Against All Odds: Liza Pavlakos’ Trailblazing Odyssey from Struggle to Triumph

Meet Liza Pavlakos, a true force of inspiration whose journey from adversity to triumph has left an indelible mark on the world. An acclaimed entrepreneur, and internationally well-respected keynote speaker, Liza’s story is one of unwavering resilience, determination, and the extraordinary power of the human spirit.

At just 23, Liza embarked on her entrepreneurial journey with no startup capital, setting the stage for her remarkable career. From orchestrating a high-profile event that drew in thousands to successfully managing a bar and restaurant, she showcased not only her tenacity but also her keen business acumen.

Liza’s entrepreneurial ventures didn’t stop there. With multiple successful businesses, she served a diverse clientele, leaving a lasting impact on her industry. Her influence extends beyond the business world into mental health advocacy, where she stands as a trailblazer.

As the driving force behind the “Mind Hub Directory,” a global platform for mental health experts, Liza demonstrates her commitment to supporting those in need. This initiative, born out of her own challenges, has garnered admiration from various quarters.

Despite having faced various trials and tribulations that life had to throw at her, she defied the odds, refusing to let her struggles define her. Her story is a testament to the extraordinary power within each of us to rise above adversity.

Today, Liza stands tall as a sought-after international keynote speaker, captivating audiences worldwide with her poignant story of triumph. Her speeches foster a sense of purpose, propelling performance and inspiring those who have the privilege to listen.

Beyond the stage, Liza is set to release her upcoming book, “Conviction,” offering readers a glimpse into her personal and professional journey. Brace yourself for invaluable lessons and wisdom that promise to inspire and uplift, unlocking your own limitless potential.

In Liza’s world, the past doesn’t dictate the future. She embraces a present full of positivity, laying the foundation for a future rich with opportunity. As she guides her children to become resilient human beings, Liza continues to inspire us all to dream bigger and live with fulfillment, both personally and professionally.

Let us invite Liza Pavlakos to share her incredible story, and you invite the potential for your audience to dream beyond, igniting their inner spirit and creating a path to a future filled with opportunity and fulfillment.

1.Liza, at 23, you ventured into business with no startup capital, eventually drawing 4,000 patrons to your Miss India International Event. Can you share a pivotal moment or decision that propelled your entrepreneurial journey during those early days?
A pivotal moment in my entrepreneurial journey occurred when I made the decision to lift myself out of poverty by launching the inaugural Miss India International Beauty Pageant in Australia. At the outset of this endeavour, I lacked any initial funding, and it was merely a dream. Nonetheless, I transformed that dream into a reality. It marked the instance when I recognised my ambition to establish a business that could have a profound impact by uniting women from my cultural background. We shared common issues, faced challenges, and encountered problems, and I believed that by bringing us together, we could amplify our voices and effect positive change. This concept ignited my passion, and I never anticipated the level of success it ultimately achieved. Perhaps, at the tender age of 23, I hadn’t fully grasped my own potential. It’s worth noting that success can be attained, but unless we address our inner wounds, we may never truly embrace it.

2.Taking charge of Mini Bar Piccolo was a significant shift in your career. Could you describe a specific challenge you faced in transforming this business and how you turned it into a success?My most prominent hurdle revolved around perfecting the craft of creating an impeccable latte. I lacked any prior experience in coffee-making, and I found myself in Melbourne, a city well-known for its coffee enthusiasts. Achieving precision was paramount, and I developed the necessary skills on the job with the assistance of my hired staff. Although my latte-making abilities may not have been outstanding, I excelled in preparing delightful lunches and dinners.
Another challenge I faced was managing a bustling restaurant, especially during peak hours when orders poured in all at once. It felt like solving a complex mathematical puzzle to ensure every customer left satisfied. Establishing strong relationships with patrons was crucial, as my aim was to cultivate a warm and inviting atmosphere that would encourage return visits. Picture a restaurant with a backdrop of French house music and beautiful flowers adorning each table; this establishment exuded a fantastic ambiance.
On top of these challenges, I grappled with the daunting task of working long hours, starting at 7 am and finishing at 10 pm. Additionally, I was a single parent to a 4-year-old child, and commuting on the late-night train with him posed a risk. Nevertheless, I made a conscious choice to focus on the blessings of having a job rather than fixate on the demanding nature of the work.

