I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Lyons — a devoted and driven serial entrepreneur from Toronto with a great story!
Emily was kind enough to open up on some highly personal issues that I think many of you can relate to. To sum things up, her success is directly correlated to how she chose to respond to adversity, and those lessons are what will to continue to drive her success.
Emily is the CEO, and founder of Femme Fatale Media Group (an award-winning event staffing and experiential marketing agency). Lyons’ story of climbing the entrepreneurial ladder is remarkable because she created a flourishing business from scratch, starting with less than $100 to her name.
Today, Lyons owns and directs four successful companies — all in very different industries — and is respected as an influential and thought-provoking leader who defies the odds and status quo.
Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s show everyone you’re a normal human being. What are your hobbies, favorite places to visit, pet peeves? Tell us about YOU when you’re not at the office.
I love spending time with my dogs — and just animals in general. They truly bring so much joy to the world and, of course, to my life as well. I also love exploring Toronto. It’s a city I’ve grown to love more and more, and there’s always something new to discover here — whether that’s food or people or events.
Can you tell us something about you that few people know?
“When I was 19 I moved to Australia to be a nanny. I ended up getting another part-time job there as a cleaner for a woman named Tanya. We would clean holiday homes and her daughter Amethyst was one of the other cleaners.
“Amethyst wanted to be a rapper and would make mix tapes we would listen to while we cleaned. One weekend she entered a ‘Battle of The Bands’ contest and we went to cheer her on. Unfortunately, the crowd didn’t respond well and she was booed. She was only about 14 at the time. But there was always something about her, something where you couldn’t help but stare. She was so tall, confident and she could really rap despite what others thought. She had everything against her but never gave up. She is now known as Iggy Azalea.”
Do you have any exciting projects going on right now?
“I do! I recently launched a PR division at the first company I founded: Femme Fatale Media Group. Over the past years, Femme Fatale Media Group has steadily built an incredible network of media connections — from social media influencers to editors at top-tier publications. So now, with this PR division, my team is tapping into this awesome network for our clients, giving them great visibility where it matters most. We have a stellar team and I’m excited to shape this PR division into something that’s very, very powerful for our clients.
“Then there’s another project I’ve got going on with one of my other companies, True Glue. I initially created this business because there weren’t any reliable eyelash adhesives on the market that were free of harmful chemicals (and it doesn’t matter how gorgeous you look with falsies on if the lash glue gives you a nasty allergic reaction — making your eyes all red and puffy). So, True Glue’s flagship product was an eyelash glue made completely out of organic, natural ingredients.
“Now I’m carrying that idea further. We just rolled out a new line of makeup products formulated with safe, skin-friendly ingredients. What’s special about this makeup is that it’ll stay on your skin — like a gentle glue — and won’t easily come off. That’s been a problem for a lot of women (I know it has been for me): you put on makeup that’s got good, healthy ingredients, but it smudges easily and won’t stay on as long as you need it to! True Glue’s new line of makeup solves that problem.
“We have a few other, very big projects in the works but I can’t talk about those yet.”
Many people say success correlates with the people you meet in your life. Can you describe two that most impacted your success and why.
“Julia Lyons — my sister who passed away from cystic fibrosis in 2011 — had a decisive impact on my success. I watched her bravery, her curiosity, her never-give-up spirit as she battled the disease without ever losing her love of life’s little moments. All of that stays with me today — it’s a never-failing source of resilience for me. Julia also gifted me a book that inspired me to start my own business, become an entrepreneur, and reach for the stars with all my might.
“The next would be my Aunt Carol, who also sadly passed away. She was my favorite person to be around since as early as I can remember. She made everything fun; she danced to theatre songs while she cooked and was always laughing.”
Leaders always seem to find ways to overcome their weaknesses. Can you share one or two examples of how you work outside of your comfort zone to achieve success?
“Pitching my company’s services to some of the biggest brands out there was really far outside my comfort zone. My young agency — Femme Fatale Media Group — was competing with older, more established agencies, but I knew I had to land those major, big-name clients if I really wanted to take my company to stratospheric heights. So, I ignored whatever doubts crept into my mind and just focused on executing the actions needed to win those clients.”
