Luisa Ferrario, Founder, Elle Effe Consulting Ltd.

Rebel Transformative Leader, Luisa Ferrario helps entrepreneurs to set up thriving businesses and make the money they desire by having in place an impactful mindset, profitable business structure, and empowering leadership to rapidly grow their company and joyfully lead their team of rockstars.

Founder of Elle Effe Consulting Ltd. and entrepreneur for 25+ years, as a Growth Mindset & Leadership Mentor she has been chosen for 15 years by business owners and CEOs across a range of companies from Scale-ups to Fortune 500 and World Leading Organizations such as Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Amgen, Merck, Boston Consulting Group, KPMG from 20+ Countries to implement cutting-edge business transformation to help their teams and business thrive beyond what is expected.

Her focus on transformative business growth and intentional leadership stems from her own experiences with abuse, hypersensitivity, dyslexia, and chronical illness. She owns the astounding power to get the unspoken heard, the hidden revealed, and the unfelt perceived. This is why she is also called Hidden Leading Forces Ninja.

As she truly understands and appreciates entrepreneurial leadership, she knows how to help fellow business owners grow their companies and transform them in an authentic way, in full alignment with their principles and aspirations.

Luisa also serves as Cyprus Country Chair Mentoring & Motivation Wing of G100, a group of women leaders from across the world advocating a gender-equal future worldwide within this decade.

In an exclusive chat with CXO Outlook, Luisa Ferrario speaks about her role as a rebel transformative leader, how she assists entrepreneurs become successful, the benefits of having a mindset & leadership mentor, and a lot more. Following are the excerpts from the interview.

In today’s rapidly evolving business environment, what are the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs and small business owners?

As a matter of fact, stats tell us that small businesses make up 99.9% of all U.S. companies but a minority of the workforce, as women- and minority-owned businesses still lag far behind firms owned by cisgender heterosexual white men.

Even if women-owned businesses have skyrocketed by 114% over the past 20 years, the revenue share of women-founded businesses has fallen by .02% in that same period. That’s a big challenge, especially because minority-owned businesses are less likely to attract outside funding. They literally don’t know how to do that, since they lack the right mindset, emotional and entrepreneurial literacy, and leadership approach to keep moving forward and consistently grow.

In the U.S. alone, 50 out of 100 business owners will end up shutting down their businesses. This will result in giving up their entrepreneurial aspirations and dream lifestyle within the first 5 years.

In addition, 95% of business owners I personally talk to aren’t growing fast enough to keep up with their individual and business needs.

These stats are daunting! I was shocked when I saw that such a high percentage of business owners have issues growing their businesses.

Your LinkedIn profile describes you as a Rebel Transformative Leader. What does ‘rebel’ mean?

Transformation is my primary language.

Since I was a kid, I had to learn to quickly adapt, shift and transform my communication style to survive the difficult environment I was living in.

Quick note – Whenever I mention ‘communication’, I refer to any ways we share and exchange information: verbal, written, and non-verbal, such as behaviors, interactions, and relationships with ourselves and others.

Growing up, people started telling me that either my passive or active presence in a room seemed to have an accelerating effect on improving people and situations.

Experience after experience, I’ve built my life and my main business around my natural transformative talent (or coping mechanism… who knows?), and I’ve kept training to master intuition, uncommon skills, innovative tools, and groundbreaking techniques to let the transformation happen as safely, permanently, and rapidly as possible.

Also, as a neurodiverse and highly aware individual, I’m the opposite of a conventional person and not at all a typical entrepreneur. Where others fit in, I usually do not or not completely. Where others say ‘Yes’, I might say ‘Yes, But…’ and unapologetically bring on the table my own perspective. My unique approach is not liked by everyone, but those who love my style and the results it brings are obsessed with it.

This is one of the two reasons people call me a rebel.

Another reason is that, according to a communication model I studied years ago, we all have a specific personality type. Mine is ‘rebel’.

It describes individuals who are generally creative, fun, playful, loving, and radiate positive energy for others. They respond promptly, reciprocate righteousness with virtue, and enjoy the present. The Rebels are valued for their extemporaneous humor, interest in others, energy, and problem- solving ability. They are usually selective, a bit impulsive, choose quickly, and classify the world around them through their likes and dislikes. It sounds a lot like Luisa Ferrario!

As a growth mindset and leadership coach, which has been your most successful training/mentorship program till date? What makes it a standout winner?

We work with business owners who have been in business for at least 2 years, and who are seriously committed to becoming the CEOs of their own companies.

It’s going to be close collaboration and partnership.

According to their stage of growth, our accelerators are designed to take fellow entrepreneurs from not growing fast enough or slowed down in leading their companies to have a thriving growing business:

‘Ninja Business Accelerator’ will take them to double the monthly income in 90 days or less ‘Ninja Leaders Accelerator’ will take them to become the impactful and accomplished leader of a team that rocks and a thriving company.

