#269 – Know Your Worth With Eleni Fuiaxis

Thomas green here with Ethical Marketing Service on the episode today we have Eleni Fuiaxis. Eleni welcome. Hi, thanks for having me Thomas. It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do? Yes, thank you. So, for the last two decades and counting, I’ve been an actress and a model here in New York city and then recently made a pivot into publishing, I published my first Children’s book and recently, during Covid actually I got certified to become an elementary school teacher and I was thrown into the fire And um I’ve been doing teaching as well and uh it’s just been an incredible journey. So it’s something I never thought I would be doing at this stage in my life because I’m 52. So to have gone from something I was doing for over two decades and then to add teaching and publishing to my repertoire and entrepreneurship and now coaching and public speaking.

In addition to all of that, I’m like, wow, I thought that life was going to slow down and I feel like it’s getting greater later. Well, thank you for the introduction. There is a lot to ask you about there. So if I were to ask you about what your passion is, how would you respond inspiring parents and educators to connect organically and authentically with Children. So that comes back to your Children’s book. Yeah. Yes it does. And what made you write that? Uh my, my boys, I have two boys and I love telling this story because I really believe that Children are our greatest inspiration. So I was a busy working mom Thomas and you know, I recognized the value of reading to my Children and I wanted to instill values in them. So at the end of the day I always had a book open but I was so tired, I was falling asleep, I was in the rocking chair, cradling them and I can’t keep my eyes open.

So what I started doing by default is storytelling and actors are storytellers, that’s what we do? So it came very naturally to me. So I started telling them these made up stories and my Children loved them and would fall asleep and they would wake up the next morning and they would say they would ask about the story and where it left off and if the character made it back, if they saved the world and whatever was going on in my head at that time and I couldn’t remember, my kids were like, mom, what happened? And I’m like, I don’t remember, I was so exhausted. So they were like, you have to write it down. And I was like what? And they were like write the stories down and I was like, no, no, no, I don’t have time for that. I’m exhausted. The reason I’m telling you stories is because I’m tired and I really, they really inspired me, motivated me nagged me whatever you want to call it um, to keep that promise and I did and what I love sharing with audiences and anybody listening is that it did not happen overnight because so much of what we see on social media thomas is like, boom, seemingly overnight, you have all these editing apps and you see people going from this industry to that industry, you know, one day they’re, you know architect and the landscape on the next day they’re an entrepreneur and their, you know, uh, selling out audiences and you’re, you know, keynote speaking whatever the case may be.

And you’re like, how did that happen? There’s a journey and there’s mistakes and there’s failures along the way. And I included that in the Children’s book itself. So I started writing down stories and collecting them and I got a publisher and I started working on, they found me an illustrator. So they started working on the illustrations and then life happened and my marriage came undone and it was one of the darkest times of my life. Um I lost my contract, I lost time and money and resources and I lost myself and I didn’t know how I was gonna come out of it, much less think that I would ever have a book to you know, share with the world. So um it’s been an incredible journey and I had a picture of myself with my Children that I asked a friend to take when I had that publishing contract and then I set up my iphone recently and took a picture of my teenage boys eight years later and included it in the back of the book, Do you want to see it?

So I love sharing that part of the journey because so this is me with my boys and this is so this was back then in 2014 and then this was in 2021 and part of the message that I always love sharing with everyone is stay the course and run your own race so many times. I felt like I was failing. I couldn’t keep up, especially as a mother, especially now as an entrepreneur and I’m like, you know what I’m gonna do me, I’m not trying to keep up with the joneses or the smiths or anybody else or the Kardashians, definitely not trying to keep up with the Kardashians. What the point I’m trying to make is that I always try to remind myself, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and it took eight years, but I kept my promise to my Children and to myself and they inspired this entire book series and this entire collection and this journey that I’m on now.

