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How a Life-Size Cutout of Myself Changed My Life

3min Read
Career

When you first hear that I have a life-size cut-out of myself, I know what you are thinking.

Is this woman nuts? Who does that? Is she full of herself?

Yes, these are normal questions, but once you understand why I have it and what I use it for, you may find yourself ordering one too!


Almost a decade ago, I was Executive Vice President running the sales division for a radio company with markets across the United States. Part of my job was to travel to the various markets and meet with my teams ensuring they were delivering on goals, remained aligned with company strategy, and focus them on agreed-upon initiatives among various other things. As a single mom, the level of travel that I did was a challenge. I was either traveling every week or occasionally every other week; however, it was never enough. It seemed I was always missing a big event or important employee recognition party or an opportunity to address a large advertiser. My employer was constantly asking me to travel more. I challenged myself to come up with a better plan. Leaving my son each week and flying all around the country could not be the most efficient way to do my job effectively.

That is when I had the idea of creating a life-size cutout of myself. I ordered my first one and fell on the floor laughing. This would absolutely get my team's attention. The cut out would remind them of corporate initiatives as well as it would remind them that they had my support, and they would know that I was there in spirit. The first time I sent one to a market, I immediately got a phone call from the team. I received so many pictures of everyone posing with it, and I also heard that they knew my travel was tough, and they empathized with me. This was a home run. I was able to do something different, get their attention and focus, and they empathized with me. The cutout was a godsend.

I began sending the cutouts to clients that wouldn't meet with me or vendors that did something great as a somewhat face to face thank you. After I was fired in 2017, I began using the cutouts as a way to get myself booked on different TV shows.

You see, one of the biggest challenges we have in this world is getting someone's attention. Everyone is so busy, and while they may mean well when you are out of sight, you are out of mind.

One instance that comes to mind is when I met with the EVP of the Steve Harvey Show. Our meeting went fantastic, and he agreed to have me on as a guest. He let me know that I would hear back from him shortly. I have learned to make multiple touch points to ensure follow up, so I also connected face to face with his assistant. After a month with no communication, I began following up via email and voicemail and nothing. Crickets. I hate crickets. It had been two months, and I hadn't even received a response to my email or phone calls. I was frustrated. I figured I had nothing to lose. I sent the cut out with a note that read:

"Hi! Do you miss me yet? I miss you! Can't wait to see you on the show! I promise I am a lot more fun in person, although this cut out will have to do until you let me know the date you want me back for. Can't wait to see you, and THANK YOU!"

I immediately received an email from the EVP's assistant, letting me know I would be coming on the show as a guest in January. They loved the cutout, and I had found a way to separate myself from the hundreds of other prospective guests. At this moment, the cutout allowed me to stand out. But that is not the only thing I use the cut out for.

If you have seen my new TEDx talk, then you know what I am going to share with you next.

After having been bullied at work when I was back in corporate America, I took it upon myself to launch a personal ad campaign to elicit confidence within myself and stand up to the bully. This was scary, but I felt I had a strong campaign to run, and I believed it would work. You see, I had been in media and advertising for two decades, and I knew the 5 step process to launch a successful ad campaign:

  1. Identify the ideal platform to run your campaign.
  2. Choose powerful messaging and run it with frequency because frequency sells.
  3. Select a song or jingle that will elicit emotion and memory.
  4. Implement a call to action.
  5. Choose a visual component to really take the campaign to the next level.

My personal ad campaign to elicit confidence within me was no different.

  1. I chose my mind as my ideal platform as I spent more time with myself than anywhere else.
  2. I chose: I am powerful, I am confident, I slay all villains, I choose me – 7 times a day.
  3. I chose Kendrick Lamar I love myself as my theme song.
  4. My call to action became: I see fear as a green light that means go and go faster.
  5. My visual component that I would use would be my confident life-size cutout.

I used my life-size cutout as the image I would look to while I ran my ad campaign.

That cutout represented strength, my unique personality, and confidence.

If you are wondering if my ad campaign worked, I can tell you that it did. I stood up that bully, and I was able to choose me. I hope you run an ad campaign for you to elicit confidence within you. You don't need a life-size cutout. You can use any image that represents confidence and has meaning to you.

However, I highly suggest launching your ad campaign and standing up to your villains. If you want the whole story, check it out here and please share if you want others to know that they too are not alone thank you.