We work with our clients on three key-pillars:

  • Rewire the most hidden and crucial emotional, mindset, and vibrational roadblocks that are keeping them from making the money they desire
  • Get crystal clear on the most relevant message, niche, offer, pricing, growth strategy to help them activate a thriving business and attract their dream clients
  • Dive deep into the most compelling millionaire CEO vision to identify the most impactful leadership behaviors that will make their success inevitable

Each program is tailored to help our clients align their mindset, business structure, and leadership to activate their Inner CEO and give them strategies, tools, and shortcuts to consistently attract and say yes to growth opportunities to rapidly expand their business.

Business owners we work with are those who truly believe they should be an inspiring, wealthy, and successful entrepreneur, who will use that cash and power to impact many other lives; they appreciate and agree with being respectfully challenged on habits and beliefs that have been keeping them playing small; they thrive in a non-judgmental environment where there is room and willingness to learn, share, fail, collaborate, transform and grow; they are committed to getting to work without excuses; they are proactive and expect to receive tangible and intangible results; they are enthusiast coach, consultant, or another type of service provider, who helps others to grow, flourish and evolve.

We believe that abundance mindset and intentional leadership is the most powerful business growth accelerator combo to activate business potential and get exponential results fast.

We live in such a fast-paced world, full of resources and opportunities. Entrepreneurial success shouldn’t take a lifetime. It should start to happen now.

We are here for that: to help them make desired entrepreneurial results happen now!

Can you please tell us about your role as the Country Chair at G100: Mission Million?

One of my leading beliefs is that human beings are perfectly gifted.

My point is that we are the good, the bad, and the horrible, and we are able of doing the good, the bad, and the horrible.

This means that we can be whoever and whatever we choose to be. Additionally, I believe that humans are inborn changemakers.

However, although we are transformation powerhouses, we might not yet be fully activated to produce the desired outcome. In other words, sometimes we just need a mentor or activator to help us trigger and ignite our inborn abilities. This will allow us to transform ourselves from the inside out and become empowered, meaningful, and satisfied CEOs of our own companies.

It is also my belief that a fulfilling transformation can only occur when we choose intentionally. Today, I believe ‘Yes, I can’. I believe ‘Yes, you can’. I think ‘everything is possible’. I believe that I am not what happens to me, but life happens for me, for my learning, for my fun, for my joy, for my evolution, and as a contribution to other entrepreneurial lives.

Therefore, besides being an entrepreneur and a mindset and leadership business mentor, I am also the G100 Cyprus Country Chair Mentoring and Motivation Wing.

G100 is an influential group of 100 women leaders from across the world, in 100 wings and sectors, supported by 100 eminent He for She champions, and 100 country clubs in each wing for powerful advocacy, awareness & impact across governments and global organisations for a gender equal future in this decade.

G100 global vision is to create an equal, progressive & inclusive environment for women worldwide. The mission is to provide the thought leadership on what needs to be done for inclusivity, safety, economic & social empowerment of women globally, addressing genders gaps and achieving gender parity within 2030.

My acceptance of this role was based on the fact that, just as I did, I will never let other women or men fall below my highest standards. I do not accept excuses. Do not tell me you are not educated enough, financially able, or good enough to accomplish all sorts of amazing things. This is a lie. I can tell you.

This is a lie as I am living proof that successful entrepreneurship and leadership can happen. No matter the disempowering life circumstances I had to face – abuses, being a broke single mom, chronic illness, not having a university degree, learning difficulties, and so on – I just chose to put myself first. I made one choice at a time. This was even when I did not have a compelling vision for my future. Even when I couldn’t see anyone waiting to hug me and celebrate with me at the end of the tunnel.

Your life is your choice. Your business is your choice. Choosing to have a mentor is your choice. You determine what impact you want to make and what kind of leader you will be.

If I can offer some free advice here, I would say ‘keep intentionally choosing yourself. Keep putting yourself first because you are just the result of your own choices.’

I am committed to empowering women and other entrepreneurs worldwide.

What is your biggest goal? Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

For centuries, white men have traditionally owned the entrepreneurial and leadership space. This is not good or bad. It’s just an undeniable fact.

In my eyes, mind, and heart, entrepreneurship and leadership is a unisex, heterogeneous space where every side of society should have an equal voice to shape a more inclusive, kind, and equal world.

Five years ago I realized 85% of my clients were cisgender heterosexual white men. I then told myself: “It’s time to balance that. It is time for a big change, and I am committed to taking an active, resourceful role in it.”

There are so many people, especially women, who have untapped entrepreneurial and leadership potential.

I know what I’m talking about. I come from an abusive household. Plus, I’ve been dealing with chronic illness, dyslexia, and hypersensitivity all my life; I have raised my daughter alone as a single parent since I left a gaslighting relationship 20 years ago; I have always been the only breadwinner. So, I have been there… more than once.

It’s time for small business owners to take up space, make the money they desire, and lead companies, teams, and countries.

That’s where I’m heading. That’s what my company, Elle Effe Consulting, is all about.

As a growth mindset and leadership coach, international speaker, and entrepreneur, how do you develop yourself and continue to grow? In what ways are business owners as leaders of their own companies benefitted from having a mindset & leadership mentor?

