Linda Ugelow is a TV host, speaker, and movement specialist who coaches entrepreneurs and professionals on how to master the inner game of being seen and heard without the nerves, as well as polishing their presence and delivery for speaking live or on camera. She’s been featured in MindBodyGreen and NYLON and has been published in Inspired Coach Magazine and Positively Positive. Linda is also the producer and host of the TV show/podcast, Women Inspired. I’m so happy to introduce you to her and her work.
CM: Happy New Year, Linda! How were your holidays? Did you have a chance to relax and enjoy them? Are there particular holiday traditions or recipes in your family that are near and dear to your heart?
LU: One of my favorite traditions comes at this time of the year, caroling in the neighborhood. When we are at home for the holidays, I always invite friends and musicians to sing in four parts and then surprise the neighbors with an awesome chorus of revelers going door to door.
This year the weather was the most treacherous, freezing rain. Some invited guests chose not to travel. And since I had been in bed for several days, we decided to sing for ourselves indoors this year. It was lovely and satisfying. There’s nothing like making music together to fill the soul.
CM: 2017 was quite a year for you and I’m excited to talk about it with you. Let’s start, though, at the beginning of this journey. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
LU: My current work is helping entrepreneurs, artists, healers and change-makers overcome the fear of speaking in front of a camera or a crowd, so they can use these platforms to build their visibility, brand awareness, business and thought leadership and make the impact they envision for themselves in their lifetime.
CM: I know that you haven’t always been doing this work. What were some of your earlier interests and passions? What was your work before this work?
LU: For decades, my passion was dance and helping people to get comfortable in their skin expressing themselves through movement. I have a degree in Expressive Therapies and taught something called “Authentic Movement.”
I’ve also been a part of the world music ensemble, Libana, for over 35 years, performing around the country and abroad. As the principal dancer and choreographer of the group, I got to research and learn dance traditions from around the world.
With parenthood, I became active in the local homeschooling community, and before my current coaching practice, I ran a small organic farm, Dancing Tomato Farm, selling tomatoes and specialty produce to local restaurants.
CM: When and how did you decide to start your business? Please tell us about your company.
LU: When I worked on the farm, I would listen to online business courses. One day, while weeding the onions, I stood up, and thought to myself, “I love growing food but I don’t feel I am meant to be doing this. I’m meant to play on a bigger stage. And if I get to the end of my life and haven’t tried to do something bigger, I would regret the risk not taken.”
I decided right then and there to become an online entrepreneur and coach. I wasn’t sure what I could do so I joined several courses and Facebook groups and listened in to what I heard people needed that I might have skills to solve. With my background in psychology and personal development, looking at attitude and mindset seemed an obvious choice.
The first work I did was around strategies for everyday bliss. I created personal affirmations for people in areas of their life that they wanted to work better.
Then an old friend and business coach said to me one day, “Linda, bliss is nice, but what I think you have that’s really special is stage presence. I’d love to learn how to feel the way you look on stage.”
Her idea headed me into the direction of the work I do now. I mostly work privately with clients online or in person, and in group workshops. I’ll be running a free week-long training in January – 5 days to watch yourself on video without cringing. And I’ll be running a group coaching program for those who want my method in a more cost effective package.
CM: How do you believe your early interests and passions connect to what you are doing today, if at all?
LU: My work today seems to be a direct outgrowth of my work in movement. I’m still helping people get comfortable in their own skin and express themselves more freely. Only in those early years, it was all non verbal. I, myself, didn’t have the confidence and ease to articulate myself verbally. Now the verbal expression is a key component. It’s what most of my clients are struggling with.
The organic farming gave me the confidence that I could run a business. I was able to create a niche, become a thought leader in the “beyond organic” movement and had raving clients who were sorry to see me go when I made the change.
CM: How did dancing and performing in different countries around the world help to prepare you for this work? What lessons did other cultures teach you about yourself and about visibility?
LU: Libana’s mission has always been about building bridges across cultures. We wanted to entertain, yes. But equally important was opening people to the art and humanity of other peoples through the music and dance.
Our most meaningful moments have been when audience members felt the delight of their culture recognized, appreciated and respected through our performance of music that was part of their culture or they could relate to.
For instance, in Morocco, the audience went wild over an Egyptian trance dance I performed. It was reminiscent of a trance dance that they would have seen their mothers or grandmothers do, so it was very meaningful to them.
At the Tanger Tangiers festival, we sang a Sephardic Jewish Moroccan song, and we could see 2 ladies in the front row mouthing the words singing along. Afterwards, ecstatic, they shared how they had sung that song in their families as children, but hadn’t heard it since those times. They were beaming ear to ear.
