Hi, I'm Lisa. I help high-achieving, heart-centered women expand their influence by speaking freely through their story, brand and content.
This might be the longest About Page you ever find on the internet.
Long, because I believe in the old-fashioned power of storytelling, even in the age of decreasing attention spans. Also long, because I speak freely now, and I have a lot to say. Not to mention that I'm just stubborn enough to write my own rules.
Let's get the details out of the way first, shall we? You, know the stuff I'm supposed to tell you because this is an About Page, and you are a curious human being.
I like to call myself a Reluctant Visionary: the woman who would rather hide in the background, but seems to end up on the stage.
I am an only child, earned a Master's Degree in English Language and Linguistics, and studied six languages. I love cats and cooking and travel. (Preferably all three together.)
As a writer and storyteller, I have written more words in my life than any sane person should have to. Mostly in English, but not all.
Because of my compulsion to string words together, I worked in branding, marketing and communication for ten years before I started my own business. I am surprised now that I even waited that long. Cubicles just aren't my jam. Even if they do come with free coffee.
But let's be honest: you didn't stop by my About page to hear all of that. (Not really.)
No, the curious side of you wants to know if I am for real, of if I just another empty talking head, or a woman with abandonment issues and a desperate need for attention. I can't answer those questions for you, since you will be the judge of all of those things. (Especially the realness factor.)
All I can do is tell you my story and let you decide for myself.
The best stories start at the beginning.
How is this for a beginning?
For 33 years, I was a storyteller without a voice.
You might wonder how this is even possible. Can a person really tell a story without speaking? Can a woman who helps other women communicate their message for a living really ever struggle to communicate hers?
It is possible. I am that woman, and I believe the truth has set me free. But the truth is, it wasn't physical silence that conspired to kill my spirit or my impact on the world.
It was the gap I left between my words.
I wasn't born silent, however. Like most children, I was wired to make noise from the moment I emerged from the womb, kicking and screaming.
Okay, I admit, I did receive a slightly higher-than-average dose of the Talking Gene. I spoke recognizable words at 11 months of age, a full seven months before most children are spitting theirs out. By age two I was memorizing Bible versus for Sunday school.
I wrote my first book (a plagiarized version of Cinderella) at age four, and that same year I performed flawlessly on stage in front of a crowd of thousands. In my every day life, I told my parents and teachers the absolute truth even when it meant "telling on myself" for bad behavior. I wanted to make a difference in the world even back then, and would quickly rush to console someone sad or cheer on a friend. My words were mine to share with the world. It never once occurred to me to hold them back.
But by early grade school, things had changed. Somewhere along the way I developed a stutter that attracted negative attention. In first grade the class bully--a lonely, friendless girl--tormented me daily about my words. My mother told me that I should feel compassion for this girl, because she was acting out of her own loneliness and pain, and that I should pray for her. I did pray for her, but the damage was still done.
From that time onward I doubted the value of my self-expression. In my six-year-old way, I made gaining the approval of others at all costs, and not getting criticized, the goal of everything I had to say.
By second grade I was painfully aware that I was nerdier than most other kids. Not only did I stutter, but I stuttered over really big words I learned from books that were far above my grade level. None of the other kids knew what I was talking about. My parents pulled me out of school the next year to teach me at home. My solo communication blossomed with this new found time and space, but when it came to communicating in large groups, my self-confidence never recovered.
By the time high school rolled around, I felt anxiety and even physical illness at the thought of spending time around other kids my age. Hiding in big groups, or helping out behind the scenes, became a way of life. This was my way of coping with how scared I felt of really being seen or heard. It felt so much safer than being stared at and judged.
I didn't perform much on stage anymore, except for rare occasions. All my writing, including my first novel, was stashed away in my computer. I tried to be a good girl, a helpful girl and above all . . . a quiet girl. Though my gifts kept pushing me toward the spotlight, I always found a way to push back.
Back then I couldn't see this however. By the time I went off to college, I had convinced myself I was really an introvert, that my childhood passion for the limelight was an anomaly.
I spent most of my time alone, and telling myself this story helped me tell myself I felt okay with this self diagnosis. Everyone else was having the typical college experience with friends, outings and fun. I spent most of my time not in class in the library.
My summers I spent more daringly, in the little Himalayan country of Nepal, doing orphanage and literacy work. I learned the language, pushing myself to communicate with these amazing people and even ultimately taught for a women's literacy class. That experience left a deep impression on me. So many of the women I met didn't have a voice themselves because they didn't know how to read or advocate for their own needs.
