How To Feel Like Enough As A Founder

Featuring Guest -
Lisa Carmen Wang
July 7, 2020
| Evolve
038
hosted by: Brandon Stover
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Lisa Carmen Wang is the Founder & CEO of The GLOW (Global League of Women) providing world-class executive leadership training for ambitious female leaders. She is a former USA National Champion and Hall of Fame gymnast, turned serial entrepreneur, executive coach, and keynote speaker. She has been named Forbes 30 under 30, Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Woman, Red Bull Hero of The Year, and Advisory Board Member to PepsiCo’s WomanMade initiative. Lisa’s podcast, LEADERSHIP WITH LISA, shares leadership lessons behind the world’s most impactful leaders transforming the face of business & culture.

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Want to hear an episode with the coach Lisa listens to all the time on the Reboot Podcast? — Listen to my conversation with the CEO Whisperer Jerry Colonna in which we discuss how to become a better leader through radical self inquiry and he coaches me through some vulnerable childhood memories.

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A Champion Is Born

Brandon Stover: [00:03:01] Well, my first question is, is it actually true that your mom was in labor with you during the Olympics and that your dad was saying basically the baby will come after the race has finished?

Lisa Wang: [00:03:11] Apparently, I mean, I don't have a direct memory of that, but that is the retelling that I have heard.

The One Thing All Champions Have: Fierce Focus

Brandon Stover: [00:03:18] Well, it kinda gives a good sense to start gymnastics  when you were very young and spent 10 years on the path to mastery of that, can you walk us through what it means to commit to mastery and go down that path? Because I think it's something very powerful that you need as a founder.

Lisa Wang: [00:03:34] Yeah, well, people have always asked me this question even when I was younger and they would always say, How do you do it? How do you stay so focused? Back then, I didn't know exactly how to articulate it, but what I did know was that I had a very clear vision of who I wanted to become. So at that point, I said, I want to become an Olympian and I want to be an Ivy league graduate.

And I was willing to bet my entire adolescence on turning that vision into a reality. The thing is, it wasn't that I had extraordinary confidence on the contrary, my self esteem throughout my childhood was actually very much below average. And I also felt like an outsider as an Asian in predominantly white circles.

What I could count on always though was my hard work ethic, my focus and my vision.  So even in those moments of insecurity, when I felt like I didn't belong, which is something that everyone almost experiences, I would just remind myself of my goals,  and I told myself that any feelings of inferiority that I had would pass.

So I would just close my eyes. Visualize who I knew I could become and could see myself perfectly executing those routines, standing on the podium, gold medal around my neck, and  imagine myself smiling at my parents in the crowd and just feeling this sense of fulfillment, because I knew that everything I had sacrificed had finally paid off.

The trick there is really that.  In my head, I had already made it.  it was this ability of believing in my dream reality so much so that. It's almost like the world conspired to help me make it happen. And I define this now as something called fierce focus.  Fierce focus is the intense commitment to a clear vision, driven by an unwavering belief in one's own ability to achieve it.

That's the thing that I think all champions have in common. All winners have in common. Is this fierce focus.

Brandon Stover: [00:05:44] You have this fierce focus, you had this vision and you have the dream. When you miss that  qualifying round by a quarter of a point, how did you not let this shatter your identity and just call it quits?

Lisa Wang: [00:05:56] One of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou. And, she talks about how the greatest burden  is your untold story.  the exact quote is there's no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.  As I thought about my story, that wasn't the way that my story was going to end.

There was more that I still needed to tell.  I kind of zoomed out on my life at that point. I talk often about metacognition and how there's like the reality that's happening to you. And then there is the stepping outside of your. Immediate reality and like observing it as if you were above yourself.

When I did that, I just said, that's not who Lisa is, she doesn't end losing. it was that conviction again,  that wasn't my dream,  that wasn't going to be my reality, and  I would regret it for the rest of my life  if I didn't try to end it the way that I wanted to.

Brandon Stover: [00:06:51] What I love about that  part of your story is you decided that you wanted to get better.  So you went and put in the time at the Russian Olympic training center and  was training for God awful amounts of time during the day. I think really committing to that vision that you had.

Lisa Wang: [00:07:06] there was definitely a chip on my shoulder, to prove that I did belong there. This desire to prove people wrong, right. To prove the judges wrong. That is something that continues to drive me. It's every time I'm underestimated, every time people think I can't do it, or judge me for the way that I look it's, it's almost like in my head, I have this tally Mark of  just one more reason to succeed and prove people wrong.

How To Feel Like Enough As An Entrepreneur

Brandon Stover: [00:07:35] Afterwards, you got your gold medals, you went to Yale, got a job and in successful  hedge fund. It seems like you were racking up these tally points. What was going on for you internally during that time?

Lisa Wang: [00:07:47] To me, there's just never been a question in my mind that I, it was meant to be successful. what has changed is my definition of success Whereas many, many people fall into the trap of believing success is, a game of checkboxes of accumulation of material goods, money, cars, houses, keeping up with the Joneses.

