Motivational speaker and author Lucinda Cross is no stranger to pressing forward in the shadow of adversity. After an unfortunate series of events resulted in serving time in prison, she hit the ground running and never looked back. With four Amazon best selling titles and international recognition, Lucinda is a force to be reckoned with.
Cross shares her thoughts on tough crowds, Michelle Obama, and why it’s time for Black women to stop apologizing and strut their stuff.
What is it about your personality that makes you an effective motivational speaker?
In speaking to the public, the fact that I am completely transparent and vulnerable grants me a sense of connectedness with an audience. People are looking for honesty, they are looking for an alliance and that is what I bring to the stage.
Was there a sentinel event in your life that prompted you to become proactive in pursuing your dreams?
The fact that the odds were not in my favor. I have shared my story on several platforms. One pivotal moment for me was making a decision during my college life that redirected my path from college into the prison role. Knowing that I had to contend with a less than desirable history because of my decision along with the time I had to serve, I knew it would be difficult. That is the reason why I push—I was aware of the opposition. Part of the challenge that I enjoy is the burden placed by a societal expectation to give up and take the road often traveled; there is a tendency or assumption that one should take anything that presents itself. On the contrary, the road less traveled dictates that you go after what you want in the effort to become someone great.
Describe the elements of mapping out an effective strategy. Are there specific character traits in women that predict success?
First, I am a big believer in mapping out or writing down the vision. An activity that I love to use quite frequently with clients is the vision board. I encourage everyone that I am working with to create a vision board, whether it be from a social or business perspective. The strategy involves beginning with what your intentions or what you would like to see happen in your life. A vision board is a representation of your goals in living color. With it, you can see who you can become if you put in the work. Having a clear vision on your goals is your first step. Next is to figure out what actions and decisions need to be made to make that happen. Conclude by executing and not allowing perfectionism and procrastination seep in. This sometimes happens when you are looking to embark on a magnificent journey. Turn a deaf ear to that inner voice that might tell you to give up.
What is the toughest crowd you have ever had the privilege of speaking to?
My gosh, a group of teens! High school seniors were by far the toughest audience I have ever had! I would say they were the toughest because they were looking to be entertained. Young adults are so used to being lectured and told what to do, but I approached them from a different angle. In spite of being preoccupied with their smartphones, I think that they were able to appreciate that. I don’t believe that this group expected me to look the way that I do. They most definitely had preconceived notions. Teens project quite a bit of judgmental energy. To cut through that fog, it took a good twenty minutes before I could hold their attention.
How do you speak to a diverse group of Black women and recognize both what they have in common and their individual uniqueness?
When it comes to black women the diversity comes in the form of celebration. This can present itself in varied colors, ages and phases of our lives. One thing that I like to highlight, especially with African-American women and women of color is them celebrating themselves. I love to start out with this, because happiness is a choice! If I can remind women of something that they have accomplished it allows me to resonate with all ages. Regardless of what phase they find themselves in at that point in life. No matter their background, education or financial status. Lucinda Cross is all about celebrating the Black woman and her superpowers. The Black woman is magic, bring out the pixie dust so we can celebrate the existence of real life mermaids and unicorns!
Explain the significance of Black women and girls having had Michelle Obama as a first lady?
OMG! The significance…I don’t even know where to begin. I think all women can see themselves in Michelle Obama. She is a shining example of the greatness we possess as Black women; what we have often heard about and take for granted even within our own families. To see Michelle Obama as a demonstration of someone operating in excellence is life changing. Everything that a Black woman is—intelligence, strength, style, and grace. Before her position as first lady she carried herself as such and she will forever remain a first lady. There is a huge impact as far as significance, it truly allows women to see their essence in the flesh representing our nation.
How will girls whose entire childhood experience was lived with a Black couple in the white house be impacted?
It will leave a lasting impression and boost self-esteem for young Black females. I think it will give them a healthy sense of confidence in terms of individuality, and not being in competition with one another. My hope is that they will realize that it is okay to display intelligence and not be the complexion that is considered beautiful glorified. For my own daughter (who is of a browner complexion) to see that gave her a huge boost of confidence. Despite dealing with bullying in school, she is on fire. Knowing that the first lady was a brownie allowed her to hold her head high.
What words do you have for people who are feeling resigned because of the current political situation?
We cannot rest. We must take that frustration and do something with it. Now that we have been comfortable celebrating the accomplishment of having a Black president for two terms. It is not the time for us to fall back or give up hope, but a time for us to make our voices heard. That is what is most important in this entire ordeal. It may not seem as such, but we are making a lot of noise. Everything is at stake at this point, and we need every voice.
What new approaches and/or ways of thinking do Black women need to take in 2017?
I think that we need to stop holding on to this guilt of who we truly are. A lot of us are so apologetic. We need to start showing off. I don’t think we show off enough! As Black women, We need to refrain from competing with each other, because that is counterproductive. Be comfortable in your greatness. Many of us water it down because we don’t want to seem offensive, or we aren’t entirely sure of ourselves. This is the time to boss up, be cocky, and even slightly conceited in terms of what we come from and our capabilities. Women run the world. Start by supporting others. Even if you personally don’t have anything going on, support someone who does until you figure out what you need to do. Gather in numbers, start building your tribe, and collaborate.