Liza Pavlakos is a survivor. She has faced many setbacks and struggled more than most, and yet her strength prevails. As a speaker, she shares her story with audiences across the world. She inspires others to overcome their difficulties and reach their full potential, as she has done herself. We spoke to Liza about resilience, risks and her biggest “wins”.
Q: Your story is one of resilience; you have overcome so much and gone on to lead a successful career as an entrepreneur. Employers and individuals across the world are looking for ways to build resilience, as we work through the pandemic. What advice would you give on developing resilience?
A: The most important strategy I have learned over time is to focus your efforts on keeping calm amidst chaos and more importantly, motivate yourself to bounce back. After all, resilience is the ability to bounce back after facing a challenge — the pandemic, as an example. The COVID-19 pandemic inevitably created stress and strains in the workplace, and one’s resilience is key in keeping any organization afloat today. In order to develop resilience, you must take positive action. Do something that will somehow give you a sense of control, even if it does not necessarily solve your problem. Always see crises as avenues for learning. Support one another and appreciate your relationship with co-workers. Celebrate your victories no matter how small and give positive feedback when called for. Develop realistic goals both at work and in life, and take small steps everyday towards them.
Q: You have had widespread success as a speaker and collaborated with global brands. What made you want to become a speaker initially?
A: I worked hard to become a successful entrepreneur — whether it’s launching the Miss India International Beauty Pageant, creating Melbourne Luxury Tailoring Franchise, or revamping MiniBar Picollo, a boutique bar and restaurant and making it into a success. I have always adapted with the change of my beating heart. As I grew older, my values changed. Back then, I felt like I needed to be the best entrepreneur, but later on, I realized that I wanted to be the best in what I truly loved, and that is to inspire others to succeed.
I understand poverty and I understand wealth. I understand the depths of depression and know what it is like to be almost murdered. I understand risks, and I know that I would risk it all if it means I’d be authentically happy. After all, being successful relies so much on how passionate we are in what we do.
Q: You have achieved a lot in both your professional and personal life – which of your “wins” is most significant to you? And why?
A: The most significant win I had was the Super Achievement Award in Asia. Before personally receiving the award, I knew I had to make it a more special memory; so I thought of inviting the girls I met at the slums of Bandra in Mumbai to go up the stage with me as I accepted the award. I wanted to share that moment with these young girls and make them feel that they can achieve anything and be successful in their own right. I hope it was a memory they’d cherish, as I would cherish that moment for the rest of my life. I have had great moments and significant achievements I never thought I’d have, but the greatest achievement for me was to have been able to give someone a chance to shine. If I die tomorrow, I know I have lived my life to the fullest giving someone else a chance to thrive in their own light!
Q: Success tends to come hand in hand with some degree of risk. What is the biggest risk you have taken?
A: I’d say that it would be the time when I almost fell victim to ISIS human trafficking in 2017. I was in the Middle East in transit to a speaking engagement in Nigeria when our driver turned out to be a human trafficker from ISIS. By sheer luck and with the help of military intelligence, I was saved. It was an ordeal I will never forget.
I also consider being a speaker as the biggest gamble of my life. Becoming a public figure and speaking about personal matters in hopes of inspiring others has been a huge risk. Nothing in my life has stayed the same since. There is so much to lose. However, if you truly believe in your work and what you stand for, you know that there is so much to gain. Personally, I have gained a sense of inner peace while doing what I do, and that makes everything worth it.
Q: Your work with the Liza Pavlakos Foundation is incredibly important. What are your goals with the Foundation and where do you hope to take the organisation over the next five years?
A: My goal is to continue educating children in the slums around the world. I hope to build my own school in time, but everything takes time and good management. I have been blessed to have been able to provide educational equipment and hospital equipment to people in need. We don’t need to do too much, but even the littlest drop of hope is enough to make an impact.
Chartwell is proud to represent Liza Pavlakos for speaking engagements. If you would like to book Liza for your next event, please get in touch.