Michelle Villalobos, MBA, CPA is a Superstar Activator, business alignment strategist, keynote speaker, and the host of the Awaken Your Inner Superstar Podcast. Michelle has been an accomplished speaker for over a decade, and has a variety of programs and speeches around personal branding, business alignment, personal empowerment and business growth. She’s a true pro at superstar deal-making! In addition, she has delivered these programs for companies like American Express, Bacardi, Burger King, Gibraltar Bank, Lloyd’s of London, and Audi.
Michelle is the founder of Superstar Activator, and also co-founded the personal branding self-study program, Make Them BEG. She has been featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune’s Business Section, CNN en Español, Lifetime TV, Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, and more. Michelle also founded “The Women’s Success Summit,” which was Miami’s largest conference for entrepreneurial women for 8 years.
Michelle is in her 6th year as a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA) and is one of relatively few female members of its Million Dollar Speakers Group. She has earned her CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) designation and has been chosen to present to audiences of her esteemed colleagues at the Annual NSA Influence Conference, Winter Conference, several local chapters, and recently co-chaired the NSA Brand Lab.
Michelle remembers wanting to be many things when she grew up. In second grade, when given an assignment to share what she would be, she divided her page into four squares so she could have multiple answers. (Including an astronaut!) Ultimately, she wanted to be a superstar, and did not want to commit to any one thing. She loved dressing up, performing, acting, singing, and being a Jill-of-all-trades.
The first deal Michelle remembers making was when she was charging group rates to teach dance classes to fraternities at her college. She’d charge a flat fee, go to their location, and teach in-house for all the members.
Later, her career bloomed as she started working with thought leaders, influencers, authors, and speakers (superstars!) who need to find new ways to monetize their magic.
Note — this is NOT monetizing time! Instead, it’s looking for energy-rich ways to monetize in ways that don’t require more work and time. Instead, it’s about bringing light and uplift to the world. Michelle’s clients are amazing people who are bringing exceptionally good things into the world.
Michelle’s goal in deal-making is that everyone wins. She has an eye for looking out for ways that both sides of the table come out ahead, and she also considers how clients, community members, and the world can benefit as well. In addition, Michelle likes to look for “the win beyond the win”, which is a spiritual sense of benefit and good that come into the world as the result of a deal.
Years ago, Michelle spent a lot of time, energy, and money doing “good” things that she felt she had to do to get ahead.
She earned her MBA, and was investing a lot of herself into doing what she felt obligated to do. Eventually, she realized she had lost track of her joy, and of her truest self.
She had to start asking: Why am I here? What is my purpose?
Answering those questions, pursuing personal development, and growing in her own agreements with herself and others helped Michelle reach a whole new level of success. Now, she says her life feels completely different than it did 7–8 years ago.
I notice that people in the deal-making space are often really focused on leverage, advantage, and game-playing. One of the reasons I really enjoy Michelle is because we have really aligned philosophies. Like her, I believe that engaging in some of those strategies is counter-productive.
Michelle shares that she’s seen people make deals because they were persuaded, manipulated, cajoled, and pushed — just because they signed the dotted line doesn’t mean the deal was ultimately for the good of either party.
Slowing down and getting into touch with deeper purpose can be a really powerful approach to making deals.
Deals Are Relational
As I often say, when you make a deal you’re either continuing an existing relationship or starting a new one. Either way, relationships are key. From business partners, vendors, clients, and more: there are very few situations where you’ll deal with someone one time and never encounter them again. (And even if you do….reputations get around, and you’ll interact with other people who know what happened.)
Michelle teaches her clients to have and grow positive business relationships that are aligned with who they are. A huge part of that means being in alignment with yourself first.
When coming into a negotiation, she notes that people often come in very aware of what they want, possibly willing to give the other person what they are wanting. Indeed, Michelle counsels her clients to come from a place of detached neutrality. When you can trust in yourself and have open hands, without feeling disempowered or grasping to “win”, you’re much more likely to have positive outcomes.
From a place of trust, faith, and neutrality, you can have the foundations of a great deal.
Michelle notes that when she comes to the deal-making table, she asks the other person what they would walk away if they got every single thing exactly as they wanted it. She’s prepared to share her own ideal situation as well. Once those cards are on the table, they look for deal possibilities based on desired outcomes.
Clarity, Detachment, Equilibrium
In my book, Authentic Negotiating, I talk about elements very similar to what Michelle was sharing. Clarity, detachment, and equilibrium are universal principles that can bring value to any deal. No games, no manipulation, and much better odds that you’ll both walk away happy.
These are universal principles; they’ve been around long before us, and they’ll be around long after.
Michelle shares that coming from a place of wholeness results in more powerful, long-lasting, fulfilling deals. Early in her business, she shares that she didn’t seem to keep clients very long. Rather than addressing the root issues — building trust, trusting others, being trustable — she would just keep doing new things. Because she was lacking that personal wholeness, it contributed to her business lacking it as well, which spilled over into deals and collaborations.
It wasn’t until she stopped and addressed her own wholeness that things started to shift.
Interestingly, many of Michelle’s early programs, partners, and clients have since fallen away. Getting clarity and making changes in her life allowed her to show up differently in her business, and that impacted everything.
Listen in to hear Michelle’s thoughts on polarity, the drama triangle, and more!
Raise the Standard
In deals, as in life, we have the ability to raise the standard.
Rather than playing at the lowest common denominator, or assuming that things just have to be the way we are, we have the capacity to raise the bar and look for those who will meet us there of their own accord. We don’t have to drop the standard; we can expect others to rise up! Michelle mentioned the movie Stand & Deliver, which is an amazing example of raising a standard and seeing others rise to it.
I also thought of those people in my life who raised the bar and believed in me to rise up myself. Their belief, even when it was greater than I thought I could ever be, inspired me to grow. That is true magic.
In our businesses, in our lives, and at our deal-making tables, we have this capacity. We can hold ourselves to the highest possible standard, and we can encourage others to rise with us as we do so. This takes empathy, courage, and self-belief; it requires us to have a strong grasp on our own wholeness.
Michelle shares great thoughts on rising up, raising the standard, facing challenges, and making incredible deals. Listen in to hear them all!
Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.
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