Elena Cardone: Build the empire of your life
By Mirela Sula
Elena Cardone is an actress, author, businesswoman, personal development coach, and public speaker.The queen of her empire, Elena has designed, constructed and protected a life outside of the ordinary. She has inspired a legion of followers to create their own empires – lives that are truly fulfilling and beyond the average.
She counts her current job as her most important one – Chief Family Officer, where she is loving mother, fierce wife and loyal friend. Hosting her podcast series Women in Power, Elena interviews and speaks with other influential women about a variety of topics – social media, business, health, children, education, government, entrepreneurship, travel, beauty, fashion… and yes, sex! Bestselling author of the book Build An Empire and an in-demand speaker, Elena has traveled the globe sharing her insights, wit and experiences building an empire and creating an extraordinary 10X life for herself, husband and family.
She is a proven self-development vehicle, providing accelerated success strategies by awakening undiscovered personal power, boundlessly expanding visions and building sky-scraping dreams.
Elena, you are wearing too many hats: actress, author, philanthropist, empire-builder, mother, a very successful woman, influencer and inspiration for many out there. What are some of the secrets behind your success?
The fact that I am even considered an inspiration to anyone, is amazing; I am honored. I believe we as women can do it all. We are capable of wearing as many hats as we want. To be honest, there is no secret! What I made sure to do is define my purpose. I had to make sure that I was clear about who I am and where I wanted to go. This in turn has helped me keep an eye on the prize which is to reach and help all seven billion people on earth. Seems crazy but this is the real reason I continue to push forward. Knowing my purpose helps keep each hat on my head straight.
Something else I learned is that each role requires certain qualities to be successful or effective. How each one of us defines success in a role is entirely up to us. And regardless of how we measure it, one thing remains constant; you must work for it. You must use your purpose to continue pushing through. This is what I do all the time. Even on the days when I don’t feel like taking on the mother role, or the author role, I still do it. And I do it with a smile!
Do you believe that you were born an empire builder, or did you have to learn to be one?
I think it’s a little of both. As a child, I didn’t censor myself. I always had big ideas and I think for the most part, that’s how we all are as kids. It was when I was told to stop being a dreamer, get my head out of the clouds and come back down to earth – that I started doubting myself. Society constantly wants to put us in a box, and from the moment we start conforming to their standards, to their normality, we stop being empire builders; therefore making it something we have to relearn how to do later in life.
One of my greatest gifts is vision and thought. When I have the vision, I figure out what I have to do to make it happen. You have to do: you can’t just have the vision. Empire-building is an art that I am still trying to perfect myself.
I think greatness is within us all; but accepting and being willing to share with the world is up to you.
Who was the first woman you looked up to, and why?
The first woman I looked up to was my mother. She truly did it all. She worked hard and was the sole financial supporter of my family. We weren’t in the best financial situation when I was growing up, but I had no idea. Her ability to move forward despite all circumstances, is a quality not many have. She allowed us to be kids without placing any worry on us about financial issues. The amount of love and care she showed us as a mother allowed me to grow up in a safe and protected loving home, allowing me to be a child on my own terms. She always supported whatever decision I made; I had freedom to be a child and I am still in awe of her for that.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
Trading in my acting career in order to trade up to build an empire with my husband was my greatest risk. In 2008 we were, along with the entire country, going through an economic collapse. I knew if I was going to survive this, I had to get behind Grant 100%. I decided I was going to quit acting altogether and we were going to build an empire. It took a lot of courage to make that decision, but I believed there was no other way we were going to win this. I really was scared that this imaginary women’s movement was just going to disown me. I was afraid of the backlash I would get. Then I thought, I’ve been a survivor and even if he left me I would always land on my own two feet because I’m responsible for my own condition in life. So I went all in. Letting go of acting turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. I doubled in power being with a teammate instead of rolling solo. I guess you could say it was worth the risk.
You talk about building an empire. This is the subject of your book as well. How can people build their empire?
An empire is an operating system, a way of living that sets your purpose, morals, goals and values at the highest possible level, so that everything else in your life, from your career to the way you raise your kids, to the way you show up in your marriage, follows suit.
