Any form of leadership will not be effective without the desire to learn constantly. And for Vivien Schapera, who wants to provide and achieve perfect health for everyone, connecting with others and focusing on serving others are the main factors in achieving business success. Vivien sits down with Mitch Russo to discuss not only her healing services focused on Alexander Technique and crystals, but how she was able to start lasting relationships with her team members and clients by embracing disappointment, all types of feedback, and the variety of people she has to encounter on a daily basis. She also shares different ways to take advantage of communication, the importance of listening, and the secrets in nurturing a community, even the smallest ones.
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Vivien Schapera On Providing Perfect Health Through Effective Leadership
Our guest is a published author and a skilled leader. She began a career by training first in clinical psychology and then in the Alexander Technique, a hands-on method for retraining neuromuscular dynamics. Through this work, she developed a refined sensitivity to energy leading her to add healing to her skills. With her skills and her charisma, she built a tribe of followers who greatly benefit from her leadership and she is here to help us build our tribe too. Welcome, Vivien Schapera to the show.
Thank you for having me here.
It’s my pleasure, Vivien. How did this all get started for you?
It got started in the best way possible, by disappointment. Disappointment and how to handle it is the key to becoming successful in life. Being able to be with other people’s disappointment is what makes me a strong leader. That is something that I will talk about. When I was eleven years old, I decided to become a clinical psychologist. I’m not sure why because it wasn’t clear what the clinical psychologist was but I heard about it. I got the feel and I thought, “That’s the thing I want to do.” I went to college and I studied Clinical Psychology but I got blocked because I exposed poor behavior on the part of my professors. It was a stupid and undiplomatic thing to do, but I was young and naïve. I was a completely honest person and I got caught up in not understanding the politics so I got diverted.
The thing about clinical psychology that appealed to me was the one-on-one interaction and connection. My Alexander teacher invited me to consider training as an Alexander teacher. My mother had taught me no learning is ever lost. I didn’t think I could do it because I had a gusty posture and the Alexander Technique seem to me to be about posture. I thought, “I don’t have the cheek to tell anyone about their posture,” but I do want to learn this for myself. I want to get good at it for my own sake and that is an ideal way to go into the Alexander Technique. That’s served me and our group well because it was not a straightforward thing to do that qualification.Disappointment and how to handle it is the key to becoming successful in life. Click To Tweet
I had to go to England to complete it and that was not straightforward either. We did all those steps and I’m pleased that I became an Alexander teacher. I went back to South Africa and established a practice. On the Monday that I had eighteen clients in a row, I realized I’m going to have to set a boundary. It didn’t matter what I did because when you kindly described me as having charisma, I have a certain charisma that people can tell that I can help them. They can tell that I know something that they want to know. People will come to me no matter what I label myself or label I put on the plaque at the door. People are going to come to me because I’ve got that style about me and that is an important element.
It got quite ridiculous. People would be jumping into the street in front of my vehicle to ask me for help. How weird is that? It made quite a strong impression on me. I completed my training as an Alexander teacher when I was 28 years old. The flow and popularity came straight away. It was an immediate thing. It wasn’t something I had to work at. Within six months of opening my door to clients, I was fully booked and I reached a point where I was giving 73 appointments per week, which was the limit. I have every memory of that. These were half-hour appointments back to back. All kinds of people. I was turning away about three people a week and saying, “I can’t manage it.”
Eight people in the morning, seven people in the afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. I was seeing seven people in the afternoon on a Wednesday and eight people in the morning on a Saturday. That was my 73 appointments. What was I doing on a Wednesday morning? I was going to the University of Stellenbosch opera school and teaching opera singers about the Alexander Technique for a research dissertation. I was busy. In the evenings, I was teaching the next group of Alexander teachers. There’s my first message. You have to be willing to work hard and do what it takes. You have to be passionate about what you’re doing. Even more than that, it has to be making a difference to people. It has to be making an impression. It’s not about doing something. It’s about doing something well. I’m glad that my parents and teachers taught me how to do things well.
That’s a great lesson. Many people need to know what you said. It’s important. There’s this feeling that there are some people out there that give it a little bit of effort and then they become successful rapidly. While that may happen, it’s certainly not the norm. Even for the smartest people, it requires a lot of work, time, refinement, correction and pivoting to get it right. Let’s move this conversation more into the present time. Tell me what the core mission of your tribe is about?
