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Meet Precious Williams: The #KillerPitchMaster Empowering Women to Win at The Game of Life

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Precious Williams with short dark hair, wearing a yellow shirt and long diamond shaped earrings.
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Precious Williams is a 13-time National Elevator Pitch Champion and the 2013 winner of the Black Enterprise Elevator Pitch Competition. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and NBC. Williams also appeared in an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, during which she impressed the judges and many entrepreneurs in the field.

The #KillerPitchMaster currently helps clients solve their pitching, presentation, and communication problems through Perfect Pitches by Precious, the company she founded. She also trains the sales teams at Fortune 100 companies.

Williams is a naturally gifted speaker. Her passion for public speaking began to blossom at a very young age. She became known for speaking about educational issues at many public events in high school.

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Williams inspires others through her impactful achievements in entrepreneurship. She recently released the #1 Best Seller book Bad Bitches and Power Pitches, which is a step-by-step guide showing entrepreneurs how to utilize their bad-bitch mentality to win at the game of life. 

Triumph over Adversity

Despite all her incredible accomplishments, what people admire most of Williams is her tenacity to triumph over adversity. Life was far from easy for her. She grew up in the inner city of St. Louis, Missouri, where she struggled with her relationship with her physically and mentally abusive parents. In her teenage years, Williams was raised by her grandparents, and she felt empowered by her supportive and loving grandmother.

Daily positive affirmations were introduced to Williams by her grandmother when she was young. Williams describes this activity as one that built her self-confidence and pushed her to stand out as a powerful individual.

Each day, she would remind herself of a few positive attributes of hers. She grew to love herself inside and out. She then began to spread that love to others through her entrepreneurship and community-impacting business ventures.

In 2010, Williams met an inspirational man who loved her and cared for her, no matter what body size she had. He taught her that society has created unrealistic and self-deprecating guidelines for the ideal body and image of women.

She began to understand how insignificant these guidelines were and knew something needed to be done to promote self-confidence in all women. She created her first company, Curvy Girlz Lingerie, in order to empower women in their bodies.

“I’m tired of women feeling like they have to look, sound, and act like everybody else to be successful,” Williams said. “You can do it on your own.”

Though Williams had initially dreamed of becoming a talk show host, she pitched her first company idea, Curvy Girlz Lingerie, after winning multiple pitch competitions. She was then featured on Shark Tank, during which she was called a “master saleswoman.” After Williams launched her company, she began to survive and thrive although she had no previous training in the business world.

“Don’t let fear get in your way,” Williams said.

Williams became stronger through her challenge of living with poor mental health. Her life was saved by her cousin after she had given up. Williams learned that it was not only her cousin that showed her that she had a reason to be in this world; it was also her passion for empowering others that gave her a mission and purpose.

She jumped back into accomplishing her goals of empowering others. She had a strong support network that showed her that she had the power to be her true self, and was, therefore, able to show other women that they could be themselves as well.

“This is what feels comfortable for me,” Williams said. “Not being what people want me to be, but being who I am.”

Today, Williams is in a great place, mentally, physically, and spiritually. She is taking on the challenge of giving women powerful tools with which they can discover their passions and write business pitches that genuinely reflect those passions.

“Fortune favors the bold,” Williams said. 

This is the advice that she offers to college-age students as they begin to develop their own goals and dreams. It takes a bold person to persevere through an impossible-seeming venture. The key is to keep pivoting your goals until you find the perfect outcome. Follow your heart. Don’t let others tell you to do anything other than what you want to do. Dream big.

Credits:
Host & Producer: Cielo
Developer: Samuel Holtzman
Editor & Writer: Sydney Murphy

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Meet Elena Breese-The Boston Marathon Terror Attack Survivor Helping Other Trauma Victims Bloom

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Elena Breese with dark brown long hair wearing a bright pink sweater, while standing outside in the sun.
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Elena Breese was at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon waiting for her husband Jeff, who was running that year, when both bombs exploded. She was in the bleachers directly across the street from the first bomb and witnessed the devastating scene. She wasn’t able to reunite with her husband until a few hours later.

