The “Whiskey Incident”


lisa fabrega

Lisa_June 2023

I flew to Portland a few weeks ago for my cousin’s wedding and had the most marvelous time! The wedding was a blend of many of the cultures in my family (Persian, Latino, American, etc…), so naturally, we had a special cigar tasting table, at which I enjoyed a fabulous Cuban cigar. 

And I am definitely my grandfather and father’s descendant because I have a great love for whiskey (I even have a whiskey collection). An “old fashioned” is my favorite drink to enjoy the few times a year I have a cocktail.

So naturally, my cousin took a picture of me feeling very joyful while doing this:

I went to post the photo to social media and noticed a small hesitation in my belly. Nothing major enough to stop me from posting it- but enough to inspire this post. 

People take so many things out of context on social that my mind ran through a million types of comments or assumptions people would make about me. Not to mention the BS white-washed expectations of anyone in a leadership position somehow always needing to never drink alcohol and always eat a “clean” perfect diet. 

But the truth is- that’s not my culture. It’s not my idea of a fun life. And I believe in enjoying the things you love in moderation. To me, that’s way healthier than constantly restricting yourself to keep up with some weird “standard” you never resonated with.

Just a few weeks prior, I’d been teaching about expanding our visibility in business and the problem of “respectability politics” inside our Visibility Vortex™️ mastermind. We talked about how this stems from people pleasing and “fitting in” to mainstream ideals and how this is the death knell for any business that wants to be visible and scale successfully.

So let’s talk about it today here — about being a CEO and the “people pleaser” instinct….PLUS, how this holds back the growth of your company on a team, profit & visibility level.

This can show up in a variety of ways…

1) You excessively worry about your “image.” It’s one thing to be private (for example, I am private about my personal life even though I do openly share about my OWN overcoming of challenges as CEO- mainly because I believe in guarding the privacy of my loved ones who may not have consented.)

It’s another thing to be holding back the parts of you as a leader and visionary that make you unique and reflect your true zone of genius. 

I ended up purposely posting that picture of me smoking a cigar and drinking an “old-fashioned” because a love of learning, experiencing all that life has to offer, and pure delight is part of my values as a CEO. It’s also something I value in my own company. For example- my entire team works asynchronously, and if anyone ever feels they need a “mental health day,”- we cheer them on to take it.

If I were to hide that side of me for the sake of “respectability politics”- I’d be the same vanilla leadership advisor you find anywhere. 

You see, there’s a reason why I’ve been able to do things like book a $28,000 speaking engagement at a corporation for an executive team. It’s BECAUSE I am myself, visibility-wise. The people who book me or sign up to work with me always say, “Your content is so different and unique from everything else that’s out there — I knew you’d deliver a phenomenal experience to our team/I knew working with you would be different.”

2) You allow others’ instability to destabilize YOU — personally & professionally.

Last week, while trying to schedule a private Pickleball lesson with a new instructor – they confirmed my appointment, then tried to reschedule it an hour later. 

I noticed the part of me that wanted to “comply” to be perceived as “pleasant” to work with. But the fact was: changing my lesson time after I’d already moved my schedule to accommodate it would have created a destabilizing effect on my schedule and on my team’s time, too.

So I kindly wrote back and said I couldn’t reschedule and asked if, in the future, we could make sure to stick to confirmed times. I braced myself for the instructor to be reactive, but instead, they apologized and kept the original time.

So, if you feel like your company’s growth has left you “at capacity,” maybe it’s time to examine your own relationship to people-pleasing and respectability politics. Have you stopped to think that your “I’m at capacity and so overwhelmed and busy” feeling might partially be a result of you trying to please way too many people by either having wobbly boundaries or showing up as a vanilla version of you because you worry about upsetting people by just being… you?  

Maybe you don’t need another ad strategy to expand your capacity to be visible. Maybe you don’t need another tapping/EFT session.

Maybe you just need to get better at disappointing people 😉