Following the path of my father
By Fati Gorezi
Ona Brown is the “success-ologist” who escorts individuals, teams, corporations, and non-profits on the journey to discovering how to excel beyond any seeming limitations and/or obstacles by activating their personal and professional power. Ms. Brown has motivated tens of thousands throughout the United States and in over seven different foreign countries over the past 22 years. Ona Brown is a proven self-development vehicle, providing accelerated success strategies by awakening undiscovered personal power, boundlessly expanding visions and building sky-scraping dreams.
How did you begin your speaking career?
I often say that I ran from speaking until it caught up with me. I didn’t see myself as a Speaker. I saw myself as a shy, quiet, country girl from Kentucky, and that limited perception that I had of myself made me unwilling to be open to the possibility of speaking professionally…which is what I have now been doing, nationally and internationally for over twenty three years….and I love it! It was an interesting situation when my father came to live with me, and one day he was eavesdropping on my phone calls. After my call, he asked me if we could have an important conversation. When I went into the room to talk to him, he told me, “ninety nine percent of the people that call here, you uplift them, you encourage them, you give them techniques to take their lives to the next level, Ona, you are a power speaker, and a powerful coach, you are just using the telephone as your microphone.” I laughed at him and said, “Dad, that is not who I am!” He went on to attempt to convince me that he saw something more in me than I was able to see in myself. I was so busy fighting for my limitations that I could not even comprehend what he was sharing with me. Which reminds me of the quote that I love, “If you fight for your limitations, you may just get to keep them.” In that moment I was actually fighting for my limitations. I was telling him all the reasons why I could not speak, coach or train. And he was telling me all the many reasons why I could. I went on to remind him that I was an extremely shy person. Furthermore, to explain my perception of myself, “Listen, I’m your number one sales person in the back of the room at your product table. I do the research on the various corporations to help you present a powerful presentation and to get a standing ovation and I’m really great at negotiations. I negotiated your very first, highest paying international contact so I know very well who I am. I am a behind the scenes person and I’m very comfortable with that. I’m great at it. So you telling me now that I need to get on stage is something that I am not ready to embrace. It just doesn’t fit into who I am, it’s who you are, not who I am”. We kept going back and forth and he kept saying, “Yes you can” and I would say “No, I can’t.” He finally used wisdom. He said, “Maybe you’re not a Speaker, maybe you’re not a Coach, but you sure tell a great story”, and he was right, I do tell a pretty good story. “Would you be willing to come on stage and tell a story that you don’t have to actually speak.“ he said. “Ok, I’ll come on stage to tell a story but I’m not speaking.” Him tricking me onto the stage is how the journey began, because once I was on stage and I felt this connection with the audience, and I saw people having these ‘A-HA’ moments, there was no turning back. People were coming up to me afterwards and saying, “Thank you, you spoke to my life. Thank you, I felt like you were speaking to me, I needed that. Thank you for what you shared.” Those experiences were the initial stages of me opening up to something I did not know existed within myself. One of the things that I truly believe is that we have to be willing to let go of who we are for who we become. It was a major turning point in my life and I am forever grateful for it.
Was it difficult for you to break into the industry where your father was this powerful Speaker and named one of the top five speakers in the world?
Like everything in life, it has pro’s and con’s. I’ve had so many people say, “Wow, I love your dad, I’ve been following him for many years and he’s my absolute favourite. I’m glad my Company brought you in, I hope that you can do a little something in comparison to your father because he is the greatest of all times” or “We really would have liked to book Mr. Brown, but we didn’t have enough money for him, so we decided to give you a run.” Situations like that can definitely do something to your self-esteem and self worth. Which is why learning how to shine my light in the midst of a gigantic shadow was such a great training ground for me, realising that I didn’t have to be a junior version of him, all I had to do was learn how to be comfortable in my own skin; to be my authentic self and cultivate my own unique voice. That was truly a journey of discovery. There were many times when I felt “perhaps this isn’t for me.” I had some rough events where I stood up and my mind sat down – times when I truly doubted myself. However I decided to give it an honest run, to give it everything I’ve got. I prepared myself by studying, reading, practicing, collaborating, planting seeds as an entrepreneur and pushing myself out there and doing various types of events, even if I felt inadequate, I would face that fear and rise to the occasion each time. Sometimes I would even do events where people didn’t know who I was, I wouldn’t say I was related to him and people would come up to me afterwards and say, “You remind me of Les Brown, have you ever heard of this guy named Les Brown? You should keep going with your career, you have something special about you.” I did that because I wanted to know if people would actually gain value from me as a professional Speaker…because of what I shared…not because of who my father was. It was hard during those initial stages of building my voice and working through the nervousness and those notorious stomach butterflies. I learned how to go to the bathroom and centre myself in the mirror and get those butterflies to fly in formation. I believe all of that was a part of my growth and development as a Speaker. It is also why I resonate so well with Speakers who tell me “I don’t know if I can really do this, I’m shy, I’m an introvert” or “You just don’t understand Coach Ona, I can’t find a way to work through the nervousness,” and I just laugh and I tell them, “Yes you can, if I can, you can too…let’s begin the work”.
What do you love about Coaching?