How awesome is that? Well, congratulations on all that. I love hearing about it and it, I was going to pick up on one thing you said, which was about failure and I think it’s one of yours where you say you described failure as your best friend, did you want to add anything to that? I would um, I think it’s so important to get comfortable with the idea of failing with the idea that we’re not going to succeed right away. And there’s a great quote where, um, I forget who it’s from, but it’s basically success is moving from one failure to another without the loss of enthusiasm. I want to say it’s Winston Churchill, I can look it up, but that’s, that’s how I look at it and I’m like, I’m going from one failure to another, especially now as an author speaker entrepreneur, I’m like, I’m failing every day, but I keep showing up, I think of failure as my teacher and my best friend, why isn’t my best friend?

Because it’s teaching me? So the people that we call our best friends, they add value to our lives usually, and they usually tell us the truth when we need to hear it the most. That’s what a good friend does, and that’s what failure does for us, failure is teaching us what we need to learn from the experience in that moment. So if you embrace it, thomas get comfortable with it instead of being like, oh my God, I’m never doing that again. And like, oh, what are people gonna think if you step away from that and really sit in it and say, okay, like maybe I need to pivot here, okay, what is this meant to teach me and just get comfortable in the, uncomfortable in the unknown and that’s what failure really is. It’s the not knowing and you’ll get to the knowing right?

We always get to that. So, but getting comfortable in what it means and what it’s there to teach you, I think is everything that’s a great point. Um you mentioned in your introduction about going from one sort of industry to another and I think there’s probably some value there for other people. So have you got any lessons in terms of how you can go? As you said, pivot from from one place to another. Yeah, that’s a great question. People ask it all the time. So I think that what’s really important is to get still first and foremost, you have to be still and you have to shut out everything else thomas and that’s like what your spouse is telling you to do um what your parents think you should do and really get in touch with, what is your passion maybe?

Where do you have talents? Sometimes we refer them as hobbies right? What I, you know, invite people to do is what I call, take it for a test drive, Right, so we never show up to a dealership and buy a car. We want to know what does it feel like to sit in it, What does it feel like to drive it? What does it smell like? How does it take those turns, what is the handling, like the, you know, all those things. So if you take that metaphor in that analogy, I always inspire and motivate people to take something for a test drive. So let’s just give you know, a specific example for the audience. I’ll give you one of my examples, right? So during the height of Covid before I got into the teaching, I was like, wow, I have way too much time on my hands and I need to figure out how I’m going to continue to produce income. Now my industry keep in mind up until that point I was an actress and a model in new york city and I’m still doing that and I made you know a substantial living and provided for my family doing that.

But that industry was annihilated overnight, so I’m home divorced with two boys and I’m trying to figure out how to utilize this time and what are things that I could be doing. So at that time I was wearing lash extensions and I was like I love these extensions, I’m gonna become a lash technician, I’m going to become a certified technician. So what a lot of people do is they’ll invest a lot of time and money and resources and I don’t think that’s the way to do it, I think you should take it for a test drive. So what I did, I invited you know my niece over and I said and this was at a time where things were opening back up and it was safe and I said come over and I had bought a little lash kit, I invested, made a very small investment online and I said let’s try it out and I had a you know little light I put on top of her and I was trying to dip the glue, I was trying the special tools and I sucked Thomas, I sucked so bad and I hated it and I was like this is something that I wear and that I love but this is not a service that I want to provide and I never ever want to do it ever again.

So when when I coach people and they have you know passions and hobbies, I tell them you want to become, maybe you work in finance, you want to become a wardrobe stylist, Get on yelp or all these social media platforms on facebook, put a little ad and say I’m gonna give you a mommy makeover. What line of work are you in? I’m gonna give you three outfits that you could use photograph them in. Those outfits. Start posting them, Start shopping for people for free if you’re an architect and you want to be a landscaper, go to thomas’s house and redo his backyard, take a picture, put a little sign up, test it out, see if it’s something you really want to do. There’s always a way to take it for a test drive before you make that huge commitment. The other thing I want to add is I have a niece and my sister kept telling her you should become a nurse, nursing is a great profession, They make great money and you’re adding value to the world and I love nurses who doesn’t love a good nurse.

