“No one and nothing should stop you from realizing your dream.”
Author of bestseller and Publisher’s Choice, Dare to Dream, Felicia is a business woman, talk show host and international award-winning entrepreneur. She is also an inspirational speaker, author and philanthropist.
She is President and co-owner of Leadership Success International, LLC, an organisation that specialises in executive leadership training and business communications. She is one of the founding members and shareholders of Pamodzi Investment Holdings. The South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) also named her among the ‘100 Great South Africans’.
Felicia is the host of Conversations with Felicia, a talk show on The Africa Channel in the U.S, where she is based. In South Africa, she hosted the popular ‘The Felicia Show’ which was the first South African audience talk show that enabled black and white South Africans to come together and to debate issues that they could not discuss during apartheid.
She has interviewed luminaries such as Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Britain’s former First Lady, Cherie Blair and personalities such as Larry King, Danny Glover, Diana Ross, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, John Maxwell, Iylana Vanzant, T.D Jakes, Wayne Dyer, Suze Orman and many others.
Felicia’s memoir, ‘Dare to Dream’, describes how she answered Mandela’s call to all South African living abroad, to come back home and to help build a democracy. Her new book, ‘Live Your Dream’ is an inspirational book based on quotes and experiences that will help to propel you to your own success.
Felicia grew up in the “dusty and daring streets of Soweto”, where she was raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather was her role model – “he was an entrepreneur and he owned a restaurant and real estate during the dark days of apartheid. He built the first double storey house in Soweto, where we grew up” she says.
As a child, Felicia was a big dreamer: “I wanted to be somebody, and I worked hard at it. Education was important for me; I knew it was my only passport out of the township streets to success.” Felicia started a dance school in her hometown, to keep the youth off of the streets. She taught them ballroom and Latin American dance.
Felicia has been speaking since high school and at university, she got involved with the anti-apartheid and sanctions movements, where she had to talk on various platforms. Felicia went on to study print journalism and broadcast journalism and she was a lecturer in broadcast communication at three colleges in the U.S. This all contributed to inspire her to pursue a career in the professional speaking industry.
In the beginning, she used to have horrible stage fright as a speaker. She then came to realize that it was due to the fact that she spoke about topics that she was not passionate about: “I then found my niche” she says. “… Which is to inspire people to dream big and to realize their potential. I enjoy it now. My presentations are informative, participative and entertaining. I interject them with music, stories and videos. People want to learn and to be entertained. To use my husband Dr Earl Suttle’s expression, “They don’t just want to watch a movie, they want to be in the movie”.
She has always admired speakers like Rev Martin Luther King Junior, Angela Davis and Congress woman, Barbara Jordan: “One day, I was a t a function when I was selected to introduce our keynote speaker, author Tom Peters. That was the defining moment for me” she says. “ … The rest is history. I ended up sharing the platform with great speakers and I interviewed a number of them including John Maxwell, Wayne Dyer, TD Jakes, Suze Orman and Iyanla Vanzant.”
Felicia believes that she would be a teacher or a lecturer today, if it weren’t for her professional speaking career: “I enjoy imparting knowledge, encouraging debate and understanding. When I was young, I used to say I wanted to be a lawyer, and to defend good people who could not afford to have a lawyer”.
Felicia used to push herself hard when it came to work: “I remember when we did The Felicia Show, I was told that if I wanted to do an audience show, in order to stay within the budget, I would have to record three to four shows every other weekend. It was taxing, and we just did that. Audience shows are taxing, especially in South Africa as we were dealing with a smaller population and budgets than the show hosts do in the US”.
Felicia is completely satisfied with her work once she has touched or changed one more life or more. As Mahatma Ghandi says: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world”.
We asked Felicia why she thinks she has succeeded in a field where many others have failed:
“I stick to speaking about what comes from the heart” she says. “… What I am passionate about, what I believe in. People know when you fake it. You can’t fake it until you make it in this business for too long. Speaking is not only about profits; it is about passion and purpose”.
“Genuinely love your audiences. I do not address groups I cannot connect with. You need to fall in love with your audience, and your audience has to fall in love with you too.”
In her spare time, Felicia enjoys what she calls ‘preferment’ – doing only what she prefers to do – especially spending quality and quantity time with her grandchild: “I enjoy speaking at conferences and seminars and using social media to inform, educate and entertain my followers. My favourite place, where I become most creative, is sitting by the beach, reading and rejuvenating”.
Felicia is currently based in the US but she travels to South Africa on a regular basis.