I don’t work as much as an Alexander teacher as I do as a healer and that would be in the field of energy healing but I’ve become a specialist in crystal healing. I still honor all the other aspects of energy healing and train people in energy healing. What happened to me was one day, a person arrived at my offices here in Cincinnati. I’d moved from South Africa. She said, “I haven’t come for an Alexander lesson.” I said, “Oh.” She said, “No, I’m here for a healing session.” I went, “Oh.” She said, “I can tell you’re a healer and that’s what I want. I want a healing session.” I went, “Oh.” That brings me to two other points in developing a community and developing a tribe. You’ve got to listen to people, listen to what they’re asking you for, work with what you don’t know and harness what you already know in order to move forward with whatever you’re doing.
What you already know has brought you to this point. What you don’t know is going to take you forward from this point. There I was at that moment I’m confronted with someone who didn’t want what I knew and wondered what I thought I didn’t know, and it opened up everything. It opened up a whole new career and tribe because as firmly positioned in the Alexander community, they had asked me, “What’s your secret? How come you’re able to establish a practice when all the rest of us are struggling? What did you do?” I did write a book for them and I will redo that book at some point. I moved on into the sphere of healing and perceived that healing needs to become a standardized profession at some point in the 21st century. That is the community that I’m providing thought leadership, practical information, textbooks and references. I’m coming in at every angle to help support this community and tribe.
How big is your tribe?
It is hard for me to estimate but it’s in the thousands. I have a YouTube channel where we have thousands of subscribers. I have a website that has over a thousand registered followers. I have an Instagram account and Facebook. I have a lot of people that have gone through my doors because we’ve put on conferences and retreats. There are a lot of people out there not only in the USA but also in South Africa, England, India, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and so right across the world. I’m working with people and reaching people using social media and everything I have. Everything at my disposal to reach that community and provide education, opportunities and a higher quality of professionalism because that is my thing.
If we go back to the beginning of when you started this journey, would that one person who asked you to get involved in something that you didn’t know and you take that fast forward to 2020, how long did it take you to get to this point in the evolution of your community?
Twenty-two years.Listening is the key to almost everything. Click To Tweet
What you’re telling me is you’re an overnight success.
I went to sleep and when I woke up, I was the leader of a community. I dreamed it all.
Sometimes the best way to start anything is to dream it first.
I would never have taken this on my own. I have been pushed and shoved by people, by energy dynamics, by coincidences, by synchronicities but mostly by listening. I do believe that listening is the key to almost everything. I’m also sad because I see that listening skills are few and far between.
When you think about your membership and the evolution of your leadership in this group, how would you say is the best way to communicate with your members?
I sent them questions and invitations. I ask them what they want. When they let me know what they want and they put in a request, I’m responsive. I work with them and I check, “Is this what you want? Is this what you mean?” I go forward from there. I go to other members of the community and ask them, “Is this what you want?” That’s how I set up my courses, the opportunities and everything is by request from the community. I invite members of the community to participate in the requested dynamics, whatever they are.
You get the requests from individuals but then you turn those into community events. How often are you doing this? How often does this process take place?
I like to have a continuous process. I like to have something going on all the time. It bothers me a little bit because the pandemic is preventing me from honoring that desire. What I did was draft some emails to let people know, “I’m sorry, but I’ve reached the limit of what I can manage now. We’re going to hit the reset button in the New Year.” I bring people along. Communicate and then listen.
When you think about your members, what benefits do you provide for your members? I know that you provide some training. How would you articulate what the benefits of being a member of your community are?
There are education and meeting people. A true community is a form of family and a microcosm of life. In our community, we have people. They meet each other and get married. They meet each other and become friends. When the pandemic started, I had come out with my textbook, The Complete Guide to Crystal Surgery. We all were stuck at home in isolation and I had a book that I had to launch in the pandemic situation, and I went, “This doesn’t work.” I sat and thought about it for a week feeling a little bit disoriented, quite depressed, and disappointed to finish a 25-year project and have it melted away because of a pandemic.A true community is a form of family and a microcosm of life. Click To Tweet
It was a little bit shocking, to say the least. Disappointment is the beginning of the next big deal. It’s always darkest before the dawn. The good and bad things are the same. I sit back and I wait for what I don’t know to bubble up from the unconscious, the ether and let me know what to do next. It was quite brilliant to have a textbook exploration. You’ve got to know the people that I’m working with are spread across from in their 20s all the way into their 70s. I have some issues there when it comes to websites, social media and those things. I have to make things accessible and easy for everyone. We did textbook exploration with partners and I set my community up with those who wanted it and we let it be those who want to do it.