The way I define success now is really around creating, defining, and then creating your ideal reality. and mine is around, having the freedom to work on the things that I'm passionate about to be around people who inspire and motivate me without ever having to be afraid financially. it's not about as much money as possible. It's really around this idea of freedom.

back then, it's it was coming from a place of trying to prove that I was enough and I created a podcast called enoughness previously. That was, that's now rebranded to leadership with Lisa, ironically, even that rebrand is a reflection of how I started to perceive myself, which was  always, when is it ever enough? When am I ever going to feel like I'm enough? Realizing that a lot of people have these, these thoughts of scarcity. But when I finally stopped caring, about the external definition of success, that's when I realized that I'm already a leader and that I could come from a place of abundance.

when I think about the work that I do now,  it comes from this idea that the most valuable thing you can give people is a shift in perspective because you can't force anyone to do anything. You can't force them to live there life the way you want them to. But what you can do is help them see their own lives differently. And from that, perhaps motivate them too, go after bigger dreams or build something that's more aligned with how they want to live.

Brandon Stover: [00:09:47] Yeah, on the subject of enoughness, how did you come to the serenity with yourself that you were enough, but also striving as an entrepreneur and still going after those big goals?

Lisa Wang: [00:09:58] The thing that people often would push back on is they would say, well, if I feel like I'm enough, won't I become apathetic That's clearly for me, not true. I had that fear a little bit myself of if I go easy on myself, maybe I just won't be motivated and I'll become lazy. that hasn't happened and it's more of a mindset of appreciation and self-love where you can still want more.

But you're wanting it for the right reasons, the right reasons being to live a fulfilling life to you.  when you feel fulfilled, you're going to be more motivated to create impact for other people. You're going to feel more motivated to give back.  that was what I had to do.

I had to focus on self love.  I created the self love challenge that, I've shared with a number of women in the glow community. That are just reflections  of the exercise that I've done on my own.

From Gold Medal Gymnast To First Time Startup Founder

Brandon Stover: [00:10:54] During your process of your own discovery, what drove you to start your first startup, which was fooze, and go through an accelerator and  jump into the startup world?

Lisa Wang: [00:11:04] So I was working at a hedge fund at the time and this term creative freedom is something that I've always, it's always been there. all I know is that at that fund, I did not have creative freedom there. This voice inside of me that needed to be expressed that needed to take ownership. And, I left because of that feeling of I'm not happy here.

I'm not like  letting myself  explore my full potential. And so I ended up working at a mobile design development agency in New York, where I could work with the CEO and oversee all these other startups, pitching him to have him develop their apps and watch how he gave them feedback. So I learned what worked, what didn't work.

I just had an itch. I was like, I think I could be a founder. That was, that was, that was pretty much it. And I went to a hackathon, which is a three day weekend event where you got to pitch an idea and try and hack together a prototype in a weekend. I just thought about what my own issues were as a 20 some year old in New York.

And it was at the point when there was no Postmates yet. You know, there was no Uber eat yet.  the one button delivery still didn't exist. I was like, wow, it's really hard to get late night food and quality late night food, especially when it's freezing in New York. the on demand wave was just starting and I thought, well, it's a problem. My friends have it's problem. I have. And that would be cool to pitch. ended up winning that hackathon, which was a really big surprise to me. It was judged by VCs and, It gave me the boost in confidence that I needed.

And so in the early days, all I really did was I just thought one step ahead at a time, because next thing was okay now I need someone to build an MVP. Just so happened to work at a mobile design development agencies. So I was like, okay, how do I convince the developers to think this is a cool idea and help me. that was my next mission.  they helped me put together an MVP.

and then the next step was. okay, what do I need? I need money. Where in the world do I get money? And I had never heard of accelerators. I'd never really, I didn't know anything much about the tech world and I just Googled, I Googled around and it said things like, you have to create a pitch deck. I was like, great. I have no idea how to create a pitch deck, but I'll do.

And it says. Companies that have cofounders are more likely to get money than solo founders. So I thought, great. Now I need to find a co founder. That is not the way I recommend which I learned the hard way, but the point is then I got an interview at this food accelerator, food tech accelerator, and the interview was, was really around  founder fit.

I remember that most of the questions they asked me were really around  how I thought about problems, how I had solved problems in the past. and that's what you learn from even. VCs today it's most of it is really around. Do we believe in the founder and the founding team that they could be able to execute this.

And because early stage you're expecting companies to pivot and most of the bet is really on the people. And so I guess I was really able to sell a  compelling story around why I was  going to never give up as a founder.  I got into the accelerator, got money  and it was time to learn how to build.

Brandon Stover: [00:14:30] So what ultimately happened with the, how come that wasn't the startup that took off?

Lisa Wang: [00:14:35] So there are a couple of things. One was, I was building a late night munchies delivery company.  In order to solve other people's problems. I realized I was living my own nightmare, which is I had to stay up till 5:00 AM, monitoring logistics. I hate doing logistics in general. It was a fully just operations heavy company.

