Meet Erica Averion - Erica is the founder of HEART. HUSTLE. HAPPINESS. is an advocate, speaker, writer and communication strategist who lives in the solution and focuses on the underdog. Her life’s work is centered around social impact and social responsibility for those with criminal backgrounds seeking a second chance. Follow along as we interview her. P.S. - Don't miss her TedX talk below!
1. Tell us about a struggle you are currently experiencing related to entrepreneurship?
I believe that individual attention yields individual results, so I find “scaling” that belief & concept to be challenging to certain types of growth.
Another pain point I have in my work is aligning all of my projects, clients, and opportunities with social impact (which is at the core of all my YES’s).
I’ve made the mistake of taking on ventures where I convinced myself they were “legacy driven” because they “felt good” or were led by “do gooders”, but once I dove in - the outside didn’t match the inside. So I am working on making that mistake less so that I grow my entire portfolio of impact to have social responsibility. This means I’m asking myself more and more…does this organization, business, entity, group, platform, etc. do all the good they can, by all means they can, in all the ways they can, in all the places they can, for all the people they can? And are they truly prominent to who they’re serving, working for, and championing?
2. Tell us about a key dynamic or factor of success that you believe in.
Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And stories make us all FEEL. Stories take us where we are. And we’re all shaped by the experiences of our stories. My most core belief is that when we see things in others we are able to better understand them in ourselves. It allows us to be (and feel) truly heard, seen, and understood. And in my opinion…in life- those things along with love are what really matter to most humans. With this said, I always enjoy feeling connected to others through their own journey by proxy of their STORY.
Stories also help me stay in a healthy reflective state - what stories am I telling myself? "That was a hard transition for me. That thing/place/project/etc. is something I'm still pursuing and seeking. That really resonates with a past Erica. Or that hits home with a current Erica that is growing into her challenges instead of resisting them."
Simply put: I believe in helping tell stories that might otherwise go untold.
I am relentless with follow up and follow through.
I call back. I respond again. I keep the thread at the top. I circle around again. I drag something on my calendar until I can cross it off. This has proven to be a dynamic factor in how consistency shines through in my work. If you do what you say you’re going to do and what you do is actually what you said you were going to do- that yields success.
3. Name a company or person that you have noticed doing things uniquely.
She coined the term "Multipassionate Entrepreneur" because she didn’t (and never will) fit into a conventional box. And I can often relate to her on that front. Her moral compass is to serve, and her company is built on a bedrock of love, a passion for what’s possible and a commitment to be an unstoppable force for good. Her and her company live this pledge out in unique ways through matchless resources. A lot of people motivate me. Tons of folks inspire me. But, Marie Forleo- I admire how she lives her truth out loud- by providing real, tangible, solution-oriented, and action based resources. One of my favorite assets of hers that I use frequently: “THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SAYING NO: 19 WORD-FOR-WORD SCRIPTS FOR ALMOST ANY SITUATION.”
4. How have you scaled your business, movement or non-profit?
Staying in my arena.
Moving in that circle. And authentically investing in the people in that circle. I believe the purpose of gathering, connecting, engaging and scaling is never just about “getting what you want", but instead it's about getting what you want and making sure that the people who are important to you get what they want, too.
5. How have you managed your team, what leadership traits do you believe are important?
A few key things come to mind here…
1) I try to lead and not manage. I’m a big Stephen Covey fan, “Begin with the end in mind.” So I try to cast vision from that perspective- from almost a NASA viewpoint- and let those I work with reverse engineer how they feel/think/see we can accomplish that said vision. I communicate things clearly, and reiterate the WHY - over and over again- through actions AND words. I’ve found that good leaders repeat themselves over and over again. And I try to do that from a “let’s remember WHY we’re moving the needle”.
I'm also a big fan of living in the solution, and seeing just how deep I can dig to be my own greatest resource. I love creativity that is born from a “NO”. Being solution oriented really is the margin maker. I serve & work alongside some of the most creatively resourceful people in the world- those in jails and prisons (you MADE THAT with SOAP- saaaaaay WHAT?!? Haha) I can attest that desperation really does breed innovation. So for me to keep reminding, steering, guiding, and nudging others in ways that remind us all of our WHY and the END that we have in mind is key.
2) I manage my no’s with belief that whatever is meant for me will find its way- and whatever is not will slip through my grip.
I had a boss once that was leading me (not managing me) tell me that on average, for every 7 no’s I would get a yes. He also told me to print out the no’s and make sure I had saved their email address, so I could send them a press release after our team crossed the finish line with our yes's. I know this to be true: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. But it has taken me SO long to ask for MORE of what I really truly want. Someone did call me “pleasantly persistent” this year, so maybe I’m not doing so bad after all. I am learning this- that any question is a good question if it gets you closer to what you want. What a ton of high functioning achievers have in common: they all are relentless in what they ask for- and they are unapologetic in how they ask for what they want- and they will not stop until they get what they want in the way they want it. This reminds me of Dyson, who invented his first Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner, which hit stores in 1993. He spent 15 years creating 5,126 versions that failed before he made one that worked. The payoff was a multi-billion dollar company known for its creativity and forward-thinking designs. Sir James Dyson, has an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion. Not a bad deal for someone who 20 years ago was just a guy with a game-changing idea for a better vacuum — that he couldn’t sell to a manufacturer if he tried- and he did. Those years were tough for the fledgling inventor and his family. “By 2,627, my wife and I were really counting our pennies,” Dyson wrote in 2011. “By 3,727, my wife was giving art lessons for some extra cash.” Before he was an inventor, he was an artist. And he was in his mid forties before his appliance became a best selling vacuum cleaner. So managing “no’s” has been key for me. Pivot. Shift. Readjust. Change variables. Take side jobs. Quit things that don’t serve your dream. Do whatever you have to...but remember…YOUR WHY.
3) Staying humble by knowing deep in my bones- we’re all mistake makers. I think we’re all just one step away from our next worst decision. I have these two things hanging in my office as reminders...
Here’s to remembering today that every eye I see by just a quick twist of fate could be me.
My job and those that work alongside me is to love others, without stopping to inquire whether or not they’re worth it.
6. How do you practice staying on track (in alignment)?
1) If it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a NO.
2) I stay prominent to the people I want to illuminate, serve, and be present for. For instance, I have no business advocating for second chances if I’m not friends with and/or doing life with someone seeking a second chance.
3) One key thing that helps me stay in alignment is to not give energy to those not on board with the philosophies of my life’s work. You will have critics. You just will. That’s how waking up, breathing air, speaking words, and existing in the world works. Not everyone is going to like you. I’ve dealt with critics in my life differently depending on the season I was swimming through. But here’s the truth- here is something that has always remained true and probably always will for how I “deal” with them: they fuel me and help me stay on track.