An INNER VIEW with Stylist Alaina Griffin

An INNER VIEW with Stylist Alaina Griffin

BIO

Alaina is an LA-based wardrobe stylist with more than five years of experience in personal, commercial, and editorial styling. Passionate about turning concepts into reality, Alaina specializes in putting together essential pieces that elevate her clients’ personal brand and tell a visual story. She is currently a stylist for Nordstrom at The Grove. As a freelance stylist and consultant, Alaina is happiest when she is bringing ideas scribbled on paper and images posted on a vision board to life for others to experience – her version of art.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: Fear. It is saturating our lives with wars, strikes, and ongoing uncertainties. What has God taught you about dealing with fear?

Alaina Griffin: One thing that God has recently taught me came from a dream. In the dream, it was dark, and I was walking to my vehicle. An overwhelming sense of fear and of being lost swept over me. Suddenly, all the lights around me went out. I fell on the ground in crippling fear, unable to move. After some time, I realized that an electrical outage did not cause the darkness around me and in front of me, but because my eyes were closed. I started praying to God that my eyes would be opened. This struggle caused me to wake up from my dream.

What was God revealing? To move forward, we must pray, as Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:18, that God opens our Spiritual Eyes so that we can confidently know and understand God’s WORD and God’s WILL. This enlightenment will transform our walk with God and change how we navigate waiting seasons, tough decisions, life lessons, trials, and triumphs to get to the blessings and promises of the Lord. Finally, spiritual sight causes us to seek God in order to capture in the Spirit what is not yet manifested on Earth. Spiritual sight activates us to speak by faith into existence what is seen, not by the natural eye. The Word God gave me to share is: See it so that you can seize it (even by force if necessary). With this, we are powerful, and all things become possible.

Kathleen: We are living in an increasingly competitive world. Our ambition to succeed can often overpower us, and we can make bad choices. How have you learned to wait on God’s perfect timing and will?

Alaina: Ambition is a topic that is definitely an issue in the town we live and work in – Hollywood. As believers of Christ, we can get swept up in chasing ambition and dreams if we’re not mindful and rooted in God. We must remember that we are IN the world and not OF this world. We are called to infuse and push God’s culture into this world. To do this, we must do as it says in Matthew 6:33: see first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (ways of doing things). The ways of the Lord are and will always be contrary to the way of the world, which measures success in riches and the number of followers, titles, and degrees a person has.  When we seek God daily and trust Him, He will help us to navigate through each day in our professional careers. Sometimes it is a waiting season, and sometimes it is a “go now moment!” God must be the One speaking and leading, not ambition, society, vanity, or cultural pressures.

Kathleen: Many women today are struggling with an identity crisis. What has God taught you about being unique and finding peace in who He says you are, not what the world wants to define you as?

Alaina: I have found that people in this town suffer particularly from identity crises. I have encountered people who are always “ON”- in character, preparing for the next role. As children of God, the Bible makes it clear that we are special – a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, Psalms 139:14, and set apart, Deuteronomy 14:2. God invested time in creating and forming each person to fulfill the plan He has laid out at the beginning of time for Kingdom advancement. How do we find peace and come to know who God called us to be? One way is through our proximity to others- community. Groups like Influence Women, with other like-minded women on similar journeys, will help God’s calling for our lives to become clearer. The other way is through our proximity to God – intimacy. As we grow closer to God, He shows us how to love. How to love Him, ourselves, and others. In loving ourselves, we see ourselves and value ourselves as God sees and values us.

Kathleen: God tells us to Go. To be an influence in all the world. Why is that essential?

Alaina: When Jesus left His disciples, He gave a mandate that echoed throughout the generations, and it was to make disciples of men. As believers, we all have been given a mandate to lead others to Christ and into a deeper relationship. We were created and called to be leaders in this world- influencers. Matthew 5:13 tells us that we are the salt of the earth. It then goes on to say in the next verse that you are the light of the world. As believers, we were created and formed to function as salt and as a light in the world. By its design- light cannot be hidden, and salt cannot not be salty. It is just not possible. We are called to be a light at our jobs, at home, on the subway, in line at the grocery store, and in neighborhoods.

Thanks to technology, we can go and be influencers around the world without leaving our homes. As God has freely given us life, purpose, identity, giftings, spiritual blessings, healing, deliverance, His Word, and so much more, how could we possibly not share the good news and our testimonies with others? Not operating as God’s light or salt causes us to have an identity crisis and creates frustration and feelings of hopelessness, meaninglessness, and restlessness in us. It creates God-size issues that only God can correct. Answering the mandate to go simply means allowing God to navigate our next move and to work through us so that we can become the answers God called us to be on earth.

