Liza Pavlakos (lizapavlakos.com) – Adversity Transforms Lives

active CEO Podcast #16 Liza Pavlakos Adversity Transforms Lives

Liza Pavalakos – Founder LizaPavlakos.com

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, we are blessed to hear a compelling insight into the incredible life of Liza Pavlakos, from being physically and sexually abused, raped, homeless, kidnapped, tortured and human trafficked, to leading highly successful businesses and becoming an acclaimed international speaker, with limited high school education and no business training. We discuss overcoming and coping with adversity, starting a business with no education or business education, selling the service before the product, treating everyone as human beings, being proud to talk about your adversities, first knowing your ‘why’ before you know your ‘how’, and how she leads an active CEO lifestyle. This is one episode of the active CEO Podcast that you do not want to miss.

Background

Liza Pavlakos is a beautiful lady who has emerged from the depths of misery, frustration of powerlessness, humiliation of sexual and physical abuse, heartache of abduction, loneliness as a homeless teenager, hopelessness of being human trafficked and hardships of poverty, to rise up and lead a highly successful life as a businesswomen and international motivational speaker.

Her grit and determination to turn around her life, overcome adversity, understand life is worth living, be exceptional and become a successful entrepreneur, has led her to inspiring and motivating many people around the world.

She broke through barriers and bounded over obstacles, as a young self-taught entrepreneur and philanthropist, to transform Minibar Piccolo into a popular Melbourne café, successfully grow Finest Alterations from a struggling business to a thriving profitable five-outlet franchise, and at the age of 23, plan and stage the Miss India International Pageant generating $100,000 in ticket sales.

This remarkable woman inspires hope, empowers audiences, energises people and transforms lives with her moving story, beautiful soul, lasting imprint and infectious optimism. She shares her story and message around the globe through the Liza Pavlakos Foundation, www.lizapavlakos.com and with global companies such as CNN, Ritz Carlton, PWC, Qatar Airways, Colonial and ANZ.

Liza talks about:

  • Being exceptional about the way we think about the situations that be fall us and being the best version of yourself that you can be.
  • How we choose to handle adversities, is what defines us.
  • Being physically and sexually abused from the age of six by her uncle and cousin, who she really loved and trusted.
  • Feeling unheard at the age of 15 she developed depression, which led to an addiction to suicide and running away from home at the age of 17.
  • From a very sheltered Malaysian Islamic background, to being homeless and alone on the streets of Melbourne in Australia.
  • Being kidnapped by a stranger while walking home from school, to a destination she did not recognize and tortured for 8 hours till she was a knife edge away from death as she was given her last rights.
  • Feeling the heartbeat of her first child made her feel that she was loved, that she had a sense of purpose and to be the best version of myself.
  • Coming up with her first business idea that resulted in a $100,000 profit, Miss India International beauty pageant, with zero start up and a baby in her hand.
  • Empowering women and girls that have been abused themselves, but who weren’t able to articulate it or come out in the open.
  • Feeling the calmness come over you when tragedy is about to strike you
  • An Uber ride in the Middle East with her cameraman and assistant that led to being held at a prison and the uncovering of a human trafficking ring of over 350 people who had been gagged, murdered and burnt as military intelligence saved their lives.
  • Suffering and coping with Post-traumatic stress syndrome, and now having the courage to make change and talk about it. .
  • Having to ask customers how to make a Latte during her first days at Minibar Piccolo.
  • The product should always be good, but it is always selling the service first before the product.
  • Treating everyone as human beings as everyone has a story.
  • Treating everyone who works with her as family members and they all will have a vested interest in the business.
  • Staying calm, relaxed and focused on the person or people who need you to be strong, during moments of vulnerability.
  • Seeing people from the eyes of love, forgiveness, empathy and understanding that it makes the world of difference.
  • Know your “why” and then you will know your “how”.
  • The purpose of the Liza Pavlakos Foundation.
  • Teaching her children that they don’t need to shy away from anything and they don’t have to worry how people perceive them.
  • Waking up in the morning, preparing food for dinner, going to the gym, doing something for her, listening to music and reading books.
  • When travelling she always ensures that she has arranged a trainer ahead of time.
  • Her soon to be released book – Voiceless No More

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Ben and Craig discuss the importance of getting active in the workplace. Extended periods of time spent sitting can result in chronic back pain, cardiovascular disease, muscle deterioration, decreased productivity and even poor mental health. It supports a sedentary lifestyle that could also lead to weight gain, poor cardiovascular health, weakened muscles, stiff joints, and even diabetes.

