Pep Talk. Have a good support system who would cheer you on and talk you out of your funk. But also do pep talks with yourself. The state of our life is highly dependent on the words that we tell ourselves. Choose kind words. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are doing the best you can.
As a part of my series about “Grit: The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success” I had the pleasure of interviewing Valerie Fischer.
Valerie Fischer is a Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner with over 20 years of experience in advertising and marketing, and co-founded an e-commerce site for locally made products. This combination gave her a unique process that helps businesses transition and thrive online. In recent months, her Brain Science Selling framework has helped over 5000 online entrepreneurs increase their revenue by as much as 40%.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path.
Before we begin, I would like to thank you for this opportunity. I have always wanted to share my story of grit and what better platform to share this than with your community.
I lost what I thought was my dream job at the start of this pandemic. It became a complicated relationship when I realized during the lockdown that I did not share the same values as with my former company.
When the quarantine was announced in Metro Manila, our boss wanted us to keep working in a remote office, away from our families, away from immediate healthcare. I believe in keeping employees healthy and safe before operating the business, but that was not the case with her. We did not agree on digital marketing strategies which made it challenging to work together. But that was her business, and I was only an employee.
I quit, she fired me. It was mutual.
Little did I know that this unfortunate incident will lead me to my purpose. It was not a rejection; it was a redirection.
Can you share your story about “Grit and Success”? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
I come from a poor family. Both my parents worked so we can make ends meet. Aside from being a nurse, my mom made candies after work, and we will sell them at school the next day. Sometimes, she would make sausages that we would sell to our teachers.
We learned at a young age that life was not easy. At twelve years old, I started my first side hustle, I became a tutor to a seven-year-old boy.
That same year, my mom was diagnosed with kidney failure. The doctors said she only had six months to live. Thankfully, she lived for four more years after that initial diagnosis. She fought and we fought with her. We had debts left and right. But the years added to her life made it all worth it.
Having experienced poverty at a young age not only taught me grit, it also brought me ambition. I promised myself that I will help my family get out of situations where we had to rely on other people’s mercy to continue living. I imagined a life outside of the small apartment that we rented, a world where I can buy what I want without looking at the price tag.
My childhood also equipped me with resilience. It made me mentally tough and agile. These traits I would later use as I find my purpose in life.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
“This too shall pass”. When I heard this line uttered by a bellboy in the movie My Bestfriend’s Wedding, I was reminded of what I would tell myself when I was younger. This too shall pass. I always knew that if I persevered, I would take myself out of that difficult situation. And this might sound preachy, but I also knew that God, or whichever supreme being you believe in, will always provide.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Because I am so used to life throwing me curveballs, when I lost my dream job last year, that incident did not even have power over me. Sure, I was afraid, I let myself be miserable for days. I cried and worried myself to sleep for a while, but I knew that I could get up again when I was ready.
Grit is like a muscle. You must exercise it to grow and develop. And there are ways to fortify and strengthen that muscle.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
- Practice — Unfortunately, this part means that you experience struggles in your life. You must consistently move through it. You must get used to thinking of it as another boulder you have to lift, and in each big rock that you remove from your path, the stronger you will be to pick up the new ones. How did I practice Grit? Let me see: We grew up poor, I had to be at the top of my class to keep my scholarship, I lost my mom at 15, I used to waddle through chest-deep floods just to get to school and eventually to work, I lost one of my boyfriends to a robbery-homicide, I lost my job during the pandemic. All through my life I got to practice. The trials did not stop. I just got better at handling them.
- Persist and Persevere– I have always loved studying and vowed to finish school at whatever cost. Despite living three hours away from University and not having the budget to live in a dorm, I decided to commute. I would take the tricycle, then a jeepney, then a bus, then another jeepney before I get to school. I used to have nightmares about being late to class and would leave before sunrise so I can get there on time. During the commute is when I read and reviewed for my exams. Occasionally, that’s where I try to catch up on sleep. On bad days, it’s on those commutes that I would get sexually harassed. But that’s a story for another time. There will be moments when you will want to throw in the towel and just give up. Breathe. Gather yourself. Call on the gods of fortitude and put one foot in front of the other. When you marry persistence and perseverance with passion, that’s when you grow grit.