I wanted to give these women the tools to speak up for themselves and make their lives better. At the time I hardly recognized that despite my wealth of education and opportunity, I was in the same position as they were, emotionally.
My one saving grace was the communication department at my college, where I worked as a student assistant between summers in Nepal. I loved helping to write stories, put together magazines and take photos, and spend time with other students and faculty who were also passionate about sharing messages.
It made sense to me, then, that I would shift right from college into a graduate school English program. I knew by now that I had a gift with words. I hoped that I could use this gift to help other people through my work, just as I had in Nepal.
With graduate school over, I got married to my college sweetheart, whom I had met while hiding out in the library. I began to pick jobs that allowed me to write and communicate, but always with a convenient barrier to actual people. I led a literacy program in a school. I became a screenwriter, fiction writer and blogger.
Then, a friend pointed out how my communication skills would be useful in marketing.
This pivotal conversation changed the course of my life. I spent five years after that moving from small local marketing agencies all the way up to a national agency. In my last job, I traveled every week of the month, pitching clients from some of the world's largest brands.
For those five years I juggled the frantic pace of agency life with my own resurfacing ambition to write stories and screenplays. My internal freeze on truth-telling starting to thaw out a bit.
But the realities of the professional writing industry soon hit like a bad cold snap. I did get accepted to an exclusive training program for screenwriters in Los Angeles; however, being mentored by battle-scarred vets of the Hollywood system wasn't any salve for my shattered confidence.
I hung on as long as I could, but when I was openly mocked for my ideas at a table of writers one day, my fledgling self-belief went into a tailspin.
Just like my early life, I found that even here my creative instincts weren't understood, or were deemed "too weird."
Looking back, I realize that many of these people (despite their successes) were as disappointed and wounded as that bully back in first grade. Their insights could have helped me write better, but the way these insights were delivered sent my confidence into a tailspin once again.
Having months, even years, of work ripped to shreds at that table of peers did not make me tougher. It actually sent me crawling back inside myself. (I've since learned this is common with highly creative people.) All the while, I chastised myself for not being able to "take it like a man."
Eventually I left Hollywood altogether and struck out on my own, producing serial novels, graphic novels and transmedia story experiences singlehandedly with groups of indie collaborators rather than through traditional means. I built an audience of my own loyal readers (and some really cool stories) at The Scrappy Storyteller.
I created a steampunk fantasy world that attracted backing from a media firm in Los Angeles, who backed me to create the world's first fully collaborative steampunk web show.
All the while I was using my words, writing a storm of scripts and books and client pitches, and selling things too for my employer, sometimes to the tune of $10 million. I worked with amazing communication professionals like graphic and 3D designers, filmmakers, musicians, project managers, event strategists, social media gurus. I said and wrote a lot of things, too.
Yet I could physically feel my "real words" trapped inside me. I didn't know why they were stuck there, but I had to get them out.
In 2015 I left the corporate world to launch my own business focusing on brand message. I thought that now, for sure, I would actually have a voice because I'd have my very own brand and clients and marketing platform.
I did successfully launch my business with a steady stream of happy clients, but I still felt like something was missing in my business. I knew I was saying a lot of what I thought about branding, and my unique take on messaging. But I wasn't saying everything.
And then, going into my second year of business, the bottom dropped out. My first quarter of business wasn't that good to start with. Then, I unexpectedly found out I was getting a divorce from my college sweetheart. One month later I had moved into a one-room apartment with my two cats and barely enough money to keep myself afloat.
Suddenly, I had to find the words to say what I wanted: from my ex, from the court, from my landlord, from the prospects I desperately needed to convert into clients, from my entire life going forward. And I had to find those words fast.
Talk about a wake-up call. Or should I say, a speak-up call?
For the first time ever, I realized that everything important to me ever in my life, I'd left unsaid. I talked around it. I talked about it. After that year of ridicule from my first-grade bully, I had slowly retracted more and more of my truth into my own soul.
Now, as a thirty-some year old woman thrust out into life on her own again, I found I could not even truly express what I restaurant I wanted to eat, or which movie I preferred to see. I had been so silent, perfecting my ability to nod, smile, and please people by completely deferring to their choices ... all while attempting to appear like a powerful, self-possessed professional.