When we traveled to India, we put together a medley of songs and dance from the state of Gujarat, called Garba. When we performed them in Delhi, the audience was clearly delighted. But when we performed the same pieces in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where this was their language and tradition, the audience went absolutely wild, hooting and hollering! They were lit up!
The lesson here is to understand your audience and speak to what is important to them. To let them know that you see them, respect them, relate to them. People also do appreciate having their mind opened up to new sounds as well. It helps to have some of both, the familiar and the unfamiliar.
CM: What has the entrepreneurial experience been like for you so far? What important lessons have you learned along the way?
LU: I’ve been absolutely enamoured with the entrepreneurial experience. It’s a steep learning curve, endlessly interesting, and requiring a commitment to stay in the game for the long run. I see entrepreneurship as an accelerated process of personal development and spiritual growth.
Important lessons have been: Keep myself in an open high vibe and trust my process, the ups and downs, the uncertainty and the inspired action. Refrain from judging myself or comparing myself to others. As much as is possible, focus on one or a few things at a time while still staying aware of what’s in the periphery. Get as much help and support as I can afford. There are no brownie points for going it alone.
CM: Who are you most interested in helping with your work?
LU: I love working with people who are done with being held back by fear, who no longer want to accept the stories that they have lived by, who have bigger things to do in life than be hindered by their past. Generally this would be entrepreneurs, people on a mission, with a message to share, or someone in the workplace who wants to feel like they are fulfilling their potential.
Although I’ve had male clients, I’m particularly drawn to women as women have historically not been encouraged to fulfill their potential. I believe this world would benefit by hearing from more women, their perspectives and wisdom. This is our time to step up and take the stage.
CM: In your experience, what are some of the biggest fears and challenges that people face when it comes to being visible, whether on camera, at a live event, or in life?
LU: The biggest fears have to do with how you’ll perform, fear of messing up, making a fool of yourself, freezing up, looking awkward, forgetting. It comes down to the fear of being judged and rejected.
The challenges people face are how to manage the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of fear so that it doesn’t negatively impact their performance.
CM: Why do you believe that individuals hesitate when it comes to fulfilling their personal or professional visibility goals? What “blocks” them? Do you recognize any interesting patterns?
LU: The vast majority of people who hold themselves back have a common hesitation – it doesn’t feel safe to put themselves in the spotlight. The reasons will vary from person to person depending on their life experiences.
This is the underbelly of what I discovered. As young, young children, we are naturally delighted to be the center of attention. Think of the baby experimenting with their first steps and the smiles and laughter surrounding them. Then over time, our confidence may begin to erode due to being told that we are somehow not good enough, being told to tone it down, fit in, being criticized, hurt or abused, having expectations of being perfect, trying to win other’s approval.
Now, it may be that some people feel afraid of the responsibility that goes along with visibility, staying consistent, with a Youtube channel, podcast or even a newsletter. They may doubt their ability to keep up or don’t have an easy way to generate enough content.
CM: If you could offer those reading this three actionable steps that they can take, right now, to feel more relaxed, free, or confident when it comes to being visible in their lives and work, what would those three things be?
LU: It would be to practice those three things: feeling relaxed, feeling free, feeling confident.
- Do relaxation right now. As you are reading. Scan your body and let go of tension. If you don’t know how to relax when the pressure is low, you can’t expect to feel relaxed when the stakes are high.
- Then think about what makes you feel free. What does it look like? Envision yourself speaking in that way. Mental visualization paves the way for the experience.
- Where do you already feel confident? Talking with friends? In the kitchen? With a sketchbook? Become aware of what confidence feels like in your body. Walk down the street playing with this sense of confidence in your gait, bring it onto a phone call with your voice.
CM: I know that movement and presence have played a significant role in your life. How would you say that being or getting in better touch with one’s body through things like breathing, posture, and movement can help to boost one’s confidence and one’s ability to move with greater ease in one’s work and life? Do you have a few suggestions you could share with us for how to do that?
LU: Most people are familiar with the idea of the body/mind connection. Our thoughts can make us suddenly sag or perk up.
We also are aware of how using our body can lift us up, how going for a walk or run feels energizing.
I take that idea even further, that we can consciously cultivate different states of being and even qualities within ourselves through movement and music. What quality or states would you like to invoke more of in your life? Is it confidence? Ease? Clarity? Self-love? Leadership? Play? Forgiveness? Release?
Find music that evokes the state you are looking for and allow your body to find its intuitive movement to the music. So if you are looking for ease, find some gentle piano or guitar music, or a slow yoga kirtan, and ask yourself, “What does ease feel like?” Then allow your body to explore ease.
