Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Eldonna Lewis Fernandez.
To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:
Introducing Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez
Todays guest, joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast, is Eldonna Lewis Fernandez.
She is a lady who has had a career that can be split into two clearly defined halves.
The first half was based firmly in the military, as over 23 years she was employed by the air force as a negotiator and contracts expert.
The air force used her to negotiate contracts from $1 to over $100 million both stateside and internationally.
She was deployed to the Middle East after 911, has worked in the White House, and even holds a Top Secret security clearance and has been a trusted agent of the U.S. Government for 30 years.
How The Dots Joined For Eldonna
But upon leaving the military, Eldonna didn’t just consider the skills that she had honed, to be only useful in her past life, but has taken those very same skills and brought them into the corporate world.
She now specializes in training people how to think like a negotiator by creating win win results and understanding the pitfalls to avoid.
Now if that isn’t enough, Eldonna Lewis Fernandez is also an international award winning speaker and an award winning author of two books “Think Like A Negotiator, 50 Ways to Create Win Win Results by Understanding the Pitfalls to Avoid” and “GoPINK Rules of Engagement 5 Foundational Principles for Taking Control of the Handlebars of Your Life.”
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Harly Davison riding, Eldonna Lewis Fernandez.
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Eldonna-Lewis-Fernandez such as:
How she found it so difficult to separate herself from the marks left by her alcoholic parents, bad relationships, and awful childhood!
Why it is so important to make sure that you surround yourself with people that are smarter than you!
How a life in the military gave her the structure she needed in her life after her difficult childhood!
How everyone across the globe wants the same things: connections, success, stability and love, but so few people work towards getting those things!
How the Harley Davison motorbike, allows her to escape the structure that she loves so much in her life…and how that is so good for her spirit!
How To Connect With Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
If you were inspired by the conversation with Eldonna Lewis Ferdnandez, then why not check out other motivational and fun conversations with Jessica Cox, Tayo Rockson and Jason Freeman to name just three.
Every other episode to enjoy and consume can be found at Join Up Dots Podcast Archives
Audio Transcription Of Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, hello, bear. Good morning to you. How are we all in internet land? Hope you’re okay. I’m a little bit depressed actually is the 22nd of June. So yes, we all know what that means. It’s going to start getting darker. We’re on our way to winter. So make the most of the weather that you’ve got at the moment and enjoy the conversation that I’m going to be having with my guest because my guest is a lady who has a storey and it’s a it’s a career that can be split into two almost clearly defined half. The first half was based firmly in the military is over 23 years she was employed by the Air Force. As a negotiator and contracts expert. The boss used her to negotiate contracts from $1 to over 100 million both stateside and internationally. She was deployed to the Middle East after 911 has worked in the White House, and even holds a top secret security clearance and has been a trusted agent of the US government for 30 years. But upon leaving the military, our guest didn’t just consider the skills that she’d hone to be only useful in our past life, but has taken those very same skills and brought them into the corporate world. She now specialises in training people how to think like a negotiator by creating Win Win results and understanding the pitfalls to avoid. Now if that isn’t enough. She’s also an international award winning speaker and an award winning author of two books. Think Like a negotiator 50 ways to create Win Win results by understanding the pitfalls to avoid I think that’s possibly the longest title ever. And go pink rules of engagement five foundational principles for taking control the handlebars of your life. Not that that’s even longer that one. So let’s bring onto the show to start joining up the dots of her life. The one and only, and Harley Davidson rider l Donna Louis Fernandez, how are you? Donna?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [2:14]
I’m awesome. Thanks so much for having me.
David Ralph [2:16]
You are awesome sauce as he was telling me before the show.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [2:20]
Exactly. awesome sauce. That’s my favourite word.
David Ralph [2:24]
So So where did the the flavour of awesome sauce come about?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [2:29]
Yeah, I think a friend of mine said that. Some were and I understand there’s a here in the US. There’s a TV commercial that says that. But I’ve been saying that for years just instead of just saying awesome yet a little extra sauce to it. So then it’s awesome sauce.
David Ralph [2:45]
Because I love the Americans because they use awesome a lot. Now over in the United Kingdom. We don’t use it at all, really. And it’s kind of a word that’s used for everything. And I sometimes think if you were actually in a position that we would go that’s amazing that that is awesome. Like at the top of Everest, for example, looking down on the world, what would you use if you’ve used awesome for everything else?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [3:10]
Well, I don’t really use awesome for everything unless it is awesome. You know, but I guess maybe fantastic spectacular over the top I things like that.
David Ralph [3:21]
You have had a life Oh, but looking at it is slightly over the top. There’s there’s so many aspects to your life. But when I was getting that introduction together, I was thinking below me. That’s interesting. That’s interesting. And that’s interesting. So is there any parts of your life that you look back on? And as we call on Join Up Dots, your big dot, that you think to yourself? Yeah, that was when it started to move. For me that would that was the moment when my path possibly became realised.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [3:51]
That was probably I call it my mirror experience. And it’s probably that was about nine years ago, only nine years ago, it seems like I’ve been around the planet for a while, it seems like maybe something might have happened a little sooner for me. But I had a pretty rough upbringing with alcoholic parents and poor choices and relationships and things like that. So I had a situation where I was had been doing some work on myself. And I always say now that the powers in the work you have to do work on yourself to to really get where you want to go. And I remember looking in the mirror one day, I was just kind of a wreck and looking in the mirror and realise the problem was looking back at me and that’s kind of the day when when it really all changed for me because I realised I had the control to do something about my life and change the circumstances and change my path and make make a more positive happy life for myself.