I set them up in partnerships and they’ve gone all around the world meeting and working with each other using WhatsApp and FaceTime audio. I wrote a course, I posted it up on the website, I got them interacting with each other and people have made friends. They had the most wonderful time during this pandemic all because I had to solve a problem that I had no idea how to solve before. A big benefit is connection. A community is about connection. That means like-minded people who share interests, getting a chance to meet each other, be with each other and learning is always going to happen under those circumstances.
How would you describe the benefits that your members bring to you as the leader of this group?
That is a little harder for me to talk about. I must admit, it feels good. It feels like I’m fulfilling my destiny and I’m being successful. My currency is happiness. When I see people getting happier, I know that my work is falling upon fertile ground and that my work is accurate and authentic. I heard a wonderful thing when I was younger from one of my students. I learned more from my community than they can learn from me. It’s the most wonderful, fabulous thing and then we can push and reflect it back with each other and share the learning. It’s fabulous because to me the purpose of life is to learn.
This client of mine back in the day was a big follower of Rudolf Steiner, the anthroposophist. She said to me, “You need to know what is truth. How to identify truth is to know what bears fruit. A tree that bears fruit is truth.” That is the benefit I get from my community. I get to see what is true. I got to see the truth and the fruit and then I know this is a good path and the one to follow. Everybody is a truth seeker. Everybody wants to be happier and that pulls in more and more people like that.
Let’s talk about a little different currency than happiness, which is powerful. The currency that a lot of people reading on the show are interested in is how do you monetize your tribe?
I’ve got a different problem. I must make sure I don’t try and monetize everything because everything I do, people want to pay me and they want to buy more from me. Sometimes that’s not the path I want to go on. I have to be careful about that. Monetizing is straightforward for me. I have a private practice. People want sessions, they pay me for my time. I offer courses. People want to learn, they pay for the course. They want to come to a retreat or a conference. Everything is built so that it can be monetized. I’m a great student of money. I am an energy healer and I track energy and for me, money is a powerful energy that needs to be on it.
The thing that I need to take care of when it comes to money is I must look at the time money access. When you’re in private practice working one-on-one, that gives you a time constraint on how much you can earn. As soon as you’re working with groups then that time constraint changes. Time money access changes dramatically. If you’re looking to monetize, you want to make sure that you can work with groups and then comes the whole dynamic of passive income. That way, website and online courses that people can log on and do in their own time, book sales and those things, that becomes passive income.
I’m disciplined about it. I try to honor each and every monetization process and build an infrastructure that can provide the monetization that I need. It’s no use trying to manifest unless you’re willing to build infrastructure. Infrastructure is important and you’ve got to run the numbers. If you don’t run the numbers, you’re dealing with pie in the sky. I am not a pie in the sky person. I have worked intensively with the energy dynamics of money and I’ve written two books related to monetization and dealing with money. I like to think that I’m on top of the subject in multiple ways.
Let’s speak directly to those who are in the process of getting their tribes started. A lot of them have asked me when we have these discussions whether they should have a product or a service to sell before building the tribe or should they have a mission to build the tribe around first? Which do you think comes first?The purpose of life is to learn. Click To Tweet
The personal mission came first for me. Because you want to be passionate otherwise you’re going to go under. If you’re not passionate about your topic and you’re doing it to earn money, it’s not going to work. People can smell that. First comes the mission, interest, passion and then looking at what people want in terms of that mission. What do people want? What do they need? It is pointless doing something that people don’t want to need.
I’ll go one step further. I think that you’re not serving yourself if you build a tribe around your mission that you can’t monetize. You’re setting yourself up for future failure without a monetization strategy. My belief is that both are required if not to have the product before your tribe gets started but more to know what your product will be if you don’t have it yet. It links directly with your mission and the community of your group. To me, that’s one of the most logical ways to think about creating a tribe and a community. I covered this in my book called Power Tribes, which is all about how people create powerful monetizable tribes.
