Suzanne Sena: “You can’t please everyone all the time”

My new platform is based on a mission to become a true catalyst of confidence for everyone who is struggling with a lack of it. With all of the uncertainty the world is currently faced with, it’s safe to say confidence-building is needed now more than ever. I believe that confidence isn’t something you either […]

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My new platform is based on a mission to become a true catalyst of confidence for everyone who is struggling with a lack of it. With all of the uncertainty the world is currently faced with, it’s safe to say confidence-building is needed now more than ever. I believe that confidence isn’t something you either have or don’t have; I believe it can be cultivated. Just imagine what can happen with more confidence in the world? More innovation. Mind-blowing advancements. More productivity. Better communication. A world in which truly anything is possible!

Suzanne Sena was born missing the “no-you-can’t!” chip and spent a lifetime ignoring every limit she ever met. The Emmy-nominated talent, entrepreneur and now thought leader on confidence coaches America’s corporate workforce to use the same mindset to blow past any stuck-ness in life or career.

Perhaps most famously, she has graced the national news desk at the Fox News Channel, hosted “Regis & Kathie Lee,” covered Hollywood’s latest for E! Entertainment TV and hilariously played a snarky news anchor on the scripted TV series, The Onion News Network (ONN). She is, however, first and foremost, a self-made businesswoman.

Sena’s indomitable spirit has driven her to craft venture after venture, and as an executive coach and media training guru, led others to their own greatness. Today, she spends her time on stages and in board rooms helping others ignite their own assuredness. She earned an expertise in confidence by being a living example and teacher of the mantra: “limit exists only in the mind.”

The product of a sensible Dearborn, Michigan family powered by jobs at Ford, Sena was a vivacious and articulate being from day one. She thrived in the spotlight and upon any stage, yet being locked into a hips-to-neck brace in her formative years shaped her both physically and psychologically. “I didn’t see anything as a limitation,” Sena says earnestly. “I couldn’t bend down to tie my own shoes, but I became a vocalist, landed leads in school performances, and became the first woman in my mother’s family to graduate from college,” and from Michigan State University, no less.

Sena was bitten by the acting bug as a young girl with a natural ability to transmute stage anxiety into powerful fuel. From these experiences and entrepreneurial adventures, she identified and decoded how anxiety, anger and other emotions can be converted into positive catapulting devices for success.

When Sena broke out of Michigan and into the world, she headed West, flourishing in PR, promotions, hospitality and theater. She began to establish a fierce resourcefulness that is a large part of what she teaches to others today.

Her early successes engendered a sense of self-reliance but were tempered by some tough times that included the loss of her Mom and the rigors of being on her own for the first time. Undaunted, she forged ahead in the direction of being self-employed, a way that allowed her to continue going out on auditions. With her sharp-wittedness, she devised a business that rewarded retailers with customers, using co-op dollars their malls usually demanded for empty returns. She quickly templated the concept to be used in other cities. “When push came to shove,” she comments, “I was the one doing the shoving.”

Sena was proving to be an entrepreneur but performing was still her jam. She landed a top-notch agent, a national commercial for Coke and she pitched everything from carpets to cars nationwide. A moment in a red sparkle dress turned into another professional turning point, a move to Alabama, New York City, Dallas, Los Angeles and the winning of an Addy and an Emmy nomination.

Gifted with loads of talent, Sena is also the epitome of tenacity who would ping and charm until she got the job. So, when she landed the entertainment reporter position at E! Entertainment TV, it wasn’t long before she pitched her own show, “Out to Lunch.” Before reality TV was a thing, Sena’s series featured unscripted chats with Hollywood’s A-listers over a meal. The William Shatner sushi-eating segment became a classic, as this midwestern girl experienced raw food for the first time. Also at E!, she hosted the network’s “Celebrity Homes,” where she delved into the personal lives of icons such as Sammy Hagar, Dustin Hoffman and Michael Douglas. She covered red carpets, premieres and movie junkets to interview Jennifer Lopez, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Julia Roberts, Mel Gibson, Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Williams, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie and many others.

When Sena landed on the national desk for The Fox News Channel, she was called a “ray of sunshine” while doling out the hard news. Prior to that, at the Dallas CBS affiliate, she brought “flash and dazzle.” She glowed on “EXTRA,” “Fox & Friends” and delighted audiences as the test replacement for Kathie Lee Gifford on “Regis and Kathie Lee.”