David Ralph [4:45]
But that’s that’s a difficult thing to come up with, isn’t it? You know, so many people are in difficult situations, they have got parents that maybe are not the best parents or they’re in a situation that’s not the best for you growing up, but to have that kind of realisation that, yes, I can take responsibility. I think that’s few and far between most people were actually savour the victim side of it, instead of actually fighting back. What made you different?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [5:13]
Well, yeah, and what you’re saying is true, because the majority of people, they, they don’t want to see it or they don’t they go through the victim mentality. And I think I did that for a long time. And I had just put my, I guess, my hopes or whatever, in bad relationships, and I had a significant relationship I had been working on myself, like I said, let me go back to growing up in alcoholism, if you know anything about alcoholism, or any kind of addiction that growing up in that kind of situation, I had to basically numb my feelings to survive. And my mother died of alcoholism when I was 12. And she was a raging alcoholic. And she, my parents threw stuff at each other, they threw each other across the room, there was always fighting chaos, threats, all kinds of stuff, I was always getting threatened to be sent away. And I spent a lot of time in my childhood hiding under my bed while they were fighting and throwing things. But then I sort of recreated that chaos in my life, because it was normal for me. And I had shut off my feelings and went through the majority of my life, not really feeling anything, you know, kind of numb dead inside. And I had been doing work on myself and kind of done something to open up my feelings. And then a relationship that I was in the guy left me for somebody else, he kept me out of the business we were in. It just was really devastating to me and my kids and and in my despair, I remember pulling myself up, and just looking in the mirror. And it was just like, it hit me like a tonne of bricks like oh my gosh, you’re the problem, you’ve been making these bad choices all your life, and now you can do something about it. And I always say that was the best and the worst day of my life because it just, I had about six months of crying that I did after that point. But knowing that I was the problem, I also realised I was the solution. So I started doing all kinds of different work to heal myself from all that pain
David Ralph [7:11]
is a key point. And it comes up in conversation after conversation with successful folk. But when they started to make that move to a better life, it was at their darkest point. Now, I can say to say now my darkest point looking at your storey was was nothing and you know, I wouldn’t even bring it up in conversation. But I remember being extremely unhappy at that time when I decided, right? It’s now or never, I’ve got to take responsibility. And since that point, my life has never been better. And I look back on it. I think what the hell did I do this earlier? You know, what was I thinking? But it just I wasn’t ready at that time. But it’s so interesting that you were mirroring your dodgy, you know, relationship, you’re dodgy start. Because you felt comfortable in that environment where the logical or people who are not in that situation, they would go, why that that makes no sense. If it’s a distressing, period, why try to replicate that?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [8:11]
Yeah, and a lot of people that have never been in those types of situations are like, Well, why would you stay in something like that? Why would you do this to yourself? And the normal, the person in the right mind wouldn’t do that. And exactly, but I wasn’t in my right mind. I was paralysed, I was traumatised from a lifetime of chronic trauma, abuse and all types of things like that. So it was just okay, this is just my life. And there’s no other way I couldn’t see a way out of it because of the state of mind that I was in. And it took a significant thing for me to actually kind of be just smacked in the face with it and realised oh my gosh, really. And I think that’s the hardest part. That’s like you were saying, the thing that made me that much more just distraught was the fact that I was I really realised that I was the problem in the solution. But then oh, my gosh, I’ve lived my entire life like this, I could have done something about it. Are you kidding me? That was a tough pill to swallow.
David Ralph [9:11]
You now surrounded by the sort of movers and shakers. And you know that that’s one of the reasons why you on the show, because one of the previous guests recommended you and now you’re sharing your storey across the globe. And do you see those commonalities? Do you see like I’ve been seeing with the people that you surround yourself with, but most of them needed something to really kick them up the bump to start going?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [9:35]
Yeah, I think I think so I think the majority of people grow up in some sort of dysfunction. And we’ve all had something happened to us. Even if we had great parents, somebody who’s done is wrong, we’ve had something tragic happened or something bad, or we’ve been messed over by somebody. And it’s just making that choice to do something else about it, do something different with your life. But at one of the things I always say, which is in my go pink rules of engagement book is surround yourself with people who hold you to a higher standard, not people who bring you down. And it’s those people that you surround yourself with, that will help you elevate on your path. So I found that I was hanging around people that were all about drama and things like that. And when I started to make a change in my own life, those people started to fall off. And then I no longer not only did I no longer attract those kind of people, I didn’t want to be around them.