Breese, a mother of two beautiful children and a supporter of her dear husband Jeff, shares her story of dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the tragic bombing in Boston.

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She began a blog after the devastating event in order to help others deal with trauma and PTSD. On her blog, Breese writes about her journey, struggles, and support for others through her dedication and commitment to spreading awareness about PTSD.

The terrorist attack on April 15th, 2013 killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 other people, including 17 who lost limbs. Talking about the horrific events that she witnessed never gets easy for Breese; it feels as though she is reopening a wound that she has worked hard to heal. But, talking about such trauma is a way to eventually heal and deal with PTSD.

“Though I didn’t lose a limb or my life, I lost my ability to be in public places and feel safe,” said Elena.

It is possible for signs and symptoms of PTSD to show up in a person as many as three years after they experience a traumatic occurrence. This can cause anxiety because there is no way to predict if it will affect you or not.

This is what Breese experienced. She began having panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. After dealing with such painful symptoms, Breese voluntarily hospitalized herself.

“I found myself leaving the grocery store, cart completely full, and my kids in tow, in a complete panic. I was having nightmares. My mind just couldn’t erase that day.” 

After Breese was able to recognize that she needed help, she was able to continue treating her PTSD and strengthening her support system. The three modes of treatment that helped Breese the most were EMDR therapy, acupuncture, and natural supplements.

According to Breese, these treatments helped drastically reduce her symptoms. After experiencing such an emotional low, Breese was motivated to take care of herself and soon others as well.

Aside from managing her own website, Breese has contributed to various blogs, podcasts, and speaks publicly about her healing process. Her message to others is that though not all injuries are physical, with work you can heal. 

“It ignited a fire within me to fight for myself and advocate for my own health.” 

Over the past three years, Breese and her husband have connected with other terrorist attack survivors all over the world and have supported others through her blog, “Still Blooming Me,” which is full of PTSD resources. Breese wants to help others heal this so-called “invisible injury.”

A feature on the blog site called “Still Blooming Me Wellness” helps people find therapists and counselors for any sort of struggles they are facing. Breese realized the importance of building connections with people who don’t know where to start on their journey of recovery. Breese also posts uplifting pictures on her Instagram account: @stillbloomingme. 

Breese’s husband, Jeff, ran the Boston Marathon again a few years after the 2013 attack. Returning to the source of her PTSD was terrifying for Breese, but it was an important step for her to take.

It helped her begin to move on from the terror that she still lived with ever since that horrifying day a few years prior. Breese and her husband hope to continue inspiring their children with their strength and pursuit of living life to the fullest.

Though what Breese went through is something she will never forget, she continues to keep positive energy that uplifts her followers and blog readers. She is helping survivors see through their pain so they can bloom and live a beautiful and fulfilling life.

Credits:
Host & Producer & Editor: Cielo
Lead Producer: Sahar Mithani
Writer: Sydney Murphy
Editor: Olivia Sun
Developer: Samuel Holtzman

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How Devika and Swati Bhise Created the First Hollywood Action Film in History with a Brown Female Lead

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Devika Bhise wearing a colorful red and black shirt with designs on it, while standing next to a foot stool carrying a tool.
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Two amazing women are disrupting Hollywood with their movie, “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi.” Actress Devika and director Swathi Bhise decided to co-write and produce a film that empowers women through the story of Rani, a woman standing up to make a difference using her own female strength and independence in an epic true story.

“The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” is the first Hollywood action film in history with a brown female lead.

Rani represents an icon that women can look up to. Devika learned how to ride horseback and practiced her skills in martial arts to prepare for her role as the main character, Rani, in the film.

The two languages of Hindi and Marathi are spoken by Rani, which were both challenges that Devika was determined to perfect. The tenacious character of Rani was especially important for Bhise to portray because her impartial passion positively influenced Jhansi society. Rani is selfless and preeminent in the freedom movement of the people of India. 

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“What makes her special in a way is that she isn’t special. Everything she had, she created for herself, and she worked very hard to get to where she was and to fight for her country,” said Devika.

