In our latest interview, we spoke to Liza Pavlakos, a renowned motivational speaker and a successful entrepreneur from Melbourne, Australia.
Meet Liza today, and you would see a professional businesswoman, but once her life was a story of sadness and misery. Following a series of terrible events, she turned her life around and now uses her story to guide and motivate others. She is on a mission to encourage millions of people around the world and hence most of her time is spent traveling across continents for keynote sessions and events.
Because of her tight schedule, it was not easy to interview her, but she somehow managed to take some time out for BrilliantRead community. We are honoured to have her time; she is extremely humble. Thanks, Liza!
Let’s have a look at excerpts from our exclusive interview with her:
Tell us a little about yourself please:
I was born in Malaysia, and as a teenager, I became homeless after escaping from being sexually abused for the second time in my life. Thinking I was heading to a better life, I become a victim of such intense domestic violence I needed to have the right side of my face reconstructed. Believing I was finally free of violence, I was abducted and almost murdered. After being rescued, I fell into depression, suicide attempts and drug addiction. I became a single parent at the age of 21.
So how did you begin to turn your life around?
Being a single parent, I had to find the means to feed my son. I was driven to give him a better life than I had growing up. So, I decided to become an entrepreneur.
I came up with an idea to set up the first ‘Miss India’ pageant in Australia, but it was a show with a twist. My goal was to give disempowered girls in my community a chance to shine. I had the idea but no money, so I went to the owners of one of Melbourne’s most significant venues and persuaded them to agree to be paid after my event! I had taken on a huge risk and large tasks with the promotion and finding competitors and sponsorship, but eventually, the night arrived. I hoped for a few hundred people to attend, and in the end, I got 4,000! I believe our life is made up of a series of decisions we choose to make in our life. If we choose to be a victim, then that’s what we will be, and if we choose to be victorious and live a fruitful life, then that is what it will be.
That set you on the road to be an entrepreneur, so what came next?
With no food industry experience—and very little overall business knowledge—I took over a failing cafe that my brother handed over to me and managed to turn this into a thriving business. That motivated to push myself to achieve more, and I established a rebrand of an existing company with my business partner Nick Pavlakos, undertaking clothing alterations and providing a tailoring and repair service. Nick is a master tailor and skilled in his craft. I couldn’t sew a button, but I had business acumen and marketing abilities. Together, we built a successful chain of stores. With a very high benchmark for quality and customer service, demand for our services increased dramatically, resulting in the opening of additional stores. I then began the creation of franchise opportunities. It was probably during this time when I realized that what I loved doing most, was to inspire people through business, whether it was to buy my franchise or teach them how to set up their stores. I found this the most liberating part of my life, to empower others.
You’ve undoubtedly seen some great success, but it can’t all have been plain-sailing?
There was a time in my life when I failed to love myself and used to be intimidated by people, feeling that my story made me feel somewhat abnormal. Then I realized that regardless of what people think of us, it’s how we perceive ourselves that matters. Irrespective of what might go wrong, we have to love ourselves. There are always failures in everyone’s life, but as long as we learn from our mistakes and make a choice to grow, we can all achieve success and be very proud of it.
Success comes from finding inner peace. I believe you will find inner peace when you do what makes you happy and live a life without needing to please others.
So what made you want to become a speaker?
Nick and I had a successful business, and yet I still was not happy. Every time a woman was murdered or kidnapped, I felt that I understood what it was like to face trauma, and so it was then that I decided to give up my businesses and branch out into motivational speaking to help inspire people through motivation.
The more I accepted the need to be open about my past,
the more I learned how what I had achieved could motivate others and help them push past barriers in their lives. If I could get back on my feet, with the right attitude, so can anyone, so I began on the road to be a speaker. It was a tough challenge, but today I have audiences in the thousands. I love that I have spoken in slums around the world. Inspiring them and giving hope to people that feel hopeless makes me truly happy. There is always light at the end of the tunnel regardless of the situation you’re in, you have to believe in yourself and know that your hardships bring you extraordinary resilience.
In every business I have developed, I had to learn and study the market but also take risks. The motivational speaking circuit is the same, and it is still also a business—I had to take
risks in coming out with my story. How would people react? But regardless of how people respond, it’s all about being authentic and having a no excuse mindset. Developing these attributes is vital for making your life and business journey a success. I pride myself in being a speaker, but I am also a mentor. I mentor many business executives on how to attain a more fruitful and balanced life. I also mentor women around the globe who believe they have no hope left in them. This story is a figment of their imagination, a story they tell themselves, for we all have faith within us and also the capabilities to build a better life. If you want to book me as a speaker or as a mentor, jump on my website, or go through specific bureaus, all the information is there. I am not far from your reach.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What are your sources of motivation?
First and foremost, it would have to be my children. I am a mother of five, and they come before anything else in my life, and they inspire me every single day. The next would be life itself. First came from having lived through near-death experiences in the past, but then another incident occurred while my team and I were on transit in the middle east on route to Africa.
We did not realise that our Uber Driver was a human trafficker. He was taking us to the desert to get human trafficked by ISIS. We were extremely fortunate to survive this ordeal when military intelligence came to our rescue just at the nick of time.
What we experienced was a harrowing ordeal. We were detained by military intelligence and police for many hours not knowing our fate and whether we would return home to our families. For the 14 hours that we spent detained in police custody, I couldn’t stop crying, thinking of my children at home. All I wanted was to go home.
We were lucky to be released after many hours, and I was on a flight to Nigeria to continue my speaking engagements. It took every ounce of courage for me to finish my tour and I believe, the best speech I delivered was my keynote in Nigeria because the incident reinforced this belief that we were fortunate to survive. I have a zest of life like no other. I am happy to be free and alive and thank God Almighty every day that he has given me my life, so I try to be the best version of myself I can be.
You’re also heavily involved with your philanthropic work; tell us more, please:
I was honoured to be the winner of the Super Achievement Award from the 6th Women’s World Leadership Congress, and that came from my motivation is to inspire and empower as many people as I can through education.
Currently, I am in the process of building a philanthropic project, called “The Empowerment School,” where I am working with Brenda Crompton from the USA who will work with me to make this project come into fruition. She is a Master Business Strategist, International Keynote Speaker, Author and Business Coach from the USA. Our goal is to provide free education and training in empowerment, delivering knowledge as well as skills in communication and empowerment.
I am also heavily involved in work to improve lives in some of the worst slums in the world, to support educating people regarding sexual abuse and domestic violence. I have also
worked with children in orphanages and with young pregnant and unwed women caught in dysfunctional relationships.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone starting?
Figure out what your passion is, for your love is your purpose. When you love what you do, you don’t count the hours you work because it’s what you like doing. Never give up on your dreams and always, believe in yourself. Lastly, love yourself, for if you do not know how to love and nourish yourself, you will never know how to treat someone else.
For more information on Liza Pavlakos please log on to www.lizapavlakos.com
If you are looking to be coached and mentored by one of the best coaches in the world, then Liza Pavlakos mentoring and coaching will help you create a culture of excellence that will become the new foundation for every aspect of your life. Schedule a session today via this link –https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=17198121&appointmentType=9132235