Would You Take a Big Risk to Find the Big Picture & Purpose in Your Life?

Audrey Cavanecia Purpose Vision Video Storytelling

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then video is worth a million.

My purpose is to capture compelling stories that open our eyes and hearts to what is possible; the gateway to understanding what is quietly brilliant inside each of us. I’ve fallen madly in love with designing the movement, capturing the uncommon qualities of each subject, and filtering the unfeigned truth from fodder as I edit.

My childhood dream was to become an entertainment mogul. I worked tirelessly in the theater during my teenage years; I was featured in industrials and got my SAG card once I was in LA. But as a single mother in my 20’s, I needed a career that provided steady income and new challenges. Through a series of coincidences, I fell into the executive coaching world and quickly rose through the ranks of a male-dominated industry. Like women in other competitive fields, I experienced great bias and sexual harassment. There was an expectation that I produce 10 times more results than my peers in order to get a modicum of respect. Despite these challenges, I persisted and both male and female senior executives noticed my dedication and helped guide my path to a senior position.

[Change Is the Only Constant: How I Successfully Switched Careers at 50]

I eventually reached the pinnacle of success in the consulting world. Frequently speaking at seminars and lectures, I was responsible for overseeing large regions in the U.S. and abroad. I was on calls from 5 a.m. until well past midnight, and my two boys would constantly roll their eyes while mumbling, “She’s on the phone…again.” I couldn’t help it. I was passionate about changing lives and making the world a better place. The sacrifices were worth the outcome.

One night while I was onstage in front of about 300 people, I came to the sudden realization that all the work that I’ve done— all the sacrificing, all the corporate climbing — wasn’t going to make the difference in the end. The world was changing, everything was becoming social and all eyes were on the internet. My career would become obsolete and I along with it.

Shortly after that epiphany, I walked away from everything and I lived off of my savings for the next few years. I spent my time researching, inquiring, and considering what the next step would be for me. While sitting at my desk, I noticed a treasure map that had been given as a gag gift to me by a dear friend who had recently died of ovarian cancer. I was flooded by memories of our time together and was overcome with sadness as I reflected on how her death came so suddenly. “Barbara, if you have a message for me please send it. I’m lost here,” I whispered. Just then, I had this thought; what if life was like a treasure map and every single thing you do and all that happens to you are the clues to forming your ultimate purpose in life? I immediately grabbed my laptop and began writing a timeline of events in my life from early years to present day. Reading it back to myself, I saw a trend beginning to emerge.

[Why Writing a Personal Vision Statement Will Propel Your Career]

I have always had an attraction to overcoming great obstacles; a childhood obsession with biographies; I began my career in the entertainment world; and I later learned the architecture of change movements while working as a consultant. What if I melded those interests and skills together into one purpose? What could I call that? Back in 2001, I hadn’t yet come up with an answer to that question, but I was able to predict one thing— video would become the strongest communication tool in the world and it was the place I needed to start.

Through the introduction of a friend who worked at Lucasfilm, Ardees Rabang (now President of my media company, Colorful Media), I began to mentor with George Lucas’ producer, Rick McCallum. I wanted to learn how to produce global content. What a journey! Rick was a formidable man— outspoken, brash at times, warm at times, unapologetically frank. I sat with him for hours at a time over the course of several years. During that time, I also worked with others to learn about social media, PR, marketing, branding, building websites and graphics. With very little spare time, I would stay up until the early morning hours teaching myself how to use Photoshop, edit footage, and operate cameras, among other things. I wanted to learn everything I could in order to begin working towards my purpose.

When I reached the last five dollars in my bank account, I received my first client. He was a major client (one of the foremost billionaires in the world) and he saw in me a vision. He had a hunger to create stories that could capture the core of what it was to be human and knew I could be the person to help accomplish this. The following year I made my first million. The next few million came shortly thereafter and as my business grew, my heart expanded; a still confidence I had never known resided in me. The answer to my 2001 question of purpose was that I needed to pivot to become a visual storyteller.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]

According to Cisco, video will soon become 90% of all internet traffic. For architects of change, this news is tremendous because video is what can truly influence our minds and our world. A study conducted by Uri Hasson, Associate Professor of Psychology at Princeton, found that when listening to another speaker tell a story, the brain activity of both the speaker and the listener is remarkably similar despite the fact that one person is talking while another is listening. This is a result of mirror neurons in the brain and essentially means that, biologically speaking, the speaker is feeling or experiencing what the speaker is describing. If you combine auditory and visual storytelling, the effect is that much more powerful and the material has the potential to more intensely emotionally resonate with the viewer. This is why video is such an important vessel for change. Afterall, as Muriel Rukeyser said, “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.”


{Image credit: Picjumbo}

About the Author

author image

AUDREY CAVENECIA - Founder, Producer, Director, Brand StrategistFounder of Colorful Media, a production company intending to empower humanity through empathetic storytelling by focusing on diversity/equality. The current slate consists of films and television series featuring powerful female characters, multi-ethnic cast, culturally diverse stories; all with globally appealing narratives.Audrey advises disruptive visionary startups, billionaires, and non-profit organizations on video marketing through short-form storytelling — as well as community-building partnerships.“She doesn’t just think branding; she creates movements.” - Adam Stagliano, Chief International Strategy Officer TBWA/CHIAT/DayMentored by Lucasfilm Rick McCallum on all aspects of creative producing after seeing video as the future of shaping a socially-driven culture, she went on to combine her creative design, storytelling and social strategist experience into masterminding the soon to be launched Fempire Channel and is the producer and director of Getting to Launch, a tv show about what it takes to get from idea to launch in the alluring startup world, as a woman.As brand officer for Newscrack, a news social aggregator, she will be producing Newscrack News a Periscope series - launching July 2016.Her philanthropic work includes a non-profit, Tell Our Story. A foundation to educate brands on diversity and build the next colorful storytellers.

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