David Ralph [10:29]
Yeah, it’s weird, you do have to suck your peer group, don’t you if they are the kind of guys. And it’s really strange, because there’s a classic phrase that we all know about Jim Rowan, that you are the average of the five people that you surround yourself with. But a lot of people have problems where it’s the people that love the most about are the ones that are anchoring them to the position that they are, they almost don’t want them to try to better themselves can go through a dream life. The fear of failure and failure bad about themselves was that anybody but when you look back on it, you really cared for you, and you knew that they cared for you. But we’re one of those type of people that was sort of anchoring you.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [11:11]
Well, I, I’ve had people like that in my life where you start to elevate and they’re like, Oh, no, I’m down here. And you need to stay down here with me. Because if you start rising, and you start looking at yourself and doing something different with yourself, that means that I have to do it too. And that’s they’ll pull you back down with them, because they don’t want to look at themselves. So it’s kind of a double edged sword, they don’t want you to rise for them, but then also, they might lose you as well, because they are not going to rise with you. So it was tough at first because I had some friends kind of fall off. And, and I didn’t understand it until I kind of looked back and said, Oh, I get why this happened. Now, they just couldn’t go with me. And it was painful. Because I they were people that I was close to, and I’d had to just kind of resolve myself, that was part of the process, you know, and I always think you need to have coaches and mentors that you work with, I surround myself with with people that are smarter than me. So I can get smarter.
David Ralph [12:10]
You have acid test, you have a key thing as well, isn’t it, you know, I’m doing daily conversations. And you cannot help but just learn you become a sponge with these, these nuggets of gold that people throw at you. And if you do have that opportunity of surrounding yourself, I had a boss years ago, that always used to try to hire under him so that he was the brightest person in the room. And I never understood that. And then a boss came in who was over him, and basically kind of sacked him really, and said to him, you know, this is stupid. What you need to do is hire the brightest people in the room and be the most stupid person in that room as well. If you can’t do that, then you’re not right to manage this company.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [12:53]
Yeah, that’s definitely that’s definitely that’s a way to success. You don’t want to have Okay, these, I’m going to keep myself smart by having being the smartest person in the room. If you’re, if you’re the smartest person in your group of friends, you need to get more friends, because you need to be surrounded by people that are smarter than you more successful than you. So you can find out how they did it and learn from them. And elevate yourself, it just it’s a continual never ending process if you want to be successful.
David Ralph [13:21]
Okay, this is a question of mine. And you can ask for the listener, because I know a lot of listeners out there on their start to their life, their dream life, to about to take that leap of faith to about to take responsibility. So if you’re surrounding yourself with really bright people, how do you not feel inferior to them? How do you not close down because they’re saying things that maybe you don’t quite grasp? Or they’re having conversations about the slightly round the curve to where you are at the moment?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [13:51]
We have to understand that getting feedback and lifelong learning just expanding your knowledge is a never ending process says and and I can understand that because I felt like oh gosh, I don’t know anything, these people are gonna think I’m just a blink an idiot. And it just didn’t. I had that resolved within myself know how am I going to get smarter if I don’t surround myself with these people and just be okay with it. be okay with the fact that Okay, these people are smarter than me, I want to get to where they are. So the only way to do that is to surround myself with them. And to to ask questions. And you know, so what if you question you asked seem stupid. Now, as I’ve elevated throughout my, my business, I look at the people that are coming up where I was, and remember I was where they were, and they just want to get to where I am. And it’s my job now as somebody more successful to hand the mantle off to them. So it’s kind of an each one reach one thing, I’m reaching out to people smarter than me, but then I’m reaching back to those who are are not quite where I am and helping them. So if you look at it that way, it kind it puts it in different perspective,
David Ralph [15:01]
do you have a nurturing personality?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [15:05]
I think I do. Well, I’m a mother. So you know, with that, I have somewhat of a nurturing personality. But then being a military person, sometimes I have I guess a more. I’m very direct. So in oftentimes, when I’m coaching with people, I have to remember that, especially women that my personality might come off a little bit strong, so I have to adapt. So as long as I keep that in mind, I can get into that nurturing mode, but I don’t automatically go there because I was in the military 23 years, and it’s just kind of like, okay, let’s get the mission done. What do you mean, come on, let’s go, you know, I have to have to temper myself at times.
David Ralph [15:43]
So if we jump back and start joining up the dots and you You looked in that mirror and you decided you’re going to take responsibility. Was it straight into the military? Or was there other things you did before you went in there?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [15:57]
Well, this was this was after the military that that mirror experience happened for me. The military actually saved me professionally. Because like I said, My parents were alcoholics. My mother died when I was 12. My father basically shut off and died emotionally didn’t really say two words to me. For all while I was growing up, I dropped out of high school, I was running with the bad crowd, I was I was heading down the losers path. And one day I saw this commercial that said Air Force a great way of life. And to me, it was kind of like, Oh, that sounds like an adventure. Let’s go for that. So I went and got my high school equivalency. And I enlisted in the Air Force, and that that saved me professionally, because I was able to get my college degree while I was on active duty. And I was trained in a great job. And so that kind of turned my life around professionally was the personal side that took a lot of years to straighten out.
David Ralph [16:51]
And what year was this when you went into the military?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [16:54]
David Ralph [16:56]
so it was a long time before sort of Top Gun and all those kind of things come out. And I know there was a big boom with people wanting to go into sort of feel the need the need for speed and all that business.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [17:07]
Oh, no, it was it was long before that. And and actually, when I joined the military, the military was only about 8% women at the time. So I was kind of kind of taken a step out there. I mean, to me, I just never really thought about that. I guess because I I grew up a lot of years with my dad. So you know, being a male dominated environment. I had no issue with that. But it was it was a step out there before anybody else, I guess really did before movies, and that kind of glamorised the military.