Connect with Alaina:
Find out more about her work at: arashedastyling.com
Facebook and Instagram: @arashedaconsulting
TikTok: @arashedastyling

An INNER VIEW with Executive Producer Victoria Slater

An INNER VIEW with Executive Producer Victoria Slater

Where do we get the confidence to push forward, take risks and negotiate without fear? Is it found in us, or in something bigger than ourselves? Read this month’s INNER VIEW as author and producer Victoria Slater shares about rooting herself in the “certainty of God”.

 

Bio

As the daughter of an Air Force officer, Victoria Slater spent her childhood traveling the world and gaining a passion for travel and world culture. She attained a BA in Theatre with minors in Business and French from Wright State University in Ohio, but spent a few post-college years working in chemical defense research. Yet, a lifelong dream to work in the film industry egged her on to Hollywood where Victoria worked over twenty years in the industry; she was also delighted when her new career took her back to foreign lands.

She spent a year in South Africa for TransWorld Pictures as a Production Executive and Director of Development, where she oversaw and negotiated distribution deals for the production of many feature films.

Victoria also has been part of the production teams on several independent and studio feature films and television series, including Twentieth Century Fox’s disaster film Volcano, Paramount’s Star Trek VII Generations, and Baywatch. She has also produced high-end projects ranging from commercials to short videos for private resorts and members-only clubs with the boutique post-production company, Moving Pictures, co-owned with her husband, Ken.

She is a proud member of the Producers Guild of America, where she served on the Board of Directors for nine years and chaired the mentoring program for over seven years. In 2007, Victoria was awarded the prestigious AP Council Commitment Award for her service to the PGA.

Victoria published her book, How To Negotiate Without Freaking Out, to encourage women to become better and braver negotiators. She loves God, her husband, and her two very spoiled little dogs. These are her non-negotiables.

 

INNER VIEW

 

Kathleen Cooke: You had a long and significant career working in entertainment. Looking back, what is the one thing you’d say was the most significant thing God taught you about the industry?

Victoria Slater: God taught me that He is in control. I have recently been reflecting on my past efforts to promote our business or my career that yielded no fruit. Yet projects seemed to come out of “left field” (aka from God). We have been very blessed and have done well, but I can never point to my efforts for our success. Now in making efforts to promote my book, I turn to God and ask, “what should I do?” A friend reminded me of the biblical passage in Luke 5:4, where the disciples had just returned from a night of fruitless fishing.

Jesus told them to put out into the deep and let down their nets for a catch. At first they argued with Him, but then did what He told them to do and took in an abundance of fish. That is what I am trying to do now – not go on my efforts but look to God first and follow His direction.

Kathleen: If you could tell your 20-something-self something that you know now, what would you tell her?

Victoria: “Pride goeth before the fall.” I look back on many opportunities I lost because of pride. I was given an incredible opportunity early in my production career when I was sent to South Africa as a production executive. When I returned to the States, I was a bit puffed up and turned down jobs that seemed a step back but would have led to much greater experiences. I cringe when I think of my poor judgment because I was so prideful.

Kathleen: We often aren’t honest with who we are and how God has wired us. We negotiate with Him on what we want (our will) and what He wants (His will). How can we become that authentic person and accept what He has called us to be and do?

Victoria: I love Psalm 139, especially verse 14 (NIV), which says, “I will praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” I love people who dare to be their wonderful, unique, authentic selves. It can be hard sometimes. We are, by nature, herding animals. But I find people who are authentically themselves are the most fun to be around. So, I strive to be honest and authentic with everyone I meet. And let my unique sense of humor and intellect shine through, for “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Kathleen: I love that. Especially because of the last half of that scripture, where David (the writer of Psalms) acknowledges the confidence that inward knowledge gave him. A career in media, entertainment, arts and leadership can be one of risky choices and uncertainty. Where did you find your certainty and confidence as a high-level executive making many strategic influential decisions in Hollywood?

Victoria: I was around twenty-five years old and had just broken up with my first serious relationship. We had been together for four years, and I was devastated. I was living in Dayton, Ohio working in government research on chemical defense. A friend saw how heartbroken I was and got an Air Force captain to invite me out to lunch. At that lunch, he started talking about God. God?! I didn’t want to hear about God. I wanted to be told how pretty I was. On the way back to my office, this Air Force captain asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus into my life. To this day, I can remember the feeling of standing on the edge of a precipice. If I accepted the offer, I would be jumping off a cliff. I wasn’t ready. So, I declined. Shortly after this, I was in Arizona on vacation. I was heading to California and couldn’t sleep, still upset over the breakup.

I took a walk in that arid climate and started to talk to God, and I had the overwhelming sense that He loved me and would take care of me. I accepted Christ into my life that night.

