Five Questions with Lydia Fenet

November 28, 2023
  • Private Banking
In “Five Questions,” we speak with Lydia Fenet, founder of the Lydia Fenet Agency and author of “Claim Your Confidence,” about how to unlock your confidence and the importance of being comfortable with discomfort.

1. After nearly 25 years at Christie’s, you recently left to start your own boutique auctioneering agency. Why? And what is the mission of your new venture? 

It was a truly remarkable chapter to work for Christie’s for 24 years, but I was ready for a new challenge.

Over the past two decades as a charity auctioneer, I have received so many texts and emails from friends attending nonprofit galas complaining about painful fundraising moments. I have seen organizations spend a full year picking out invitations, choosing themes, writing speeches for their biggest fundraising opportunity of the year, and then handing the microphone to someone with no formal training to get onstage and do the single most important thing at the event: raise money. 

After two decades serving as the lead charity auctioneer at Christie’s, and over a decade training auctioneers, I launched the Lydia Fenet Agency (LFA): an agency representing best-in-class charity auctioneers and training the next generation of talent.

Nonprofits using LFA auctioneers can feel confident that the auctioneer will not only be able to maximize the amount raised, but also make it entertaining and fun for the audience. I launched LFA in August with seven auctioneers and have already recruited three more auctioneers to keep up with the demand. We are only two months in, and LFA auctioneers have raised nearly $5 million for nonprofits and will be onstage for over 60 nonprofits this fall. 

I am so excited to watch this business grow, and more importantly, help nonprofits unlock the dollars they need to continue their work.

2. As an experienced auctioneer, you clearly know how to draw the attention of a crowd! What is your advice on how to command an audience’s attention at a time when there are so many distractions? 

In my first book, “The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You,” I explain what it takes to command an audience and sell your way to success. In short: You need to bring the energy you want from the room. If you get onstage with low energy, the audience will match that energy. No matter how you are feeling when you stand up there, throw your shoulders back, put a huge smile on your face, and make the audience feel like you are excited to be there – and watch them respond with the same enthusiasm and energy.

3. In your most recent book, “Claim Your Confidence,” you say that confidence is inside everyone, just waiting to be claimed. How do we uncover hidden confidence? 

I truly believe that we gain confidence by getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. One thing I have learned in the past decade is how much confidence I gain when I try something that feels outside of my comfort zone.

If it doesn’t work out, it might not feel great, but I give myself credit for trying in the first place. If it does work out, great. Either way, I have trusted in myself to try something new, and I always gain confidence from the simple act of trying. 

Success always looks so shiny from the outside looking in, but the reality is that there are so many hard-won lessons that go into achieving success along the way.

4. Your podcast of the same name pulls back the curtain on success and introduces listeners to some of the most powerful women in the world. What do you hope listeners take away from your conversations with these female powerhouses? 

On the podcast, “Claim Your Confidence,” I want listeners to hear from women who have reached the top of their industry about what it took to get there. Success always looks so shiny from the outside looking in, but the reality is that there are so many hard-won lessons that go into achieving success along the way. My hope is by listening to people who have been through the good and the bad, other people will feel emboldened to try. 

5. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Stop seeking approval from everyone around you. This is your life; be confident in your decisions, keep moving forward, and realize that there are no mistakes in life – there are only lessons that we take as we move forward.

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