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PS: If you haven't watched my TEDx yet, click the link below. I promise it will be worth it.

https://youtu.be/rZtAJxvgGYw

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Health

How This CEO Is Using Your Period To Prevent Chronic Diseases

With so many groundbreaking medical advances being revealed to the world every single day, you would imagine there would be some advancement on the plethora of many female-prevalent diseases (think female cancers, Alzheimer's, depression, heart conditions etc.) that women are fighting every single day.


For Anna Villarreal and her team, there frankly wasn't enough being done. In turn, she developed a method that diagnoses these diseases earlier than traditional methods, using a pretty untraditional method in itself: through your menstrual blood.

Getting from point A to point B wasn't so easy though. Villarreal was battling a disease herself and through that experience. “I wondered if there was a way to test menstrual blood for female specific diseases," she says. "Perhaps my situation could have been prevented or at least better managed. This led me to begin researching menstrual blood as a diagnostic source. For reasons the scientific and medical community do not fully understand, certain diseases impact women differently than men. The research shows that clinical trials have a disproportionate focus on male research subjects despite clear evidence that many diseases impact more women than men."

There's also no denying that gap in women's healthcare in clinical research involving female subjects - which is exactly what inspired Villarreal to launch her company, LifeStory Health. She says that, “with my personal experience everything was brought full circle."

“There is a challenge and a need in the medical community for more sex-specific research. I believe the omission of females as research subjects is putting women's health at risk and we need to fuel a conversation that will improve women's healthcare.,"

-Anna Villarreal

Her brand new biotech company is committed to changing the women's healthcare market through technology, innovation and vocalization and through extensive research and testing. She is working to develop the first ever, non-invasive, menstrual blood diagnostic and has partnered with a top Boston-area University on research and has won awards from The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Northeastern University's RISE.

How does it work exactly? Proteins are discovered in menstrual blood that can quickly and easily detect, manage and track diseases in women, resulting in diseases that can be earlier detected, treated and even prevented in the first place. The menstrual blood is easy to collect and since it's a relatively unexplored diagnostic it's honestly a really revolutionary concept, too.

So far, the reactions of this innovative research has been nothing but excitement. “The reactions have been incredibly positive." she shares with SWAAY. “Currently, menstrual blood is discarded as bio waste, but it could carry the potential for new breakthroughs in diagnosis. When I educate women on the lack of female subjects used in research and clinical trials, they are surprised and very excited at the prospect that LifeStory Health may provide a solution and the key to early detection."

To give a doctor's input, and a little bit more of an explanation as to why this really works, Dr. Pat Salber, MD, and Founder of The Doctor Weighs In comments: “researchers have been studying stem cells derived from menstrual blood for more than a decade. Stem cells are cells that have the capability of differentiating into different types of tissues. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. Adult stem cells have a more limited differentiation potential, but avoid the ethical issues that have surrounded research with embryonic stem cells. Stem cells from menstrual blood are adult stem cells."

These stem cells are so important when it comes to new findings. “Stem cells serve as the backbone of research in the field of regenerative medicine – the focus which is to grow tissues, such as skin, to repair burn and other types of serious skin wounds.

A certain type of stem cell, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MenSCs) derived from menstrual blood has been found to both grow well in the lab and have the capability to differentiate in various cell types, including skin. In addition to being used to grow tissues, their properties can be studied that will elucidate many different aspects of cell function," Dr. Salber explains.

To show the outpour of support for her efforts and this major girl power research, Villarreal remarks, “women are volunteering their samples happily report the arrival of their periods by giving samples to our lab announcing “de-identified sample number XXX arrived today!" It's a far cry from the stereotype of when “it's that time of the month."

How are these collections being done? “Although it might sound odd to collect menstrual blood, plastic cups have been developed to use in the collection process. This is similar to menstrual products, called menstrual cups, that have been on the market for many years," Dr. Salber says.

Equally shocking and innovative, this might be something that becomes more common practice in the future. And according to Dr. Salber, women may be able to not only use the menstrual blood for early detection, but be able to store the stem cells from it to help treat future diseases. “Companies are working to commercialize the use of menstrual blood stem cells. One company, for example, is offering a patented service to store menstrual blood stem cells for use in tissue generation if the need arises."