the lowdown nitty gritty

I have a superpower, and that superpower is confidence.  I’ve acted on TV, sung around the world and worked with clients ranging from Ray Charles and HBO to Tom Peters and Guy Kawasaki — and these cats won’t settle for anything less than fearless excellence.  I did all this simply because I have more confidence than the next guy. Not more talent, not more resources, but a belief in myself so strong that I can turn my dreams into top-shelf, quality action (even when I’m scared).  You can do the same to get what you really, really want in business.  Call me at 310.570.8663 and let’s talk about how.

Below is my EXTENDED RE-MIX.  Cue record-scratch.

When I got into the coaching biz, I had to articulate what I do and why I do it and discovered that I am a joy hustler. I do it because entertaining others is something that oozes out of me, almost as if it’s beyond my control.

Never lacking in confidence,  in high school I used to sign my name on chalkboards: “Michele Marie Moreno the Magnificent Mexican was here.”  I was also an over-achiever and graduated with Honors from Stanford University.  But after graduation, I had ZERO direction. I was literally lost. Why?

Because I was afraid to go for what I really wanted — a career as an actress and singer.  I didn’t have the nerve to waste my “prestigious” education which my parents paid for, and which stood for “success” in a family with humble origins in the farmlands of Mexico.   So when an ex-boyfriend said he couldn’t make a job interview he had setup, I went in his place and became an intern for Tom PetersPeters, by many accounts, is one of the most influential business gurus of all time. I worked my way up to Assistant Editor of his newsletter On Achieving Excellence and learned that a 22-year old Latina can hang with powerful CEOs if she asks the right questions. (fake it ‘til you make it!)   That wildly profound experience in Silicon Valley gave me some serious business cred.  From that gig, I contributed case studies to two best-selling books by entrepreneur and author Guy Kawasaki. One of them, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy was translated into 9 languages. I was living the dream, right?

Wrong!  As prestigious as those credits were, my desire to entertain gnawed at me, plus journalism doesn’t exactly slap the golden handcuffs on you.  So to my parents’ disappointment, I moved to LA to pursue the cliché Hollywood dream. I scraped together a living working as a coordinator on various digital media projects (learning skills I use to this day) while singing in clubs at night. Singing and acting for money was way harder than getting into Stanford and there certainly were no roles portraying ivy-league-level Latinas.  I auditioned mostly for parts like maid, criminal and nurse. I remember seeing a Mexican friend of mine (an ivy-league graduate) at an audition.  He was there for the role of Cameron Diaz’s gardener, I was there for the role of her maid. And the sad truth is, both of us would’ve been ecstatic had we gotten cast!  #HollywoodGetItTogether!

During that period, I also fought off drunk Japanese men as a singer in a Geisha club, rocked orange sequins hot pants in a funk band at the Dragonfly and landed some high end gigs too: backup singer for one of the biggest (albeit cheesiest) music artists in Spain, Raphael.  And, drumroll, became a Raelette with the legendary Ray Charles — and NO I did not let Ray!    As an actress I also got some wild gigs:  traveled to the Philippines, did theater, indie film, industrial videos, voiceover and even had lines on 3 major TV shows: Parenthood, Boston Legal and The Shield (Michael Chiklis is the coolest celebrity ever BTW).

With my zest for travel and performance: I’ve sung my original kids music for thousands of families across SoCal, danced in the streets of Colombia protected by gun-toting guards, sang for the president of Nicaragua, sang in a Spanish women’s prison, at an orphanage in LA, for celebrities at the San Francisco Ritz with Ray Charles, watched my drunken boss Raphael fall from the stage mid-show in Venezuela, swam with hundreds of dolphins in Fernando de Norohna, Brazil was one of the first tourists to enter Belize’s ATM cave, and the list of epic times goes on.

But let’s look at the epic failures, shall we?  Because those taught me more than anything else.

Epic Fail # 1. Hollywood Squares

I made it on to the game show Hollywood Squares. It was first time on TV and since I’d dreamed of being on TV since I was little. It was my big chance!  I actually felt confident, until I stood in my spot and saw all the squares with celebrities staring at me.  Seeing Big Bird so close, my childhood hero, put me in a state of starstruck panic. Suddenly, I felt like my head was coated in cotton, out-of-my-body in fear. I couldn’t hear the words when host Tom Bergeron asked me a question, so I uttered the same answer every time – “I agree.”   Whoopi Goldberg looked on sadly as I unraveled. When I returned to the green room, the others waiting their turn wouldn’t come near me, lest they catch my loser disease.  My uncle Julio called me afterward to say, “S*it man, I thought you were smarter than that.”    Humiliated, I realized I had to learn how to deal with nerves or my performing career would be over before it began.  I found mentors, and trained and vowed to learn from every fail and win.  Over time, I learned to find presence and freedom in high-stress situations, and now I help others do the same in business.   Now I help my business-owner clients operate at the edge of their comfort zone and help them design actions that are a little scary and uncomfortable but exciting — the sweet spot of growth.

