I listen to something or someone that motivates me. Just like you get your mind right before you go to the club or you before you build up the confidence to say something to that person you’ve been admiring…you have to mentally prepare yourself to make difficult negotiations or execute life altering tasks.
As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angel Livas.
Angel Livas is a Gracie Award-Winning Executive Producer, an Author, the President, and CEO of DC Media Connection, LLC; the Chief Engagement Officer of Creative Introduction, LLC; the Founder of The Woman Behind The Business; and the host of “The Woman Behind The Business” Talk Show.
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 was raised on the outskirts of Motown in a small town where I can only recall one other black family occupying the elementary school I attended alongside my older brother. I skipped a grade in elementary school — so, I was always the youngest in my class growing up. My parents worked very hard to provide a loving home, exposure to various cultures, and first hand entrepreneurial experience to me and my siblings.
I am the middle of three children and the eldest girl. My parents have been married for 40 years and launched the family real estate business, which is still operational today, shortly after tying the knot.
I attended Howard University where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Broadcast Journalism. I later received my MA in Journalism and Public Affairs from The American University prior to earning two professional certificates: Stanford University (Advanced Project Management Certification) and Rutgers University (Mini MBA: Social Media Marketing).
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.
I would definitely have to give complete credit to my parents for raising me in an entrepreneurial environment…it’s pretty much all I know. While my dad maintained a career as a warehouse manager for a major newspaper organization throughout my childhood — we always watched my parents grow the real estate business. My mother primarily stayed at home with us through my sibling’s and my younger years — however, she owned and operated several businesses as well. From a hotel gift shop to a nail salon — my parents taught me to go after anything that my heart desired.
I believe that because my parents immersed us in what entrepreneurship looked like and provided an opportunity for us to dabble in it at a very young age…we were destined to either love it or hate it.
For instance, I can recall going to work with my dad at the newspaper warehouse and individuals with paper routes would hire me to insert the advertisements into the center of the Sunday paper. They paid me three cents per paper, which doesn’t sound like a lot — however on average I could easily stuff between five and ten thousand papers in one night…so, it wasn’t bad money!
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?
When it comes to having a supportive village …I must say I have been truly blessed. My parents have always encouraged and put their money where their mouth was when it came to supporting me and my visions. Whether they understood the industries or not, they were always emotionally and financially supportive.
Aside from my parents, I had a number of mentors who played a distinct role in sharpening my business acumen, while also providing opportunities for me to grow my businesses. I’m extremely grateful to my village because they have always shown up at different times in my life to guide me to the next level both personally and professionally.
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?
One of the funniest mistakes that I made when I started hosting television programs was funny, but also embarrassing. At one of the studio shoots that I was recording standups for — I forgot that my mic was hot (i.e. on) when I left the stage to rush to the bathroom. Fortunately, nothing embarrassing took place in the stall — but, just knowing that the control room could hear me peeing … it was funny and still embarrassing…lol. That moment taught me to always turn or take my mic off when I’m not recording!
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?
Before I could properly advise a young person who aspires to follow in my footsteps to emulate my success — I would need to understand what attracts them to my success? A lot of times people only see the bright and shiny side of a situation…they don’t comprehend the loss, the sleepless nights, the struggle or the sacrifice. So, I would begin by understanding what it is that they’re passionate about. I personally feel like my journey was meant for me to travel down. However, the key takeaways from my experiences entail:
- Being honest at all times. Admitting that you may have failed at something is half the battle to overcoming the failure. When you can admit your faults others respect you and they tend to trust that they can always count on you for the truth.
- Establish your own standard for excellence. No matter where you work or the projects you may have the opportunity to work on — everyone will define excellence differently. I’ve found that by knowing what excellence looks like to me — through experience of my personal effort, expectations, and outcomes then I can evaluate my performance at all times. I know whether I gave my best — or if I was only giving 50%…because, I’ve clearly defined that for myself. This comes in very handy when others want to judge you or your work — you can always measure your outcomes against your own standards for excellence.
- Talk to People. I know this might be a challenging task for introverts — however, it’s essential to broadening your reach. A lot of the opportunities that I’ve been afforded are because of my willingness to get to know others… without judgement.
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?
I have two books that have made a significant impact on me.. “Your One Word” and “Her Therapy”.
