“Simple: do them over and over again.” With Cara Barone

When I feel stressed, I go back to the big vision, the dream that I have and the reason why I am doing it (I hold the vision, always) then think about the VERY next step that has to get done even if it’s a small one. As a part of our series about “Optimal […]

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When I feel stressed, I go back to the big vision, the dream that I have and the reason why I am doing it (I hold the vision, always) then think about the VERY next step that has to get done even if it’s a small one.

As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cara Barone.

Cara Barone is a LinkedIn Brand Consultant by day and Business Coach & Strategist by night. She’s gone from idea stage to multiple 6-figure business owner while juggling a rewarding career and traveling to 1–2 new countries a month.

Cara helps high-performing corporate women and coaches gain confidence and clients without sacrificing their corporate salary or sanity.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I am so excited to be here! Thank you for having me. I grew up in Massachusetts — just a small town girl with a Michael Jordan work ethic. I’ve always strived for “perfection” but after getting cut from my 7th grade basketball team when all of my best friends made it (devastating for a child), I vowed to never feel that way again. I soon began to eat, live, breathe basketball which eventually took me to playing in college at the University of Tampa. At the time I was just obsessed with the sport, but looking back, I loved the discipline and leadership that it showed me. I attribute all of my adult success to learning these key skills at a very early age.

After living in Tampa for 10 years, I got my dream job at LinkedIn. Within weeks, I sold everything I owned and set off for San Francisco — having never visited and without knowing a soul. It was quite the scary, but rewarding move!

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

It wasn’t a person, it was a loss. 4 years ago, I moved to London. As an American, I couldn’t wait to travel Europe… croissants in Paris, wine in Italy, it was the dream! Within 4 weeks of landing though, my body began shutting down. As an avid athlete, I was crushed when I could no longer workout. Up until then, my identity was defined by work and exercise. Years later, I found out I had been battling mold poisoning and breast implant illness for years without realizing. My zest for life quickly faded and I started battling extreme anxiety and mild depression…life as I knew it was no longer possible. But I never give up. I turned to my faith, determination and began reinventing myself. If I couldn’t work or work out, I may as well do something that gives back to others. I began my 12 month health coaching certification. Shortly after graduating, I realized my passion wasn’t health coaching but taking my 10+ years of marketing and consulting experience and helping women bring their corporate skills online to start, grow and scale their online businesses.

So long story short, my brokenness has led me to where I am today. It was definitely not an overnight fairytale!

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Absolutely. My friend Jessica Lenouvel. She led me to entrepreneurship and gave me hope along the way, I would have given up had it not been for her. Now, she is one of the most talented online marketers I’ve ever meant. But she started where I was — burnt out, ready to reinvent herself, full of passion but not 100% sure which direction to go. Once she decided to go ALL IN, she sold her business, invested heavily and had her first 6-figure month within the blink of an eye. Her ability to go all in and never give up continues to inspire me today. Had it not be for her encouragement and vision, I would never have gotten this far.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I think I’ve made every getting started mistake you can! (note: there are no shortcuts to success, trust me on this one…I’ve tried!). A pivotal mistake I made was investing in an ads coach. I thought “if only I can get more eyeballs on me…then I’ll make it.” She encouraged me to act, sound and show up in a way that wasn’t me. And others could feel that. The ads failed miserably. It was my biggest (and most costly) lesson and something I now teach others — show up exactly as you are. Do not try to be someone you are not. People buy true authenticity, every level in business requires another level of being you.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Decide there’s no plan B and that you are resourceful enough to make it work. Even when things feel impossible, even when there’s a million people selling the same product/service as you, even when you question your worth, credibility, etc. Do not give up. While being successful online looks easy, it isn’t! The only true way to fail is to give up. Everyday go back to what makes you special, unique and trust that you are resourceful enough to learn the rest. Every failure is a lesson, so fail and fail fast my friend!

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, by T Harv Eker. I grew up in a small town with just a few stop lights. My parents worked extremely hard but I was the oldest of 5, we were not made of money. This book made me realize the power of truly changing the way you think and feel around money. It changed the way I invest and charge. It was the first book that really opened my eyes to letting the past be a wonderful lesson, but we get to shape our future and tell ourselves new, more empowering stories that will serve our futures. The brain believes whatever it’s fed the most, and we get to feed it better stories everyday.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Done is better than perfect” and “Fail, fail fast.” I have worked at LinkedIn for almost 7 years and it’s been the most transformational experience I could have ever asked for. My entire life I was so caught up with trying to be perfect I would have all these grand ideas but never follow through. Reflecting back, it likely had to do with the fear of rejection or fully being seen. The first week in my role at LinkedIn, I heard these two quotes from my boss and leadership. They actually embraced failure, and taking intelligent risks! For the first time in my life, I had permission to fail — as they knew that true success was in the failures. So fail, just do it quickly, learn from it…and don’t make the mistake again:)

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am currently working to scale the current way high-achieving entrepreneurs can work me, so I can have even greater impact. I have a program called, Five-Figure Lunch Break to help corporate women bring their skills online when they only have 1–2 hours a day. I also have a mastermind container for women who want to surpass their corporate salary in their online business and impact others through their unique gifts. In 2020, I will be revamping and scaling these two special projects.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?

Yes, stress is a killer! I see most people tend to take it all on and push through it or bury their head in the sand (I’ve done both!) but it is not sustainable and it’s certainly not healthy.