David Ralph [17:40]
So So what did being in the military gave you obviously, you know, the education side of things, you’ve covered that already. But personally, did it just give you structure from from a life that sounds like it really wasn’t in control?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [17:54]
Definitely, that’s exactly what it gave me. You hit that right on the head. It did, it did give me structure, I didn’t have any structure in my life growing up, and that the Air Force gave me just enough structure to kind of ease the chaos part of my life. And so I had, I was working within a structured environment I had, I had a clear path to success. I knew what I needed to do to get promoted, I knew what I needed to do to get my job done. And I excelled at everything I did in the military, I got a lot of awards and decorations, a lot of recognition. But I had a good time, too. I mean, there were some rough things that happened with unfortunately, sexual harassment and sexual assault. But that’s, that’s a small percentage of my Air Force career. And I’ve done the work to get beyond the the effects of that and all the other trauma from my life. But when I look back on my military career, I got to travel I got to meet great people, I actually was given a high level of responsibility early on, I was negotiating multimillion dollar contracts. In the mid 80s. I went to into Houston, Texas, with an Beaumont, Texas with a briefcase, and a couple of guys. And we bought up hundreds of thousands of dollars in the city and sent set it on a ship going to Honduras. I mean, I did it with a handshake and a briefcase. It was that was exciting stuff.
David Ralph [19:15]
Did you really think at the time? Well, this is exciting, because you know, some of the stuff that in your past is a kind of almost James Bond, isn’t it top secret security clearance and working in the White House and a trusted agent of the US government for 30 years? When you invite? Is it not glamorous at all, because it kind of sounds like it’s glamorous.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [19:36]
I never really thought of it as glamorous, I guess it was just kind of my job. And I didn’t even realise that. I’ve always we always hear over here about Oh, thank you for your service. Thank you for your service to this country. And I never really thought of my life as being in service. I just was in the military. My job was a contract specialist, I would go out and handle contracts. If they deployed something somewhere, I would go and just buy up the town. It was just what I did. It just didn’t. It didn’t seem like a glamorous thing. And then, you know, nowadays with all the people who you know, flew something, or were hurt in combat, or whatever my job in the military doesn’t seem to be like glamorous at all. But looking back on it. I mean, I did a lot of things and had a lot of experiences that most people don’t have, I got to meet so many different people. But I was stationed in the UK for four years, loved it over there got to see most of Europe from the seat of my Harley, thanks to being steno sent over there by the military. It was great.
David Ralph [20:37]
So So what kind of people have you met, she mean, sort of met president some people have been
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [20:44]
maybe that a few but mostly who I dealt with was like I was deployed to Qatar, which Qatar is really in the news right now with the thing that’s that, that soldier that was returned from Afghanistan, I guess the negotiation was done in Qatar, and that was, that was where I was stationed. And I I dealt with some sheiks when I was there. And I dealt with a lot of different people, because it was me and a guy with a bag of cash and we go into town on my little pad of purchase orders by the town up, throw the stuff in our suburban or have it delivered to the base and head back. We did that every day. And it was it was just them, the different people I met from so many different countries and cultures. I’ve been to Spain, to Tunisia, to Germany, obviously stationed in the UK and some other places. And it was just exciting to meet all the different people from different cultures.
David Ralph [21:42]
You know, stupid question on one hand, but relevant in the other. When you travel the world, obviously, the cultures are different, but other people within those cultures radically different.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [21:56]
I don’t think so I think although we’ve all we all live in a different part of the country. I mean, I when I lived in the UK, I barely stayed on the base, I connected with a lot of people in the community and made great friends friends that I still have today. And just got to know Okay, your culture is a little different. But really everybody, everybody has, I think the same need to connect and the same need to be successful and the same desires to live a good luck, good, happy life and take care of their families. I think that’s the same no matter where you live or where you’re from,
David Ralph [22:30]
which is the answer I was expecting. And so my question back to you is yes, people want to be successful, they want to connect, why don’t they do it? It’s quite evident in these conversations that I’m having. But the majority of people out there don’t. And they kind of live in this this Limbo land where we’re never really reacting to anything other than when it’s forced on them. I they lose their job or something occurs, but they actually have to take action. Why do you think if everyone has those desires, so few of them actually do anything about it?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [23:04]
A couple of reasons. Probably one is fear. Fear stops, people from doing a lot of things fear of the unknown fear of fear of rejection, fear of not doing well fear, fear of embarrassment, whatever fears come forward, and it’s the person that just goes for it anyway, no matter if they’re fearful or not, is that successful, I always say people want to have a light switch and flip a light switch to become an expert at something or become good at something. I’ve been a speaker for a lot of years. And I’m still doing work to improve. But I used to be petrified to speak in front of people. And the only way I could get over that was actually to get up and speak in front of people. And that’s too many people don’t want to do that. They just want it to be handed to them. And they don’t want to do the work. And unfortunately, if you don’t, you’re going to stay on the other side, just kind of waiting and looking. And you don’t want to go through your entire life and look back and say wow, I wish I would have I would have done that. Or I wish I wouldn’t have done what somebody else expected me to do and did what I really wanted to do. And and then there’s another side of that I’m emotionally connected, people perform better. And we’re so connected in this internet world that we don’t connect emotionally anymore. People don’t take time to build relationships and get face to face with people and, and I’ve made a real promise to myself to when I meet people, I set up meetings and do face to face coffees just to get to know people and build relationships, you’re more emotionally connected than staying behind your computer and looking on Facebook, or whatever social media is out there. You need to get out and actually connect with people. And I think connected people are are more successful.
