I’ve known Lisa Nigro for over a decade, and for as long as I’ve known Lisa, she has always been passionate, compassionate, and dedicated to service. She has gone through several transformations, launched multiple non-profits, and built a speaking career. She is a Branding Rockstar and I’m pleased to welcome her to Branding Outside the Box!
By way of introduction, what is your tagline or elevator pitch?
Service IS my Art is my tagline. When I put “define art” in a search engine the other day this is what came up.
“…the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
The key is that I am never “Typical” but I do see Beauty and Emotional Power in my Service work. So I would basically say, “Service to others is my paintbrush.”
You’ve launched a number of community outreach programs and non-profits over the years, each of which have a clear mission and brand. How does your strong personal brand play a part of that?
I am a problem solver, first and foremost. My goal is to find ways for people and sometimes animals to feel empowered in a society where they are normally looked over.
I have worked with people who are homeless for over 20 years but it was through an unusual vehicle of a restaurant. A place where you order off a menu and you need a reservation to get in. Our guests would have choices off a menu which brought more dignity and respect to them because when they dined in a soup kitchen they had no choice and they were lost in the shuffle.
One of the last nonprofits I designed was called Transform U which was teaching individuals with cognitive disabilities to become group fitness instructors for their peers. Many of these individuals were in need of flexible hours which the fitness industry provides. I launched this at a facility that serves people with disabilities and eventually they didn’t need me to teach because my students became the leaders which was wonderful to watch and to experience.
Lastly, a passion I have had since I was a small girl is to take alley cats and slowly gain their trust. They would receive medical care and all their vaccines and eventually I would find them homes. I have rescued over 100 cats this way and each one has been worth it. Crushing the stereotype that alley cats are feral forever.
We met when we worked together at Evanston Athletic Club where you ran the massage department and taught group exercise. What role does wellness play in your personal brand as well as your everyday life?
Movement for me is a way I meditate. It is the way I process or solve problems. When I am working out I become more internally focused. It also is a way I bust out too and express some pent up frustrations through dance or in a spin class with music.
However, when I taught class I always taught older adults. People who have lived long lives. Folks in their 70’s to 90’s. They held more interest to me. They allowed me to see how you can extend your life through healthy living and community.
I had befriended quite a few and we used to go to lunch once a month and they would lay some heavy wisdom on me. Nothing better than that!
How has your personal brand shifted in this next chapter?
Life throws you curve balls all the time and it is how you handle those obstacles that make or break you. October 31, 2015 my 23 year old son suffered a heart attack due to contracting the West Nile Virus. The virus took a lot of his oxygen away so in the end he now has an Anoxic Brain injury with severe brain damage. I have become his full time caretaker but I will tell you every job I have had has all morphed into this one journey I am on now.
Fitness and Health has allowed me to be involved in his rehab.
Building non-profits has allowed me to raise money on his behalf.
Advocating for the disenfranchised has allowed me to raise my voice on behalf of others with brain injuries and their families.
You’ve always been a builder and a creator. You like to get things off the ground and then move on to the next project. What have been the most successful tactics in launching your various organizations and platforms? (social media, speaking, etc.)
For launching projects, having some devils advocates in your posse. They will drive you mad because they may not see your vision but they will help you clarify what the vision is. They will make you fight for your ideas which, when building, you will have to do 24-7.
Do your work for your own satisfaction and for the love of Serving. This allows you to not rely on the applause of others on the outside which attracts more to you in a strange way. When I just did my work from a pure place that is when people would find me. But if I ever wanted to be noticed in any way then I had 1000 doors slammed in my face.
What’s the one piece of advice you can give to BOTB readers on launching their personal brands?
The Universe will give you a vision that is meant only for you not for your friend or your neighbor just for you. You have the unique skills and talents to launch this thing whatever it is. When you share your vision, many will cock their heads and think you are a lunatic do not waste your energy trying to convince them because it is not their vision is it yours. You must tweak and change your original idea many times over until the sweet spot arrives and the doors open for you, but that is just how the process is. It is a long winding road with rest stops along the way and know there will be times of darkness and times of light, both matter and will inform you. Mostly, dig deep and be quiet and listen to what your soul is saying. It knows best. Do not seek accolades from the outside because more times than not it won’t happen but that doesn’t mean what you want to put out in the world doesn’t matter because it does.
Joan Pikas says
Lisa, you are such a strong woman with a beautiful spirit. I believe you get your continued energy from your interactions and communication with those you serve.
You always inspire me.