Tweets

“The adversities are the very thing that makes them beautiful, that make them unique, that make them resilient, that make them strong.” Overcoming adversity with Liza Pavlakos on the active CEO Podcast.

“I am proof that a person can prevail against seemingly insurmountable circumstances if they have perseverance and the right mindset.” Liza Pavlakos on being consistent in the pursuit of her dream, on the active CEO Podcast.

 

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Liza Pavlakos LinkedIn

Liza Pavlakos www.lizapavlakos.com

Liza Pavlakos Facebook

Liza Pavlakos Instagram

Finest Alterations link

www.nrg2perform.com

craig@nrg2perform.com

Craig Johns LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching www.bengathercole.com.au

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#15 – Michael Sewards (SkyBus) – All Aboard the SkyBus Link
#14 – Jamin Heppell & Jen Ziegner (Mountains & Marathons) – Leading From the Mountain Tops Link
#13 – Chris Dean (Choice Energy) – Disrupting the Energy Spectrum link
#12 – Kate Palmer (Sport Australia) – Changing the Game link
#11 – Tim Cosulich (Fratelli Cosulich Group) – Navigating the Global Family Business link
#10 – Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone link
#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 – Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

Michael Sewards (SkyBus) – All Aboard the SkyBus

active CEO Podcast #15 Michael Sewards All Aboard the SkyBus

Michael Sewards – CEO SkyBus

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, we discuss how Michael’s team are elevating the experience of the SkyBus Passengers, coping with passengers varying stress levels, expanding both nationally and internationally, and solving the congestion problems at airports. We delve into Michael’s leadership style, parking the ego in a co-CEO environment, the growing pains when expanding quickly from 140 to 600 team members, and leading through transparency, energy and purpose, in a practical manner.

Background

Michael Sewards is a CEO that is always on the move, ensuring that customers are placed first and the passenger experience is of the highest quality. His leadership style is a charismatic, but humble, approach that suits being at the heart of a world-class transport service that caters for over 4 million passengers per year. He became Co-CEO of SkyBus in 2014, the company services airport passengers across Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne, Gold Coast, Auckland and Hobart, at no cost to the tax payers.

His efficient nature shines through in his ability to manage multiple site locations, volunteering at various sport organisations, supporting charities, spending time with his family and finding time to ride his bike. Michael is known for his generosity and caring nature, he spends a lot of time with his wife supporting and making a difference with those less fortunate such as starving children and women dealing with Breast Cancer.

Michael talks about:

  • Growing up and dreaming of being a Professional soccer player, and the harsh realities of trialling for Queens Park Rangers and realising that you don’t have enough talent to succeed.
  • The importance of preparation and understanding the environment you are about to enter.
  • How having part-time roles during High School and University allowed him to develop the fundamental skills required to be successful in business.
  • The first 100 days as the new CEO of SkyBus and being handed the keys.
  • Underestimating the strength of the culture in a family business that had been developed over 36 years.
  • Having a co-CEO and the relationship that has been developed for over 20 years.
  • SkyBus being proud to showcase and love the passenger’s destination, and making sure that their first impression is truly amazing.
  • Coping with passengers differing levels of stress, feelings, experience and approach to travelling.
  • Why it is important for the CEO to be clipping tickets at the curb or driving the bus.
  • Understanding the pinch points and degrees of stress in the business because of an event or certain time of the year, and deploying the management team to the curb.
  • The expansion strategy of SkyBus and the most important components for making it successful.
  • Understanding what the market knew and felt about SkyBus. Is there sense of brand equity and passenger ownership of the brand?
  • The greatest limitation to growth at airports is congestion in the forecourt terminal.
  • Partnerships are becoming very important in the growth and development of both business and most importantly the community.
  • SkyBus powered by Vodafone.
  • Wrapping the bus in promoting White Ribbon and Breast Cancer Network, and getting the bus drivers to sign the bus and commit to stopping any violence towards women.
  • The importance of turning off from work, having interests outside of work, riding a bike before work and reading a book per week.
  • Doing something new, every day, for the last four years.

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Ben and Craig talk about giving it a rest. It is amazing how many people disregard the most important technique for stress management, productivity, mental health, physical health and performance, GET A GOODS NIGHT SLEEP! People who get less than 6hrs sleep double the likelihood of weight gain and diabetes because of raised cortisol levels and the affects it has on insulin metabolism and blood-sugar control. Getting 8 or more hours sleep a night has a positive affect on your biochemical balance, predisposition to chronic diseases, performance, mood, energy levels, helping you to lose weight, controlling your stress response and vigour. Prioritise the time you go to bed.