However my niece started taking all these courses and I remember talking to her, I think she was in her second year thomas and I was like how’s it going? And she was like V Eleni I’m afraid of needles. And I was like, sweetheart, did you just figure this out? I was like, you you know, because we all have had shots, right? If you’re in school and you’re of a certain age and I’m like needles and nurses have to go together. So she switched majors. She wasted, I don’t want to say wasted. It’s education and you know, experimenting and trying things and pivoting. It’s never a waste. However, I want to get to that result sooner, right? We want to take quantum leaps. We don’t want to spend two years of college tuition to figure out. I’m not going into nurses nursing because I’m afraid of needles. And so that sort of thing, if that makes sense.

Like take it for a test drive and shadow shadowing thomas. I’m sorry. There’s ways also to shadow if you think you want to go into law, if you think you want to be a mechanic, if you think you want to be a teacher, go into the classroom, go into the mechanic shop, shadow an attorney for a day and see what that life is like. I think that’s so invaluable to do, not just for young people for older people as well. Any stage in life, you could be in midlife, you could be a recent college grad, start shadowing, start taking your test drive. Yeah, I have heard in terms of going into business that you should get a job at that place before? Um you know, starting your own business in that Because as you said, you can put a serious investment into something and then find out quite quickly that actually you don’t want to spend your life doing that and it’s something I’ve done. So if only I spoke to you, if only I spoke to you ages ago I would have, I would have not done that.

But you alluded to something in your answer about advice from parents. And there was one question that I had that I really wanted to ask you which was the worst lesson your parents taught you and how it helped you in your personal development. Mm There are so many lessons that they taught me um hard work and work ethic. But the worst lesson they ever taught me was to care deeply about what other people think was that taught through behaviour or specific words. It was. That’s a great question. So insightful, not surprising coming from you. So it’s it was taught through words and through actions. Actually both because that’s how they lived their life. They modelled that behaviour and also through words and I have to tell you Thomas it paralyzed me and I had to undo that and I still work on that because there are so many times where I’m building my business and my brand as an entrepreneur and I stopped and I asked myself, am I doing this right now so I can impress someone else.

Is this for me or is this for you? Is this for them? And that really gets me grounded. That really gets my compass? You know, my, what I call like my moral business compass, whatever you wanna call it, gets you centered again, gets you back on the right track. I’m like, no, this is not what my brand and my business is about. And I think that that’s important. Um, and I also think that it’s a horrible message to give to a child. I mean I’m a mother of two and I’m a teacher and an educator and I, you know, taught here in the public schools of new york city and I’m still teaching and I just think that it’s stifling and suffocating and paralyzing. And if there are any teachers, entrepreneurs, educators, parents, grandparents out there listening, we have to give Children this space to really find their own voice and they can’t do that when they’re worried about what other people are thinking or other people’s judgment.

I hope that makes sense. Would you refer to it as people pleasing? Yes, 1,000%. It’s people pleasing in the instance where you don’t want to teach that as a parent, what would you teach instead? Like authenticity? What I try to instill in my boys is be true to yourself? What do you want to do? What is going to make you feel passionate and inspired and motivated and fulfilled? Like that’s your passion. That’s your um intuition, that’s your little baby, that you need to grow. And um I think of it as a plant, it’s a seed, you’re planting in a child and our job as parents is to help Children to water and plant that seed so that it can blossom. And one day you’re, you know, in in this beautiful garden.

So that’s our job. Our job is really to back off and give them the space to really embrace who they are and what their unique gift and talent is to bring into this world. And let me tell you boy as a mother Thomas, it is not easy to do. And I have siblings. You know, I’m one of six kids and I have caught my sisters and my brothers and friends and colleagues and people who I love and respect, like saying this is the sport you’re gonna play, this is who you’re gonna marry. This is what the job and career path you’re gonna pursue, this is where you’re going to college, that’s the girl you’re gonna date. And I’m like, oh my God just want to pull my hair out because that’s what my parents did to me. Well, um I was going to ask you about self sabotage today. But would you say that’s linked with authenticity 1000%.

Yeah, because they’re definitely connected when you don’t have a true sense of your authentic self, then you will continue to sabotage yourself over and over and over. I can definitely empathize because I have been guilty of being a bit of a people pleaser at times and it’s a difficult habit to get out of. So I appreciate you shining a light on it. Um I like this question a lot and it’s um what do you consider your greatest accomplishment? My boys are number one my boys, I mean, they’re the ones that inspired this Children’s book series and literally has led me on this journey of self discovery and giving back and adding value to the world in a way I never thought was possible.

