in 2020 for Woman of the Year — Business Services. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, the author of the best-selling Permission to Leap, the top Entrepreneur Coach on Google and has been seen on The TODAY Show, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! and more.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was raised by a single mom and my grandmother. If I wasn’t at work with my mom after school, I was at my grandma’s house. Both experiences were very formative for me because being at work with my mom instilled both an entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic within me, and being with my grandma allowed me to cultivate the skill which would become my first business — fashion.
My mom and grandmother were both very encouraging. They always told me to follow my desires, while also reminding me that I had the power to do whatever I wanted. They supported me in all my crazy ideas including legally changing my name at the age of 14, starting all sorts of businesses in college, and moving to Italy at the age of 20.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I got back to the states from Italy after having completed two degrees in fashion design, I got a corporate job to “pay the bills” but I knew I wanted to maintain my skills in fashion and my creativity. That’s when I started my first business.
Eight years into my fashion brand, I had found some decent successes — awards, celebrity placements, an order from Zappos, etc. But I was realizing more and more how unhappy I was. I still loved fashion, but I was no longer in love with the business of fashion.
After a poignant meditation in 2015, I was guided to close my fashion brand and walk away. The space created from that decision allowed me to reflect on what I loved about being an entrepreneur, the skills and talents I had developed and where my impact would be best applied in the world. What I came to realize was people had been asking me to help them with their businesses for years, but I was so blinded by being a “fashion designer” that I declined to help.
Two weeks later, I launched my business as an Entrepreneur Coach and Professional Speaker. March, 2021 is my celebration of six years of business.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
All of my biggest moments of expansion and success have been as a result of receiving guidance in meditation. I have closed businesses, taken action on 6-figure business strategies and written a book as a result of receiving guidance in my meditations. I’ve tried all the “proven” methods of business growth and none of them ever work as well as the guidance which comes from within.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’m not sure if it’s funny, but the one thing I look back on with a modicum of humor is how naive I was about what it actually takes to succeed as a business woman. No matter what industry or business you’re in, there is so much more involved to your success than to just be good at your craft.
A specific example in my first business is that I refused to sell or do sales outreach. I thought that my talents alone would be enough for my business to succeed. What I learned was that making connections, putting my product in front of decision makers and being the biggest advocate of my business was required to succeed.
When I began my coaching and speaking business, I had to learn how to market and sell my services. The success I desired required me to put myself out there and learn skills that were out of my comfort zone and that I refused to implement in my fashion business. The results have been remarkable. I often wonder what my fashion business could have been if I had approached it the same way I approach my current business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I moved to Los Angeles, I registered with the Small Business Administration to receive free mentorship. I was paired with an incredible woman, Sahar Andrade, who has become one of my biggest cheerleaders. The first time we met, I was in tears at her office lamenting the lack of success in my business (which, of course, wasn’t actually true — I was very successful, but I wanted more than where I was). She looked into my eyes and reflected back my greatness to me. Seven years later, she’s still reminding me what I’m capable of and pushing me past my limitations.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
First, you simply can’t focus on what could go wrong. The single greatest thing which has gotten me to 15 years of entrepreneurship is my tenacity and my belief in myself. That’s not to say I don’t have moments of doubt, but I don’t let them win. You have to believe in yourself and your success, and trust that if you’ve been called to take this step you will be supported in creating it.
Second, the relationships you build will be the most important part of your ability to secure professional speaking opportunities. Until you reach a saturation point where people know your name without meeting you, your bookings are going to come from people you have established a know/love/trust relationship with. Focus on building genuinely supportive relationships rather than transactional ones. Follow up with people and provide value in their lives. They will remember it and keep you top of mind when opportunities arise.
What drives you to get up everyday and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I think of is the entrepreneur who is struggling to find ease and success in their business. I think of the want-repreneur who is going to their day job in total misery. I think of the solo-preneur who wants to scale their business but doesn’t know how. I think of the CEO-preneur who is missing balance and health in their life because they’ve sacrificed themselves for their business. They’re who motivates me to get up and show up everyday.
I spent eight years struggling through my fashion business. I didn’t have the tools, the mindset or the mentorship I needed to thrive. The second I started my business as an Entrepreneur Coach and Professional Speaker, I changed those things and my business took off immediately.
The message I share is two fold:
- Entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. There are no shortcuts and no overnight successes, but there are ways to make the journey easier, profitable and more manageable, and
- Specifically for women, we need to take our success into our own hands. We’re brought up to believe we need something other than ourselves (a corporate job, a husband, etc.) to support us into success. That’s not true. We have all that we need within to create the successes we dream of and entrepreneurship is the best way to get there.
Can you share with our readers a few of your most important tips about how to be an effective and empowering speaker? Can you please share some examples or stories?
The greatest feedback I receive about my ability to impact audiences is my relatability and authenticity. Audiences no longer want leaders who are holier than thou and who put themselves on pedestals. They want someone they can relate to. Be approachable. Be genuine. Share your struggles as much as your successes.
I spoke at a regional conference in Minnesota a few years ago. One of the women at that event approached me afterwards and shared her entrepreneurial vision with me. Since that time, she’s traveled to other states to see me speak, enrolls in every course I launch and tells all her friends about me. She has become a raving fan because she felt connected to me and she has applied what she’s learned from me and launched a successful business!
