Louise M Empowerment series with Louise Matson and Ava Lucanus, Edge Communication
Posted on June 24 2021
Empowerment fuels an individual to become self-efficient and have greater influence towards self and others and it could commence to better changes. However, empowerment doesn’t just happen overnight, it always starts somewhere. For some, it starts at home, but for others, they get the empowerment that they need from the people around them. Circumstances affect one’s view on empowerment which is why we need to learn from people with different life stories.
In this episode of Louise M Empowerment Series, we will be joined by another wholesome and inspiring woman—Ava Lucanus. Ava Lucanus is a customer experience specialist who helps organizations to align their customer experience with their brand promise, so their customers become their biggest advocates.
Drawing upon over four decades of knowledge and experience, Ava works with organizations Australia-wide in small and large businesses as well as government.
She is recognized as an authority in her field, having been interviewed by ABC radio for her expertise as well as a guest writer for Business News and various industry magazines and blogs.
Her clients describe her as fun, expert, positive, motivational, practical, and inspirational.
Ava is among an elite group of less than 10% of speakers worldwide who have been awarded the international accreditation Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). In being awarded the CSP, Ava has met the strict criteria of experience, expertise, and professional ethics, as well as a commitment to ongoing education and client satisfaction.
Ava Lucanus (00:02):
I'm very pleased to be speaking with Ava Lucanus. Ava is a customer experience specialist who helps organisations to align their customer experience with their brand promise so their customers become their biggest advocates. Drawing upon over four decades of knowledge and experience Ava works with organisations Australia wide in small and large business, as well as government. She's recognized as an authority in her field having been interviewed by ABC radio for her expertise, as well as guest writer for business news and various industry magazines and blogs. Her clients describe her as fun, expert, positive, motivational, practical, and inspirational. Ava is among an elite group of less than 10% of speakers worldwide who have been awarded the international accreditation certified speaking professional. In being awarded this CSP Ava has met the strict criteria of experience, expertise and professional ethics, as well as a commitment to ongoing education and client satisfaction. Oh my goodness. What a bio welcome Ava Lucanus.
Ava Lucanus (01:11):
Thank you Louise. It sounds so much better in writing than it actually feels.
Ava Lucanus (01:19):
That sounds amazing. Feel empowered because it's absolutely great. So yeah, on that note, what does empowerment mean to you? What is your definition?
Ava Lucanus (01:29):
So Louise, it's all about having personal power than asserting your power over someone else. It's about being confident in your own abilities, without having a huge ego, but just feeling confident that you can do what you want to do and be successful and also the assertiveness and being able to speak your mind, from your heart with love and having it taken the right way, and protecting your personal space from other people's energies because sometimes you feel toxic or adverse energies from other people. So it's about the ability really to protect your space.
Ava Lucanus (02:14):
That's great. So emotional or physical thing, do you think empowerment is?
Ava Lucanus (02:20):
Definitely both. I think there's a definite connection between the two. So like when you're physically fit and healthy or feeling physically fit and healthy, you feel emotionally empowered and emotionally good. And when you're feeling emotionally empowered, you're feeling physically fit and healthy. So I think the two go hand in hand. I think just empowerment definitely starts with emotional and then it manifests into the physical, like whenever I go and see my chiropractor, I might have an ache or a pain somewhere, like a shoulder or neck or spine and he'll usually link it back to something emotional. He might say, this particular organ, because everything's connected through the nerves that the organs are connected to the spine through nerves. And he might say, you know, have you been a bit stressed lately? And I'll go, yeah, actually I have, you know, this has happened. He doesn't really want to know what's happened
Ava Lucanus (03:21):
A holistic chiropractor.
Ava Lucanus (03:26):
Yes, definitely. He's, he's brilliant. If anybody wants to contact me, I can give you his details. But he's great because he'll link everything back to the emotional and then sometimes he'll give me like breathing exercises or things to hold certain organs when I'm feeling a certain way. Like it'll affect the abdomen, which gets stressed and it's tight and then you can't breathe. It's hard to, or you're not breathing properly, so to fix your abdomen and then that affects other organs. So, yeah, it's incredible what I've learned about how it all manifests into.
