Her story is full of challenges. But Angela Winfield found a way to become a success on various levels and she works to help others do the same. Winfield is a successful attorney, inspirational speaker, certified coach, author, and entrepreneur. She’s also blind.
At four years old, Winfield was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, cataracts, glaucoma and uveitis, an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. As a child, she underwent countless eye surgeries to correct and control her vision loss. But by age 10, she was declared legally blind. She had difficulty dealing with this life-changing experience, and by the age of 14 had become severely depressed, withdrawn and suicidal. She worked to change things around, and even though at age 20 she became totally blind, she went on to graduate from a two Ivy League institutions — Barnard College and Cornell Law School, from which she passed the bar exam. She became a practicing attorney, published author, a community leader and successful entrepreneur all before turning 30.
Today, Winfield practices law at a top 250 law firm, Hiscock & Barclay, LLP, where she focuses her practice on state and federal appeals. She’s also a real estate investor and serves on the board of directors for multiple not-for-profit corporations. She has started her own business through which she does speaking engagements, professional/career coaching and motivational coaching with clients like: Cornell University, Prudential Financial, NAACP and Mobility International USA. Among the topics she covers: “Blind Leadership: How to Lead with Vision,” “Finding You: Who Am I and Why Am I Here?,” “Goal Setting: Chart Your Course- Picture It, Plot It, Produce It,” and “Overcoming Obstacles: Step Up, Out, Over and Beyond- How to Turn Obstacles into Opportunities.”
Her new book, OPEN: How to Create A Life You Absolutely Love Living, will be published in 2015.
Angela Winfield talked to MN Biz about her life, business, and goals.
MadameNoire: When and why did you start your self-empowerment company, Blind Faith Enterprises LLC?
Angela Winfield: I started in 2009 and luckily I work at a law firm that realized I had other things I wanted to do and they don’t mind my running another business while I am practicing with them. When I graduated law school and spoke, I got a standing ovation and I realized I had an impact on people. I wanted to do something where I could use my story to help other people. Going to law school was actually one of the self-involved things I wanted to do. When other people go on vacation, I take a course. It’s something I love doing. I loved the law and was so into my studies I didn’t look up to see that my going to law school and graduating was inspiring others. So my business grew out of this revelation.
MN: In the beginning how did you get clients and speaking engagements?
AW: I decided to take it seriously and I put myself out there, which is hard to do. It is one thing to want to do something; it is another to put yourself out into the public. But I started branding myself on social media and making connections. Social media is huge for me, it connects me to so many people. And this year has been a tremendous year so far.
MN: How do you make use of social media?
AW: I am blogging every week. I used to blog when I had time but this year I made a commitment to blog weekly and I have seen great results. It also lets me interact with readers and potential clients. They tell me the issues they like to see me address and sometimes they are things I had not thought of. So blogging is a test field for me. I can try out speaking topics and see how they are received.
MN: What are your business goals for this year?
AW: I want to increase the number of speaking engagements I do. I currently do about 10 annually. I want to double that to 20 each year. I love the arena speaking gives me.
MN: In addition to speaking, you do coaching.
AW: Right now I have created a group coaching session for women that we conduct over the telephone. These are great empowerment sessions to help women become more successful in life and in business.
MN: What are your long-term goals?
AW: That’s the real fun stuff. One of the women I most admire is Oprah Winfrey and what she has done to help others. I would love to create a foundation to help young women to overcome self-esteem issues and to develop “soft skills.”
MN: What are soft skills?
AW: Soft skills — that’s what got me through. I was legally blind at 10, and I went totally blind at 20. And it was a terrifying time for me. But that experience has made me be able to communicate with other people and help others figure out how to live out their dreams despite any struggle. Soft skills are your personal qualities, the attitude you have and social graces that allow you to deal with other people. You need soft skills to be successful. Soft skills should never be overlooked.