Like, is there any greater gift? Um they enrich and add value to my life every single day, and they’ve made me be a better mother, a better person, and um there’s no greater reward than that. I’ve spoken to a lot of people um and I already told you beforehand, I ask um what success means to you and a lot of the answers that I’ve gotten previously around, you know, whether you’re there and doing a good job as a parent rather than um the idea that some people have about success. So, I I applaud you and and that was a nice answer. So, thank you for that before we move on to that question. Um You referenced your acting and modeling career and I like to when someone’s had a long and experienced career, I’d like to ask what you learned from that from that. So your best lessons from your career, what would you share there staying true to myself and being my authentic self over all these years I think is what has led me to be successful.

That and my resilience, I think that in this industry it’s so cutthroat and if you’re not resilient, if you’re taking things personally, if you’re caring about what other people think and how other people see you, you will get chewed, swallowed and spit. So I really, I didn’t share this part but I was working in corporate America and I decided at the age of 30 to launch an acting and modeling career in New York City, which is complete insanity because you’re old at the age of 30, right? So relatively old? So most people are not embarking on a modeling career at the age of 30 so I was old, I was short, I was too fat, I mean people just, I was on a job thomas with one of the most prolific photographers of his time and he said to me, you know what you’re gonna do, okay but you’re you’ll model, you’ll do okay, but you got to lose like 20 more pounds and I was like on a shoot as he’s photographing me.

I was like wow! Like this was before I even had my kids, I was working out. I you know felt good about myself and my body. Yeah, I was curvy, but I felt good about myself and the longer I started and I was, I’m not even a fashion model, it’s what we call a commercial print model. So it’s more lifestyle so you don’t have to be rail thin and 6ft tall and you know, 16 years old. And that’s another reason I have had the longevity that I’ve had in this career. It’s not fashion modeling. However, I learned how to just stick to my guns and start loving myself for who I was and that served me well and that will serve anyone well in any stage of their career. I was like, you know what? No, that’s not me. If they want a skinnier taller version of me, let them go hire someone else.

And the other thing was I was like, I know what I bring to the table, There’s a gazillion girls who have, you know, dark brown hair, brown eyes and you know have like these physical features but I was like I’m about so much more than that and don’t you dare ever underestimate me. It’s a great message and I was going to say if you had someone I know that you cared about who was about to take on that, that challenge. If you like, what advice would you give them? But I don’t know if you if you wanted to add anything to that because it was a pretty good answer. Thank you. What I will say is I have added all these little nuggets into um a keynote address which I am going to be giving at my son’s graduation. He doesn’t know this yet and I haven’t even you know presented it yet but the speech is I finished the first draft and this is really what you’re seeing.

A lot of what I’m hearing is oh I wish someone had said this to me back then and like what’s this life advice that you would give to your younger self? And so I’ve been thinking about all these you know, bits of wisdom and all these nuggets and I’ve crafted them and put them together into this keynote address that I would love to give it is graduation. I’m manifesting it right now and I’ve been working on it and I’m so proud of it because I recognize that this is something I want my son to have and it’s part of my legacy. But it’s something I want every child to hear when we’re adding value to their lives and we’re sharing wisdom with them that they can that we can impart on them that will serve them throughout their lifetime and think about the impact that that can have. These are our future CEOs Thomas, our future leaders, our future teachers, doctors, architects, um, hairdressers, Mechanics, whatever it is if we can impact their lives and improve it and leave this world a better place.

I mean, come on, that’s a pretty good gig. So does that mean there’s going to be a Tedx talk in your future? Oh wow, it’s so funny because I I have definitely had that um that thought for sure and talked about it with different colleagues and TX always comes up because it’s such an incredible stage and platform. Um I’m not gonna say no. Um I don’t think it’s, I don’t think, I think that the keynote speaking at my son’s graduation is that I have my eye on the prize. That’s first and foremost. And then yeah, I mean who would say no to a TX? Well if you do record it, if it ends up online, please do send it and I’ll be happy to share it. Oh, thank you for that. Is there anything that I should have asked you about today? Um I mean we covered so many different things. I I love all the questions that you ask and you’re so insightful and such a great listener and great host and I thank you for your platform and your impacting and inspiring so many lives.