You can do this with any state you desire.
I’m also a big proponent of active relaxation. This is because we spend so much time in our thoughts that we are only peripherally aware of how our body feels when stress starts to take over.
Actively relaxing gives you a baseline of experience from which to be able to monitor your stress levels and the tools to bring you back into homeostasis. This is a boon when you are putting yourself in high stakes environments such as being on video or in front of a crowd. Plus, it makes day to day life more enjoyable.
CM: What do dance, music, and movement have to teach us about life?
LU: Dance teaches us that life is play, creative, and above all, an experiment. With everything that happens, we can dance with it. We can lean in, pull back, go around, avoid, surprise.
Dance reminds us that we are having an experience in our bodies. We can, at any time, tune into our bodies to reset and rejuvenate.
And isn’t it amazing that we have bodies at all? That we move and eat and act in all of these ways? It’s a huge wonderment that we can be curious about, observe, learn from and enjoy.
CM: What about our stories about ourselves? How do those stories help or hold us back when it comes to being visible and heard? Have there been stories in your own life that you have had to “shed” or “rewrite” in order to become fully comfortable with your visibility?
LU: We all have our stories. Stories that we tell to explain why we are good at something and why we are not. Some of our stories lie beyond our conscious awareness. Many of my clients come to me having no idea where their fear comes from. Some have an inkling. Others know exactly where it comes from but haven’t been able to loosen the hold it has on them.
I’ve absolutely had to “shed” and “rewrite” the stories of my life in order to get comfortable being seen and heard.
When I was young, I didn’t want my mom to give me praise or attention in front of my sisters. It fueled their jealousy of me because they didn’t get that kind of attention from her. She would often say, “Why can’t you be (good) like Linda?” Inside I would think “No, don’t say that!”
When she walked out of the room, my sisters would yell at me that I was stupid and kick me. I’d be hurt and devastated because I wanted them to love me.
So as a child, it was risky to be in the center of attention. It meant I might lose my sisters’ love, that I might get attacked. I learned that it was dangerous to shine.
And this is a problem because you need to shine when you are in the limelight, when you are on stage or in front of the camera.
Now your stories will be different than mine. It could be your opinions weren’t valued in your family, or that you were ridiculed in school, or terrified to make mistakes, expected to be perfect, or expected to fail. You might have been physically hurt or abused. Or you could have witnessed someone else being criticized and you thought, “I don’t ever want that to happen to me.”
What they all have in common is that these experiences gave us the message that it’s not safe to be seen.
So in reality, our fear of being visible is not so much about what’s going on in the present, as what is getting triggered from the past.
CM: Can you recall a turning point in your own visibility journey?
LU: The year was 2015 and a new live streaming phone app had come out called Periscope. I decided to explore the platform and made a commitment to do daily livestreams, exploring my various passions, meditation, dance, mindset tips to see if it might help clarify what I wanted to do.
Live streaming was terrifying. My heart would race painfully. I asked a mentor if she found it scary. She said, “Oh, everyone gets scared. By the time you’ve done 100 you’ll be fine.”
100?! I plugged along. One day as I was about to press record, my heart racing as usual, I stopped in my tracks. I thought, this is day 75, and I’m still terrified. If nothing has changed between day 1 and 75, what makes me think that 25 more will be different?
Yes, I’m showing up, I’m pushing through the fear, but I HATE this feeling! Isn’t there something I can do? I mean, I have degrees in psychology, Expressive Therapies, I’m a seasoned performer, have years of therapy and personal development. What’s in my toolbox?
The next week was totally amazing for me. I was able to totally transform my experience of terror to one of delight. I couldn’t wait to see if my method would work for others as well.
It did. My first clients had the same kind of transformation as I had. In 6 weeks or less, people were able to move beyond fear they had for decades and finally run a webinar training series, or get on stage without trembling or enjoy live streaming.
I had no idea when I started that this would be my direction. I just fell into it from my own willingness and ability to solve an age old issue of my own. Or I might say, I was gifted this direction from the universe.
CM: I know you recently got back from Hungary, where you hosted your first TEDx event. Congratulations! Now, that’s visibility! What was that like? What would you like to share about that experience?
LU: That was a delightful experience. It came about in a seemingly random way, which is always fun when it happens. It was run by international students at a University there and everyone was incredibly friendly.
I enjoyed the role of introducing the speakers and finding the value in each talk, as well as taking care of the audience needs by having them stretch and interact with each other.