In order to actually build an empire, there are certain steps you have to take. Define who you are and what you have that could make a difference and hone in on that. Get obsessed with yourself, your mission and your cause. You can’t expect to reach high levels of success by doing the bare minimum.
I say this all the time: You are either building an empire or you are destroying one. This is the most important thing you need to know about empire-building. Every decision you make affects your empire.
How do you define yourself as a leader today?
I’m extremely transparent, I am authentic and real. I never claim to be perfect. I am just trying to figure it out like everyone else. I hope people can learn from what I do right, and what I do wrong. I think that’s why people consider me as a leader. I push myself to the limit and I let them see exactly where I’m at. I’m not exactly where I want to be but I keep the curtains open so people are able to see the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to help people build their own empires and make a difference on this planet. In the end, you’re either going to watch me succeed or watch me go down in flames but either way I hope it helps you build your empire.
How did you meet your husband, Grant Cardone? What do you remember from your first moments together?
I met him on a commercial shoot in downtown Los Angeles. To be quite honest, I didn’t really think anything of him. He didn’t even register on my radar. Being the sales guy that he is, he was able to persuade the director into giving him my number (which is a big no no in the industry). After one phone call with the guy, I was certain he wasn’t the man for me. Thirteen months later, having received 2 phone calls a month from him, (that i didn’t return at all), I finally went out with him as a friend and now here we are, sixteen years and 2 kids later.
After we started going out, he was like no man I have ever met. His patience, care and genuine love he had for me, was simply irresistible. He captivated me and I’ve been hooked since.
How has life changed since building the business with Grant?
Life is different, in the sense that we have a different sacrifice phase now. Back then, we were on a financial sacrifice phase. During 2008 we were working really hard to create what we have now. Now, we have real financial freedom. We can help loved ones, the community, our church, and our philanthropic ventures. Our life has just dramatically changed for the better; we have choices. It’s extremely rewarding and worth all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get to this point. And it’s not just about financial freedom, it’s about what it symbolizes. We’ve had a lot of victories, we have a deeper level of love for each other and we’re very clear about our mission.
There is an old saying: ‘Behind every great man there is a great woman’. This seems to be quite true for you and Grant. How do you and Grant make your goals come true together?
It can’t be said without saying it in reverse. As much as I would like to take credit, he’s the man behind the woman. I’ve learned so much. We talk about it all. We figure out what our goals are as a couple, not just individually. Our individual goals feed our relationship goals. How do we divide and conquer? How can we do what needs to be done in order to win? We trust each other to run our separate divisions at optimum levels. We are both giving 110% in this relationship, we are not doing 50/50.
You are a powerful couple, loved and admired in America and beyond. What is your best advice for couples? How do people create and maintain healthy relationships?
You have to get someone who is of equal magnitude to you. If you’re someone who operates with a lot of speed, you can’t have a really slow person. The two of you have to be on the same page and become your best version as a couple. Workout who you are and what you represent as a couple. Your purpose has to be defined. Have weekly or monthly meetings. You should be battling the world, not fighting each other. Have goals so big together, that you forget and don’t even have time for arguments.
Do you think that it is hard to be a woman in business?
No. I do not. I think the glass ceiling has been shattered. Women can do anything. There’s nothing we can’t do. As long as you’re a professional, you have the statistics behind you, you will be respected. It’s not easy, but yes, it’s achievable.
Having it all isn’t exactly a myth, it’s a knotty issue that requires untangling before each of us figures out what it means in our own life. When you speak about ‘having it all”, do you think it is possible? How can women have it all?
You can have it all, but it comes with making sacrifices. If you want it all, what are you willing to give up? What is all? You have to define what is that all. I believe everyone should have it all, can have it all and deserves to have it all. Life isn’t a fairytale: somewhere down the line you have to give something up, but it will be worth it.
What do you see yourself building next?
I see myself building an Empire-Builder’s online course that can go global. Along with my course, I am building online seminars and webinars. Then, in conjunction with all of that, growing and expanding Cardone Capital and turning that into multi-billion dollar empire.