You want your mission and your monetization. I call it a strategic plan. You must stop if you don’t have a strategic plan and then you’ve got to run the numbers. If you don’t know how to do that, get someone who does know how to run an Excel spreadsheet and do projections. You can put any number you want to in a projection, cut it in half and then begin. You’ve got to be realistic, grounded and clear about that aspect. If you’ve got a dream and you want to actualize it but you’re not good at those things, then get someone good at that to help you. Don’t throw paint at the wall. It’s a stupid idea.
I have watched people who have made a lot of money because they had the luck to do with an idea and timing. They want to move on into another business and they don’t have success because they don’t know about building infrastructure. They don’t know about strategic planning. They don’t understand the monetization process correctly but they’ve got the money to do the capital investment, and then there’s nothing coming out the other end. Whereas, people who start without money and have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps can do a better job because they can’t do anything that doesn’t work. They haven’t got the money to do stuff that doesn’t work. Pretend you haven’t got money and make sure that you can make it work.
Vivien, let’s move on to the mechanics of running the tribe. Part of what may be the biggest single thing that most tribal leaders need to do is to communicate. What do you do for communication? I realized that social media is a big part of how we communicate with groups. Do you use a VA? Do you use a software? Describe your infrastructure.
I have a website CrystalHealingTechniques.com and that is where we post our courses and our blogs. I make sure that everything we do is visible on that website so that people can go there and communicate. From there, we send out newsletters telling people what’s available and so on but email is per se. People don’t open their emails. If they do, it could be once a week only. One of the things that you do want to keep track of as a leader is what people are using for communication and how they’re using it. Don’t fight the current. You’ve got to go with the current. You have to upgrade and stay in touch.
There’s me, I didn’t know how to use email. I was behind on that and behind on texting. Now, I’m the one showing other people how to use WhatsApp, how to text and all these different things. I use a combination. I text, email, send out newsletters and use instant messenger. Another big problem is you cannot find anything because you don’t know how it got to you and you don’t know how you sent it. Someone texted me and said, “Where’s that information?” I can’t remember. I said, “That’s a pain.” That’s a big issue that we all have. I couldn’t even train people to use email titles correctly so I give that point up.
What I do is I watch, and I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as only one person feeling or saying something. If one person gives me a piece of information, I assume that is representative of a fair percentage of my group. I’ll get onto my emails and I correspond with people. I put informative email titles so that if people only read the email title, they will get information that way. I do the same with my YouTube videos. I make sure that the video is labeled in an informative manner. I’ve learned about people how they process information, and I try and work with that with the soundbite thing and so on. I’m a one-on-one person. Even though I’m communicating with my tribe and with the group, I still do it as a one at a time individual connection.
Even when I’m sending out a group email, I want each person receiving that email to feel that I am talking personally to them and I’m remembering who they are and what they said to me before. That is important to people. They like to know that you are connecting to them individually. It doesn’t matter how big the audience and group is. I’ve given talks in front of over 1,000 people up on a stage. I’m still looking at the people in the audience and to connect with each individual. That’s how I think about it. That’s my intention and also my mission. I’m keen on that individual connection. Even if it’s a nameless person in a group, I honor the individual.
Is there a particular set of software products that you use?Stop acting as if people are judging you. Get over that. Click To Tweet
No, because I’m no good at that. The software is my husband’s department and that goes back to you’ve got to take care of everything. If you can’t do it, get someone who can. It’s important what you’re saying. Don’t try and go to learn. The day does come when you get tired and flirting with the burnt-out dynamic. Make sure that you are working with a team that can be supportive to you and make sure that you delegate jobs. You mustn’t try and do everything. It’s no use asking me about the software but we use WordPress and we use a lot of plugins. I do need to learn more about the software that can help me keep everything organized because it will make my life easier. I learned something from talking to you. I got a good hint from you going back to that question. That teaches me what I don’t know and thank you for that.
We all need systems. What I’m saying is we all need leverage. If you were to try and do everything individually, you burn out too fast because you get busy doing little things that are important in the big picture but unimportant in the moment. My belief is that as a business owner, even as a leader or as a spiritual person leading a group, you still need leverage. If that leverage comes in the form of software, hiring a VA or working with a third-party, then you need to look at that as a possibility. Let’s fast forward here, go two years out with me. Let’s look at the world in 2023 and tell me what the future looks like for you and for your community.