The process of creating the film left the producers enriched through overcoming the challenges of Hollywood production. The challenges that Swati & Devika faced while filming “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi,” included extreme weather in Morocco and London, a tight budget, and being the first film to feature an Indian woman as a superhero. 

“Challenges are not so much in a story or how it is told. Your critics are your challenge,” said Swati. 

Though the film, “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” is a story about a young feminist and fearless freedom fighter in Jhansi, India, during the years after 1857. Women across all cultures are raving about their ability to connect with Rani’s character. The character, Rani, is an inspirational woman who led her people into battle for their freedom.

“She is not just Indian, she is every woman. It is her soul that has no boundaries, no culture, no caste, no creed, no religion,” said Swati.

Though the film industry of today has been making more of an effort to include more ethnic groups into movie scripts, the casting has become more stereotyped than ever. Hollywood is constantly changing, but it is challenging to successfully pivot the interpretation of future films when the leaders in the industry are still older caucasian male figures. 

Women have been making an effort to be more proactive in promoting more ethnically diverse content in Hollywood, but this effort can still be improved. The promotion of ethnically diverse films, can be achieved by making individual choices when finding movies to support.

Not everything is going to be politically correct all the time. The change needs to come from the consumers if the industry is not leading the change.

Devika and Swati provided advice for current college students about finding their own power in communication and living with the mindset that nothing is impossible. It is important to have your own thoughts and opinions in life that you maintain and not be negatively influenced by others.

“Don’t get beaten down by conflicting preferences of others. Anyone can do what they put their mind to, and if you work tremendously hard, you can achieve your goals.”

These two amazing women are breaking the boundaries set by society about the film industry. It is now up to others to continue to promote ethnically diverse content in Hollywood.

“The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” is now available on Amazon. Check it out today.

Credits:
Host & Producer & Editor: Cielo
Developer: Samuel Holtzman
Writer: Sydney Murphy

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Resisting Gender Definitions: Alok Leads the Trans Community in Social Change

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Alok, a social justice writer and performing artist, sits in a chair in front of a blue background with flowers, while wearing multicolored clothing surrounded with books, and other items.
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Alok is a gender nonconforming writer and performance artist who identifies as nonbinary. Alok uses they/them pronouns, believing that their gender resists definition and continues in a fluid motion.

Alok’s work is focused on gender and racial justice. They also write about trauma, healing, and belonging. Alok has performed in over 40 countries and 500 venues across the world, speaking from their personal experience with social inequalities.

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Alok just released a book titled “Beyond the Gender Binary” that speaks about gender fluidity and ways readers can stand up for gender equality. Alok’s book is a life-changing account of the arguments that are used to delegitimize trans people, and it offers tools that people can use to respond to those attacks on the transgender community. The book can be purchased on Alok’s website; proceeds will be used to support Alok and partnering community organizations that work with LGBTQ youth.

“It is a handbook so that people can advocate for themselves,” said Alok.

Alok identifies as gender nonconforming and is defying what society thinks a man or a woman should look like. Alok exudes both feminine and masculine characteristics. Alok explains that they identify as neither a man nor a woman, but rather a person with their own unique gender. According to Alok, gender nonconformity is a political critique in that it does not support the political system that society has established when it comes to self-identity.

Alok often feels pressured to represent all transgender people who are currently facing pain, trauma, and violence caused by the lack of representation of minorities. According to Alok, no one person can represent an entire community and the groups within that community. According to Alok, generalizations are being made about the transgender community because of the lack of education about what is going on all over the world about the issues faced every day by people of the transgender community. Alok mentioned the pressure to meet stereotypical expectations that many trans people face in society.

“Strength doesn’t actually come from perfection. Strength comes from interdependence.”

Alok grew up in the small town of College Station, Texas. The community there was predominantly White, Christian, and straight. As a minority, Alok grew up feeling polarized between the Indian community, being Alok’s family, and the predominantly White community, living in the surrounding area. Alok experienced a lot of homophobia and racism in both communities and felt that they had to hide their true identity and pretend to be someone they were not.