Thank you. I’m definitely glad that you said that now. Anyway, makes me feel good. It’s true. It’s so true and we need to work on that. We don’t know this is what I want to add, know, your worth, know your worth. I like, I feel like you don’t know your worth. So I’m glad I had the opportunity to tell you that. But you know what Thomas, it’s not just you, it’s not just an epidemic amongst women or mothers or it’s all of us. We don’t know our worth. I was coaching someone recently who is a new entrepreneur and they do a lot of marketing and website development and you know, they’re not, their business is not very profitable. And to me, I don’t look at numbers, I look at value, I look at what are you putting out? I mean, of course the numbers are important, but I always want to know the why, why are you doing this?

What service are you offering? What are you most passionate about? And what I realized is that he was charging so little and I said, why this is not a, you know, I said, I understand you want to, you know, be a competitive um give them a competitive price. And I said, but this is way, way, way below your competition. Why it all came back to he didn’t know his worth. And he and what his we always have a reason, right? What his reason was is I’m so new at this. Eleni I’ve only been doing it for, let’s say, you know, I think he was doing it for 10 months under a year. Like my competition has been doing this for five years or 10 years. And I was like, I don’t care. This product is parallel, even superior to what they’re putting out. You don’t know your value. I was like, you’re adding all these different elements within this website and I was like, Your product is superior to theirs.

Maybe you crafted and um, maybe you were able to like become an expert quicker than they were, but the product is superior to theirs. So it doesn’t matter. It took you, you know, you’ve only been doing it for 10 months. If you’re giving an equal or better product, then you need to know your worth. And it changes pricing and it’s changed his business model. It’s changed, you know what he’s able to do for and with his family, the types of things that they’re able to go, the restaurants are able to dine at the types of vacations able to take, It changes your life. It’s life changing when you know your worth and the service that you’re providing. So you’re, you’re doing some business consulting there as well. Then yes, wearing so many different hats. Some days I’m like, make it stop, Make it stop. Well, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. Um, as I said previously, I always asked one question, which is what does success mean to you first of all?

I mean the first thing that comes to mind is success is an inside job. I feel like so many people are measuring success with metrics and profit and outcomes and goals and that’s great. I have goals, you have goals, we all need something to aspire to. However, to me true success is feeling fulfilled. What that translates into is adding value, leaving the world better than we found it. Leaving a legacy and impacting lives to me. There’s so many people who are doing incredible things and have reached astronomical levels of success, right, outward success, but a lot of them are not feeling fulfilled and the reason for that is they are stopping at success instead of significance.

And to me, I’m, yes, this whole publishing, you know, um speaking coaching, it’s it’s something very new for me, but it’s so fulfilling Thomas, this is the most successful I have ever been. And when I’m sure you know this, a lot of people that have a day job and are doing something else they’re passionate about on the side, they know that it takes work, but it doesn’t feel like work. So when you’re waking up and you’re like, okay, I have to do this and but but I’m loving it. Like talking to you doing the podcast, sharing, inspiring others. Yes, it takes work, but I could do this for days. Yeah. If it doesn’t feel like work, then you’re not really working right? Exactly. Well based on that criteria, would you say that you’re a successful person 1000%. Yes. Yeah, I want to turn the tables on you would you say you’re a successful person, Well, my definition of success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

So you have to set your ideal and providing you’re working towards it. Then you can say that you’re a successful person. Um I would say that I should be more clear. I need more clarity on what I’m trying to achieve. But generally speaking I’m always trying to get better. So I suppose I could say I’m a successful person that makes me a bit uncomfortable to say it. I could sense that from you but that was a long winded way of saying yes, thank you for asking me do you have any closing thoughts today seek to understand rather than be understood the people who want to connect with you? Yes or higher you. Where do they go? So just go to elenifuiaxis.com It’s just my name at dot com. It’s all on there Eleni, thank you for being a great guest today. Thank you for having me Thomas