Secrets to Starting a Company: Q&A with A-List Celebrity Leeza Gibbons
Leeza Gibbons is an all-around business success. In the entertainment industry, she’s won an Emmy as a daytime television host, has been the co-host for Entertainment Tonight for 16 years, won Celebrity Apprentice in 2015 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As an entrepreneur, she’s been inducted in the Direct Response Hall of Fame and won the Icon Award for crossing the billion-dollar mark and is a New York Times Best Selling author. And finally, as a philanthropist, she started a nonprofit, Leeza’s Care Connect, which supports family care givers.
In our recent conversation, Leeza offered up her best practices for not only building and maintaining for-profit and nonprofit businesses, but for becoming a stronger, more resilient human-being as well.
How did you come up with the idea for creating your non-profit organization, Leeza’s Care Connect?
After my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my family and I realized that we didn’t have the education required to effectively battle the disease. And we felt as if we should have been prepared because my mother’s mother died due to the same condition. Therefore, I was determined to create in the world what we wished we had.
Common entrepreneurial advice is to create products and services that you yourself want. In following this advice, the creation of Leeza’s Care Connect was able to fulfill our wish and our need for an Alzheimer’s educational service. It is a place for people to learn what the challenges are, where to find support, where to learn the skills to make life easier. Ultimately, it’s where we could really connect people to their own strengths in such a difficult time in their lives.
Navigating such a trying time as your mother being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s must have required a lot of resilience on the part of you and your family. What’s your secret for staying motivated in the face of a seemingly all-encompassing challenge?
For me, the key component and driver was to really engage my optimism. This advice is applicable to all challenges – both personal and business related. Being optimistic is going to give you the ability to find answers and solutions. You’ll be able to bounce back and fight back quicker than most people who throw in the towel and are pessimistic and negative. And when facing a crisis, such as Alzheimer’s, you’ll be willing to engage with the tools and technologies out there that are designed to help you overcome the challenge at hand.
Additionally, I used – and continue to use – mantras. They really help you deal with your feelings when you’re completely overwhelmed with negative emotions. For example, when I was on Dancing with the Stars and surrounded by other female contestants with near perfect bodies, my mantra was “My body is strong and healthy. My body is strong and healthy.” When my mom was sick, my mantra was “I’m doing the best I can. I love my mom. I’m doing the best I can.” Since my family has two generations of Alzheimer’s, my ongoing mantra is, “My brain is sharp. My brain is sharp.”
I am a huge fan of Tony Robbins. He says that you always get what you focus on – end of story. If you focus on how you’re failing and how you’re underwater and how you’re overwhelmed, that’s what you’re going to attract. That’s why I believe it’s important to engage in day-to-day life with optimism and build yourself up with positive, affirming mantras.
How do you work towards increasing your resilience and bouncing back from challenges or failures quicker than others?
Aside from engaging with optimism and utilizing mantras, you need to edit the toxic people out of your life. The truth is that we become like the five people we associate with the most. So, surrounding yourself with the right, handpicked people is very important.
Business, and really life in general, is not a solo sport. You really need to form a team and find coaches that will not only help you achieve your goal, but also help you overcome the challenging times. In doing so, you’re to be more invested in your outcome than you’ve ever been before, in part because of the benefits of those with which you’re associated and in part beause you don’t want to let your team, your coach, and yourself down.
What advice do you offer to entrepreneurs who want to start a for-profit or nonprofit, philanthropic organization?
Often times, when attempting to start something new, we stop ourselves because we convince ourselves that we don’t know enough. So, my advice is to not wait until you know everything – which is never going to happen anyways – and don’t wait until you feel ready.
The saying “getting your ducks in a row” is instructive, but it is not true. The mother duck never waits for her ducklings to follow behind her. She just starts walking and the baby ducks fall in line. Similarly, I think that whatever journey you’re starting on, it’s never going to be perfect and you’re never going to feel 100% ready. But just launch it anyways.
What is your Best Ever advice for entrepreneurs?
Talk less and listen more. Typically, if you look around the room in committee meetings, boardrooms or negotiations, the most powerful person in the room is often not the one talking the most.
There’s a lot of strength in silence. There’s a lot of power in the things that we don’t say. Therefore, instead of talking, listen intently. In doing so, you can analyze situations, you can analyze your role in the situation and you can get to know the players around the table a little better.
What tips do you have for confronting challenges with resilience and optimism?
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