The concept of mind over matter has been around for years. A contemporary description of this is having mental toughness. Can you give us an example (or two) of obstacles you’ve overcome by getting your mind in the right place (some might call this reframing the situation).
“Getting my mind in the right place was a very crucial step I took as I made the decision to become an entrepreneur and go all-out in my pursuit of business success. In the years before I launched my first company, I was unsure about the direction for my life. I had dropped out of high school — and the future, in my mind, was a dark fog of uncertainty mixed in with a bit of hopelessness. It was matter over mind at that point in my life.
“But I wanted to get out of that fog. It didn’t happen all at once, but after reading the book my sister Julia gifted me (Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields) — and after reflecting on what I wanted from life — I reframed my situation and rewrote my mental narrative. And that gave me the power to build roads to success out of the hardships in my life. When I had done that, I was no longer so weighed down by the negative opinions some people had of me.”
What are your “3 Lessons I Learned from My Most Memorable Failure”
“Always stand up for what is right, always be there for family and do good whenever and wherever possible.”
What unfiltered advice can you give aspiring stars regarding how to avoid common mis-fires in starting their career?
“Don’t take rejection personally — it’s almost never personal. You have to learn how to let go of any hurt your ego might experience from rejection so you can keep moving forward and rising higher.
“Also, know that you’ll make mistakes — lots and lots of them. That’s unavoidable and inescapable. Learn from those mistakes and put what you learn into practice. That’s how improvement happens.”
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
“It’s hard to say who my worst boss was, as I really just didn’t like working for other people in general.”
What is one “efficiency hack” you use consistently in your life to keep your time and mind free to focus on your strengths and passions?
“I don’t let social media control my time and energy, and I say that because social media can be a universe of distraction — whether that’s from the constant flow of news headlines, all sorts of real-time notifications, or the infinite possibilities for endless drama in 140-character acts. And there are some very smart people and computer algorithms who spend their day figuring out how to grab your attention on social media and pull it away from what you need to do.
“That, I think, is how you let technology rule your life. But in my life, I make sure it’s the other way around: I use technology (like social media) as a tool that saves me time and energy — something that gives me shortcuts to my goals. So, I don’t spend time on social media unless there’s a specific, goal-driven reason for doing so.
All actors or musicians have sleepless nights. We have a term we use with our clients called the “2 a.m. moment.” It’s when you’re wide awake and thinking not-so-positive thoughts about your business choices and future. Can you describe a 2 a.m. moment (or moments) you’ve had and how you overcame the challenges.
“Things were very tough for me immediately after the death of my sister Julia. My company was just two years old, but was already starting to gain real traction — becoming more and more profitable, bit by bit.
“When she passed away, it was like a wall came up in my mind — blocking off the thoughts that gave me confidence and faith in my ability to succeed. On some days, I could barely get out of bed — and was pretty much crying all the time. I was really hit hard by that loss.
“But with the help of one of my dearest friends — and with tools I gained in therapy — I overcame this. And I discovered that deep inside, I wanted to make the very most out of my life in honor of Julia — and that was the best reason in the world to get up out of bed every day.”
Nobody likes to fail, and we sure don’t like to admit we failed. Can you describe a moment when you confided your most closely-held business issues/problems to someone close to you, and how the conversation(s) helped you work through the issue?
“When I was going through this challenging time — after Julia passed away — I knew I couldn’t perform at my best for my company’s clients. And, of course, they deserved the best. So, I confided in a close friend who had been with the company since day one (we had actually both been promotional models, and that’s how we met). I told her exactly what the situation was, and she did the most amazing thing — she took charge of my responsibilities while I was emotionally recovering.”
What’s on the drawing board for your next venture?
“Bigger, better, faster, stronger!!”
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Readers can follow my Instagram: @emilylyoness
And my new twitter: @msfatale
This was really awesome! Thank you so much for joining us!
Originally published at medium.com