Maria Pellicano is an Australian author, voice coach, public speaker, teacher and singer. With more than 20 years of experience, she has helped over 5,000 people find their voice, presence and confidence and to speak with influence and impact.
Through her experience, she has learnt first-hand, the impact experienced by people who have not been able to access the power within their voices. There is often a feeling of not getting the best out of themselves, feeling stifled and held back.
Maria works with individuals, leaders, influencers and businesses through public speaking and voice coaching, training, mentoring and coaching and corporate development programs, utilising her three step model of Mindset, Message and Voice.
Maria works with clients to develop a voice that is strong, a mindset that empowers you to be passionate and committed to your calling and a message that is appropriately designed to address the needs of your specific audience, clients and relationships.
How did you get started in this business?
I began my business journey about 23 years ago, in 1998.
I used to be very against having your own private business. I used to see it as egotistic in the old days. I used to believe that having your own business meant that you had a selfish intention.
I didn’t understand that having your own business allows you more control over your time, value and gives you more power to choose how you want to use your life and you also have more responsibility to make the choices that don’t just suit you, but suit your work and the people you serve.
I never knew that when I was very young.. I started in 1998, when I was 30 years old.. It was a long time ago.
As I reflect, I realise that I did have side businesses when I was a teenager. I must have been really geared up for business without knowing it because I was dressmaking when I was 14, and I was teaching guitar. I wasn’t charging for teaching guitar but was teaching as a teenager and I taught four girls in the church at the time and would take them out busking.
Between 14 and 16 I was dressmaking. I was making and selling clothes, which people would come, I would take measurements and make their clothes.
I was also into pots and pans and I was selling pots and pans and accumulating without paying anything for them.
So, as I reflect, I was in business, without knowing it, when I was a teenager and in my 20’s.
Later, I spent some time working a normal day job in the commonwealth bank, then at Vic Roads, as a leader in the demerit points division, at a local council and then Telstra.
I was finding that it was taking me a long time to get to work and so officially began my business in 1998 in the form of my singing school. It really took off and I was making triple the money I was making, compared to when I was in corporate. To me, it was like sitting at a banquet every night. I loved what I was doing because I felt like I was in control and I was just loving it. I felt like it was an incredible gift to me. I was putting my ad in the paper and people were just booking in.
How do you make money?
My main source of income currently is working with individuals, leaders, influencers and businesses through public speaking and voice coaching, training, mentoring and coaching and corporate development programs.
I am very entrepreneurial.
I look for opportunities to leverage what I already have and then I build on that.
I never pull apart what I already have.. I just add more strings to my bow. I’m always looking at enhancing what I’ve already done and bringing more meaning into what I’ve always done.
So, my first business was teaching singing. From there, I added in coaching because I was always into human potential and expanding people.. I was really interested in how people think and how we succeed, or not.
I’ve always made money by helping people.. by empowering them and giving them confidence. My tool was the voice.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I’ve always been profitable.. I was always very careful about how much I was spending.. and I still am. I don’t believe that you should make money and then spend it all.
I’ve been in a situation where I have been able to save, through working at my own home and saving on rental expenses. I bought a house that has a separate area for business, with the top of the house for business and the lower level for living. Through this decision, I have saved myself thousands of dollars.
I’ve also only ever bought things that I really need. I didn’t believe in spending.. I’m more into saving and I still am that way today, even though I don’t have to save. I like to have choice.. and I believe that if we do have extra money around, you have greater choice.
I’ve always rated my expenses out of 10.. If it’s an 8 or above, then I’ll go and buy it, and it has to be tax deductible. I’m very disciplined like that.
I also don’t have a sense of materialism, so I’m into saving and creating money, rather than spending money.
If I am spending money, it’s either tax deductible, or to expand what I am doing already. Not just because I just want to spend it.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Definitely, when I started my singing school in 1998, I was still working at Telstra.
While I was working my day job, I was working with 30 students at the same time.
I didn’t want to leave my job because I didn’t trust the business, so I then took long service leave through 1998 and then in 1999, I stepped out and moved to solely running my business. In 1999, I already had 50-60 students and I could believe it was going to come.
I still didn’t believe it for years and years and years, so I didn’t spend. I would just make the money and then save it just in case.. I would never take it for granted. I don’t believe that our work is necessarily here forever, and so I don’t want to sit in it and think it’s always going to be there.. I’m just grateful that it is, and that’s why I think you need a backup.
It wasn’t so much that I doubted that it would work. It was more about not assuming that everything is always the same way.
How I handled that was that I always have my hands in a few different pies and I am constantly learning and moving to the next level. I am always thinking how I can expand myself, so that I have more options. I love what I do and if one door shuts, I can walk into the next door. I am constantly upgrading and adding more strings to my bow so that I have more choice, rather than thinking that I’ve arrived. I am wanting to expand in those areas that I am interested in.
How did you get your first customer?
I put an ad in the local paper, which was common advertising for 1998.