Ava Lucanus (04:03):
You've just enlightened me. With your definition of empowerment I'm really quite intrigued about your childhood experiences with empowerment. Because I think that might be relevant to actually your definition that you just gave. So in your childhood, like how many siblings do you have, where did you fit in your family? And did you feel valued, heard as a child? Did your parents make you feel empowered and you could do anything kind of thing? Or was there none of that?
Ava Lucanus (04:42):
Yeah, look, I was the, I had three brothers, so I was the third. So I had two older brothers and one younger brother. I probably should start by explaining my family background. So my mother's Croation and the Croatian, it's a very male dominated culture. And particularly in the 1930s when mum was born. And so that was what she knew to be normal. Her father forced her to leave school when she was 14 because, you know, girls don't need education and mum was so upset and she would have felt so disempowered. She had to then learn how to be a housewife and go to dressmaking college and learn how to sew. And as a result, she always hated sewing. You know, I remember as a kid, mum would be, you know, frustrated and, you know, saying I have to make this, but I, I don't want to, and she'd put it off.
Ava Lucanus (05:35):
And, you know, she'd be up late at night sewing and making us clothes that she didn't really want to make. And she really didn't enjoy it. And, you know, she, she hated having to leave school. And then she met dad and married and dad was very loving, but a very difficult man due to, he had a lot of issues with the, you know, we know this now mother, you know, mother and addiction as well. So mum, mum was very talented, amazing, brilliant lady or still is. And she was an amazing singer. She would sing with her sisters and she would perform and act, but she gave up her hopes and dreams to care for Dad throughout his whole life until he passed away last year. And so as a result, I grew grew up with very much of a victim mentality within my family unit.
Ava Lucanus (06:28):
And you know, it, wasn't uncommon for mum to say something like, you know, I'm dumb, I'm too dumb for that. I'm stupid, you know, just as a joke and she still does, but it's, those words are incredibly disempowering. The other thing that was a very common word in our family was shame. You know, you should be ashamed of yourself. Those sorts of words, you know was sort of bandied about too freely. And then that's a very, very strong word, you know, and holds a lot of power over a very vulnerable little girl. And I mean, mum and dad did their best, very much so, but I just felt that I, that I grew up feeling very disempowered. I was taught unconsciously that girls aren't as powerful as boys, and I wasn't encouraged to be academic because girls don't need an education.
Ava Lucanus (07:22):
I remember when when my daughter was two and we went with mum to Hillary's boat marina where they had beautiful yachts and boats and mum was looking at all of the beautiful boats and she said to my daughter, darling, one day, you're going to meet a man who's going to buy you a boat. And I said, no, mum, one day, she's going to be able to buy one of these in her own. Right. So that was always the feeling of you need a man to look after you, one day you're gonna meet a man. That's gonna look after you. But that was very much the way that people thought, you know, a lot of people thought in those days. Um, just one story I want to share. I remember back in the seventies, as a teenager and I was working in a deli part-time and I used to work evenings, and I remember one night after work, the owner of the deli who was a very well-known sporting identity at the time touched me inappropriately and I froze and it didn't go any further.
Ava Lucanus (08:29):
Thank goodness. When I told mum and dad their response was well, you know, he's well known and we're who we are, he is who he is, who's going to believe us over him. So it was very much that disempowered state, you know, we have no power in this situation because he's so powerful. That was just the way it was in the day. You know, it was very indicative of the way people thought in the seventies. But it really did influence me and the way that I grew up, you know, feeling disempowered as an adult and what I had to do to, to get past that.
Ava Lucanus (09:10):
Well Ava firstly, thank you so much for sharing that because I know that's very private, so thank you so much. I'm sorry that that even happened to you and I'm sorry that your parents weren't able to help you through that process better. I mean they just didn't have the skill to do that either, which I'm sure others are the same. So thank you so much.
Ava Lucanus (09:41):
W I'm sure many women have similar stories to share.
Ava Lucanus (09:44):
Yeah, for sure. Was there anyone else around you as a child? Did you have any family members,, grandparents, aunts, you know, someone that you looked up to or inspired you or as a child or, or not, that was your total experience of disempowerment?