David Ralph [24:48]
I agree with that totally. But I’ve actually found it amazingly emotional to have these conversations. And after an hour of quite deep discussion. I feel like I I know you already know, I feel like I could come over to California and actually sort of go out for a few drinks and a meal or whatever. And just carry on this conversation with with no issues at all. So you can engage, can’t you but I do take your point totally with like texting and Facebook and all these kind of snaps of the few words that we throw out or but over time, it’s very difficult to build up what hopefully we’re experiencing now where we’re actually getting to know what that person is like at the other end of the line.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [25:31]
Oh yeah, we’re having a conversation versus somebody sending a text or an email, I’m actually having a conversation with you. So I’m making a connexion with you getting to know you through this conversation. And that’s what people are are lacking, we do the text or we do the email or we do the Facebook or whatever, that’s not in a while that’s maybe reaching out making a slight connexion need to have the conversation whether that’s Skype is great, you know, we’re on Skype right now. And we’re able to connect that way people can even do it with I’ve spoken to people in the UK, I’ve spoken to people in Australia all over the world with with Skype in a video camera. And that’s a great way to build a relationship too. But it’s just having that conversation with someone, instead of just kind of a simple, stay disconnected and, and I’m going to hide out kind of thing and then wonder why you’re miserable.
David Ralph [26:21]
until I started doing this, this job. And I I’d never been on Skype at all. And if you listen back to the first episodes, I was pretty much saying all the time. Wow, this is amazing. You’re there, and I’m here and we’re talking over the computer. And it really did kind of blow my mind. But you could just click through on Skype and bang, fulfil the price of your internet connexion. And even though we’ve recorded like 100 episodes now, I still think that I still think this is this is beyond what anyone could have dreamt up 20 years ago.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [26:54]
Oh, yeah, definitely. I have friends all over the world that I talked to. And that’s great. So, you know, built a relationship. Like you’re saying, if you came to California, we can meet for coffee. And it’s kind of like, Well, we’ve already got a relationship because we’ve made a connexion. And I think that that’s what we’re we’re lacking in the world today. Because we’re so busy people are our it’s the microwave societies, we’re running around doing way too much stuff, and we don’t take the time to connect. And if we make commitments to ourselves to start reconnecting with people, I think, I think people will be happier.
David Ralph [27:27]
If you step back to the military, the thing that struck me when you were saying is that you were extremely successful, and you won many awards for excellence. Why? Why did and I don’t mean that rude, rudely in any shape or form? But why was it just that your personality responded to the military? Or was that the way that your brain operated?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [27:50]
Well, I think probably I responded to the military because I had no structure. And that structure just felt so so much of a relief to me, like oh, my gosh, I finally have structure in my life. There’s, there’s no chaos in my work environment. I know what’s expected of me. And I was able to just operate so over the top with that, because it just made me feel like I was, I guess whole in a way in that kind of regards. Because I never had that I never knew what I was going to get or walk into when I came home. Were my parents going to be drunk or they’re going to be fighting? Where was the house going to be sold out from under us where what was going to happen. And when I actually when I turned 18 I came home. One day my father had had moved from Texas to Florida, and didn’t leave me a forwarding address, there was a note of eviction on the door of the house was empty. So those kind of things. Okay, that happened and other things like that happened in my life. The military gave me the, I guess, the foundation to feel at ease where I could operate. And it just really worked well for me. Could you
David Ralph [28:59]
understand why you did fat?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [29:02]
I, I don’t know. I think he was one of his friends said Oh, you need tough love kind of thing. So he just kind of disappeared. And I guess in a way it was a good thing that he did that because I it spurred me Okay, well, I guess I’m just gonna go live over here. I found myself a place to live. I had a job. And eventually I joined the military was kind of like, all right, I guess I’ll do this now. kind of thing. So I’m not real sure what his primary reason was, but I think in a way it helped me.