As a young child, Alok’s feminine style was seen as “cute” and was accepted as something that was just a “phase.” But when Alok began attending public school, bullying and harassment made Alok feel ashamed of who they were. Not knowing that they did not have to identify as either a man or a woman, Alok felt trapped and alone.

“Dividing billions of people into two genders is a cultural choice, not a biological fact.”

Alok’s parents were concerned about Alok’s safety because of the overwhelming cruelty they saw acting against Alok in the world. But they ultimately accepted Alok’s identity and now support Alok in whatever ways they can. Alok’s parents’ acceptance has led to Alok’s realization that identity is mainly about the mental health of the individual. If a person is not happy with who they are expected to be, they have the power to change it.

“There is no loneliness like having people see you after you have erased yourself.”

Alok attempted suicide at the age of 13. The amount of homophobia and harassment that Alok was enduring had gotten overwhelming to the point that they believed there was only one way to make it all stop. But Alok reminds us now that there is a way to find support.

Poetry remains a huge coping mechanism for Alok. It provides a medium in which Alok can process their past experiences. Years ago, writing began as a way of releasing the pain that Alok had suppressed for so long. That way of coping has now developed into the art that Alok creates.

“That practice of taking my pain and turning it into my art has been how I still survive today.”

Alok compares being an artist to being a sponge, in that they are constantly absorbing conversations, media, and culture. Experimentation with photography, makeup, and theatre, sparks Alok’s artistic creativity. Though the exposure of so many stimulants is a great motivator for Alok’s artistic ideas, the most inspirational experience Alok has had is simply people watching.

“On the one hand, we are so close to each other, but on the other hand, we are so distant. It creates this need to understand how people are living their lives. What they think about, what matters to them.”

Art is not just inspired by violence or discrimination. It is an integral part of each of our lives and it speaks about universal truths. Art is a tool that people can use to access their emotions.

“Pain and suffering inform but never define.”

During the current global pandemic, Alok feels that they have a more clarified understanding of their role as an artist. To speak out about the inequalities in the world and ways in which those can be overcome.

“We are seeing a legal onslaught against trans people that is unprecedented, and no one seems to care.”

Alok has developed their own fashion line, and they have had a loud voice in the movement of the gender-neutral fashion industry. Conventionally attractive fashion is not inclusive to members of the transgender community; it is alienating them from it. It is not enough to just show gender-neutral fashion on runways and in magazines. It must also be used to educate people about the many struggles faced daily by members of the transgender community. It should not be safer for a trans individual to wear a dress on a runway than it is for them to wear it on the street.

“Anyone should be able to wear any article of clothing that they want without fearing violence or persecution.”

People hold onto what is familiar to them. But there is nothing more natural than people having the choice to identify as who they are, not what society tells them they are. People need to relearn how to relate to one another. If people truly believe in the change that they are trying to make, then perseverance is possible.

“When you actually focus on your own life and ask yourself, ‘what do I actually want?’ you can unlock your own creative purpose.”

Having to deal with extreme discrimination and pushback with each social media post and performance has helped Alok develop the strength to persist through it all. Alok knows that continuing the legacy of trans peoples is their purpose, as well as supporting others in being their true selves.

“You are part of a sacred legacy of people who have been persecuted for the truth. They are making you think that your gender is a lie, but actually their gender norms are the lie.”

Alok understands the pressure people face to fit into the crowd. Alok has experienced the feeling of not belonging. Upon reflection of these experiences, Alok advises others to live as their true selves. The parts of us that don’t fit into any ready-made mold are the parts of us that create connections with those who deserve us and love us for who we are. It is not our job to fit a stereotype while hiding the parts of ourselves that don’t.

“There is so much love waiting for you. Don’t give up.”

Alok celebrates who they are every day because that is how they find joy in life. Be yourself, and you may reach your own jubilation.

Credits:
Host & Producer: Cielo
Lead Producer: Alla Issa
Developer: Samuel Holtzman
Editor & Writer: Sydney Murphy

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