When I started coaching in 1995, it was before everyone and their mother became Coaches. Most people were unfamiliar with the concept of Coaching. Oftentimes they would say, “Are you referring to something in sports, training athletes or something of that nature?” I would say, “No, it’s centred around self-development and helping people to grow to their next level of greatness and to access their untapped potential. I empower people to create the greatest version of themselves.” People would say, “Wow, I’ve never heard of anything like that…sounds very interesting…I would like to know more please!” During that time, I fell in love with the idea of coaching because I have always had a compassionate heart and naturally enjoy helping people. I’m also fascinated with human behavior; discovering what it takes to make a person tick and what it takes for us to grow beyond our limitations, fears, doubts and worries. I get super excited when I see my clients raising the bar on themselves and accomplishing great things while becoming these powerful people that in their mind was almost impossible for them to become. So, I decided that I wanted to be the most amazing Coach on the planetbecause it’s my nature to want to be the very best at whatever I do. There is a quote that dad and I have utilised for years, “It’s really hard to see the picture when you’re inside of the frame.” That’s what a Coach does, they show up and help you to see the blind spots in your life in order to find the winning strategy that you need…in midst of the rapid pace of life. That’s the beauty of having a powerful Coach. Especially a seasoned Coach, with thousands of hours of experience,who knows how to get in your corner to strategise with you, stretch you, encourage you and hold you accountable to the greatness that you have been wanting to access for so long. Malcom Gladwall said that once you do something for over 10 thousand hours you’ve made it to the mastery level and I am so grateful to have accomplishedthe mastery level of coaching. I see myself as a pretty good speaker but an amazing Coach. Even though people say, “You are an awesome speaker, I think to myself, “You should experience me as your Coach, and watch your life change…dramatically.” ***eye wink*** Some of my coaching clients gave me twotag names, which have stuck with me throughout the years. “The Dream Queen” and “The Message Midwife” both aliases describe the two types of Coaching that I enjoy doing the most. Helping people to create and manifest their dreams as well as helping people give birth to their unique messages that they want to share with the world. Because my father recognised my gifts and talents before I did he would often put me in these awkward situations by saying, “Ona, this is a former attorney, former doctor, former athlete or stay-at-home mom. They have a story within them, a powerful message they want to bring out. I know you can help them, I have a flight to catch. Bye.” And he would just leave, and I would be so frustrated with him. Tears in my eyes, shaking all over but pushing through the frustration, and working with that eager person he’d leave me with. Asking them to tell me about themselves, as I listened intently. Then somehow, I would find myself on this journey with this person, listening to them tell me about their triumphs, values, hurts, pains, disappointments and successes. During this intensive unfolding I’m laughing with them and crying with them as we design an overview of their story, beliefs and philosophies and co-create a foundational message that they can share with the world.
What is your unique about your coaching?
I don’t believe in having a “shelf approach” to Coaching, which is what a lot of coaches often do. They have a methodology that they keep on a shelf and whenever a prospect shows up, they pull it down, dust it off and use it for each and every client. What I do for my clients is very specific and organic, which is why it’s very difficult to describe. There are things I have done with Coaching clients that aremulti-millionaires with their own private jets and private helicopters. To get her or him to look at themselves in a different way while raising the bar on where they may be emotionally, spiritually and physically is dramatically different from the work that I do with a top executive at a corporation, a brand new entrepreneur, or a stay-at-home mom who has served her purpose well at home and is now facing an empty nest and anxiously ready to start living her life for herself. I don’t believe that you can have the same approach with varying personalities and circumstances. Each person has to be met, where they are, in order to effectively empower them to grow to be where they want to be.
Do you think everybody is coachable?
No, everyone is not coachable. I realised that early on in my career and so I developed a thorough assessment that each of my potential clients take with one of my team members or myself, and based on the results, we can determine if they are a great fit for my particular style of coaching. I have found out that not everyone is willing to put in the work. Some people have a microwave mentality. They want to be able to twitch their nose and tap their heals and have a brand new reality in a twinkling of an eye. A whole new version of who they are, without investing the time, energy or money. Becoming the best version of oneself takes time and effort and so we have had to decline a few people over the years, for this very reason. Which is why I take the time to make sure the Coaching relationship is a great fit for both parties and that we resonate well together with clear expectations. I can be quite stern as a Coach because the program is designed to produce measurable results. So basically, if you don’t show up to your agreed upon scheduled session, or you don’t have your required assignments, there is no tolerance for self-sabotage or flaking out on your dream. We work from clear and understandable consequences which is encourages our clients to bring an‘A game’ of exceptional effort, they give one hundred and fifty percent. They don’t want to lose their growth, their momentum, or their investment of time and money. I often say to my clients, “You might not like me during the process, however you will definitely love me once you experience the exceptional results.”
What is next for you?
I will continue to develop and cultivate dream owners and voices all over the world. I have had coaching clients throughout the United States as well as places such as Munich, Germany, London, England, Sydney, Australia, just to name a few. My clear intention is to make the world a better place while simultaneously creating the greatest version of myself. I’m looking forward to expanding my work into various African and Asian countries; I am fascinated with their cultures. Eventually, I will be launching experiential retreats in very exclusive/exotic destinations for top executives, entrepreneurs and CEOs. I have had exceptional and amazing results with transformational work in the lives of the high achiever and the global expansion of that work will create exactly what my business name represents ‘World Impact Now ~ W.I.N.’ We all have the potential to be winners in our own unique ways and we had to win in order to get into this life.
What would you say to the next generation of speakers?
Be true to yourself. Honour the desires of your heart and celebrate your own authentic gift and voice. I love the quote by Edward Young, “We are all born originals – why is it that so many of us die as copies?” Oftentimes in the self development industry as well as many other industries; people will look at the leaders of that particular industry and say, “Wow, Les Brown did this and so I am going to do it just like him, or Tony Robbinsand Zig Ziglar did that, so it must be the right way” however what they don’t realise is they’re really missing the opportunity to discover and uncover the use of their own authentic voice and gifts in a powerful and unique way. It is so important, to home into who you truly are, and cultivate that with a sense of urgency. “You are a living and breathing masterpiece that the world is waiting to discover act accordingly my dear!” ~ Ona Brown