Tweets

“The most important thing our team members need to know, is that somebody is there to help.” Gaining an insight into Michael Sewards, CEO of SkyBus, on the active CEO Podcast.

“It is challenging to apply the learning’s from Australia and to pivot and mold in New Zealand. It is just such an incredibly dynamic market because everything that happens in New Zealand is really done for the rest of the world.” Michael Sewards on expanding SkyBus into New Zealand, on the active CEO Podcast.

 

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Michael Sewards LinkedIn

SkyBus www.skybus.com.au

www.nrg2perform.com

craig@nrg2perform.com

Craig Johns LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching www.bengathercole.com.au

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book link

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#14 – Jamin Heppell & Jen Ziegner (Mountains & Marathons) – Leading From the Mountain Tops Link
#13 
– Chris Dean (Choice Energy) – Disrupting the Energy Spectrum link
#12 – Kate Palmer (Sport Australia) – Changing the Game link
#11 – Tim Cosulich (Fratelli Cosulich Group) – Navigating the Global Family Business link
#10
– Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone link
#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 –
Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link 
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

Mastery of Persuasion

mike-wilson-96168-unsplash

Customer service is important to your business as it can help you increase customer loyalty, customer spend, quantity of purchases, positive word-of-mouth, and decrease buying barriers. Your ability treat customers with respect, follow up on feedback, handle complaints gracefully, understand their needs and wants, and exceed expectations is the key to a long and valuable relationship.

This is the third article of a four-part series focusing on how the fundamentals of customer service are crucial to staff interaction, stakeholder management and the growth of every staff member, including yourself. We cover the ability to persuade, resolve issues completely, continually learn, understand the types of customers, be courteous and follow up with customers. If you missed the first two articles you can click on the following links. Part #1 / Part #2.

13. Mastery of Persuasion

The ability to create compelling messages that leave your customers with no choice but to stay connected with your company is a valuable skill for you and your employees to have. This is a skill that will take your customer service to the next level, as it provides you with the tools to convince interested customers that your product or service is exactly what they need. Being able to subtly make it feel like it is the customer’s idea to purchase a product or service is the ultimate goal.

14. Closing Time

Finishing a conversation, either verbal or written, with a confirmed outcome and satisfaction should be the goal for every interaction with customers. Customers are looking for a resolution, so it is sacrificial to complete the conversation before all the problems are addressed. It is important to take the time to confirm that all issues the customer has, have been entirely addressed and resolved. Your ability and willingness to close effectively show the customer that you care about getting it right, willing to go the distance and that the customer determines whether it has been resolved or not.

15. Continuous Learning

Investing in your customer service skills is necessary to ensure that you are providing your customers with the service and support they deserve. Consistent improvement allows you to increase customer happiness ratings. Those who aren’t willing to develop their skills are likely to get left behind the people and businesses who make investing in learning a priority.

16. Know Thy Customer

There are five sales-orientated types of customers (livechat) that you are most likely to encounter:

  • Potential customer – they show some interest in your business, so needs nurturing (show them value) and welcoming (let them know you are there to answer any questions) before they make a buying decision. The new
  • New customer – they just bought something from you, is still learning from you, and will need your help to guide them to success with the product or service through a clear user on-boarding process.
  • Impulsive customer – they can make a buying decision quickly, so it is important to reduce any potential boundaries, and ensure that help is quick, clear and concise.
  • Discount customer – they love a bargain, will never buy at full price, and therefore require further information and added value before they purchase, otherwise they may quickly switch to a competing business.
  • Loyalty customer – they keep coming back for more, are perfect ambassadors and help you grow through word-of-mouth, so it is important to provide them a platform to spread the word and keep them excited about your product and business.
17. Courteous

Treating your customers with respect and patience will take you along way. Greet your customers as they come through the door, use their name regularly, keep them informed if there is a delay, check in with them while they are purchasing and know your products inside-out. If there is a problem, make sure that you give them the time to express their issue and concerns, ask questions to gain greater understanding and be empathetic to their situation is crucial.

18. The Follow Up

It is absolutely paramount that you follow-up with customers to ensure the solution has been successful and that they are continuing to use your product and business. Following up with customers will exceed their expectations and may lead to increased loyalty and purchases in the future.

The fourth and final part of the 4-part series on customer service will be available in the next NRG2Perform article. It will take a look at conflict resolution, the use of technology, measuring customer service and more.