Epic Fail # 2. TV Commercials

After acting training and lots of rejection, my booking ratio in indie film, industrial videos and TV as an actress was solid. I did a lot of small roles and learned a ton.  But with TV commercials it was a different story.  I auditioned for more than 200 and landed only one — a .005% booking ratio.  And the 1 job was a super low budget ad for local ambulance chasers. I played a janitor (which coincidentally was my very first job at my dad’s construction company).  In the spot, I’m blinded when acid falls in my face and I end up old, in a horribly ugly housecoat, destitute, because I didn’t call 1-800-THE-LAW2.  When I first arrived on set, the director looked me up and down and said “oh (disappointed sigh). . you’re kinda pretty. We’ll fix it in makeup.”  Through all those failed auditions, I learned how to maintain my confidence and not take rejection personally. My skin is pretty darn thick because of acting, which is FANTASTIC for doing business and playing the game of ask.  I sincerely do thank the entire whack system of Hollywood casting, because it taught me this:

If you are in a situation where you feel less than or intimidated, then validate yourself. And don’t take rejection personally.  I designed my own confidence-building program to prepare for all my performances.  I have a mantra that sums up all those years of prep that pops me into freedom and focus at “action” or “showtime” —  like flipping a switch. I’m now teaching this confidence mindset, so entrepreneurs can speak live or on camera to become known liked and trusted.

When I started producing my own media, I had to make casting decisions. I saw from the other side that not getting an acting job simply means that you are not the right person in that particular role or moment. The odds are brutal, kind of like dating in L.A.  But grit is the key to success: So keep going with the game of ask — go for 100 no’s and you are likely to get a yes!    If you hustle long term, experiment and learn to analyze the results of your actions, plus you master your inner game, then you will reach your goals.  You will find the best place to add value in this world.    I learned not to question my ability or talent when someone says no.  I’ve seen countless people crumble when rejected and you cannot be tied to the outcome when you make an offer.

In fact, you can learn to make a “No” feel as good as a yes, because of your mindset.   Here’s how it works.   Go out and experiment, take action and pitch a prospect.  If they say no, ask for honest feedback then afterward analyze your approach. Learn from it and their verbal feedback and try again.  Incorporate what you learn from the “no” and move on to the next play.   The more offers you make, the faster you will learn and arrive at a Yes.  Without any negative emotions or feelings of rejection to de-motivate you, and a continuously-improving approach, you will arrive to “Yes” at lightning speed. This my friends, is key to winning any game in life.

Epic Fail # 3. Romance

In my 20’s living in the Bay Area I was the one breaking hearts.  But in Los Angeles, hetero dating is like being thrown into a gladiator pit where loyal men (non-cheaters) are hunted to extinction.  The few left are surrounded by beautiful women, and have no motivation to commit.  Only after major battle scars, and a continuous risk-it-all attitude, can you come out with a thriving relationship!  There was a 3-year period where every single guy I dated dumped me after a few months.  Not every other one, but EVERY SINGLE ONE.  Really? You are dumping me?  I remember staring at my tear-stained pillow, drowning in my sadness and self-doubt – me the one who was always so confident.  Yet somehow, I always managed to end my pity-party enough to take action.  I adopted what Professor Carol Dweck calls the “growth mindset.” Watch this Ted Talk for an explanation.  Even in brutal and challenging situations, I learned to shift my focus to work on new approaches and was willing to try, fail and learn all over again, and over and over, in order to get results.  Today I relish a challenge more than ever because Professor Dweck has shown me the light. I’m up at night, not out of fear but because I’m so EXCITED to work on my business and the distance between where I stand now and my goals.  The goals sometimes seem a mile away. But having closed even the widest gaps time and again, I know the try/fail, try/learn, try/win approach will work.

Epic Fail # 4. Low wages

I’ve lived the “starving artist,” life, but never felt deprived.  (I was lucky, I always knew my parents would take me back.)  Never able to commit to more than freelance production work, (because I had to be ready to jump ship for an acting or singing job) I lived paycheck to paycheck.  Western society screams that money equals success, and I pretty much felt like a loser.  But through my travels to more than 30 countries, many in the developing world, I realized there are millions of people who’d consider my lifestyle not just luxurious, but extravagant.  Staying in a tribal village in Fiji makes you appreciate your pillow.  Driving through slums in Rio makes you appreciate air free of gunfire. Traveling showed me that money does not equal success.  I am uber rich in experience: I traveled all over Spain and Latin America as a backup singer!  I found my life partner and we have a beautiful son. I’ve entertained thousands and I never once sacrificed my integrity. I learned to base my happiness and success on my terms and no one else’s.  This is key to winning the game of life.

Executive Summary

Now I see I needed the hard knocks to prepare myself for the big wins and to understand how to help others as a coach.   My artistic path taught me not to take rejection as a lack of my worth, but as a sign that I need to refine my approach, or change the game plan altogether.   Discomfort, risk, experimentation, failure and learning from all of it must be an option if you are going for something big – and practice and preparation sure does make winning a lot easier.

I have sung for celebrities at star-studded galas and rooms with 9 people (including the bartender and the band). I am the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who walked 500 miles for a better life. I am the daughter of a man who did not see obstacles in the same way as most people. I am a wife. I am a mother. And I aim to spark joy and creativity through my coaching wisdom and art. I am a genuine joy hustler. And I help entrepreneurs discover their on camera genius to grow their biz and their brand.

Having uncovered and unleashed what I do best, I walk into every room proud of who I am.   Please contact me at mm@michelemoreno.co if you’d like to learn more about my coaching programs.

May you go forth with Confidence!
xo  ♥  Michele

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