David Ralph [29:38]
I find it unbelievable. I’m a father of five. And if I can’t put my daughter to bed and my son to bed sort of every night, it tears me up. I couldn’t imagine wanting to do that. And I couldn’t imagine how, how a father thinks that way. Well, I couldn’t imagine either. But both my parents were sick from the alcohol. I mean, they’ve been drinking all their lives. And that that distorts your thinking in a way my mother, I don’t even as an adult because she died when I was 12. Isn’t I don’t even know her and an adult mind and know what she was like, as somebody who wasn’t an alcoholic, so I, I can only wonder what kind of potential Could she have achieved in her life had she not been raging alcoholic. I mean, she was sick out of her mind as far back as I can remember always screaming and yelling at me and always threatening to send me away and telling me how no good I was. So by the time I entered the military, I had such low self esteem that it took a lot of years for me to overcome those voices that she constantly fed into my head when I was growing up. It is fascinating that so you know, we touched on this earlier, but so many people have dark moments, I call it the big.in their life that when we Join Up Dots, there’s a big dot that really sort of moves you on. And most of the time that.is black, when you in there, it’s darkness, and you can’t wait to get out of it. But when you do, and you do take control of your life and you move on to something better. You look back on it, and you actually go, No, it was dark. But that was actually a good thing. I can now see that without that occurring, I wouldn’t have got to where I am now. And certainly from from my connexion with you. And from what I’ve read about you on the web. And I’m this is only for my you know, my humble opinion. But it seems to me that your life now is firmly in the success mode due to your beginnings, and your realisation. But structure was key. And I think that’s really one of the reasons why you went into the military, I think you were looking for something which is polar opposite to what you already had. And you experienced.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [31:46]
Most definitely. And I it’s like I just stumbled across it. And I actually stumbled into the contracting career field as well. I went in what was called Open administrative meaning I would choose my job when I got to basic training, and I wanted to do something with computers. And back then computers was considered an administrative career field, they had computer programming is one of the jobs and that sounded interesting to me. Well, little did I know my recruiter didn’t tell me that I was probably going to end up not getting seeing that job on the list. And I looked at this list of jobs and the top job with the highest score was contract specialist, I didn’t know what it was, I just looked at the score and figured well, you must need to be smarter to do this job than these other jobs. So I’ll pick this one didn’t even know what it was. And here I am, you know, so many years later teaching people about contracts, negotiation. So it was a, it was a great path for me. And it really yeah, it did provide the structure and the foundation I needed in order to set the framework of my life.
David Ralph [32:44]
Well, I think that’s the perfect time actually to bring on the Steve Jobs with his words, we do this generally on every show. And this is a speech that he did in 2005. And I think it really does have relevance to your life up to that point. We listen to the speech, we have a quick chat about it. But then I’m very keen to actually move on to your life now. And how the elements from the military and your contract negotiating has been brought into corporate land. So this is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [33:13]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [33:48]
What do you reckon about most works?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [33:51]
Truth total truth, because I look back at the dots of my life. And wow, just think if I hadn’t gone here, if I hadn’t made this choice, if I hadn’t done this, I would not be where I am today. And and it’s kind of like you want to know where the next.is but every time I look back, it’s like oh, well, that connected there that connected me there that connected me there. It’s all followed a well worn path.
David Ralph [34:16]
If you kind of knew the path that you were going to end up on now, hypothetically, but if you could jump back, do you think you would have done exactly the same things? Are you? Are you your unique self at the moment is all the aspects of your character and your history come together in the perfect package?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [34:37]
I think so I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s it was tragic. It was awful lot of it was painful. I say a lifetime of chronic trauma because I it seemed like I had to learn the lessons again and again and again. And But now what I do a lot of my speaking, so I do teach people a lot about negotiation. But oftentimes I do some motivational talks and share about my what the things I’ve gone through and people will be go, Well, you don’t understand. Then I share my storey and they’re like, okay, I don’t see that. And you see, I’ve got peace today. And I’m grateful for that piece. So I had the peace but I also have the storey and I can show people you can get to this spot too. So I’m an example for others that are maybe in pain or in the middle of something that if they continue to do the work, and keep aiming and keeps keep shooting for for the moon kind of thing that they can end up just with a peaceful life as well.
David Ralph [35:35]
So So how do you do this? You you’ve created your own company? And do you Canvas corporate corporations to work with you? Or do you have you got enough profile now but they just come to you?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [35:49]
Well, I’m I’m working with corporate and entrepreneurs I do a lot of speaking at events I’m I speak at just about any event, like associations bring me in to speak or big events bring me in to do a keynote talk. Or sometimes I’ll do a workshop on negotiation. My primary thing is think like a negotiator and I do my own training a couple times a year, and I have corporate that, that I I’m connecting with and having them send people to my trainings. And I also work with entrepreneurs as well. So it’s a pretty good mix of people that I connect with to help them in in negotiation skills being better negotiators, personally and professionally, every area of their life.
David Ralph [36:29]
So So this would be management, this would be in relationships as well with it.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [36:35]
Definitely, definitely a management mid level managers, employees, entrepreneurs, business owners, people like that i i do a really cool training a couple times a year. That’s experiential in nature. So you learn negotiation through fun games and themes. And also, we talk about the inner game as well, because I don’t believe anybody can be a good negotiator. And they have confidence and confidence comes from the inner game Where, where, like I mentioned before, doing all the work on myself to get my inner game in order and being strong and confident in who I am. is the key thing, isn’t it? competence
David Ralph [37:13]
is something that you don’t get overnight. But by incremental gains, you suddenly look back and you join up the dots again, and you think, Wow, yeah, I can I can feel it. Coming out of me now, which six months ago just wouldn’t have been there.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [37:31]
Yeah, look at myself, say speaking in front of an audience of 1000 people. When I first started speaking, I was shaking in my shoes and thought, if somebody would have told me Oh, you’re going to speak in front of thousands that has been like, you need to go to the hospital because you’re obviously delusional, because that will not happen because I’m petrified to speak in front of people. But through doing the work and and working with coaches and mentors, and in actually one of the tips of my think like a negotiator book talks about drilling myself skills, continuous improvement and continuously doing things to get better. I’m confident to speak in front of however many people want to bring me in to speak.