About 6-months after my divorce in 2019, I was introduced to the book “Your One Word” by Evan Carmichael. The premise of the book is essentially that we all have one word that clearly speaks to your life’s purpose. Yup…just one. Initially, I thought it was totally absurd ..until I went through the exercises and after months of selecting and deselecting what I thought was my “one word” I prayed. I waited. I listened. And I discovered that my one word is ALIVE. When I consider what my personal brand represents…when I think about all of the many tasks that I juggle…it all boils down to helping others feel ALIVE. This revelation led to a complete brand overhaul that is slated to go live on Thursday, October 1st. The ALIVE momentum is built on the pillars of Courage, Conqueror, Catalyst.
Her Therapy is a personal favorite because it captures my story of what it takes to build a business and maintain a happy and healthy relationship with my children. Back in 2018, I was asked on every stage that I stepped on across the globe — “how do you balance life as a mom and a boss?” I had personally never thought about the question, however I was always able to provide my personal testimony while on stage. Most of the time my response explained that I had great intentions to not get so lost in my work that I neglected my children.
Writing “Her Therapy” was extremely therapeutic and now that we’re all navigating life from the confines of our abode — it serves as a remedy to help other moms maintain a sense of self, while being a great mom.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My Life Lesson Quote is “Do it Scared” … throughout my life I have always been willing to take a leap of faith and do things that most people my age wouldn’t think of doing. For instance, just over 4-years ago, I launched a nonprofit for women entrepreneurs called The Woman Behind The Business. The original concept was to focus on the woman behind her various roles. I was in my second year of business ownership full-time and was beginning to understand the wrath from entrepreneurial burnout. It was then that I realized that 90% of women entrepreneurs probably felt just like me because they too were attempting to work on their business and in their business simultaneously. I also understood the guilt that can arise by taking a break when there is so much more work that needs to be done…so, I launched the Woman Behind The Business Retreat. I knew that in order for me to get away without the guilt — I’d need to gain something from the experience…so, that’s what I created for other working women like me. Now, I had no idea what I was getting myself into…planning an international retreat…and if I was going to do this…I wanted it to be worthwhile. So, with every ounce of creativity, passion, and fear I launched my first international retreat 4 years ago. The retreat was an absolute success and earlier this year, we hosted our 3rd retreat titled “Vision 20/20: Using Scriptures to Propel You To New Dimensions”.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m excited to announce the upcoming release of the #ALIVE project. This project is designed to help individuals not just live but be ALIVE. Over the past few years, especially throughout 2020, I’ve watched people fall into mundane routines and later complain about feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied with where they are in life. I never pass judgement on these people, because I understand what it feels like to be in a rut and suffocating because you feel trapped in a particular situation. This was my reality. It was my life…however, I knew it wasn’t my destiny.
This project provides consulting and programming to help individuals not only live but be ALIVE — byway of 3 main pillars: Courage. Conqueror. Catalyst.
Under the Catalyst pillar you’ll find my most recent platform “I AM BLACK,” created to enlighten, educate and ultimately evolve our country to a state of truly being united. We are currently working on part three of our I AM BLACK series that is slated to take place in November 2020. The upcoming conversation will focus on the power of the black dollar and coincide with the impact the Montgomery Bus Boycott had on creating change in America.
The first installment in the I AM BLACK series premiered the award-winning documentary “The Enlightenment” followed by a panel conversation that featured: Michael Eric Dyson, Thomas Dortch, Jr., Rev. Dr. Howard John Wesley, and other affluent men in the Black community that discussed their thoughts on moving the country forward. Then on the 57th anniversary of the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing we hosted — Her Story — featuring Sarah Collins Rudolph, the only surviving little girl from the bathroom explosion. In addition, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Sue-Ann Robinson, esq, and Angela White joined the conversation around what it means to be a black woman in America during the 21st century.
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?
When I am stressed about a particular situation or circumstance — I immediately tap into my spiritual realm to armour myself with a sense of peace, patience, and protection to overcome whatever the obstacle is.
Another tactic that I use to combat stress is the practice of gratitude. I have a gratitude box that I use in two ways…
- I write down things that I am grateful for and drop them in the box as often as I need to do this.
- I write down issues that I’m battling or things that are causing me stress — and I pray over the issue before I release it into the box. The box essentially serves as the transaction of me releasing the issue to God.
I truly believe in speaking what isn’t into existence…so, I ensure that I’m constantly feeding my mind with positive affirmations.
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?
