Today we’d like to introduce you to Luiza B Almeida.
Luiza, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I feel like I’ve lived many lives. I was born and raised in Brazil. When I was little, I dreamed of speaking English fluently. My parents couldn’t afford the classes, so I would walk around with a pocketbook dictionary and try to think in English while looking up every word I didn’t know. I had no idea how to pronounce it but kept it going. Only at age 12 was I finally able to start my first language course. I told my parents that one day my English would be so good, no one would be able to tell I had an accent. They thought it was endearing, but laughed at me and said I had started to learn a little too late. I also let them know my plans of going to college in America to which they responded: “Dream on, kid. Dream on. American Universities are too expensive.”
Time passed and life unfolded before my eyes. Before I knew it, I was on the Dean’s List in the screenwriting program at Arizona State University and could cleverly trick English speakers into thinking I was a native. Well, most of the time. As long as I wasn’t too tired or too drunk. It’s like Steve Jobs once said: “Even if you can’t connect the dots looking forward, when you follow your instinct and work hard, they always make sense when looking back.”
After graduation, I dedicated myself to the entertainment industry. I worked on talk shows, commercials, documentaries, and feature films. My experience also extended to producing film festivals and entertainment markets, such as RioContentMarket in Brazil.
Now, I co-own a film production company in Brazil that I run parallel with my business in Los Angeles.
In 2014, I found my passion for growing small businesses when I started working for a startup called Launchpad Entertainment LPE360 in Los Angeles. At the early stages, there were only three of us, including the owner. I fell in love with the challenge of making that company grow. Throughout the time I was with them, I helped close complex deals that brought high revenue, managed the development of the company’s website and video platform, helped to prepare an effective online marketing strategy, negotiated exclusive partnerships with main social media companies, facilitated a speaking opportunity at an important conference called NATPE (where I spoke for them), and created internal processes to increase productivity.
By the time I was done, the company had 20 employees, +2 million active followers on Facebook, and +100 million aggregated YouTube views. This experience made me realize that I have a talent for digital marketing and growth strategy. So, I decided to extend these services to other businesses by starting my own consulting company: Strike Up Strategy.
To round out, I partner with Klaudia Kostarelas – an expat from Poland. She has a strong background in marketing, sales, and specializes in managing projects in both startups and large corporations. She loves navigating the often difficult waters of working as a team – for which her MA in Psychology comes in handy. She is also well versed in running multicultural teams and has a keen eye for selecting the best candidates for each position. Although our personal and business stories differ, we are both strong women on a mission to empower entrepreneurs, just like us, and help them thrive.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely not a smooth road! But challenges are great opportunities for growth and I learned from my many mistakes. The hardest part is starting, getting the ball rolling, and dealing with reoccurring panic attacks when that fear sinks in. What if I don’t get clients? What if I fail? But it’s good to take a step back, recollect what I have already accomplished, and keep going. This helps me stay grounded.
One of the most memorable things I learned was how to determine the hierarchy of a team. When a company is very small, it can be hard to install a sense of hierarchy and there is a fine line between employee retention and keeping productivity while maintaining a fun work atmosphere. Through the struggles, I learned to select the right people and to create a workflow that allows a lean business to grow sustainably. The magic starts to happen when you’re able to line up an employee’s personal interest and strength with their position while also keeping in mind the bigger picture of where the company is heading. People managing can be one of the most challenging, but also the most rewarding!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Strike Up Strategy – what should we know?
Strike Up Strategy is made to empower small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-profits with tools to help them grow. We specialize in digital marketing, growth strategy, lean business consulting, startup audit, strategic partnerships, and project management. We can help you scale up businesses and increase their impact online.
Our biggest differential is that our approach is results-driven and we take pride in executing strategies. Differently, from most consultants, we like to get involved in the implementation of the process, whether it’s as simple as managing a Facebook page, or more complex like restructuring a team. As a result, our business model is flexible and evolves to adapt to our client’s needs. Our team is formed by individuals coming from different parts of the globe, having different experiences, formal education, but tied together by the passion to watch companies blossom. We are versatile and agile in finding effective solutions.
In addition to helping small businesses grow, I find it’s very important to be involved in productions with meaning.
I’m proud to say that my production company, Casa de Criação Cinema e Propaganda, specializes in bringing social awareness to matters of race and inequality. My plan is to continue producing many projects including our current documentary MY FRIEND FELA, about the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti who was highly concerned about social injustice and violence and dedicated his life to help build a more inclusive society in Nigeria. I’m excited about the future of both companies and to continue to create positive impacts as it unfolds.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite memory is when I would spend the summers at my grandparents’ in Brazil.
On my father’s side, I would go to my grandpa’s farm, spending all day exploring nature with my cousins: climbing mango trees, milking cows, playing with dogs and chickens. I still remember feeling shocking and puzzled when I found out that watermelons grow from the ground, not in trees as I imagined.
On my mother’s side, all cousins were sent out my grandma’s large house in a small town. We used to call it the “mansion”, and we felt like there was something magic about that place. Every time it rained, we would grab empty ice cream containers and run to the rooftop to play in the rain. We would sing and dance, throwing water at each other wearing nothing but our underwear. The aunts would chase after us worried that we would get sick, but the uncles would always stop them and say: “Let the children play!”
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- Website: www.strikeupstrategy.com
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