When I feel stressed, I go back to the big vision, the dream that I have and the reason why I am doing it (I hold the vision, always) then think about the VERY next step that has to get done even if it’s a small one.

Other tactical daily things I do is, get out of my mind and into my body (this is for the over-thinkers! When overthinkers have a million thoughts going on, we try to analyze our issues logically which typically keeps us stuck) take a minute to shift into your body to calm your nervous system — it does wonders. I do this through deep breathing, just for a few seconds. Or any type of movement — dancing, walking, etc!

Journaling helps me a ton as well. Journal techniques include: writing AS IF I have already accomplished X, identifying my fears and re-writing them (a super handy brain hack to begin re-writing your subconscious brain) and morning pages.

Lastly, a bit more high-level I like to break my year down into quarters. Each quarter in my business, I like to have 1 big focus (perhaps a launch) and then I have 3 focus areas that will support my overall goal. I always think in the power of 3’s and truly believe in keeping the main thing, the main thing…to overcome overwhelm.

Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

Meditation/prayer time — hands down is the #1 thing I would recommend if you do nothing else. I always rolled my eyes when leaders told me this but it is proven to help get your body out of fight or flight and increase self-awareness. I noticed significant differences in my body, cortisol levels and ability to think creatively when I began incorporating this into my daily practice.

Proper Schedules and dreaming time — meditation is great for the reasons I just mentioned, but we also need proper scheduled time to dream about what we want in the next month or year, etc. If not, we will become robots and never innovate because we haven’t given ourselves the proper time to really think. What’s the quote “show me your schedule and I’ll show you your priorities.” Having items scheduled ahead of time — from dreaming time, to exercising to client work is imperative and helps massively reduce stress so you can just show up without having to think about your day.

Automation! Automate as much as you possibly can. Cleaners, meals, tech in your business, schedules, etc. The less brain power required to do your everyday activities, the more you can pour that focus into the items that truly require that energy. I always wondered when I was traveling a ton, working full time and building my business why I was so exhausted…this had a major role to play. Decisions take energy, eliminate as many as you can!

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.

YES!! I realized I have been doing these techniques ever since my early basketball days when I visualized for hours about hitting the game winning shot.

15 minutes of meditation in the morning.

Followed by journaling about my next level self — what does she do, feel, act, say, etc.

Then I sit and visualize what I just wrote about (include all 5 senses)

3–4 days a week I will then jump into shower and take a cold shower for 30 seconds doing Wim Hoff breathing method.

I will also do just a few seconds of deep breathing when I’m stressed throughout the day. Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

I am the sticky note queen. I have really large sticky notes all over my apartment with my #1 focus for the quarter and the 3 areas I mentioned above on it. This allows me to see and visualize my goals everyday.

I have smaller sticky notes with mantras/affirmations all over my apartment as well.

Lastly, when I need to focus I put my phone in the other room. I have also recently turned off all notifications on my phone and it has been a huge game changer!

We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Good habits are everything! Like I mentioned before, visualization is incredibly powerful. I’ve used this technique A TON in my healing journey. Whether it’s healing from a chronic illness or wanting to hit all-time highs in your business, habits are essential. But habits that really change your life need to start with changing you at the identity level. If you do not see/believe you are the person who is: healthy, wealthy, an entrepreneur, non-smoker, etc. your habits will not support you. Therefore, start with building habits that help shift your identity (for example, as I heal from my illness, I do morning handstands to support that I am a healthy person to tell my brain that I am!) Identify where you want to be and then create habits that support the new you!

What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

Simple: do them over and over again. Small at first. For example, if you want to be a morning person, don’t suddenly wake up 2 hours earlier. Start with 15 minutes earlier at a time. Journal about your new “identity/way of being” everyday. I write AS IF I am already fully healthy, a 7-figure entrepreneur, etc.

And do NOT beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon, just get back on. Repeat: I am human, it’s okay. I’ll just do a little better tomorrow.

As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

Ahhh the flow state! There’s nothing better than it, but for many (myself included) it’s difficult to get into. First, it comes with awareness. Identity when you are in a state of flow. Then rewind, what got you there and how? For me, it’s just throwing/forcing myself into it per my schedule. Yes, I force myself into flow — but it’s a discipline! I know after I go for a long walk or have a really good sweat, I can sit down and write content for hours. But it takes that energy shift to get me into my flow. I’ve also become aware that it takes me a really long time to get to the place where I want to sit down to write content, so writing daily doesn’t make my day feel good…but, once I start, I can write for hours. So I plan my schedule accordingly.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I believe when people have true purpose in their life it heals depression and creates more joy. Therefore, I would inspire everyone to do what truly lights their soul on fire from a career/calling perspective. Whether that’s working in a wine shop, scaling an online business or staying at home with the kiddos…I would love to see everyone have the choice to do something that really brings true joy to their life and therefore joy to others!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Michael Jordan has influenced my life since I was a child and is the reason I am where I am today, so I’d have to say him. From an entrepreneurial #womencrush perspective…Sara Blakely, the owner of Spanx. She built her empire based even when others laughed at her and has juggled being a wife and mom of 4. Her journey inspires me!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I am in the process of revamping my website to reflect my new brand around high performance habits, but for now — and Instagram: Cara Barone

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you, you as well 🙂

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