The Air Force captain will never know how much he influenced my life. You never know how God will use you to influence others. His confidence and certainty of who Jesus was in his life influenced me, and I couldn’t stop thinking of his invitation to know God personally in my life. And it’s God’s certainty living in me that still allows me to keep my confidence in Him as we continue to live in growing, uncertain times today.

 

Register Now for the Influence Lab Webinar with Victoria on Tuesday, August 23rd at 5:00pm PST!
The Art of Negotiation: How to Grow Your Confidence

Bold Self Confidence: Why It’s A Must For Today’s Leaders of Tomorrow

Bold Self Confidence: Why It’s A Must For Today’s Leaders of Tomorrow

While raising two daughters, I often reflected on how they were so different in approaching challenges. Kelsey, the oldest, was initially fearless and would jump at something new without ever giving it a second thought. One time, it even cost us a trip to the hospital for stitches; however, many times Kelsey would take the first leap and fail, which frightened her so much she wouldn’t attempt it again. It often held her back from pushing through challenges and being successful.

Our youngest daughter, Bailey, was different.  She wanted to think about it first. Maybe because she was younger and had a confident older sister, she would watch before acting. Many times, we had to coax her into attempting challenges; however, once she found success, she would push forward like a bull and become more confident. Bailey grew to love competitive sports. As a six-year-old in a karate tournament, she overpowered and brought down an eight-year-old boy twice her size to win the match. I remember feeling terrible for the little boy who walked away in tears, but his mother came running up to me and asked how I got Bailey to be so bold and confident. I laughingly told her, “She has an older sister!”

Leadership requires that we lead with confidence.

Yet confidence often has to come through experience and repeated failures. It requires us to be vulnerable and face challenges. It was the subject of our Influence Lab Women webinar, Emerge. We explored aspects of building personal confidence in careers and relationships. For the Church to find unity today, God requires that we be confident in who He says we are and what He has called us to become – willing leaders in scary and uncertain situations. When we become this, our faith grows and we can trust God more fully. It is especially powerful for those working in media and entertainment who are influencers with social media megaphones.

Confidence begins with mindset.

Scientists tell us our brains are complex. Because of the neural plasticity of our brains, neurotransmitters guide our actions and reactions through a multitude of experiences. These experiences educate and inform us, and either lock or unlock our confidence. Scientists go on to explain that changing the memory of bad experiences requires us to make new and different mental choices and adopt different postures in our heart. This then allows us to choose actions that activate the reward centers in our brains. When we experience the presence of God in our lives, He emboldens us. Each time we rely on Him, our renewed confidence feeds our heart’s desire that then allows us to act and take risks because we know we aren’t out there on the ledge alone (Matthew 28:20). Thus, we engage and trust God more.

Knowing your personality and how to react is key to overcoming insecurities.

We become better leaders when we know ourselves and know who we are in Jesus, who emboldens us. We can respond under pressure and stress to make the positive changes needed. Our natural tendency is to stay in safe places, but God has called us into the deep – into the world and unsafe spaces. To be effective in today’s culture, we must escape our “safe bubbles” if we are to grow ourselves and God’s Kingdom. We need diversity and discomfort to stretch our thinking and bolster our confidence to succeed. When we feel unsafe and insecure, we often run back to our safety zones, each time disallowing our brains to make new positive associations, connections, and choices. As we have learned from science (and what Jesus gently urged us to do), when we purposefully force our brain to think differently (think of His power and strength in us), it changes the actions of our hearts and passions. We can then boldly step into new challenges with a calm assurance that it isn’t just about us, but about others and achieving lasting Kingdom goals.

During The Influence Lab Emerge Webinar, special guest Lisa Kai shared how her Asian cultural past had influenced her, keeping her withdrawn from people and taking risks. It had affected her friendships and career. Her life changed when she realized that God saw her as intelligent and beautiful and that others withdrew, not because of anything she did or what she looked like, but because they felt insecure. So, Lisa embraced the vision of who God said she was in Him and overcame her negative mindset. It emboldened her to walk up to strangers and introduce herself confidently. Each time she did, it reinforced a positive change and vanquished her insecurity.

As my older daughter grew, she learned to make more mindful decisions and not quick, thoughtless ones before she acted; my younger daughter learned to step out of her fear and boldly try uncomfortable things. As adults today, they both evaluate situations more maturely, learning from their varied experiences. Most importantly, they have learned to trust God’s guidance and rely on Him when challenging decisions must be made. They have learned to breathe in Jesus’ strength and power, knowing He is the one “who always causes us to triumph.” (II Corinthians 2:14)

Write this down and keep it in a place where you can see it daily.