As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?
Well, first, you have to address the subconscious blocks preventing you from taking steps forward to speak in public. Our minds are like computer hard drives, we cannot do something we’re programmed against doing. Your mindset has to be the first step.
After that, begin by taking small steps. Speak in front of three people, then ten people, and work your way up from there. You have to begin to prove to your mind that it is safe to speak in public, which is probably not going to happen if you throw yourself directly in the deep end.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Your vision for your life is not going to look like anyone else’s. I have published nearly 100 interviews of ‘The Success Diaries’ asking people about their definition of success. While they all began by pursuing the same definition, what each person realized is that in order to find fulfillment one must define success on their own terms. It’s a similar journey I took and I wish I had known to do this sooner.
- You are the source of all wealth. I used to view wealth as something that was given to me, but as an entrepreneur that perspective doesn’t work. As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to create the wealth you desire.
- Running a business is about more than your skillset. I mentioned this briefly above. Business requires an understanding of marketing, sales, social media, psychology, wealth management, communication and more. I made this mistake in my first business where I only wanted to focus on design work, but quickly learned that I needed to learn the other elements in order for my business to be successful.
- There isn’t a silver bullet or 5-step process that will get you to your goals. Every entrepreneur I know wastes time and money trying to follow other people’s paths to business success. We think that because one person had success with a particular strategy, it means the strategy is fool-proof and will be the strategy which saves us. It’s not true. There are hundreds of different paths to get to the top of a mountain, just like there are hundreds of paths to create business success. Once I trusted the uniqueness of my path and began following my intuitive process in business is when I found the success I desired.
- Build great relationships, cultivate great relationships, keep great relationships and don’t be afraid to walk away from less than great relationships. Your first clients will be people you already know and your first raving fans are already in your network. Not only that, the great relationships around you will be the ones which help you ascend to the next level. So many people want to talk about marketing strategies, but the truth is… your relationships will be much more effective for at least the first 10 years of your business. My first non-paid speaking engagement was because I joined the board of a non-profit in 2012. My first paid speaking engagement came from a community I was a member of in 2006. When you have an established know/love/trust relationship with people, it will be easier for them to want to hire you.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I’m currently working on my second book and growing ‘The Unapologetic Entrepreneur’ posse. Once the world re-opens I’ll be on more stages again and traveling extensively to support businesses around the world develop their plans for growth and evolution. I also plan to host an in-person conference for Unapologetic Entrepreneurs to up level their business and personal success.
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
I spend the first three hours of every day (yes, even weekends!) in self-care. In order for me to serve others, I first have to fill my tank. If I’m running on empty, I cannot make an impact in anyone’s life. My mornings always look different because I like to be in flow, but I create the non-negotiable structured container from 6am to 9am to do whatever I need that morning to fill my tank. On any given day this could be a combination of: meditation, reading, journaling, visioning, taking a bath, coloring, singing, dancing, cuddling my cat or taking a walk. What I do in my practice is less important than why I do it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
It was May 2014. I had just returned home from a three day women’s conference and was feeling high on life. That is, until I opened up the laptop for my corporate job to learn that my employer was either requiring me to increase my hours from part-time to full-time or have my pay cut in half. I wanted neither option.
I sat on my couch spiraling into the depths of fear and despair. My mind latched onto all the worst case scenario’s it could think of, until something inside of me pulled myself off the proverbial ledge. I opened up my notes from the conference and came across something Arianna Huffington had said, followed immediately by her email address.
My first inclination was to email her and thank her for sharing words that were helping me remain optimistic in the face of despair. My second inclination was how stupid that would be because she’d never read it and absolutely never respond. My thoughts bounced back and forth between these two inclinations for a while until a voice within me said, “if you don’t ask the answer is always no.”
I emailed her and in addition to thanking her, I told her of a project I was planning to start as a result of the conference and her speech. Two hours later she responded and asked if I wanted to begin writing for the Huffington Post. This was a huge turning moment for me in stepping away from my fashion business and moving into my current business. I think about where I’d be today if I hadn’t reached out. The answer is — probably not here writing this interview right now!
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I want to shift the focus from women breaking the glass ceiling and move it towards women creating their own buildings (free from any ceilings). The reality is, the corporate game was never designed for women to win. Yet, we keep trying to play the game and continually lose. It’s anticipated that we’ll achieve parity in the workforce in 250 years. But we can create parity much sooner by leaving the current system and building our own.
Women have the ability to solve the gender gap through impact focused entrepreneurship and wealth creation. I am here to empower women to create a new model for business and leave the current corporate system which will never support us in reaching equality.
This doesn’t simply have an impact on women, but on the world. When women use their wealth, they bring 90% of it back into their families and their communities, whereas men only redistribute 30–40% back into those same places. Women have the opportunity to lead the way to a more equitable economy and I’m here to help create it.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I would love to have lunch with Gwen Stefani. She’s been an inspiration of mine since I was 13 years old. I love how unapologetic she is and how she’s built a personal brand on her terms without compromising her integrity. I would love to hear from her directly how her journey has unfolded, what challenges she’s had in staying true to herself and how she’s continued to reinvent herself over 25 years.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!