I never focus on the significance of a meeting or presentation…I only focus on what I can control through preparation, pre-gaming, and prayer!
1. Preparation: I ensure that I am well-prepared. What do I mean by that? Well, this isn’t something that you start preparing for the morning of…preparation takes time.
You have to know pertinent information about individuals that you’ll be in the room with. You have to be able to stand in 100% confidence that you believe in you and what you’re selling.
2. Pre-game: I listen to something or someone that motivates me. Just like you get your mind right before you go to the club or you before you build up the confidence to say something to that person you’ve been admiring…you have to mentally prepare yourself to make difficult negotiations or execute life altering tasks.
Oftentimes I do this by listening to my favorite song (Closer by Goapele or an old sermon by Dr. Myles Munroe). You have to find something that boosts your confidence and ultimately, reminds you that you’re extremely gifted and talented.
3. Prayer: I always pray for guidance, discernment and for God to direct the conversation in the way in which he knows it needs to go for the desired outcome.
I remind myself that whatever it is that I’m doing that I’m merely the vessel to make the vision a reality.
When I implement this trifecta … there isn’t any room I can’t walk into or any deal I can’t confidently seal.
Here’s a bonus tip… Presentation is everything…and I’m not talking about your powerpoint. Your wardrobe says a lot about you. I would suggest wearing something that you know, not only looks good on you…but, it makes you feel good too! Trust me…it makes a difference.
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.
I recently started taking advantage of the power of meditation. While I’m not good at it (I know true meditators always tell you there’s no right or wrong way to meditate) I still attempt to center myself by being still and silent in a quiet space. For me, I often use this time to pray as well…
Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?
When I need to focus and declutter from the noise that we’re constantly exposed to I turn my phone off and I set my alarm to sound in 2-hour increments. I then take a 30-minute break when my alarm sounds — this gives me time to respond to emails, eat, make a call or check social media…lol. But, when the 30-minutes expires — it’s back to isolation.
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?
Establishing good habits has played an integral role in my ability to measure success. In general I am an overachiever — so, I’m always striving to make things better and to gain fulfillment from my work. Making clear monthly and weekly goal projections allows me to see what I have accomplished and for each accomplishment I identify a reward. Positive reinforcement, even when self inflicted keeps you motivated and encouraged.
What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?
The best way to develop great habits for optimal performance and stop bad habits is to create intentions around whatever it is that you want to change in your life. When starting to implement your intentions or goals — you may fall short — but, consistency is key. If you mess up, start back up immediately. The next thing is to grant yourself some grace. Overcoming bad habits isn’t just going to happen overnight. As I’m sure the bad habit wasn’t established overnight — so, it’s going to take some time to release yourself from the habit. I encourage individuals in my Main Hustle Executive program to establish a reward system. Providing yourself incentives will keep you motivated to reach your daily, weekly, or monthly milestones.
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?
Reaching a state of flow is probably one of the most exhilarating feelings you can have in business. It’s almost as if you don’t have to think much about whatever it is that you’re doing … the work…the solutions…the content is just flowing through you. It can be so good that days later you might look back at the work and be so impressed by it that you forget that you were the vessel behind it.
When it comes to initiating more “flow” opportunities — I believe it boils down to two things:
- Schedule monthly planning sessions. These sessions are imperative to strategically outline your goals for each week throughout the month ahead. When you give your mind time to see written tasks that aren’t just in your head — it grants you greater opportunities to think creatively.
- Schedule quiet time. Our lives are so full of noise … that most people are too afraid of missing something that they’re afraid of pulling away from their phones, email, or social media. This is truly limiting and it inhibits our ability to tap into our flow. Allocate some time monthly that you can seriously focus on a particular task and watch how things will begin to flow!
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.
The movement that I have created is called #ALIVE. The goal of this movement is to trigger an individual’s desire to not only LIVE — but, be ALIVE. So many of us wake up and go to bed feeling unfulfilled — but, we don’t have to. This movement is designed to give people the courage they need to conquer life’s challenges and ultimately be a catalyst for change. You can learn more about #ALIVE by visiting angelnlivas.com beginning October 1st.
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 🙂
I would be interested in having lunch with journalist Tamron Hall. I believe that she is the epitome of being ALIVE — she didn’t allow a negative situation to break her — she conquered a situation — had the courage to do things her way and she is a catalyst for other black aspiring television hosts like myself.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Please follow me on all social media platforms @angelnlivas and my website is angelnlivas.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.