“Do everything with PASSION. I just heard my Project Manager say this to someone in a meeting, “Alexa is so passionate when it comes to everything that it makes my job easier and fuels me to be more energized and passionate too.” To create a thriving environment for your employees you must EXUDE passion. Whether or not you are doing boring paperwork or dealing with an internal issue or whatever it may be, never lose that fire in your eyes and spread that to all of your employees to help them continue to thrive and believe in the work you are doing.”
I had the pleasure to interview Alexa Carlin. Alexa is a renowned Public Speaker, Founder & CEO of the Women Empower Expo, and Creator of Be A Public Speaker©. She launched the Women Empower Expo (WEX) in 2016 and grew it to become the largest event for female entrepreneurs and change leaders in South Florida and Washington D.C. within its first year. Alexa was recently featured on the cover of Meetings & Conventions Magazine as 1 of 15 “Young Millennial Go-Getters To Watch” and named one of the “Most Powerful Women In Fort Lauderdale” by Gold Coast’s Fort Lauderdale Daily.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was young, always creating businesses and turning ideas into reality. My first real dive into entrepreneurship happened when I was 17 years old when I became the sole licensee to design jewelry for the L.A. based fashion company, OmniPeace, where I donated a percentage of proceeds to help build schools in Africa. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to use my entrepreneurial endeavors to create positive change, in one person’s life, in my community, and in the world. My work with OmniPeace led to my next passion project which was a blog called Hello Perfect which had the mission to redefine perfection garnering support from Mark Cuban, Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff, Steve Madden, and Whitney Port among others. While growing this blog in college, a few months before graduation, my life changed forever as I became extremely ill and was rushed to the emergency room as my body was going into septic shock. I was induced into a medical coma given a 1% chance of living. After this experience, my body was never the same due to the number of antibiotics that were pumped into my body to save my life and I was later diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease. This has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with but it also led me to where I am now, sharing my story authentically and vulnerably with thousands of people around the world. My journey has led me to understand that in order to achieve your wildest dreams, you must not wait for your life to change you must change your own life.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
At an event I was attending in Arizona which occurred the weekend after my first Women Empower Expo in 2016, I met a journalist from a top magazine in my industry called Meetings & Conventions. After the event, she emailed me to include me in a feature that she said was going to be highlighting young individuals in the industry. I did the short interview and a few months later what I thought was just a few quotes in an article turned out to be my biggest press feature. The article named me “1 of 15 Young Millennial Go-Getters To Watch” and I was ecstatic, but that’s not the funny part. A day or so later I went on to their website to view article again and as I was scrolling down their homepage, taking a sip of coffee, I saw my giant picture on the cover of their magazine! I almost spit my coffee all over my computer as I had no idea they featured me on the cover. It was a pretty cool thing to experience and an amazing surprise!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I believe your authenticity is your point of differentiation and that is how my company, the Women Empower Expo stands out. Not only as the founder do I share authentically my story behind why I created the Women Empower Expo and the struggles I’ve been through to get to where I am today, but also the hundreds of women who speak at our events year round do as well. At WEX you don’t shake hands and ask others what they do but instead, you ask who they are. You create real relationships with incredible women doing amazing things located right in your community. It really is an experience of empowering one another to be successful.
A speaker at our first WEX DC event in 2017 told me about how WEX dramatically changed the course of someone’s business. This speaker runs a local women’s group and someone who saw her speak at WEX then decided to check out her organization and attend a monthly meeting. During this meeting, another member was sharing how the co-working business she started for moms was having financial problems and she wasn’t sure if she was able to keep it afloat. That new member, who attended from the connection made at WEX, invested in her business and today, it is growing and thriving. This is how our company stands out- it’s not just what happens at the event but it’s the ripple effect of change created thereafter.
1. Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Yes! I recently launched a new venture of mine called Be A Public Speaker©. It is a four-week training course to teach entrepreneurs and leaders how to grow and scale their business and impact through public speaking. I started my company with a $2,000 deposit on a venue and that was it. I had to grow it organically as I didn’t have the money to invest in marketing or advertising. My first event in 2016, with less than $100 spent on Facebook ads, attracted 2,000 people in attendance! This was all from public speaking, authentically sharing my story and journey with others around my community. Today, I get paid to travel the world to speak to organizations, companies, and conferences and through this, not only have I created an additional income stream for myself but I’ve been able to explode my impact and business. I want more people to be able to do what they love full time and to be able to make a difference in the process- public speaking can do that for you.
This course is more than an educational tool, it’s everything I’ve learned from being a public speaker and from being a conference organizer that looks through thousands of speaker applications per year, sharing it all so passionate individuals can then go out in the world and create that ripple effect of change. You can learn more at BeAPublicSpeaker.com/join
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Do everything with PASSION. I just heard my Project Manager say this to someone in a meeting, “Alexa is so passionate when it comes to everything that it makes my job easier and fuels me to be more energized and passionate too.” To create a thriving environment for your employees you must EXUDE passion. Whether or not you are doing boring paperwork or dealing with an internal issue or whatever it may be, never lose that fire in your eyes and spread that to all of your employees to help them continue to thrive and believe in the work you are doing.
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?
My mom. She has been there for me through it all. She was by my side when I was struggling with my autoimmune disease and still trying to grow my company and helped me believe that everything will be okay and I will get healthy again. She always told me to never give up and believe in myself. I really don’t know where i’d be without her love and support.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
10000% yes! I believe the bigger impact you make the more income you’ll create. I do everything with a focus on IMPACT and VALUE. If I don’t believe it will have either, I don’t pursue it. Right now, as a speaker and the Founder of the Women Empower Expo, I am working to empower more people to turn their ideas into reality. I truly believe that when people are working on their passion we have a better chance of collectively changing the world for the better. Since I was little it has always been my mission to make a difference in at least one person’s life a day.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Delegation is key to growth.
Once I began bringing more people on to my team and letting go of the reigns, my company grew so much quicker. As an entrepreneur, I think it’s hard to delegate because if something goes wrong, it’s our reputation on the line. I wish someone told me earlier though how much quicker you can grow a company by working to delegate more and free up your time so you can continue to grow the company.
When I was growing my first company, I was trying so many different things to make it profitable. I would jump from a YouTube show to an idea for workshops in schools to trying to be the next big positivity news site. Looking back, I wish I stuck with one idea and went all in on it versus jumping around. When you are consistent with what you do whether that be sending out a newsletter once a week or going live every day at the same time, you’ll be much more successful.
3. You can accomplish all your goals, just maybe not all at the same time.
Just like many of you reading this, I have a ton of different passions and ideas I want to create, but with that, it can get very overwhelming very quickly. I remember this one time that I said to myself, “I’m just going to focus on the top things I want in my business.” I wrote 4 things down on a whiteboard, stepped back and was so overwhelmed as each idea was a full-time business in itself! That’s when I developed the “domino effect”. The domino effect helps you focus on that one big goal/ idea that will help achieve everything else. For example, I know that a larger audience will help me get my book published, and WEX will help me create that larger audience. I decided to focus all of my time and energy on WEX and it has definitely paid off where now I am able to pursue other dreams like BeAPublicSpeaker.com and my book.
4. It can get lonely at the top- but you aren’t alone.
I don’t think enough people talk about the feeling of being lonely when you are a CEO. Even when you have a great team around you, there is a constant feeling you are alone because it all is riding on you. Especially in the beginning stages of my company when I was working solo, it got extremely lonely. One way to help counteract that is to invest time in attending networking events and collaborating with others.
5. Trust in the timing
Since I started my first company at 17 years old, I’ve always felt I should be 3 steps ahead of where I am currently. Now looking back, I realize that if I did get that TV interview or that big investment deal or whatever it was I was going for, I wouldn’t have been ready, the timing wasn’t right. Trusting in the journey and the timing of events helps you enjoy the full journey and not just the end result.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” ― Tim Notke
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 :-)
SARA BLAKELY, Founder of Spanx! I am a HUGE fan of Sara’s as she is the epitome of an authentic leader. It is on my bucket list to have her speak at a future Women Empower Expo event!