I wanted this experience to be as good as I could make it. I wanted the organizers and speakers to feel I was a pleasure to work with and that I added value to their event. So I decided to get the help and support I needed to do a great job.
Introducing a talk in a way that invites curiosity but doesn’t give the idea away is an art and I reached out to one of my own mentors and coaches, Terri Trespicio, for help with that. She has two TED talks herself, does stand-up comedy, is a media coach, and messaging expert. She helped me craft some great introductions that were concise and set the talks up well.
I also sought out advice from Tamsen Webster, who has helped me with my keynote talk. She’s been the co-producer of TEDx Cambridge for years and has acted as emcee for that event. I could benefit from her years of experience, her mistakes and successes.
CM: You’ve also recently started your own Facebook group, Inspired Speakers with Linda Ugelow. How did you get that spark of inspiration and how is it going with the group?
LU: I started the Facebook group for people on the verge of visibility, who want to play bigger in their world and have a message to share. They feel that it’s their personal path to breakthrough and know that there is something waiting on the other side of hesitation and fear and they want to stretch the envelope in a gentle and kind way.
I wanted to create a space where we can connect and get to know each other. The group is still new and I’m still in the discovery process of what makes the group a place of value where folks want to check in and hang out for a while. I think it will take continued play and experimentation to find our groove.
CM: What do you want people to experience in the group and what can they expect from their time there?
LU: I envisioned the Facebook group as a place to find positivity and support. A place where you can get lifted up and know you are not alone. I plan to have free challenges from time to time and invite people to share their expertise.
CM: Please tell us about your television show.
LU: Women Inspired TV was created on a whim. A year ago I was looking to pitch myself on some local TV shows and after spending two hours on Google and coming up empty, I thought that the region needed a TV program that catered to women entrepreneurs and I should start one. We had our first episode the very next week!
My mission for the show was to offer the creative business women whom I met TV experience and exposure for the work they do. I interview entrepreneurs, artists, healers, change-makers about what fires them up and and how they put their dreams into action.
It’s a way for us to learn about one another, expand our knowledge base in different areas, be challenged to think in new ways, and be inspired by other women’s journeys so to better lead our own.
I particularly love interviewing people. As a coach, I’m very curious, love asking questions, and getting behind people’s thinking process.
And it can be great exposure and a credibility marker for the guests. People can pay thousands of dollars to have a professionally filmed interview and this is free. We livestream on Facebook and Youtube, the episode gets turned into a podcast, and guests can use clips to share across social media. For those who may be in Massachusetts or willing to travel, there is an application to be a guest on my website.
CM: Where can people learn more about you and the services you offer?
LU: My website is www.lindaugelow.com.
You can also join the free challenge 5 Days to Watch yourself on video Without Cringing starting January 15th.
CM: The new year is here and many people right now are focused on personal goals and growth for 2018. If there were one piece of advice you’d like to share with those who, in this new year, really want to step into the fullness of who they are in a new and more visible way, what would it be?
LU: My advice to your mind – be kind to yourself – negative self-talk can stop you in your tracks. Putting yourself out there requires feeling safe, so creating a sense of support and encouragement from within is crucial. If you suffer from negative self-talk, I invite you to download my free email course – Taming the Inner Critic. You’ll get daily prompts delivered to your email that are simple and effective for changing your self-talk.
My recommendation for expanding into more visibility by taking action is to sign up to be a guest on more podcasts. There are many people starting out looking for guests and this is an easy, low pressure, low stakes way to start speaking about your work.
You’re not on video, in most cases, so you don’t need to address those issues. Reach out to five or ten. It will make a huge difference in your confidence, give you content to share with your audience, and build your credibility.
CM: What are some of your own goals for 2018. What do you see and hope for on the horizon?
LU: I see lots of activity coming up. The free 5 Days to Watch yourself on Video Without Cringing starts January 15th.
I’ll be adding to my private one-on-one coaching, an online group coaching program – The Fear2Fab Video/Livestream Lab this winter and fall, as well as in-person speaking workshops and a retreat.
My book publication date is early 2019, so I’ll be on a timeline for that as well. Concurrently with the book, I’d like to speak to women’s and business groups about overcoming the fear of speaking to share your message.
CM: Thanks so much for sharing, Linda! I wish you joy and fulfillment in all that you are doing and creating!
To learn more about Linda, please visit her website at www.lindaugelow.com.
To take part in Linda’s free challenge beginning January 15th, click the link to sign up for 5 Days to Watch yourself on Video Without Cringing.
PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, representations, and statements made in response to questions asked as part of this interview are strictly those of the interviewee and not of Chloé McFeters or Tortoise and Finch Productions, LLC as a whole.