I decided from day 1 that I was always going to have a coach. And that was one of the most successful decisions I ever made as an entrepreneur.

I’m 53 years old at the date of writing and I’m currently entering my 21st year of seriously running a business. And during that time, I have never not had a coach, or a mentor, or a psychoanalyst, or all of them.

How did I make that work, especially at the beginning when I was a single parent in the midst of a divorce? During this time, I was in a financial and personal crisis and at risk of losing custody of my daughter. I had no money to hire a coach, but I knew that always having a mentor on my side, was exactly what could enable me to keep moving forward and be able to create multiple businesses around the globe I was dreaming of (I have founded 12 businesses in multiple countries since then).

I will be the first to tell you that I’m not that smart. The one thing that I did really, really well is that I just made a decision that coaching was an extremely high investment priority for me. In other words, I would have always had a coach no matter what happened in my business and life. That was it.

My first mentor was amazing… she was just incredible. She helped me get my first clients, start building an abundance mindset, sharpen my competencies, learn how to create transformational programs, and enhance my leadership to be proudly visible.

When I met her more than 20 years ago, I was literally in the valley of despair, but I knew that I had to do something courageous. Becoming more courageous, believing in myself, and following my calling were crucial for me. To unleash my potential and to lead myself out of my strengths and gifts, not out of fear and scarcity, I had to go beyond myself.

What did I do? I made a scary but exciting deliberate choice to put myself first. It was 2001 and I committed to paying her € 1.000/month for 2 years.

My bank account had less than € 2.000 in it when I said YES to working with her. This was the amount I needed to pay rent, buy food for myself and my daughter, pay the bills, etc. I had absolutely no idea how I was able to pay for it.

It was a super tough time in my life. In fact, I woke up one day to realize that none of the most crucial areas of my life were working: my marriage was not working; my health was not working; my finances and my company were not working.

But I was so committed to succeeding and making this entrepreneurial experience happen. I need a coach to help me make it happen. I didn’t want to take forever to figure that out on my own. So, I said yes. While I had no idea how I found the money, I knew I had to be resourceful, as this is the gist of entrepreneurship. Here is what I did: I sold some gold jewels I inherited from my mother, and I started cleaning apartments for a few months while my daughter was at school. In that way, I could pay for the first two months of coaching.

In addition to putting in place the strategies that my coach recommended, I also had to let go of shame, shyness, and lack of confidence. This was to make space for new clients to come in.

My coach never missed a payment from me. This was something I was so committed to.

She helped me land my first client after 45 days and a second one after 63. And it was awesome. When our business relationship ended, I then had further coaches, trainers, mentors, and so on, to keep a consistent income, learn new skills, become more visible, expand my network, create new offers, increase my prices, transitioning from B2C to B2B, challenging my habits and mindset, training my financial and emotional literacy, and so on…

Not every experience was good or good enough… a couple of times I paid in full and didn’t learn almost anything. The experience felt like throwing money away, but failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey, and I gained a great deal of awareness.

When you want to succeed as a business owner you have to be 100% committed, resilient, and resourceful because challenges could be waiting for you just around the corner. We are all still trying to make it all work.

I have always done my best to keep my focus on the bright side of the story by reading tons of inspiring books, attending courses and events where I could meet like-minded empowered and empowering people, and learning how to invest my time, money, and energy instead of just spending them.

That’s what I still do. And I still have mentors. I am a work in progress. I am not done at all. I’m here to learn how to transform myself to transform the small business industry, one entrepreneur at a time.

We have to make bigger moves, make braver choices, and make bigger asks (especially to ourselves), in order to reach our goals. Quick, intuitive, but courageous moves.

That’s what the entrepreneurial lifestyle is about.

What advice would you give to someone going into entrepreneurship for the first time? 

Be really clear on what kind of entrepreneur and leader you want to be. What do you stand for? What is your leadership style? How are you showing up in the world? Who are you talking to? What gifts, strengths, and talents make you unique? You have to own your message!

Your message should be your mantra.

Clear, direct, and intentional communication is the key factor to being a confident, impactful, and powerful leader.

So, when you walk into the room to speak to a potential client, you will own the room (even the virtual one). When you sit down at a team meeting, you will feel confident and in control.

As you ask for money for your cause and fundraise, you’ll be inspiring, but powerful and straight to the point.

When you speak, you will engage stakeholders and they will listen. You will feel confident when leading a presentation, designing a workshop, speaking on a podcast, writing a newsletter, and answering questions for an interview. You will also own your boundaries and surround yourself with a powerful professional network. On this network, you can promote your offer, have a real-time conversation to work through a challenge, foster friendships, give back, and contribute.

When you own your message, your values, mindset, emotionset, skillset, and actionset will be aligned. Once you have that and you are committed to getting to work without excuses, this is where the magic happens. This is when opportunities knock at the door. This is when you attract the right people and situations to make your success inevitable.

I believe work shouldn’t be hard, it just needs to be consistently done!

This will also lead you to have a joyful entrepreneurial experience. Joy is a serious matter when it comes to growing and leading a successful business!

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