In 2012, Frankie was crowned Mr. World Canada and represented the country at the Mr. World competition in England. His clear passion and love for both the organization and public speaking led him to be hired by the organization to co-host Mr. World 2014 and serve as the Web Presenter for the larger Miss World 2014. Frankie hosted the first ever Miss World Head to Head Challenge in 2017, a 10 x 30 minute segment which aired on YouTube and around the world. He is unapologetically obsessed with Reality TV and has appeared on more of them than anyone I have heard about! Frankie grew up in Burnaby, fairly underprivileged, and the main thing that kept him optimistic and motivated was his passion for the spotlight. More importantly, however, is how Frankie is currently giving back to his community by sharing his skills and experience in public speaking. He has over 200 public speaking students that he dedicates resources and time towards helping them become more confident in their abilities. Beyond this, Frankie has recently given out $24,000 in scholarships to Burnaby students and recently created a New Year Giveaway where he sponsored a young woman with Down Syndrome with a $2018 cash prize. His personal motto, "Find Your Voice; It Matters." perfectly illustrates the type of person Frankie is.
I am glad to have interviewed Frankie and share his story in an authentic way with you.
To those who are not aware of you, who are you? What do you do, and what is your passion?
I own an internationally-renowned speech and debate academy in Vancouver; I’m a former Mr. World Canada; and I’m on the television presenting team for Miss World.
Because my interests are so diverse, it’s difficult to choose just one passion or even a series of them. But from a very young age, I’ve been passionate about the spotlight: about stages, about performing for my family and for my friends. So whether that meant doing my first choir performance in grade 4, or competing in my first singing competition in grade 7, or now getting to host the oldest and largest beauty pageant in the world, I’ve always loved getting to showcase my skills and my talents for people.
And now that I’m a bit older, I’m very passionate about helping young people, as a speech and debate coach. They come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and a variety of places—from Canada, Denmark, the Philippines and a few other countries. And it’s been inspiring and wonderful to pass on the skills I’ve obtained to help them reach their dreams.
How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?
I’ll never forget living, when I was a kid, in cooperative housing in Burnaby, sharing a room with my sister and often sleeping on the floor. I always try to remember that, while I was happy and better off than most people in the world, I always wanted to do more, have more. More for myself, more for my family. To now own a successful speech and debate academy in Vancouver in which I employ both my mother and my sister and the three of us work together as a team to propel this business forward—I feel like I’m fulfilling my dream each and every day, and doing something for that young boy.
What unique and creative strategies if any did you use when you were first getting started?
I'm not sure I can call it a strategy, but I've always had my eyes and ears open ever since I was a kid. No matter what situation I was in, no matter where I was, no matter who I met, I entered each scenario with the mindset that... “From this situation, anything can happen.” When I was competing at Mr. World, all I could do was work my very hardest, be kind and genuine to the entire production team, put my best foot forward. I never imagined that I would eventually host Mr. World—and later get a phone call inviting me to host the much larger Miss World. That all happened because I knew that opportunities could come from anywhere, and gave it my all when they came up.
What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?
My whole life I’ve been a bit strange, a bit different, a bit eccentric. As a kid that might have lead to bullying or exclusion, but even in my adult life, my weirdness often gets me singled out. When I was at Mr. World, I got enormous backlash for the way that I talked and the way that I looked; I was the shortest male contestant in the history of any major male beauty pageant. So the first thing I said at Mr. World, in my introduction video, was—“Hi! I’m 5’ 6,” and I’m going to bring my height to the competition.” What distinguished me, I think, wasn’t just that I was short, but the mindset I had that, in life, you have to grab your strengths and your weaknesses and your oddities—everything that makes you, you—and turn them to your advantage.
What is our definition of success?
I once wrote a speech about the perfect job, where I said that my school janitor most definitely had the perfect job, because he was happy. He was able to work a job that allowed him to be with his family, that brought him enough income to have a home, to work with young people and be around youthfulness. So success, for me, is defined by happiness, and happiness is somewhat measured by whether you’re following your passions. And of course money and fame can be a part of that, but I’ve learned that they’re not usually the most important thing, the thing that keeps you awake and yearning and moving. So whatever that “thing” is—family, or fitness, or your girlfriend or your boyfriend—try to find it and follow it, and you’ll be happy. And successful.
What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?
I think the main reason that people fail is that they take no for an answer: they don’t try hard enough or enough times. One of the mantras I live by is that when any door closes—knock it down. You shouldn’t look for a window, you shouldn’t happily accept that the door has closed, but you should move forward and say “No, I’m going to open this door.” Unfortunately I think people take failure in such a negative way, and get so sad about it, and so caught-up and moody about not achieving something quickly or right away, in this world of instant gratification—of Facebook, of Twitter, of having everything at our fingertips—that they don’t realise that the things that we yearn for most, sometimes need to be pursued over and over and over. I have a vision that I will sing for Simon Cowell, and I’ve worked toward that vision in as many ways as possible—from flying to LA to meet him, to applying to the X Factor in London. And I know that I will continue to pursue that dream no matter how many times I fall short of it, no matter how unlikely it seems and how frustrating it can feel.
What is the best piece of advice you have received or come across, and would like to share with everyone?
I remember working at the Miss World Competition, late one night when the contestants were all really hungry. I watched Julia Morley—who’s the Chariman and CEO of Miss World—go out and buy them food, and personally hand each of them their midnight snack. Working with her has truly been the most inspiring part of my career. She’s taught me that a great leader is one who follows and understands every facet of their organization and is also willing and able to do every task; to talk to every person, to help however she can. I think her leadership skills will always be ingrained in me as I continue on in my career.
To reach out to Frankie, visit frankiecena.com
To reach out to me or to view my work, visit dukuinspires.com
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