I had managed the masquerade for years. But the post-separation fallout unmasked me.
No one was there anymore to "cover" for me by making choices or speaking up on my behalf.
Now, my very survival depended on my ability to speak freely. But I quickly discovered that speaking freely was much, much harder than I thought. I had to scrape back layer upon layer of people-pleasing, pussy-footing and conflict avoidance: tactics I had used ever since first grade without even realizing it.
It didn't take long for me to see how these tactics were also affecting my business communication.
As a girl who wanted deeply to make a difference in the world, and had so much to say, how had I let my voice be edited into oblivion? Why had I cared so much about the opinions of others, so much so that I could not really say what I was thinking?
I studied the communication habits of recognized female thought leaders, and realized they were absolutely fearless about speaking their truth in love. I had not done this yet. Ever. In fact, I had done the opposite, giving in to such habits as:
- Hiding or omitting parts or all of my story from my branding, marketing and sales.
- Avoiding telling clients what their real problem is, for fear of offending them.
- Keeping my communication positive, even when that isn't exactly truthful.
- Shying away from fun, fabulous images of myself in my marketing.
- Using cookie-cutter social media posts that feel bland but "safe."
- Sharing other people's content instead of creating my own.
- Avoiding using live video for fear I can't "censor" my words.
- Dreaming about having speaking engagements but not pursuing them.
- Talking about writing a book but never really writing it.
- Not actually asking for the sale in my sales calls.
- Smiling when I actually felt like crying.
- Softening important parts of my message that might offend people.
- Blaming prospects for passing me up when I didn't really speak up.
So I made a commitment. For the first time in many years, I'd be a bit more refined version of that fearless four-year-old. I'd speak up, speak often and speak freely. Whether I was asked to choose the restaurant on a date, or critique a website on a sales call, I'd learn how to have an opinion again. I'd believe in my opinion.
Above all, I would not hesitate to speak my mind in an honest, authentic and loving way, even if it meant standing up to the first-grade bullies of the world: those people who, like my lonely classmate, were determined to silence me to dull their own pain.
I also made the commitment that I would use the revenue from my business to fund organizations that give women a voice verbally and financially through entrepreneurship. Up to 20% of everything I earn goes right back to great organizations in the United States that are helping women make a life for themselves and their families by starting a thriving business. We will soon add women's entrepreneurship initiatives in Nepal, just as soon as we secure the right partner to support.
This commitment to courageous communication was far harder than it sounds. But it changed how I run my business.
I realized that I had started my business in the first place out of a passion to help women get their message out into the world. But that truth-speaking had to start with me. I could not help others do it if I was not doing it myself.
Today my entire business is built on the concept of speaking freely: that the story you're meant to tell the world (and the message that will truly make an impact) is the one that takes tremendous courage, love and trust to really put out there. My job is to give you all the support you need to do just that.
I love working with an amazing team of fabulous femme collaborators all over the globe and my partners at Starchart. I live in an amazing Art Deco apartment two blocks two blocks from Lake Michigan. I love on my two cats Fritz and Jack, and travel with my amazing boyfriend David, who is a photographer and a foodie. And who always holds me accountable to speak my truth.
But as you know, my life was not always this way.
This amazing reality was built piece by piece, with tears and hope, on the ruins of my old one. Even just a few years ago I could not have imagined that this would ever be my story. This whole beautiful new life couldn't even really begin until I had learned how to speak my truth. Speaking freely freed me. All of me.
I want you as a woman to know that you can speak freely, too.
You can be the expert. You can have an opinion and stand up for what you believe without sacrificing your feminine gentility and grace. Just because culture still pressures us women to self-edit doesn't mean we have to give in. Your brand, your marketing and all your content can reflect a message of such clarity and confidence that people can't stop scrolling or flipping once they've started.
If you've read this far, I know for sure you must be a woman of influence who's hungry to become a next-level leader. But you just can't seem to get traction or momentum around your brand. It's left you wondering why people just aren't flocking faster to your message when you have so much to say.
The truth is, the quickest way to a brand that truly makes a difference is not to self-edit and say what you think clients want to hear. It's to speak up for what they need to hear with courage and honesty.
You only get one life. You only get one voice. Don't silence it because someone did not like what you have to say or told you your words are not good enough.
Your destiny as a thought leader, business owner and world changer directly depends on whether or not you share your voice with love and honesty but without apology.
Speak freely, sister. It makes all the difference.