- Pep Talk. Have a good support system who would cheer you on and talk you out of your funk. But also do pep talks with yourself. The state of our life is highly dependent on the words that we tell ourselves. Choose kind words. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are doing the best you can.
– When my then boyfriend was murdered in broad daylight, I was reminded again of how life was short. We should be pursuing our dreams more actively. I decided to go on a solo trip to Paris. I told myself that I deserved it after just being through a horrible nightmare. It was time to suck the bone marrow out of life. So, I put together my savings and made it an unforgettable trip of healing.
-In her new book, The High 5 Habit, Motivational Speaker Mel Robbins talks about Neurobics where we marry positive thoughts with corresponding actions. She says that we all want to be cheered for, but we don’t cheer for ourselves. In this exercise, she asks us to look in the mirror and give ourselves a high 5.
-Say this with me: “Thank you, self, for never leaving my side. Congratulations for surviving this day. Thank you for hanging in there.”
- Point your Attention to Gratitude — When I lost my job last year at the start of the pandemic, I was so scared that I would not have the money to support myself and my family should anything happen. But I did not let this fear stop me from helping people. I gave free trainings, did pro bono NLP coaching, and coached local makers on how they can transition their businesses to the digital space. What we focus on dictates our reality. So, I focused on things I can control, things and people that I am grateful for, hope instead of despair.
-Pointing your attention to gratitude gives you strength to power through every step you need to take to get out of the darkness that surrounds you.
-By doing this, I got my name out there, got the respect of those who I helped and by the power of reciprocity, I immediately got hired as a regular trainer for many of my clients.
- Pause. As they say, rest if you must but do not quit. Sometimes the pause comes in the form of watching your favorite Netflix show, or a day out with friends. Sometimes it means a loud and fun happy activity, other times it can mean treating yourself out for coffee. Sometimes too, we need longer pauses, these are the ones that help is recharge and rejuvenate.
I do yoga every day, not only for its health benefits, but also for the quiet and stillness it gives me. I put my attention to my breathing. The in and out of air through my nose, the feel of the air in my skin, the sound of my surroundings. That becomes my pause.
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 you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
My mom, when she was still alive, had so much faith in me. I would join contests and academic competitions and she would always tell me that she knew I would win. She said I can do whatever it is I pour my heart into. She knew even before I took my exam that I would get into my preferred school. Just thinking about her and her faith in me is enough to keep me going.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Being a small business owner myself, I know how people are having a hard time because of the pandemic. I give free trainings to makers, artisans, micro business owners, creatives, freelancers once a month to help share the burden that the lockdowns have brought our economy. This is my own little way of paying it forward.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
From my one-to-many trainings, I recently ventured into one-on-one coaching for those who need more thorough and in-depth sales and marketing strategies to help them with their business. I am loving the experience so far.
I also co-authored a book, Becoming The Big Me, which tells profound stories of real people about how they overcame their trials and pains. These are powerful accounts of grit, transformation and strength. Please watch out for that on Amazon.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I interviewed and hired a lot of my team members. Even then, I valued grit. Instead of the usual tell me about yourself question, I ask them about the most difficult thing they had to go through and how they survived it. Their answers will give you a deeper understanding of who they are as individuals, potential team members who will either drag you to a pit or save you. Their stories of grit will let you peek behind the curtain of their personalities, their dreams, of what they value in life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
Rest is as important as Do. In music, it is important to provide spaces, allowing the listener to absorb each musical phrase before the next one starts. It adds strength to the rhythm of the melody. In yoga, the shavasana at the end of each practice is essential to calm our central nervous system and bring our breathing back to normal.
The same is true for life. By granting ourselves time to rest, we allow our bodies and our minds the opportunity to direct our energy to healing and restoration. You cannot have the stamina to build grit without rest.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My mom used to tell me, “Everybody is fighting a battle you know nothing about. So, try to be more understanding. Each of us has a story to tell.”
We all have our struggles, secrets, pains. While some of us build grit, some break down and fall. It is important to be compassionate. Always.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my thoughts about Grit.
Readers can follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/valeriepfischer
Connect with me on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeriepfischer/
Subscribe to my Youtube channel where I also house my online show and podcast Change Makers with Valerie Fischer https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZDb4-QA6RQiphcvH1qgiTg
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.