Step Into Your Moxie – with Alexia Vernon

How are you having influence in the world? Are you stepping into your roles, using your voice, and being visible? If you could use some inspiration to take action and do more with your opportunities, then this is the show for you!

Alexia Vernon was branded “The Moxie Maven” by President Obama’s White House for her unique and effective approach to female empowerment. Alexia’s equal parts practical, poetic, and playful delivery style make her a sought-after speaker, speaking coach, and women’s leadership consultant. Her book, Step Into Your Moxie: Amplify Your Voice, Visibility, and Influence in the World, is a soul-stirring call to action to speak up for yourself and the ideas and issues that matter to you most. Alexia has helped thousands of women and men slay diminishing self-talk and cultivate confidence. In this episode, Alexia shares about her hilarious start to public speaking and how she didn’t come naturally to it, how to step into your moxie in crucial conversations, and why we should be excited about the new paradigm of feminism abounding.

“The Moxie Maven” 

Alexia loved the word “moxie” from the first time she heard it applied to her. She uses it in her brand and in the title of her book. She defines moxie as “when one possesses the mindset and skill set to be able to walk into any room or onto any stage and unapologetically speak up for one’s self and one’s ideas, using words that move people to take action.” The origin of the word is a cool story, as it was the name of a soda from the 1880s, which promised to give toughness and courage. Alexia made it her mission to help individual women step into their moxie as a default habit and to encourage organizations to create a culture where women’s voices are heard.

A new paradigm of feminism

The new paradigm of feminism acknowledges the existence of oppression and supports women’s empowerment. Always interested in women’s studies, Alexia made this her academic pursuit and her business and career focus. Since her senior year of high school, she’s been interested in feminism and recognized the danger of the “angry feminist” stereotype. This perception often gets in the way of using empowerment to the fullest extent.

Get the wonkiness out!

Alexia’s first role was leading professional development for an educational theater company. She pivoted early in working with women in communication and public speaking, negotiation, and having daring conversations. She pushes women to try out their messaging skills to get the “wonkiness” out and then provides feedback in a safe space. Alexia discovered the value of role play as a development tool in helping women speak up, and she even uses this strategy with her young daughter. Role-playing requires practicing those daring conversations repeatedly to put intention into action. 

The bunny, the dragon, and the cheetah

Women often undermine their influence by failing to integrate the feminine and masculine, and by skewing themselves in one direction or the other. Alexia categorizes feminine communication and leadership as either bunny or dragon. The bunny is afraid to own what they think, feel or believe, and they apologize for that. The dragon isn’t open to feedback, and postures and puffs up. Instead of either of these extremes, we should strive to be the cheetah, who is able to accelerate when needed, or to hold back and interpret cues. Alexia teaches women to be the cheetah instead of ping-ponging back and forth between bunny and dragon.

Finding your inner cheetah

In preparing for a presentation (or any interaction), going bunny” means we hide behind other people’s facts and opinions, doing informing, but not persuading. “Going dragon” means we are owning a point of view in a tough and judgmental way, but not in a provocative way. Both extremes come from a void and scarcity in ourselves. If we show up as a cheetah, then we are audience-centered, helping gain our audience benefit and secure takeaways from what we present. 

Focus on serving

Don’t focus on yourself and your inadequacies. It’s not about you! It’s about serving your audience, and then there isn’t room for your concerns and fears of inadequacy. Be in connection with your audience by asking questions. Alexia’s public speaking skills didn’t come naturally, and she began in 3rd grade with a panic attack! She started with the message of focusing on herself and her fears, and knew that when she spoke, she would be ridiculed, diminished, and misunderstood. She learned valuable lessons to change that narrative and look at her now!

Playing nice with fear

The most fundamental shift we can make if we feel uncomfortable is to begin labeling it as “sensation,” and not fear. Calling it fear leads to self-sabotage, but reframing it as sensation makes us realize we are on the cusp. Then we layer tools to help manage the sensation, beginning with physicalizing it with movement to find peace and calm with mindfulness tools. 

Reclaiming the role of protagonist

Identify the voice that your self-talk uses to you. The critic says, “I’m not enough.” The cop says that there is the right way and the wrong way – nothing else. Creating this right/wrong dichotomy paralyzes us in taking action. The cheerleader is positive but doesn’t allow us to capitalize on our potential. The solution is to recognize your default voice, realize there’s nothing wrong with your voice, and then ask questions that allow you to reclaim the role of protagonist. Alexia gives examples and simple questions to use. Be your own coach!

Adopting a growth mindset

Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” Try asking, “Why might this happening for me?” Bring in your coach voice and allow it to awaken you to deep learning and transformation. Trust. Go through it. Feel all the feels. Look at it, not as a setback, but as the foundation for a breakthrough. Alexia shares her personal example of going through postpartum depression after her daughter’s birth.

Advice for managers

Real-time opportunities and experiences are essential for women. The role play, coaching, and feedback are critical priority pieces for women leaders. It’s been shown, and Alexia practices this in her work, that women thrive with this kind of learning, much more so than men.

Highlights of this episode:

  • 1:57 – Alexia’s nickname and mission
  • 2:56 – Alexia’s TEDtalk
  • 8:00 – Why feminism shouldn’t focus on anger
  • 9:10 – Developing women’s leadership and communication skills
  • 11:59 – Adult learners need to play, like children and puppies!
  • 16:15 – Top ways women undermine their influence
  • 19:50 – Finding your inner cheetah
  • 24:42 – Focus on the audience
  • 26:17 – Alexia’s start in public speaking
  • 29:29 – Playing nice with fear
  • 33:51 – Becoming empowered as a protagonist
  • 39:31 – Tips for having daring conversations
  • 43:07 – Adopting a growth mindset
  • 50:07 – Advice for managers to empower women leaders
  • 51:58 – Fem Five

Resources Mentioned:

The Fem Five:

1. Favorite book to recommend for women?

  • Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead  by Brene’ Brown

2. Favorite self-care hack?

  • “Watching one hour of funny TV every day to unwind.”

3. Best piece of advice and who gave it to you?

  • “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

4. Female CEO or thought leader you’re into right now?

5. One piece of advice you’d give your five years younger self?

  • “How can this be an opportunity to cultivate your voice and to let go of the need to control how this opportunity unfolds?”

Last Time on The NextFem Podcast

Customer Satisfaction: the Path to Business Prosperity – with Kate Edwards

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