DREAM CATCHER: ALEXA FISCHER
Alexa Fischer has spent much of her life speaking to others, whether from the stage or through the camera lens as a professional actress. Despite a successful acting career that has included roles on CSI, NCIS, Bones, and countless television commercials, she wanted to use the things she learned at the Yale School of Drama to connect with everyone from CEOs to online students and teach them to speak fearlessly in front of others. Her work with clients like Trader Joe’s, Sony, Dress for Success, and the National Charity League has helped them better engage with their customers, attract more clients, and communicate more effectively as a team. Alexa believes that all of us are born with a magnificent light within, but that it too often gets blocked by fear and uncertainty. Her mission is to help others release those fears and let every bit of their “1000 Watt Presence” shine when they speak.
How did your former career prepare you for running your own business? As a professional actress, I have built up the proverbial “thick skin” needed to endure all the ups and downs of the entertainment business. Crazy directors, jobs that fell through at the last minute, toxic audition rooms… I have stories! Rejection and obstacles are simply part of the equation when you work in TV and film. When you know how to handle those challenges with grace and professionalism, you are not only happier, you also discover that more people want to work with you. Entrepreneurship is no different. You need to be creative, resourceful, and have the ability to stay positive, despite the fact that sometimes you want to throw your hands up and walk away.
What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome before launching your business? I knew that in order to launch a business online, I would need to have a working knowledge of ALL aspects of business, including areas that were somewhat new – blogs, video platforms, programming, social media, optimization, etc. While I did employ help, especially in the beginning, the obstacles were overwhelming. There were so many moving parts when I was just starting out, and when I really understood the breadth of what I was building, I had to get focused and simply tackle one task at a time.
How long were you in business before you started to see real growth? What do you attribute that to? For the first few years, my website was more like a digital calling card than a conscious means to build a following and create sales. I was building my platform in the background and was mostly focused on private clients and workshops. I accidentally stumbled upon video course creation, and once I had launched my first online class – and enjoyed the process of creating content so much – I knew this was going to be a big asset to my overall growth strategy. By my third year in business, I was a popular instructor on online learning hub Udemy.com. Within a few years, I had launched seven comprehensive video courses and have had almost 8,000 students to date. The revenue generated is somewhat passive, but it really fulfills my dream of reaching a wider audience and building additional revenue streams.
How did you fund your dream? Everything I did was self-funded. I started small and directed a portion of my income to invest back into the company. Looking back, this may have meant that I grew at a slower pace, but that was the decision that felt most comfortable for me. I was reluctant to seek outside funding since I was finding my way in the beginning and didn’t want to add any additional pressure to the process.
How do you organize your day to best optimize your time? Describe a day in your life: I wake up around 6am and get the coffee going. A quick meditation and then I start getting breakfast ready for the kids. There is usually some sort of dance with my husband that involves backpacks/lunches/showers to get the kids off to school. The dust settles around 9am when I am either heading to a client or working on tasks on the computer. No day is really the same, but I try to get all my appointments wrapped up before school lets out around 3pm. I sometimes forget that motherhood is its own full-time job and when I do remember, I feel lucky to have flexibility with my schedule. I jump back into motherhood until the guys are asleep and then I prep for the following day. I am a big believer in setting reasonable expectations for what I can accomplish in any given day, but I use all kinds of organizational tools like Basecamp, Google calendar, and my iPhone reminders to keep me sane and fairly organized.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be… Running some big company! Honestly, it’s like I’m a closet CEO. I’m looking forward to bigger and bolder projects.
Five years from now I see myself and my company… I have a few exciting projects in development. Without disclosing any of the details, one is a physical product to empower women (and I can’t wait to share it with you!) and another is a web television program. Both projects are extensions of the work I am doing now, but on a much larger scale. So five years from now, I can see my company producing content for various mediums, all in alignment with my mission. I have embraced the fact that I am here on this planet to motivate and inspire people and I will be finding new and exciting ways to bring my message to the world.
The key to balancing it all is… Accepting that balance is just a concept. I have no idea what it means to be balanced, but I do know the power of living as mindfully as possible. When I hear my own whispers of judgment, I tell myself to stop. I breathe, I look at something beautiful, I focus on what I am grateful for, and then I move on. With an attitude of compassion, patience, curiosity, and a sense of humor, life is really amazing. I fall off the horse sometimes, and when I do, I just get back on.
If I had to do it all over again I would… Maybe take a few more marketing classes!
The most important thing I have learned so far… I have embraced the idea of trusting that every step I have taken has had a purpose. Every screw up, every win, every risk, every contact, every idea, every email I forgot to send, every deadline I hit, every milestone I crossed, every technology that failed, every subscriber that unsubscribed, every person I hired, every newsletter I read, every everything, both good and bad. It all mattered and it ALL created the business I have now, and it will be the fuel for my success in the future.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
I am most proud of… My amazing family! My husband whom I’ve been with for over half of my life and my two little boys (6 and 8). They are my biggest reminder to stay grounded, to be present, and to enjoy life’s journey.
My favorite getaway is… Italy!
My favorite nail polish, lipstick, or scent is… I’m pretty au naturel, but I love the smell of eucalyptus.
My favorite TV show or movie is… Defending Your Life.
I try to achieve mindfulness by… Meditating daily.
My favorite author or non-business book is… Jhumpa Lahiri,
One talent I wish I had is… To have been Tina Turner’s backup singer/dancer back in the day.
A woman who inspires me is… How to choose just one?! Meryl for her acting, Angelina for her humanitarian work, Malala for her courage.
One thing I hope to pass along to my children is…To love life and live it fully.