Looking for More?

Keep up-to-date on the latest membership information, research and ideas by signing up the the NRGizer Newsletter. SIGN UP NOW

Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles and podcasts:

Have You Ever Misread a Customers Emotional State?

IMG_7857Exceptional customer service has a profound affect on retaining customers and increasing your customer base.

  • Does your staff treat customers, colleagues and stakeholders with respect?
  • How effective is your staff at following up on feedback?
  • Are your complaints and returns handled gracefully?
  • What do exceeding customer expectations look like in your company?
  • Is going out of your way to help customers, colleagues and stakeholders part of your culture?
  • Have you checked whether all your staff understands your customers’ needs and wants?

This is the first article of a four-part series focusing on how the fundamentals of customer service are crucial to staff interaction, stakeholder management and the growth of every staff member, including yourself. Each article will cover six core components of customer service, that are pivotal to the success of your company or organisation.

1. Patience is the Virtue

Patience is not just about waiting for something; it is about your attitude and the way you wait. You don’t want to waste the customers time, but you need to take the time to allow them to express their concerns and for you to listen carefully so you can figure out what they are looking for. People want you to understand their needs and wants, and don’t like to be rushed out the door. It is important to remember that great service beats fast service every single time!

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we are waiting.”

JOYCE MEYER

2. Cool as a Cucumber

Have you got what it takes to stay cool, calm and collected, when it all gets a bit hairy and out of control? Having the ability to hold your nerve and remain composed when the conversation or situation gets a bit hectic is an invaluable skill. If you can take it up a notch and be able to influence, as well as stay calm, when the heat is on, you are in a powerful position when servicing customers. Whatever happens, you need to take it upon yourself to do whatever it takes to keep the peace and ensure the world doesn’t fall down around the customer.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” 

DEEPAK CHOPRA

3. Power of Positivity

The language you use when speaking with customers, has a major effect on how they perceive and hear your response. Using words such as can’t, won’t or unavailable are likely to have a negative on the customer’s views of the staff and the company or organization. Creating happy customers should be your number one goal. Be in control of your conversational patterns so the language you use creates positive perceptions. The tone of your language can have a noticeable effect on your ability to persuade and influence your customers.

“Life is all about perception. Positive versus negative. Whichever you choose will affect and more than likely reflect your outcomes.”

UNKNOWN

4. Ability to Read Customers

Being able to create a personal experience for your customers is an important part of making a long-term connection. With communication extending from visual, to listening and now even more common, written, you have to be effective in reading their current emotional state. You need to ask yourself, how well do I know the customer? If you misread a customer’s emotional state, your response, or lack-of, may lead to confusion and miscommunication. This essential skill requires you to look, listen and quickly comprehend subtle cues and clues about their current mood, personality, patience, and desired outcome.

“I never teach until I have spoken to the student. I have to first determine their emotional state, understand their background, find out what I have to do, how many layers I have to keep peeling off so that I get to the core of the person so that they can recognise, as well as I, what is there.” 

ADOPTED – CUS D’AMATO

5. Attention

You have to be on your toes, as customers may not necessarily spell out what they are looking for, right from the start. Your ability to listen carefully and effectively is pivotal to providing exceptional service. Being mindful and attentive to what they are saying, the way they are saying it, when they are saying it and how they are saying it provides valuable information for deciding how to respond. You may need to ask questions that clarify what you think they have said or written, as you pay attention to customer interactions.

“When I think about great service, it’s about how you take every interaction you have with the customer and use that as a way to improve their perception of your organisation.” 

JON HERSTEIN

6. Be Empathetic

Do you have the ability to understand and share the feelings of your customer? Empathy is an important character trait, which can be learned and developed over time. Your ability to emphathise with your customers and develop a message that leads to a positive outcome is an invaluable craft. Sometimes you wont be in a position to provide the news they are looking for, so you need to show compassion, understanding, care and concern when you speak with them.

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”

DANIEL PINK

Customer service wont develop on its own. It is constantly evolving as your company or organisation grows and develops. You need to be constantly enhancing both your customer service as well as the company or organisation you work with. What customer service improvement strategies are you employing?

Customer Service part 2 is now available with the Going the Extra Mile article. This article covers clear communication, using your acting skills, knowing your products, managing time, being ready for surprises and the tenacity to go above and beyond for your customers.

Looking for More?

Keep up-to-date on the latest membership information, research and ideas by signing up the the NRGizer Newsletter. SIGN UP NOW

Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles and podcasts: