Ask A Heroine: Welcome to the experts corner, love. This is where you ask your burning questions on business and life, and receive personal advice from the best. Each month we feature amazing industry Heroines and their wise video answers to your deepest inquiries. Here, questions give way to solutions, insights transform into action, and more »
Renee Airya is a former fashion model, who underwent massive brain surgery at age 29 for a life-threatening tumor that had been undiagnosed for 15 years. Coming out of anesthesia, she awoke to what most people would consider a nightmare. With less than a 1% chance, her facial nerve had been completely cut and her face 100% paralyzed on the right-hand side, without a chance of medical cure.
“Flip Your Flaws” is not only a compelling story of Renee’s personal emotional, spiritual, and physical journey from paralyzation to liberation but, moreover, puts a measurable pulse on the flaws of being human. She encourages everyone to step out of hiding by flipping their flaws and using them as a gateway for expressing their sincerity and most unique abilities. Enjoy her exclusive Business Heroine interview…
BH: There are so many empowering lessons in your story – self-acceptance, courage, intuition, transcendence – will you share more about your story with us?
Renee: Absolutely. It’s interesting because my massive brain surgery took place in 2004 and I actually didn’t come out of hiding and really start telling my story until 2013. I’ve kind of been hoarding the story! I had a misperception about myself and about my own story because I didn’t want to “talk about myself.”
You can hear my full story in my Flip Your Flaws talk (see video below):
But thank you for reminding me of all those elements in my story, one of which you mentioned is intuition. I was born and raised in small town Indiana, and the first time that I had heard this word, “intuition,” was when I moved myself out to California at age twenty. Just hearing the word and the definition was so liberating for me.
It gave me a reference point that I could tap into because I realized I kind of always had a sixth sense. In my path, through discovering meditation practice, through discovering a journalling practice, and through working one-on-one with clients (which gave me a reflection to gauge the insights I was having), I learned that my intuition was really spot on.
Intuition is the primary source that actually allowed me to know that there was something life-threatening going on with me. It also helped me really stay in my center and in my inner knowing when I had zero external evidence that what I was feeling was correct.
I started seeing doctors after I got these messages that something was wrong with me. Bear in mind, I didn’t really have any physical symptoms. I was doing fitness modeling at the time, so I appeared super vibrant and healthy, but low and behold, my intuition was right, and I did indeed have a life-threatening situation going on.
In a society that is so very structured and run in such a logical and linear way, it can be easy to get hypnotized by what’s going on “out there” and get confused about our own inner perceptions of our truth.
Now intuition is one of the foundations of my practice. It’s what I believe in and what I hope to awaken, inspire, and ignite in other humans and especially in women, because we do inherently have this sixth sense.
BH: As you were sharing that, I was thinking how cool it is that we’re even having this conversation because it feels as if there is more of an opening now for intuition to have a place in business. It’s becoming more “acceptable.”
Renee: Absolutely! I haven’t thought about this in a while, but a few years ago I was bringing this concept of intuition in business, and one of the services that I offered to high-impact entrepreneurs was called “Energetic Entrepreneurship.” I would be hired to go into live event spaces and monitor the way that the energy was flowing, and I would help the leader to be able to be more in their center and more in their truth, so they could have a true connection and affect deep lasting change with people in the room.
I also had very powerful experience of intuition in business at the beginning of 2013…
I’ve had the good fortune of being able to go to Necker Island over the past two years with my man Joe Polish and his mastermind group. When I was there, I went on ritual walks by myself on the island every day. It was so magical. When I would go on these walks, I felt such a connection to the land and to abundance, and really a gravitational pull about what it means to be an excellent entrepreneur. Imagine how many excellent entrepreneurs have been on Necker Island.
And I had this calling that I needed to bring other visionary female leaders to Necker Island. This idea just popped through. It was like:
Renee, you need to unify the female visionary leaders. Create a platform for them to come together in a space of creative entrepreneurship and in sisterhood, where we can – through our energy, through our intelligence, and through being in beautiful places that help keep us connected – amplify our messages and impact in the world.
For me, honestly, it was a big idea because I knew this would be a very premium women’s group – around a $10,000 experience.
When I came up with the idea, I was given the traditional advice to sit down and write the sales letter, put out the marketing plan, get your video campaign together. However, I had a different calling. I actually took a piece of paper and wrote, “My heart is my sales letter.”
I knew that there would be seven women that I would be able to invite on this trip, and I just made space for each of these seven women. I did this beautiful prayer ritual. It was so important to me that the right people – who had a soul calling, that were meant to be on this trip, that were meant to be on my team – those were the women that I needed to invite on this journey.
So I sat in meditation and, slowly but surely, names started popping in! Some of these women I hadn’t even met, a few of them I knew very distantly, a couple of them were good friends, and a couple of them were clients.
I just reached out in sincerity and, interestingly enough, out of the eight women that I reached out to, five or six of them had either had a dream about Richard Branson or Necker Island, or had recently done some sort of ritual where they were calling in for a new mentor! Within two weeks, my group was entirely sold out.
So what I can say about intuition in business is that I know it works. If you intend to practice being attuned to what your special sauce and magical combination is, it’s quite amazing the results that can be yielded from that.
BH: One common value a lot of the Business Heroine audience shares is creating our own paths, and your journey is exactly that. There’s no job description for supporting speakers to be centered in themselves. There’s no position advertised on Craigslist for taking women leaders to Necker Island. You invented what you wanted to put in the world because it was being called of you…
Renee: Yes! And this is so connected with knowing your Power Story – a concise story that is geared toward your own expression and on behalf of humanity. These are the lessons that come through you that are meant for you to share and connect with humanity on a soul-to-soul level.
The journey of discovering your Power Story allows you to see more clearly YOUR unique gifts and abilities. And feeling very connected with your gifts is the foundational point for being able to have the confidence to step forward and create things that are different, innovative, revolutionary.
In the instance of me and Necker Island, I know one of my gifts is magnification. I know I have an attraction ability that I can attract the right people. So I leveraged that with my true believe and unique ability of intuition and meditating in order to create that.
The more connected we are, the more in tune we are with our unique gifts, and the more that we can be in ownership of them. It is crucial to the confidence we have as an entrepreneur and as a leader.
BH: What is a flaw, and how does one flip it? What are some action steps we can take today to transcend what we have considered flaws in our lives?
Renee: The dictionary defines a “flaw” as a defect or a blemish. I don’t agree with that definition. Considering ourselves defected is extraordinarily disempowering. So when I was developing my talk, a new definition of the word “FLAWS” came to me:
Flip Your Flaws is about coming out of hiding, and coming out of hiding means sharing. Sharing is an instantaneous remedy for shame – that is, when you are sharing consciously, and not from a place of victimhood. The sharing helps you to get ‘unstuck,’ and then you can see what the next steps are.
I propose that you actually come together in conversation with another person who is a safe soul – someone you know, love, and trust – with whom you can engage in a deep Flip Your Flaws conversation. Here are the five things you’ll want to share:
1) Identify what you believe your flaw is. It might be something physical. For me the 40% paralysis in my face was a physical flaw. There are a plethora of invisible flaws that we all have too – being stuck and stagnant in our relationships, financial flaws, those hurdles that we just can’t seem to get through in our business, maybe flaws with anger, flaws with time management, you name it.
2) How do you judge yourself for having this flaw, and how do you judge the flaw? Sometimes people are judging themselves for being overweight, but they’re also judging this idea of “overweight.”
3) How do you hide this flaw? This reveals some of the most interesting insights. People will say, “I knew that I did that every day, but I didn’t know I did it because I was trying to hide.”
4) How do you feel when you hide this flaw? For me, when I would hide my face, I would feel really embarrassed. The mere act of hiding actually created more embarrassment.
5) What potential gifts or blessings could be coming through this flaw? This is where the real magic comes in with the flipping of the flaw. Flaws are actually the gateway to your own sincerity.
When we are willing to talk about our imperfections, and willing to see those imperfections as something that is indeed so beautiful, and so mysterious, it stops a wounding cycle. It stops the cycle in humanity of, “I need to be perfect in order to be okay, and I need for you to be perfect so I can feel like you’re okay.”
That gets ugly, and that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to take a bigger stand for our own unique abilities.
I will share this in complete and utter honesty: I truly feel more beautiful now than I have in my entire life, even before the facial paralysis. I can see the innocence and truth in what comes through my face. I have both innocence and old-soul wisdom. I am compassionate, I am funky, I am sassy, and I am prayerful. And you see that in my face. And I see that in my face too, but I didn’t always.
Indeed there is a place that you can reach where you can see your utter beauty, no matter what circumstances exist.
BH: Tell us about your upcoming podcast!
Renee: My podcast (to be released in mid-January) is also called “Flip Your Flaws.” It’s a way to share these incredibly empowering, extraordinary, and sincere conversations that I have been able to have with experts in my life.
Some of my guest experts are enormously successful high-level artists and entrepreneurs that I’ve been able to come in contact with. And I’m also threading in the up-and-coming soul sisters that are in my life that I see rising up – some of my clients, and other women that are peers.
Every episode is around a specific set of five questions, and they’re not your norm type of questions – I get into the nitty-gritty of the spirit of what is lying underneath so many of these experts. There are all sorts of gold coins on flipping your flaws, amplifying your income and art, and all from a very soulful place.
Special Gift from Renee Airya!
We know you want some more Renee, and we don’t blame you! Receive the “Intoxicating Inspiration” series of Intuitive Healing Conversations with Renee for free here! Renee offers loving wisdom and guidance on dissolving negativity, understanding your feelings, and staying on a positive path of empowerment as you journey through the healing process.
And remember to keep your eye on iTunes for the soon-to-be-released Flip Your Flaws podcast!