Ava Lucanus (10:03):
My father was and only child, so there were no aunties and uncles on his side. My mother had sisters and brothers, but, you know, similar sort of Croatian thinking. I did have one auntie that was the youngest of the family. She, she was probably 10-15 years older than me, and she was always really hip and groovy. So, she seemed, because she was so much younger, she seemed a lot more cool. You know, she had different ways of thinking or she seemed to have different ways of thinking. So, yeah, she influenced me a little bit. But I do remember one story of a grade five teacher, Mrs. Kukura. I still remember her name and she used to hand out lollies to the kids as rewards. And it was a very, very special thing to be, to get chosen, to go across the road to the deli, to buy the lollies. And she would choose me quite often and I would feel so important being the one to go across the road to buy the lollies. So that sticks in my mind that experience.
Ava Lucanus (11:20):
That just simple thing, isn't it and maybe because you didn't have any of that kind of empowerment at home, it was even extra special that she was choosing you do that she believed in you that you could go and do that, you know, for her.
Ava Lucanus (11:37):
I think, You know, at home, because I was the only girl mum was extremely protective and so I wasn't ever allowed to go to friend's places, but my brothers were, you know, in case something happened to me.
Ava Lucanus (11:52):
After the, or before the incident?
Ava Lucanus (11:54):
Before. So this was, I was a teenager when that incident happened. So, so I was going out anyway with my friends on weekends, but I mean, as a child in primary school, you know, I'd never get invited to birthday parties because we traveled a lot. Dad was in the air force and we, I was always the new kid at school. Mum would never let me go to friend's places because she was very fearful that something would happen to me. And so I grew to love my own company and I used to draw a lot and do things at home. But I think, you know, just that, that act of getting in, getting chosen to, and trusted to go across the road on my own to buy the lollies was such a contrast to my home life and what I was allowed to do at home.
Ava Lucanus (12:42):
So this is what I want to discuss too, how has this led into adulthood? And I mean, you have had a successful business for 20 years now that's amazing. And, and your speaking, you know, you've achieved in your public speaking, um, is incredible as well. So where has that come from? Well, you know, what was it that empowered you to actually start your business? You know, was it education? Was it mentorship? How did you get to start your business and it's called Edge Communication, isn't it? So customer experience training business.
Ava Lucanus (13:25):
It's a very, a very slow process. I mean, I still feel like it's a work in progress. I have been working for myself for over 30 or for just under 30 years now, in various businesses. But when my daughter nine months old, I left my husband. So I had a previous marriage as well. And, basically when I left home, I wasn't allowed to leave home. I wanted to leave home and, you know, share with friends and things like that. You know, you know, you go out and you share house with friends. I wasn't allowed to. So when I was 21, I decided to get married. You know, I was with a gorgeous guy. He asked me to marry. And when I think back, I think the only reason I said yes was because it enabled me to leave home and it gave me some freedom.
Ava Lucanus (14:21):
He was a beautiful man and I just wasn't ready for that sort of mature relationship, and after we, after we split up, I rebelled big time. Then I met my second husband, had my daughter and we split up when she was nine months old. So I'm getting to the start of the business, but I just wanted to explain, so when she was about to my daughter, I decided I needed to, you know, do something. And I just started a small, I just started doing some promotional work for a company. You know, the people that go into wine stores and wine tastings or food tastings in the supermarket, that sort of thing. And I became really good at it and it, it kind of, this business kind of just started and because I needed more people and someone offered me a contract and it wasn't something I went out looking for, but it just kind of developed and did that for about seven years and built up to about 70 casual staff from me to 70 casual staff.
Ava Lucanus (15:27):
So that was pretty amazing. It enabled me to basically, I had nothing when I left my marriage and when I sold the business, seven years later, it enabled me to pay off my mortgage. So that's how I felt so successful. Oh my God, this is amazing. And through that, I actually just fell into training. A colleague, a friend actually needed someone to do some training for his company. So I started teaching people how to use their telephone systems. And I would go out, they would install phone systems, and I go out and train the staff how to use them. And eventually that kind of evolved into telephone etiquette training, which evolved into what I do now. So, I'm forever evolving. But I think along the way, just having small successes has empowered me more and more. As I go, I still have huge imposter syndrome, but empowerment is definitely a work in progress. Sometimes when things like in the last year, I guess with COVID, my business has been in a bit of a slump although things are starting to turn around now. Yeah. You know, it's really affected my industry.