After 9/11, when on-camera jobs were scarce, Sena created the Sena-Series Media Training company for her entertainment industry peers. A sensational word of mouth reputation quickly spread into corporate America. She taught executives how to do interviews, dignitaries how to better present, lobbyists how to be more persuasive, and built a media training empire in Los Angeles. However, since Sena was so good at being on camera, acting jobs continued to flow. While running this company, she accepted the lead role as the comically pompous news anchor, Brooke Alvarez on the cult-favorite comedic TV series, The Onion News Network.

A woman whose conviction has always outweighed her fears, Sena has since assembled her earned wisdom to share with others the secret of true confidence. As America’s Confidence Catalyst®, she also hosts a podcast, The Confidence Connection, that gives the inside scoop on how some of the most successful names in the world have done it. Sena is also penning a book that provides a roadmap for others to tap into their personal superstardom.

It’s Sena’s attitude that makes her uniquely qualified to teach others confidence: “I’ve been around some of the most incredible people, whose greatness inspired my own successes. I was never intimidated by them; I was motivated.” She’s a big believer in getting out of your own way and dismissing negative thoughts. “If you think you won’t accomplish something; you’re right! The secret really is rewiring your brain to believe that you can and will. My life is now dedicated to helping others generate triumph. Potential exists in us all, unleashing it into real-world practice, requires willingness and action.”

Thank you so much for joining us Suzanne! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was raised in a family that wasn’t overly encouraging. It wasn’t until college that I realized that I could accomplish great things. From then on, I was not only on a journey to succeed myself, but on a mission to help others believe in their own potential. Refusing to recognize limitations, I fully believed that anything was possible and that the only limitations that existed were those we imposed upon ourselves. So, I set my sights high, and I found myself achieving my goals. I became a national entertainment reporter, news anchor, and had a lead in a TV series… and along the way I founded a media training company meant to help others improve their performance skills in front of the camera and when speaking to the press. What I discovered however, was that everyone from aspiring TV hosts, to high profile leaders and executives and celebrities, was searching for the same thing: increased confidence. After a decade of developing methods and tools to do just that, I decided to cast a wider net to inspire and teach confidence-building skills to a larger audience. That’s what led me to launch my platform as a Confidence Catalyst.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Sure. Because I was female, as crazy as this sounds, my parents never expected me to go to college, so when I decided to do so (MSU), I was on my own for the most part financially. While other students were skipping classes, and enjoying all-expense paid spring break trips, I was working as many jobs as it took to make ends meet. Shortly after graduating, I moved from Michigan to Albuquerque, New Mexico barely knowing a soul. Within a couple months, I landed a job, my mother passed away, I totaled an uninsured car in a 12-car accident, my apartment flooded, and the company I worked for got bought out, so I found myself unemployed and in debt. That was a pretty tough year. It was also the year I decided that I wasn’t going to let someone else control my fate, and started my first company.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

That’s a great question. The simple answer is, I had no other choice. I used to call myself a survivor. If I wanted to continue to pay rent and to eat, I had to work. Doing nothing was not an option.

So, how are things going today? How did Grit lead to your eventual success?

I’m extremely fortunate! I do believe the early need to provide for myself taught me a no-nonsense attitude that I maintain today. Also, I do believe it’s easier to take risks when you don’t have anything to lose. I had nothing for so long that there was really nowhere else to go but up. I was a sponge for knowledge, and still am… and whenever I met somebody who was successful, I asked as many questions as possible and learned something from everyone.

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?

One thing I learned a long time ago is that knowledge is not free. You make a mistake and it costs you… but you learn something and that makes it worth it. Funny mistake? I’ve made them in every period of my career. Some didn’t seem so funny at the time. When I was an entertainment reporter for E! News, I did a story on this young group of up-and-coming actors, and for some reason when I put the story together and did the voiceover, I referred to one actress as “Rose” Alba. Well, when the story ran, her publicist was livid and rightfully so. Her actual name was Jessica. Jessica Alba. To make up for it, we ended up doing a much larger feature on her with a retraction and correction on the name… and of course, today she’s one of the most powerful women/ business women in Hollywood. I have no idea to this day how I made such a mistake, but as a result I’m extremely particular about making sure names are correct.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I firmly believe that what makes my company and platform stand out is that I’m truly invested in my clients’ success. A win for them is a win for me. The best compliment I get is when people recognize that I genuinely care. I was coaching an individual who is terrified of public speaking and who had been enlisted to be the officiant in his best friend’s wedding. Not only did I work with him in the studio, but I accompanied him to the venue so that I could also help him feel comfortable in that environment. The wedding was a success, and later he said that the skills I had taught him were life-changing. What could be more significant and rewarding than that?