3.You’ve dressed prestigious clients like those at the Australian Open and international celebrities. Can you reveal a memorable story or project that stands out from your tailoring business days and what it taught you about entrepreneurship?
With over a decade in the tailoring business, narrowing down a selection of memorable experiences can be quite a challenge. There have been countless remarkable moments, and here are a few that have left a lasting impression:
One indelible experience centred around my collaboration with Beyoncé. Despite my lack of sewing skills, I would playfully manipulate a needle and thread, with my staff discreetly offering their assistance. Whenever Beyoncé wasn’t watching, I managed to create the illusion that I was a skilled seamstress. It’s rather ironic, isn’t it? Running a tailoring business without the knowledge of sewing? I might not have known how to sew, but I excelled at securing substantial contracts, and that was my forte.
Another noteworthy moment occurred when tennis legend Novak Djokovic paid a visit to our store to collect his tennis garments, and at that time, I had no idea who he was. I casually asked, “So, what’s your tennis ranking, like 47?” He looked at me and replied, “I’m number 1.” I felt quite embarrassed.
Yet another memorable moment took place during my pregnancy. Due to complications, I had to spend several months in the hospital. To keep the business running, I transformed my hospital room into a makeshift office and even asked the nurses to bring in my faxes. My staff would come to the hospital room, and I would lay out all the earnings on the hospital bed to calculate their pay. The hospital staff had to remind me that I was in a hospital, not my workplace. This was a place for rest and childbirth, not for conducting business. When the time came to go into labour, one of my wholesale clients called, and I picked up my mobile phone, telling the client on the other end, “Sure, I’ll get that done after 10 hours.” They had no idea I was in the midst of giving birth to my third child.
However, the most profound moment for me was receiving an invitation to Chanel’s apartment on Rue Cambon in Paris. It was an iconic experience, and I felt incredibly privileged to be in her home. Imagine that a girl who was once homeless and dreamt of owning Chanel’s clothes was now inside Chanel’s apartment. All these instances have taught me that even as we achieve remarkable success in business, our insecurities persist unless we recognise our true worth and potential. When business is a passion, that’s one of the many secrets to a fulfilling life.

4.With the “Mind Hub Directory,” you’ve created a global platform for mental health support. What’s a touching or impactful testimonial you’ve received from someone who found help through your directory that illustrates its importance?
One of the most heart-warming and indelible testimonials stemmed from my experience working with two senior leaders at a large IT company. I had the privilege of aiding them in navigating and mediating their workplace conflict. The ability to foster trust between these two parties and guide them toward resolving their differences and progressing was a profound blessing. Another deeply touching moment occurred when a client sought relief from severe anxiety, and I could recommend our available psychologist on the platform. Providing a platform that serves as a source of psychological support, assisting individuals in surmounting their challenges and enhancing their lives, feels like a blessing. These blessings transcend monetary value; it’s the impact on someone’s life and the unseen blessings that leave us with positive karma that hold genuine significance.

.5.Your life journey has been marked by resilience. Could you share an instance where your unwavering determination helped you overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle on your path to success?
The relentless determination that has been instrumental in my path to success finds its reflection in moments like this: My commitment to aiding others from the depths of my heart, deeply rooted in my profound understanding of pain, has elevated me to the role of a highly sought-after keynote speaker. It’s the genuineness underpinning this determination that ultimately clears the path to success. It’s a common sentiment that my life’s journey could serve as the basis for a compelling Netflix documentary. However, what I’ve truly gained from this journey is the ability to share my story with the intention of inspiring others, redirecting the spotlight onto their own journeys, and summoning the courage to stand tall.
There have been countless noteworthy occasions, but one that remains etched in my memory is the moment when I disembarked from a flight and witnessed the entire crew and pilot forming a line to offer their applause. The support and affection I’ve received from individuals I’ve never met stand as the genuine benchmarks of success for me. From the slums of Makoko in Nigeria to London, Asia, America, and the Middle East, I feel honoured and grateful for having the capacity to touch the hearts of those I’ve encountered along the way.

6.You’ve been instrumental in motivating Fortune 500 companies. Can you offer an example of a company that experienced a profound transformation after your engagement, and what specific strategies you used to bring about this change?
I’ve had the honour of collaborating with a wide array of companies, spanning from the most prominent Fortune 500 corporations to smaller enterprises. However, working with teams at Microsoft, Senior Leaders of Dell in London, and Lenovo in APAC, Europe, and the USA has been a realisation of a dream.
What appears to resonate with them the most is the narrative of my entrepreneurial journey, which delves into the depths of darkness, suffering, pain, and adversity, ultimately leading to the path of entrepreneurship. This journey underscores the idea that frequently, the only obstacle obstructing our goals is ourselves. By dispelling excuses and embracing a can-do attitude, we can attain virtually anything. Today, I wear numerous hats – that of a mother to five, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, survivor, and author. As human beings, we are granted one life, and it is imperative that we live it to the fullest, dreaming big and striving to manifest those dreams.
The strategy I’ve imparted to companies, whether they are colossal or compact, all around the world, revolves around the notion that we possess the power to transform the narrative of our own stories, shifting from a position of victimhood to one of victory.