Ava Lucanus (16:55):
Yeah. When a business gets really slow, and the same when the GFC happened and all of a sudden, business dries up for length of time, and I start to think what's wrong with me and that feeling of disempowerment comes in again.
Ava Lucanus (17:11):
So how do you shift that? How do you shift that? Do you do something deliberately or is it that you're saying that this it's picked up again now, so is it that, you know, that one phone call you go I'm back. Okay. Or do you do something
Ava Lucanus (17:29):
That's definitely helped to empower me when work starts happening again, and you start to get that contract again. But also sometimes I go through a stage where I just think, I feel really disempowered, I need to do yoga. So I start doing yoga and it's incredible how things just start to happen again. It's just that slight shift of mindset. I think sometimes you just have to get out of your head and into your body and feel that feeling of power and know that you are powerful. And so yoga helps a lot, just gym being active, you know, going for walks and basically
Ava Lucanus (18:09):
The physical and the mental go, the emotional go together. So, you know, if you're feeling better because you're being physically active, it does help the mindset, doesn't it?
Ava Lucanus (18:18):
Louise Matson (18:23):
Have the Louise M Point Toe court shoes to just step into whenever you want to feel that extra empowerment.
Ava Lucanus (18:32):
Absolutely. Absolutely. The red shoes, every woman loves a pair of red shoes.
Ava Lucanus (18:38):
So I guess that's I mean, with your business, do you feel as though you empower others by training them with those, those skills set?
Ava Lucanus (18:53):
Yes, I do. And that really empowers me as well. For example, last week I did a follow-up session with a group of women from a law firm in Melbourne. It was a virtual session. And the session, the second session I did being the followup session, I asked each of them what they got out of the first session, what they had put into practice and what results they have noticed. One of the ladies, the course I did with them was on telephone skills. And one of the young ladies said that now that she knows how to speak more professionally on the phone, she's feeling more empowered, more professional and more confident. And I don't think she used the word empowered, but she said, I feel more confident and more professional. And I'm noticing that might call us a more responsive in that way. And I just went, yes, that's what I love to hear. So when I hear feedback from my, from my workshop attendees, and I often do that, say that sort of thing, you know, I feel so much more confident now in my self.
Louise Matson (20:01):
Then you feel empowered because they've gained that as well. So I think that's a big thing about empowerment as well. It's not just for ourselves it's to inspire others and to support them in going forward and feeling strong and more confident as well.
Ava Lucanus (20:21):
Absolutely. A lot of my friends actually say to me, sometimes a word, a word they often use is when they describe me as wise, they say, you're a wise woman. And that just makes me feel so empowered because I think, I've got to the stage in life. I've learned a lot. I know a lot and I have a lot of wisdom to share, but I don't think about that until somebody reminds me, and that's when I feel I have all this wisdom and it makes me feel empowered and I can use that to empower others.
Louise Matson (20:53):
Yeah. Fantastic. Well, we worked together on Corporate Grooming at one of the hotels in Fremantl so I've seen you in action and you are amazing at your job, so congratulations. That's fantastic. We've covered a lot today and I would perhaps love to speak to you again in the future as well. I'm sure you've got some more stories to tell us and share, but thank you so much for taking part in the Louise M empowerment series. It's just great to speak to different women and we all do have a story and we all have a slight variation of what empowerment means to us, so, and how we go about feeling empowered and empowering others. So thank you so much for your time today. It's been an absolute pleasure and I look forward to speaking with you again in the future.
Ava Lucanus (21:43):
Thank you so much, Louise. It's been an absolute privilege and a pleasure.
Louise Matson (21:46):
Thanks Ava. See you. Bye bye.
Listen to this inspiring episode now and be greatly empowered!