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I think burnout happens when we overextend ourselves and when we lose our passion for what we are doing. I think it’s important to recognize our own limitations, to delegate… but also to continue to be innovative in our approach. In order for our clients to keep learning, it’s critical that we keep learning.

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?

I am extremely grateful to one of my early clients, Keith Addis. He is an extremely successful and brilliant businessman, manager, producer and co-founder of Industry Entertainment. He found my public speaking coaching skills to be quite helpful, and not only recommended my services to several other high-profile people, but from time to time he would agree to meet with me over lunch and basically give me a master class in business. I had never encountered somebody who was so generous with his time and knowledge. He saw such potential in me — and that gave me the confidence to keep moving forward. Another person who was significant in my journey was Alan Hunter, one of MTV’s very first VJ’s. We were living in the same town years ago, when I had some initial interest from a TV station in a small market, and even though I didn’t know him personally, I tracked him down and asked his advice. After listening to what I had to say, he very generously picked up the phone, called his agent in Los Angeles, and the next thing you know I was sending out a tape of my work to LA, landed my agent… and the rest is history.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I think my own success, against some serious odds, has proved to be motivation for others who are going after their dreams. I’ve helped create some incredible communicators. I’ve helped hundreds of people overcome anxieties and fears about public speaking. I’ve helped inspire people to have the courage to reach higher, and achieve their goals. I’ve also made it a point to teach kindness and appreciation in all aspects of what I do.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Five things I wish I knew or was told about before I started my company are:

  1. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on advertising. Word-of-mouth is worth more than anything. I worried in the beginning because I started with basically no budget. However, one success with a client, ultimately led to more, which led to more and more. For years I never did any advertising at all, yet my phone was ringing off the hook. I realized that was because of the value I offered, the expertise I offered, and ultimately because of the reputation I was gaining as being effective and getting results.
  2. Don’t undervalue yourself and your expertise. When I was first figuring out pricing, I really struggled with what people would pay. I think it was Brendon Burchard who wrote, in the Millionaire Messenger, that at some point he started charging 1000 dollars an hour… and that might seem like a lot… but is it, he asked, if what you learn in that hour changes the course of your life? That said a lot to me. What I offer in the way of expertise is unique, and not offered by many people. It’s a specialty and it does have the potential of changing a person’s life.
  3. You can’t please everyone all the time. It’s hard not to take it personally when you feel you let someone down. A classic example of this is during a time when I have been booked solid day and night, and had to turn down a request to speak somewhere, or to take on additional clients at a time when it wasn’t very feasible. I’ve had to learn that I have to make my health and well-being a priority, and sometimes that means having to say no. None of us are able to perform at our best if we are stretched beyond reason.
  4. Sleep more. It matters. As an entrepreneur and an idea person, I’ve come to understand that I’m a 4 to 6-hour sleeper at best. Typically, I have no problem falling asleep, but I can’t stay asleep… and once I’m up I feel the need to get up and write things down so that I will remember them in the morning. For years this was my routine. Finally, a knowledgeable friend of mine pointed out that getting more sleep significantly ensures better health. Now, I still wake up in the middle of the night, but I try to focus on my breathing and force myself to go back to sleep.
  5. Own your success. I was raised to be quite modest about accomplishments, and felt uncomfortable for a long time accepting that I was actually successful; even when I was a national news anchor the Fox News Channel, even when I had a lead role in a TV series, even when my company grew exponentially and I was working with some of the biggest names in the country. At some point though, I realized that I had accomplished a lot. None of it was handed to me, I worked hard for the successes I’ve had and I don’t take them for granted. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. Honestly, once I started to accept it and own it, even more doors seemed to open and I became a stronger role model for those who looked to me for inspiration. If you’ve set your intentions; if you’ve worked hard to achieve your goals; if you’ve accomplished them and found success: own it. It’s yours, you’ve earned it, and you deserve it!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My new platform is based on a mission to become a true catalyst of confidence for everyone who is struggling with a lack of it. With all of the uncertainty the world is currently faced with, it’s safe to say confidence-building is needed now more than ever. I believe that confidence isn’t something you either have or don’t have; I believe it can be cultivated. Just imagine what can happen with more confidence in the world? More innovation. Mind-blowing advancements. More productivity. Better communication. A world in which truly anything is possible!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: Suzanne Sena

Instagram: @suzannesena

Twitter: @suzannesena

LinkedIn: Suzanne Sena


Thank you so much for joining us!

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