7.In your upcoming book, “Conviction,” can you tease a key life lesson or personal anecdote that readers can look forward to, and how do you hope it will inspire them to unlock their potential?Here is an excerpt from my forthcoming book “Conviction”:
Here is a part of my upcoming book Conviction -“ It took me a long time to understand that, for me, sustainable healing was about accepting what had happened in my life and finding a way to move on. But the most significant part of my healing was realising that, even when I felt as if I was in the deepest, blackest pit of hopelessness, the prospect of mining the diamonds within my most painful experiences helped me keep going. I couldn’t change the things that happened in my past, but I could take control of my future by making the choice to find the sparkling gems of learning I’d achieved amidst the chaos and steer my life in the direction that I wanted it to head.
That direction was upwards but climbing out of the mine wasn’t enough. I sifted through all the heartache and pain deep inside of me and when I climbed out of that mine, I took the diamonds with me. I could hold on tightly to the bright, shiny, valuable parts of me – wherever and whatever got in my way. I hope that my story will remind you that there are precious moments of knowledge, self-discovery and resilience within your own experience too. Hold on to them.”

I aim for readers of my book to discover that regardless of life’s challenging circumstances, they possess the inner strength to stand tall. Remember, even at rock bottom, there is a solid foundation to build upon. We all have the power to overcome and heal.

8.As both a mental health advocate and entrepreneur, can you tell us about a moment where your advocacy and business interests converged in a way that had a significant impact on people’s lives?
This theme appears to permeate all my pursuits.
When I launched the Miss India Pageant, my vision centred on empowering women of my culture in Australia through an event that was unprecedented in the country at the time. I pioneered the introduction of Miss India to Australia. This initiative not only served as a platform for advocating women’s right to express themselves but also proved to be a prosperous entrepreneurial venture.
In the realm of the tailoring business, I managed five stores with a substantial staff, primarily comprising women from Cambodia, India, and Vietnam. Many had fled their home countries in search of a better life. I empowered and trained them to attain self-sufficiency, with some eventually assuming control of my businesses as entrepreneurs, while others assumed managerial roles, earning the recognition they rightfully deserved. This was an exquisite blend of advocacy and entrepreneurship.
In my roles as a keynote speaker, whether addressing vast audiences, participating in interviews, making appearances on television, podcasts, or featuring in magazine articles like Viktor magazine, my primary aim is undoubtedly advocacy and empowerment. I convey messages of empowerment and champion a can-do attitude.
My endeavours in slums, both in India and the largest slum in Nigeria, Makoko, revolved around empowering women in these challenging environments. I demonstrated that, irrespective of their backgrounds, they could earn a livelihood. It’s all about reshaping mindsets and altering perspectives. These impacts give profound purpose to my life. When our time on this Earth concludes, we cannot carry our material possessions with us, but we can depart with the pride of having positively influenced the lives of others. The lesson is that, regardless of the specific business or entrepreneurial journey one embarks on, in any walk of life, doing exceptional work with authenticity will invariably lead to success and leave a lasting impact on someone’s life.

9.What’s the most unexpected or surprising aspect of your work as an international keynote speaker and entrepreneur that you didn’t anticipate when you started your journey?
I never foresaw the considerable challenges that breaking into the keynote speaking industry would entail. The sheer scale of the work transpiring behind the scenes was something I hadn’t fully comprehended. Furthermore, I had not anticipated the toll that frequent air travel to different countries could take on one’s mental well-being. Taking a holiday once in a while offers a different experience, but when it becomes an integral part of your work routine, spending extended hours in the air can become mundane and mentally taxing.
Additionally, I didn’t foresee how much I would miss my children and experience profound motherly guilt when leaving them to fulfill work commitments. Life doesn’t always unfold smoothly, and traveling, particularly in these times, can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Being far away from family can be emotionally challenging. However, the truth is that when we focus on the negative aspects and hardships, it becomes the predominant narrative in our minds. So, by concentrating on the positive aspects, such as meeting new people, experiencing new places, making a meaningful impact on people’s lives, and setting an example for my children, that’s the true essence of this journey—embracing the positives amidst the challenges.

10.Liza, if you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice based on everything you’ve learned, what would it be, and how do you think it would have shaped your journey differently?
The primary advice I’d give my younger self is as follows: Avoid holding onto grudges or resentment towards others, acknowledging that people’s actions are often shaped by their individual knowledge and life experiences. Those who harbour deep-seated anger may find it challenging to accept me for who I am due to limitations in their capacity for love. The central lesson here is that each person carries their unique set of personal issues, and unless they embark on a journey of self-improvement, they won’t address their inner pain. This inner turmoil can significantly impact how they relate to me and those around them. I would also tell my younger self to let go of resentment while maintaining clear boundaries that should not be crossed, all while releasing with love.
I would also stress the importance of understanding that genuine love includes the ability to let people go and meet them where they are in life. If they lack the capacity to love you for who you are and what you stand for, then you have to allow them to be in that space.
Furthermore, I would gently remind my younger self that I am enough. I wish I had grasped this concept earlier, as I have only recently come to realise it. The fundamental truth is that we are all enough, and we are all perfectly imperfect just as we are. If I had embraced this realisation earlier, I might not have spent so much time in pain and distress. Nonetheless, it is a fact that, much like a child learns to walk when they are ready, we all learn and grow when we are prepared to do so.

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