Wherever you are in your life or your career, you can achieve your dreams. That’s the message of motivational speaker and entrepreneur Alexa Carlin, who said she was inspired to help other women realize their potential after becoming the first person at her Los Angeles high school to be elected student body president while a junior.

“At that moment I achieved something that was so much bigger than myself, and I thought, ‘What else can I do?’” said Carlin, founder and CEO of the Women Empower Expo, and creator of Be a Public Speaker. “It really set me on this journey of curiosity — of working on and feeling confident in myself — and always working to make a difference.”

Through the Women Empower Expo, which is set for June 15, 2019 in Washington D.C., Carlin connects a diverse group of women to exchange their stories and inspire one another. Carlin’s own story has done that job at more than 100 events across the United States so far.

"You must not wait for your life to change. You must change your own life.”

Among her milestones are the creation of her jewelry line — whose proceeds helped build schools in Africa — at age 17, and overcoming a near-death experience of septic shock, which doctors had given her a one percent chance of surviving.

Overcoming challenges

Today, Carlin manages the autoimmune condition ulcerative colitis, which she developed after recovering from sepsis, and shares how she’s beat the odds in her motivational speeches. “I’ve always been a passionate dreamer, and so even though I was in so much physical pain, I still had that burning fire inside of me,” she said. “I realized I may never be that healthy person I once was, but I like to say, ‘You must not wait for your life to change. You must change your own life.’”

Whenever anyone thanks her for sharing her story, Carlin becomes even more driven to continue speaking out. That’s true whether the person is a young woman looking to build confidence or skills, or an executive needing inspiration to reassert themselves in majority-male meetings.

“One of my best pieces of advice was something my mom told me a long time ago when I was 17 years old, when I started my first business,” said Carlin. “She told me, ‘Anything meaningful takes at least 10 years,’ adding that the lesson has taught her patience and perseverance, and it has encouraged her to avoid comparing herself to others. “Anything meaningful is going to be hard work, and there’s a journey involved.”