The future in two years looks much better than it looks at the moment. By that time, we would be coming together for the second time as a community since the pandemic. We’re going to do instructor training, retreats and conferences. I know that people are looking forward to such possibilities because we’ve been deprived of that during the pandemic. The need and the want for that are massive. I am going to respond to how people are needing to come together in a group, in a celebration style of way to do with wonderful interests that they share. In 2023, it would be a wonderful time to revive the Midwest Crystal Conference and bring people from all over the world to a crystal and energy healing conference.
People love that. They can buy crystals, meet each other and attend courses. It’s a wonderful thing for the economy of a city to hold a conference, for the participants, for the hotels and for everyone. What a great way to come back from the pandemic and what a wonderful thing that will be to look forward to. One of my students used a wonderful word because we were supposed to have training in 2020 and she called it a summit. Summit is a fabulous word for what we wanted to do with our community. In 2023, we’re going to have a summit.
You read it here first. We are going to have a summit in 2023. Vivien is going to be there and you better be there too. One of my last questions will lead our conversation to the next step as well. How can others reading this take their first or next step to build or grow their own tribe? What do you think is important for people to realize, focus on or do?
It starts with a personal mission. What is your personal mission in life? What is it you want to do? What is the point? What is the product? Look and see who else is interested in it. What kind of other people? Is that what those people want? Talk to them, find out and ask questions. When P&G gets a new product, they have a focus group. We need to do that too. You need a focus group. Brilliant ideas come out of focus groups. It’s fantastic to listen to people talking about stuff, just don’t take anything personally. Nothing is a criticism, stop acting as if people are judging you. Get over that, you’ve got to transcend that stuff. You’ve got to be bigger than that if you want to be a leader and then think, “What do I have to offer that these people don’t have?” That’s a question that you put up there. The answer will come in time. It’s not a question you can answer in advance.
When we started our Alexander training course, the people were all the same age as I was but I was the teacher and it was like, “What’s going on here? How come we’re all the same age? We’re peers, yet I’m the leader and the teacher.” I had to learn who I was. We all know who has and who hasn’t leadership abilities. If you have leadership abilities, allow yourself to discover who you are as a leader. It’s a wonderful process. If you see what people do with the vending machine when it doesn’t deliver, they kick it. It’s like, “If you don’t want to be kicked, you better deliver.”
Figure out what it is people want from you and start delivering. The other thing I want to say is to start with a small group. You want a tribe but it begins with a small family. Everything begins with a small family. I train people to be course leaders and teachers. They always want 20 or 30 people in their class. Once you could get 3 or 4 people, you must begin because that core acts as a magnet and that magnetic core is what brings the other people in. Nobody is coming to nothing so you want to have something. There is a huge difference between 0 and 1. That’s a binary world that we live in. Once you’ve got one, get plus one and plus one. Once you’ve got three, you’ve got your grip. Get started now. Don’t wait for some weird thing that isn’t going to happen because you weren’t getting started.
It’s wonderful advice and very well said. I understand you have something quite interesting to give away. You told me what it is and I was a little surprised because that’s quite a gift. Would you like to share that with our readers?
We are going to share how to create a vibrant and sustainable community to support you and your tribe in ten easy steps. That’s going to be downloadable and you can get that information. I’m a great teacher and I created step-by-step instructions so you’re going to like this. It’s going to be easy to read.
Vivien, you shared a lot of incredible information. Would you be open to people reaching out to you with any thoughts, ideas or questions about their own mission?
That’s what I love to do. I love to teach and empower people. That’s my thing in life. It doesn’t have to be about energy healing or crystal healing. I have even taught Math to people because I know how to break the information down. I have helped many people with many different things. My clients are across the spectrum from massage therapists to CEOs. I mostly work with leaders in the community and help them be better leaders in many different fields. Please contact me. I am more than happy to interact, connect, give information and give guidance. The best and easiest place to get hold of me is at CrystaHealingTechniques.com via the contact form on the website. I do want to say one other thing, I am the one and only Vivien Schapera in the entire world, therefore on Google, it’s easy to find me. You have to be able to spell my name and that isn’t easy.
On behalf of my community and my tribe, I want to say thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I look forward to our next conversation. I’m sure it will be fun.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Vivien Schapera
- YouTube – Crystal Surgery and Crystal Healing Techniques
- Instagram – Crystal Healing Techniques
- Facebook – Crystal Healing Techniques
- The Complete Guide to Crystal Surgery
- Power Tribes
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