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Speaker Series: Christina Zerfas

Apr 20th, 2020

Author: Heather Lowey

The Art of the Scheme

After a one-month hiatus as everyone in the world, including Linking Indy Women, tried to figure out a new normal, LIW returned with a BANG! Thank you, Sarah and Ally, for your recognition of our need to still have this amazing connection and inspiration. Even though it was a different format, inspired we were! 

If you were not motivated, inspired, and ready to raise money for a cause, I’m pretty convinced there is NOTHING that will motivate you. Christina’s energy is completely contagious. Her logic, sound. Her advice, extraordinary. Her age, shocking. 

24-year-old Christina is wise beyond her years and has accomplished more in her life already than some only dream to accomplish in a lifetime. And yet, this is just the beginning. She likes to think of dreaming as scheming because of the mischievous connotation associated with the word scheming. By the way, she told us this with an amazingly mischievous grin on her face. 

For some quick background, Christina has been to six continents, recycled 130k cans in Indianapolis, summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro, and built the Midwest’s Largest Gingerbread House to raise money for Habitat for Humanity…to name a few things. Most of us managed to get up, make coffee, and throw some cereal at our kids this morning. But I digress. 


Christina posed the dream meaning question to the group. Responses in the chat included:

  • Audacious
  • Fulfilling
  • Hard to attain, but worth it
  • Unattainable
  • Liberating

And while she agreed with all of the responses, she was quick to remind everyone that dreams do not have to be big and crazy as long as they are authentic to self. Your life dream has three very important characteristics. 

#1- It has to be YOUR dream. Yes, it can be an idea stemming from someone else, but the authentic perspective has to be yours. 

#2- There must be a WHY in the reason you are doing it. For her, any of the projects she takes on must be challenging while also fun. These are big motivators for her. What are your motivators? 

#3- The dream should be a little bit out of your comfort zone. Something which hasn’t occurred in your life yet. 


Christina’s perspective on Happily Ever After is it really means Life Educates Continuously. 

Happily Ever After has the connotation of reaching a destination and being done. Completion. Our happiness tied to the end result and not the journey. However, Life Educates Continuously means we are connecting happiness to the joy and bliss of the journey, not just the destination. This also calls for continuous growth and allows us to audit where we are, taking baby steps to move into another more fulfilling direction. 

Schemes and dreams moving to the next phase of schemes and dreams with the benefit of enjoying the journey and hindsight to make our next move. (I know, I’m also starting to think she’s some sort of Prophet as well!) 


Next she provided us with the 5 key steps in creating a successful scheme. 

#1- Be the Energy. You are the energy source for your dream. The raw energy. Be clear on your messaging and bring the energy to any project. 

Christina used examples from her college trip to Panama to support a village self-identify issues and create businesses to fulfill the needs. The energy you bring and the passion you show to the project is contagious and ultimately leads to the success or failure. 

#2- Know why your ideas will not work. No, is a transient energy. Being positive doesn’t mean being averse to hearing the reasons the project won’t work. In fact, quite the opposite. Being positive means knowing the negative points, the realities, and going after it anyway. 

Knowing how to resolve what could go wrong when there are barriers will prepare you for how to get through them should an issue arise. Then your persistence can prevail. “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.” 

#3- Be the weakest link. Christina encouraged everyone to find people who have the skill set you don’t when starting a project. This makes the project higher quality as well as puts someone in the group to do the things you don’t want to. Success grows the most when you are the dumbest on the team. 

She took us through the Mount Kilimanjaro climb and how the fundraiser project for this ultimately was a team with skillsets beyond her own. Afterall, they collected 5 tons of aluminum recycling in Indianapolis to make this a reality. Not something she was willing to accomplish by herself. 

#4- Ruthless Prioritization. If you have 3 things needing to be done today, identify them and do whatever it takes to achieve them. Knowing what you need to accomplish in a day out of the long list leads to focus and moving things forward. 

#5- Make the Ask. “Your dream is a party and you need to invite people.” Allow people the opportunity to say no. Christina discussed the Midwest’s Largest Gingerbread House fundraiser and her TWO THOUSAND pounds of Gingerbread ask. People in general want to be involved and assuming you know what they are going to say, well you know the old saying about what assuming does. 


At the end, Christina showed us the triangle of needs. At the base, you have your basic needs: Physiological needs (food, water, shelter) and safety needs. Then you move to the Psychological needs: love & belonging and then esteem. Lastly, your self-fulfillment needs: Self-actualization. 

Your life situations help you to prioritize this. Unfortunately, it is often a large life event – death of a loved one, having children, moving, divorce/break-up – that has to occur for someone to be moved to look at their prioritizations. Furthermore, what they really want out of life. To figure out their dream. Their scheme. 

Think about your scheme. What are you doing to get there? Share your dream. Make the ask. Be the energy. 

Want to connect with Christina? Email her at