David Ralph [38:09]
Can you remember your first proud when you first stood up?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [38:14]
Oh, gosh, yes. Well, actually, the first time that I had to speak in front of a group, I was in the military and my, my supervisor had assigned each person within the unit, a training topic. And so each we had training every week, and my turn came and I had to do training. And it was back in the day when there was overhead transparencies tells you how long ago that was, instead of a PowerPoint. I was, oh my gosh, yes. So I had had my little training there, the lights were out, which was good, because you had to see the overhead. But I was sweating. And I was red in the face. And I was shaking, and I was stuttering. And I it was it was were almost worse than death. And you know, public speaking for most people in the first place is the biggest fear even more than death. And people would rather be in the box and give the eulogy is Jerry Seinfeld the comedian says, but that was awful. It was awful, horrible. I managed to get through it. Somehow, I felt sick to my stomach. I ran to the bathroom afterwards. I was ill It was awful. But I was in the military. You can’t tell somebody No, I’m not going to give this briefing. So I had to keep giving briefings and I eventually got comfortable with giving the briefings to the point when I went to a we would go to military leadership school. And I was given the honour graduate award and had to give an impromptu speech in front of hundreds of people and I was able to do it. So but then when I started professional speaking, that was a whole different thing, because you have to really craft your storey and that but that I didn’t get over it. By just sitting there hoping something would happen. I actually had to do the work and actually get up and speak to get over being afraid of speaking.
David Ralph [40:04]
It’s funny because in my life, I’ve been a financial trainer. So for the last 30 years or so, now, 30 years, about 25 years, I have been used to getting up in front of people and it was like it was just like breathing. You know, I didn’t care what size of the crowd I would just get up and do the thing. And now I’ve been doing this. I’ve kind of mine My brain has somehow switched. And I’m so used to being behind the mic and and channelling different energies when you do when you actually public speaking. But when I started this, this series of shows, I was saying, Yeah, I love public speaking get me back up there. That’s that’s where I live and breathe. And now I’m kind of thinking oh, I’m not too sure. Now I don’t I don’t know if I can do it like I used to. It’s funny how it drifts away from you.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [40:50]
Yeah, I guess that happens. But I’m sure if you got back into it, you’d be great again, but you know, it’s it’s just a matter of I think it’s like the falling off the bicycle thing. You never lose it really I haven’t written my Harley in a couple of months. And I’m sure when I hop on it today because it’s coming back from the shop when I hop on it today. It’ll be just like, a couple of months ago when I was out on it. So I’ll be riding like there was nothing it just kind of kicks back in that that’s in your DNA already. It’s in your cells and you can just call on it anytime you want once you have mastered it.
David Ralph [41:26]
I’m not a biker in any shape or form, but people have told me that the Harley’s although their iconic a terrible to ride Is that true?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [41:36]
I don’t think so. I’ve I’ve had been riding Harley’s for 18 years and I actually saw most of Europe from the seat of my Harley, and had had a great time doing it. I’ve got a 98 soft tail custom and wallets. I’d rather have a touring bike now that with a rubber mounted engine, my engine is a rubber mounted didn’t it that just makes the ride a little bit smoother. I’ve enjoyed all all the rides I’ve done I’ve written thousands of miles.
David Ralph [42:03]
I can’t imagine you looking at the picture that I’m looking at at the moment on the back of a motorbike but then I saw a picture of you with your biker mates all standing together and well but difference between the two of you it was um you know this is the damage I’m looking at is Uber professional glamorous person but then you can you can grunge it up with it. bikers Can you?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [42:25]
I can and that’s that’s a great thing you can take on different personas. I guess I do that in my training I have different personas that I teach from different theme games but I want that people that see me out speaking and I’m all professional and my dress or whatever and I’m you know not a huge person I’m kind of petite and size and they’re like you ride a Harley and you ride a big Harley can’t see that but then let me put on my chaps and my my pink helmet and oh, okay, I get that it’s just you put on it different kind of mentality when you’re doing it’s just like thinking like a speaker or thinking like an interviewee right now or thinking like a negotiator thinking like a biker, you just can go into those modes whenever you need to.
David Ralph [43:13]
Once again, just talking off the top of my head, but it feels to me that the Harley is actually the other side of the military. The military gave you structure from your life beforehand. And the Harley gives you a freedom away from the structure. Would that be true?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [43:29]
That is true Harley definitely gives me freedom. I start riding Harley’s in 1996 about three months before I was stationed in the UK where you know you guys are on the other side of the road over there. That was interesting to learn how to navigate a motorcycle after only riding for a couple of months and then okay we’re on the other side of the road we have roundabouts and all this other strange stuff and then you go over to the you know go over to Europe and it’s back to the side of the road you’re used to but it’s just the feeling of freedom the things that I’ve seen on my bike The place is that I’ve been I did a ride on dirt bikes through Alaska and the Yukon up to the Arctic Circle and back with a group of people and and just the freedom from that just helps you I guess have some freedom and fun in your life and words not all structure I think all all structure and no fun make somebody adult person and I’m certainly not know.