We stand confidently with grace, gratitude, and a mindset re-wired to react like Jesus. Philippians 4:12-13 (TPT)

 

 

 

 

An Inner View with Heidi Rasmussen

An Inner View with Heidi Rasmussen

BIO

Heidi Rasmussen is the co-founder and COO of Freshbenies – a fresh approach to benefits. She is a communicator, strategic planner, customer service advocate, builder, mentor, defender and coffee addict. Mostly, she says she’s a “gettin’ stuff done and make it happen” gal. She worked for over 27 years in the retail industry having started at JCPenney where she worked her way up the ladder to the Divisional VP at Corporate and led the largest brand launch in JCPenney history.

Seeing the need to make company benefits used wisely, she launched Freshbenies to give employers and employees practical tools to control their dime, time and peace of mind. Freshbenies has been named to the INC. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America for the past four years and the top 100 companies for two years in a row in Dallas, Texas, as well as receiving two Health Value Awards for their innovation and for providing value-based healthcare. She is a passionate believer that people matter and is an advocate for making life simplified so that they can succeed in all God’s called them to be and do. She serves on the board for, 4WordWomen, where she mentors and encourages women in the corporate business space to live out their faith to the fullest.

Kathleen CookeHeidi, I love that you call yourself a communicator. We live in a polarized culture today in which just chatting with someone can be challenging. What has God taught you about how to communicate effectively?

Heidi Rasmussen – So far, 2021 has been another crazy year! With all the racial injustice and political discord, the Lord is showing me how to live out His command to “love one another as I have loved you.” The Holy Spirit is working in me to change my thinking which is changing my actions. Specifically, when I’m speaking about someone on the “other side of the aisle,” I no longer use certain words or phrases (like “What an idiot!”) in casual conversation. He reminds me that He loves that person just as much as He loves me, no matter what their background and, He wants to love that person through me. It’s the main reason I’m on this earth – to love Him, love His people and bring glory to Him.

KathleenI have found that having great conversation starts with a relationship foundation. Talk to us about why relationship is at the heart of candid conversations and how it affects good leadership.

Heidi – To build strong relationships, I’ve had to learn to have candid conversations. At the core, candid conversations are about love. If we love someone, we’ll have a hard, truthful conversation because it’s a lot easier to avoid those kinds of talks! When I was a young manager, I was very capable and would just come behind those who weren’t doing their job and fix everything. As I grew in my career, I didn’t have the time to do that, so I had to get good at setting clear expectations and having tough conversations when expectations weren’t met. It is harder and takes more courage to tell someone they aren’t meeting expectations and need to improve their performance. As soon as I realized this and started to master the principles around conflict, I experienced more peace in my life.

Kathleen Business decisions are often places of uncertainty and risk. What has God taught you about how to trust Him and about taking a posture of obedience in challenging situations? 

Heidi – You know that saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle?” It’s nowhere in the Bible and it’s not true. How am I, in my own strength, supposed to love another person as Jesus loves me? That is impossible. In Matthew 19, Jesus says, “…with God all things are possible.” I spent many years working hard for God and asking, What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)? Then, I learned the necessity of working with God and asking, What Will Jesus Do” through me? He’s in me and His Spirit is working through me all day every day. I just need to be available and let Him use me to do His work. I ask Him to help and guide me every step of the way. That includes when I don’t feel Him nearby. I often pray, “Lord, please help me to feel Your presence.” When I’m in a bad mood, I pray, “Lord, please lift me from this funk.” And, when I’m mad at Him, I pray, “Lord, please change me.” I can ask Him anything and be confident that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

KathleenHow do you view influence in a culture where many strive endlessly today to be influencers?

Heidi – At the risk of sounding like a broken record (if you remember what one of those is), I’ve learned that influence is about loving people and letting Christ work through me. People are influenced positively by other people they love or like on some level. I’ve learned that if I want to influence the world, I have to be salt and light to others and loving (and lovable) in all circumstances. To do that, I have to ask Christ to do it through me and be available to let him shine through me to others.

Find out more about Freshbenies here or connect with Heidi on LinkedIn here.

The Creative Explorer

The Creative Explorer

In 1843, John C. Fremont, an explorer (and the namesake for the junior high school I attended), set off to explore the unknown once again. He had just returned from an expedition to Wyoming but was driven to see what was then called Oregon Country. He ended up exploring what is now known as Portland, Oregon, but his journey took him through the Sierra Nevada mountains then south and east to the desolate deserts and the Great Salt Lake in what is now known as Utah. However, this passion for exploring almost cost him his life in the Sierra’s where he and his mate, Kit Carson (who would gain fame in Nevada and whose capital city is named after him), were forced to eat their horses to survive. With Kit’s instincts and keen sense of direction, he would be Fremont’s saving guide. Without him, things would have turned out much different. (more…)