Maria Mastrodicasa: Unveiling the Superpower Within—My Journey of Self-Advocacy and Empowerment
Today, in a world filled with overwhelming challenges, the act of advocating for oneself becomes a powerful force for transformation. Maria Mastrodicasa is an extraordinary advocate who believes in the power of change and empowerment. Her inspiring journey serves as a testament to the immense impact of standing up for oneself and others. Through her compelling experiences and unwavering belief in self-advocacy, Maria has become a symbol of hope for countless individuals seeking to navigate both their professional and personal lives.
When we stand up for ourselves and others, we become empowered agents of positive change. Just as superheroes fight for truth and justice, we, too, can wield the superpower of self-advocacy to bring about transformative change and make the world a better place.Maria Mastrodicasa
Could you share a pivotal moment from your journey that led you to firmly believe in the power of self-advocacy?
There have been numerous pivotal moments in my journey, but one stands out vividly. During my time in a challenging middle school, where danger seemed to lurk around every corner, I faced a significant obstacle – reading difficulties. These difficulties were magnified when I had to take timed state exams. To progress to the next grade, I had to significantly improve my reading skills. Recognizing the importance of this, I sought help from a teacher to prepare for this crucial exam. When the test day arrived, the teacher advised me not to leave any question unanswered, even if I had to guess. I followed his advice and, to my joy, passed the test. However, my elation was short-lived as I was called to the principal’s office afterward. The principal questioned how I managed to pass the statewide reading test, suggesting that I retake it. Alone in his office, I couldn’t help but challenge this decision. I questioned the fairness of singling me out and emphasized the need for consistency across the state. Through this, I not only advocated for myself academically but also for my safety. This experience solidified my belief that self-advocacy is essential for personal growth and well-being.
How did this belief transform your life?
This experience taught me that, especially as a child when those around you might not have your best interests at heart, self-advocacy becomes a vital tool. It empowers you to navigate challenges and assert your rights effectively.
Your bio highlights your transformation from a young girl facing challenges to a successful Wall Street professional. Could you elaborate on a specific instance where self-advocacy played a crucial role in overcoming?
Upon joining the trading floor of a government market on Wall Street, I encountered the obstacle of dyslexia. After realizing this, I hired a tutor, which led to a transformative revelation. Despite this learning disability, I embraced the required work, and my confidence propelled me to various promotions. I was eventually offered a position in the prestigious Bond department, Wall Street’s most lucrative division. However, challenges persisted. My boss, Sam, made unwelcome advances during a dinner outing, crossing boundaries. Despite feeling uncomfortable, I employed self-advocacy by asserting my boundaries and requesting to leave. The next day, I faced an uncertain situation, unsure if I should comply with the directive to leave quietly. Summoning my inner strength, I approached the firm’s owner and shared my side of the story. This act of self-advocacy not only secured my job but set the stage for further success. Thanks to this experience, I understood that standing up for oneself is pivotal to achieving goals and creating positive change.
As an international speaker and self-advocacy expert, could you describe a rewarding experience where you witnessed someone harness their self-advocacy skills for positive change?
One particularly gratifying instance involved coaching an international technology company’s employee prior to their annual reviews. Many of these individuals had previously struggled to advocate for themselves during these reviews, leading to dissatisfaction and turnover. Through sharing my personal journey, I encouraged them to overcome their hesitations and voice their contributions confidently. A few months later, I learned that these employees had spoken up during their reviews, resulting in raises and increased job satisfaction. Witnessing this transformation reinforced the notion that advocating for oneself can lead to tangible positive outcomes.
You’ve mentioned the concept of “self-advocacy as self-mastery.” How do you define self-mastery in the context of self-advocacy, and what steps can individuals take to achieve it?
Self-mastery, within the realm of self-advocacy, involves understanding and controlling one’s emotions and actions to effectively communicate and assert one’s needs. Without mastering oneself, effective self-advocacy can be challenging. To achieve self-mastery, consider these steps:
- Establish a morning routine that sets a positive tone for the day.
- Cultivate gratitude by journaling about three things you’re thankful for in the morning and revisiting them at night.
- Practice positive self-talk, planting the seeds of positivity and growth in your mind.
- Weed out negative influences and thoughts that hinder your progress.
- Embrace consistency and self-awareness, fostering a balanced mindset.
- In your role as a Self-Advocacy Mentor and Coach, what strategies do you use to help others develop their self-advocacy skills, especially in challenging environments?
My approach involves simplifying the process and sharing personal experiences from school, the workplace, and personal life. By illustrating how self-advocacy transformed obstacles into opportunities, I empower individuals to follow a step-by-step process. Through dynamic one-on-one sessions or private VIP Days, I encourage vulnerability and authenticity. By delving deep into their challenges, I guide them on a journey to self-discovery and empowerment, where dreams become reality.
Your mantra is “Self-Advocacy is our Superpower.” Could you share an anecdote illustrating the transformative impact of self-advocacy as a true superpower for creating change?
Consider the analogy of a favourite superhero, like Wonder Woman, swooping down to save the day through her strength and unwavering commitment. Similarly, self-advocacy empowers us with superpowers to conquer challenges. When we stand up for ourselves and others, we become empowered agents of positive change. Just as superheroes fight for truth and justice, we, too, can wield the superpower of self-advocacy to bring about transformative change and make the world a better place.
Your commitment to ensuring others feel safe and valued is inspiring. How does self-advocacy contribute to creating inclusive and empowering environments, both in professional settings and personal relationships?
My passion lies in fostering safe environments globally, whether in schools, workplaces, or homes. By advocating for oneself and others, we uphold the right to safety and well-being. By addressing uncomfortable topics like workplace harassment and creating open dialogues, we can bring about positive change. In personal relationships, self-advocacy empowers individuals to set boundaries and align actions with words, cultivating trust and genuine connections.
Your bio mentions overcoming dyslexia and other challenges. How did you harness self-advocacy to address these obstacles, and what advice would you offer to individuals facing similar difficulties?
My journey with dyslexia was marked by discovery and determination. Recognizing my struggle, I sought help and employed a tutor. This led to a diagnosis, which was transformative. I dedicated myself to learning, improving, and proving the possibilities to myself. My confidence, career, and salary all flourished as a result. To those facing similar difficulties, my advice is to embrace self-advocacy by seeking help, understanding your challenges, and channelling your energy into growth.
You emphasize the importance of “focusing out” and philanthropy. How has giving back enhanced your journey of self-advocacy and personal growth?
By focusing on others through philanthropy and giving back, I’ve found solace and fulfilment during challenging times. When I look beyond myself and contribute to the well-being of others, I experience profound joy. This act of giving enhances personal growth and self-advocacy, reminding me of the interconnectedness of our journeys and the responsibility to ensure safety and empowerment for all.
Your journey involved navigating the competitive world of Wall Street. Could you share a specific lesson or strategy you learned during your time there that continues to guide your approach to self-advocacy?
My experience on Wall Street taught me the value of remaining true to oneself, even in challenging environments. Despite working in a predominantly masculine setting, I chose not to adopt a competitive or aggressive stance. Instead, I focused on collaboration and teamwork, leveraging my unique strengths. I recognized that self-mastery, maintaining my authentic self, and effectively advocating for my needs were essential to my success. This realization continues to guide my approach to self-advocacy, emphasizing the importance of mastering one’s mindset to navigate any situation.