David Ralph [44:22]
It’s funny you say the word roundabout because I remember I’ve driven bitchy old of America. And I’ve only ever seen one round about and we were so surprised by this round about it stuck with us and Emma is you just had like large bending roads, don’t you? It’s not like the United Kingdom where we crisscrossing all over the place.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [44:43]
right there’s there are there’s I’ve been to in a couple of roundabouts in the US us is a big place, but we don’t have roundabouts. It’s just roads that kind of go for four days and go through towns and we have a lot of traffic lights. But yeah, freeways as you call the motorways over there. So it’s Yeah, there’s no, no roundabouts. It’s, you get off in an exit. And there’s traffic lights, but it’s a little different. So it took a minute to get used to
David Ralph [45:15]
the roundabout of your life, if we had gone all the way around it full circle and you are where you are, what is your key strengths now so for for the listeners listening in. And they’ve heard how you’ve developed and how you’ve taken control. But now you are firmly in corporate land, what are the key strengths that differentiates you between other people in your field?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [45:40]
Well, I wake up each day, with an attitude of gratitude, I I’m, I have faith, I say prayers, I’m thankful for that I get another day that everything works, that I can walk and talk and move that I have a roof over my head, I always get myself back to the gratitude, the things that I’m thankful for. And I, I’d make sure that I listened to positive uplifting things like on TV or the radio, if I listened to any of that, or on the internet or whatever, I I very rarely listen to the negative stuff, positive, uplifting music. So I have surround myself with things that keep me in a mindset of of positivity, uplifting, keep my keep myself peaceful. And I do things to help people and give back and stop thinking about myself when I take myself out of the equation. And remember that it’s not all about me, that kind of keeps me focused on a path and keeps me peaceful and happy.
David Ralph [46:40]
Because the thing that’s that’s struck me through all these conversations, that my mindset at the beginning of that successful people got the veil by basically grabbing what they could and making the most of it is so wrong. It’s totally evident to me now. But people have got successful by giving back as much as I possibly can.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [47:05]
That’s true, but also your mindset, your greatest asset there were surrounded by so much negativity in the world that sometimes it’s hard to when you wake up and it’s like, oh, gosh, here we go again, other day, whatever, to get a flip that mindset and I had to do a lot to stop that negative talk. And sometimes it still comes back because like my your the imprint period of your life is from zero to seven years old, and what you’re imprinted with that carries on with you through your life. And then after that is the socialisation period where the people around you are the examples that you get, well my I was imprinted with I was a loser, I was no good. I was going to get sent away. I mean, that’s what I was imprinted with by my mother and my father didn’t do anything to make her stop. So that’s what I went through life with. And I had to combat that. And sometimes I still get those voices that want to come back. But I have tools do you I have things I read affirmations I call people, I call my friends or I call a coach, I do something to get my mind off that track because it’s easy to go down that rabbit hole. And then I got to remember, it’s not about me, and I need to give back to somebody else. And that’s what I’m here to do is to show people that I went through all this mess, but look at me, now I have peace. I have a smile on my face that comes from my heart. And you can have that too.
David Ralph [48:24]
Did you honestly sort of wake up sometimes and go, Wow, how did this happen? Or do you just really mentally join up the dots and go, Yeah, I know exactly how this happened. And I deserve everything I’m getting?
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [48:37]
Well, sometimes I wake up with the Wow, really this I don’t realise how horrendous my my childhood and past things that I’ve gone through was at times because I lived it. It just seemed like, Okay, this is my life, whatever. But sometimes when I’m speaking and somebody reflects it back to me, and they say, Wow, you’re still standing after a storey like that it can believe it. And it reminds me of Geez, I have been through a lot. I get glimpses of that. But then I look back and I say okay, well had I not gone through all of this, I would not be where I am right now doing what I’m doing. So this is part of my path. But so I do get glimpses of that at times.
David Ralph [49:19]
Well, let’s take you back in time. Now, because this is the very end of the show. This is what we call the Sermon on the mic. And this is when I send you back like a time traveller to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you did go into the room and spot a young el Donner sitting there, would you go up to her and give advice? Or would you just sort of walk out. So I’m going to be interested to see what you would say to her if you had the chance basis, the mic, the Sermon on the mic. And when the music fades out, you’re in conversation
Unknown Speaker [49:55]
with the best bit of the show.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [50:12]
Hey, y’all, Donna, this is your old rail Donna, just stopping by. So you’re going through life right now. And I’m not going to tell you to do anything different. Because if you did anything different, your life wouldn’t be where it’s going to go and you have a lot of people to help you have a big purpose to fulfil. You have a big mission on this planet. But I would say while you’re going through this part of your life, enjoy some of it, and take it all in. don’t wish it away and reflect on what you do each and every day. Have a good life. And I’ll see you later.
David Ralph [50:49]
I don’t think I think she has had a good life. Maybe not the beginning bit. But the rest of it’s been good.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [50:55]
Yeah, definitely. I wouldn’t change a thing.
David Ralph [50:58]
And we wouldn’t change a thing about you are so thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots are Donna and please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because that’s the beauty of this show. Our histories keep on growing. So there’s always successes. There’s always failures to discuss, because I believe the only way to build our future is actually by connecting I’ll pass out Donna, thank you so much.
Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez [51:22]
Thank you. It’s been great being here.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up Dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.