I can actually remember my first client. Her name is Mary and she just saw the ad that I put into the paper and she rang me and I booked her in.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
A marketing strategy, now, is to be visible, using social media, and to talk about what you do.
To have products available and ready for purchase.
Definitely, a website.. I have always had a website since the early internet days. This is probably my most valuable asset for marketing now. I spend a lot of time and money ensuring that the SEO and keywords are optimised for visibility and ready for traffic that comes through via social media and word of mouth.
For a long time, the local paper was my primary marketing strategy, along with advertisements and flyers.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision that I have had to make over the last few months has related to my singing school.
I haven’t fully made the decision yet, but I’ve had a sign up outside my house, and I think that sign needs to come down now, because I’m going to continue to operate online for this year.. I don’t believe I will be working face to face with students under current conditions.
I’m still processing the decision, because I am so busy coaching public speakers and making way more money than teaching singing.. but I don’t want to let go of singing because it’s my foundation and I love it and it keeps me sane.. I think it’s really good for me.
The decision had to be that I went online and I am not having people walk through my house, when I used to have about 80 people walking in and out of my house every week. I did that for 23 years. It was a long time.
The toughest decision has been working now, totally online.. It’s been amazing, and I’m still processing when I’ll have people back in my studio.. I think I will, but this year, the toughest decision has been moving online.. It’s worked, but not a lot of students decided to do that, so my business changed, big time.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Not giving up.
I keep believing that what I do has been innately a part of me since I was very young. I’ve always been interested in helping people, teaching, mentoring and coaching and that’s what makes me successful.
I believe that what I do is part of my beingness.. it’s part of my purpose in life and it’s my calling.. and I have nothing else to do. I often say to myself that if I wasn’t doing this, what else would I be doing?
I just love what I do because it empowers other people and the more I grow, the more I connect my journey, my personal life with what I become, the more presence and inspiration I believe it gives to others, because it gives it to me first.
My success is that I live my talk and this is my life.. it’s not my work.. it’s actually my life and I love what I do
There is nothing else for me to do.. even if I am driving my car, I am still learning.. listening to beautiful podcasts that empower me and as a direct effect, the empower others because whatever I’m doing for others, I’m doing for myself first.
I believe success is the journey.. and the journey I’m on is not my work.. I don’t roll up to a job.. ever.. when people say it’s a long weekend, I say, ‘well, I don’t need a long weekend.. I just love what I do anyway’.. I think that makes you successful.. if you love what you do and it’s part of your beingness. I’ve been so lucky that I always believed that I could do that.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying moment in business has been when people give me great feedback, when I get that.
The feedback they give me, just confirms and locks things in for me.
My most satisfying moment is when people say ‘I’ve been looking for that’ particularly around voice tone.. ‘that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for’. It’s like really getting a handshake from someone and makes me feel like I’m not alone and that I’m part of a bigger picture.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Continuing to expand.. doing workshops.
This is where I’ll get people in a room, where we can do singing, poetry and speaking. I really want to move into poetry.. I really feel that singing and poetry can go together really well.
I’m looking forward to creating this workshop, where I can help people to empower their voices and help them to find their message.
Doing it in a workshop style.. doing it over a few days or over a weekend.. maybe at a beautiful beach location.
Helping people to find their message.. exactly the message in my book, The Art of Powerful Communication.. finding out who they are, what is their message, find their voice in their body and aligning to that, and then understanding the people they want to reach and how they can speak to those people to share their message.
What business books have inspired you?
The most amazing books I’ve read, and I can say the very first book I ever picked up in personal development and human potential was ‘You’ll see it when you believe it’ by Wayne Dyer.. that’s an amazing book and it just spun me out.
The other is ‘A Man’s Search For Meaning’ by Victor Frankl
Those two books, I will never forget.
More recently, I read ‘The Surrender Experiment’ by Michael Singer about how to live a life of surrender.. I think that’s beautiful.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to relax, to trust.. let go.
You’ve got this.
Don’t give up.
It’s going to be ok.
What you’re doing right now is going to help you for the future, so do what you do, knowing that yes, it did work for the future.
Because as a child, everything I did was a vision, that I did to always help people.
I used to not watch TV.. I would sit in my room and write songs.. At the time, I was reading my bible, because I wanted to preach.. I didn’t know any other way of spreading good news to people.
Now, I not only use the bible, but I use so many other amazing inspirational books.. and, I still am the same person.
To my younger self, I just want to say that I’ve never changed. I am exactly you, and even bigger.
I’m probably more confident, more reassured and more hopeful.
You don’t need to know everything and get everything right.. It still works out.. even if you get it wrong.. Your higher purpose is even bigger than if you get it right or wrong and that’s a powerful point.
You don’t have to tick all your boxes and get everything right because your purpose is even bigger than that.. It’s a higher level than getting everything right or wrong.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I am a mentor and am willing.
You can contact me via my website at www.mariapellicano.com