I was managing the bike fleet and I realized I would rather get served. My food then serve other people. Like it's just, I'd rather be in my bed waiting for my food to come. it was a realization like this. Isn't what I meant to do. I'm not passionate about it. I was passionate about starting a company and creating impact, but this wasn't necessarily the impact that I wanted.

Also. I wasn't really, inspired. At the end of the day by the customers we were serving. Which were people late at night who need, who need munchies.

But it was also during that process that when I went to Silicon Valley to fundraise and realized just how hard it was raised as a woman. and that was prior to me to, prior to any of these.

Initiatives around supporting female entrepreneurs.  I felt totally alone from my experiences. And I thought there must be other women who are experiencing what I'm experiencing. And she works was born really as a passion project to help me solve that challenge myself because, just  needed to be around other people who could empathize with that journey.

Brandon Stover: [00:16:01] So this was the passion that ultimately led to starting up Sheworx?

Lisa Wang: [00:16:05] Yeah. So again, it was solving a problem that I had and interestingly, the investors who wouldn't respond to me when I was just a founder pitching, suddenly did want to respond to me when I said I'm leading this organization and I want to feature you to speak to all these other female entrepreneurs.

And I think of it now where it's really around. There's kind of two currencies. In this world, there's financial capital in their social capital. Without realizing it, what I've done, especially in the last few years with she works in a lot of the other initiatives that I've created, it's around social capital, right?

It's a currency that is more and more valuable. And. Can be shaped in different ways to increase or decrease value exchange.

Using The Fuck Yes Mentality To Discover Her Passion

Brandon Stover: [00:16:55] Well, when it comes to passion, you have this mentality of things being a fuck yes or fuck no. So how did you navigate this, using this mentality in your life and your business and finding out that sheworx was really what you wanted to be doing?

Lisa Wang: [00:17:11] So this fuck yes or no mentality came from my natural inclination to be really indecisive. which I also discovered was rooted in my lack of confidence in my own voice and my own preferences. growing up as someone who just didn't really trust in my own judgment or intuition, as I grew up in, as I built my confidence and self love, I realized my intuition is really strong.  I actually I know a lot. And, it, it kinda, I've kind of done that one 80 of just really emphasizing my own capacity for making good decisions, especially if I've experienced them before. this confidence in my decision making ability and, especially vetting out things. That make me happy or make me unhappy, helps me inform how I shape my environments and the people I surround myself with and the opportunities that I go for.

So I say that there's kind of the external world and the internal world. And on the external world, you've got people environments. Material resources, opportunities that other people are throwing your way. And then internally you have your perception, your motivation, your willpower, your emotions, and you can only really control the internal.

so first you have to really know what it is that inspires you. What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy, to help you figure out what you want. And then from figuring out what you want and clearly defining those aspects. That's when you can start to field opportunities and people that are fits or not fit.

as I think about the, whether it's the businesses that I pursue or, or anything else,  there's kind of a second layer to the fuck. Yes or no. And that's the impact and profit consideration. is this making a positive impact? Is this creating the type of impact in the world that I want?

And then profit is okay. Is this going to be profitable for my bottom line? if there's something that's very profitable opportunity, but doesn't inspire me on an impact side, then that's still falls in the no category. Not the fuck. Yes. if it's something that's really, that's like socially impactful, but it's going to be really hard for me financially to like to, justify it then maybe it's, it's it's not a fuck. Yes, yet.

So I think that there's different ways for people to think about it, but at the end of the day, it's like the fuck. Yes or no, can come at an intuitive level as well as if it's a business opportunity, then the profit impact considerations.

Brandon Stover: [00:19:53] How did you use this mental model when you were deciding to be acquired by Republic?

Lisa Wang: [00:19:59] I had been working on the company at that point. I think almost it was around four and a half years. the thing that had occurred to me really was around this. Enoughness concept that I had been. Working on myself. And what I realized with thousands of women that I'd work with is that all these women who are trying to raise money, scale their businesses, that.

It didn't matter how many tactics we taught them at the end of the day. If she didn't feel like she was enough, if she wasn't confident in herself, she never closed. She didn't close the sale, the deal, the negotiation, the fundraise. And so it was really about a much deeper core root problem. And that root problem was lack of enoughness

that lack of enoughness comes from so many false beliefs. We have about ourselves as a result of parental upbringing, society, media, culture, et cetera. And that is what got me interested in the root issues, like really, really deep root causes. I've always been interested in psychology, but, the co like coaching, realizing that coaching was something that I had benefited from, and that was one way to be able to tackle these root issues.

So essentially it got to the point where I found that I could be making greater impact or I believed with  my voice and my teachings that could tackle these root problems, rather than only talking about the symptoms, which were lack of funding for female entrepreneurs, lack of female investors.

it's an isolated world, you know, venture capital and entrepreneurship and leaders. Are not just entrepreneurs, it, crosses the boundaries of the, the industry and profession that you're in. And I think at that time and still to a degree now, entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley are glamorized.

And, I just was no longer as inspired by that echo chamber as I was when I started. Oh,

Brandon Stover: [00:22:05] Had you felt like that you had reached the point of feeling like enough for yourself that you basically wanted to free other women of that?

Lisa Wang: [00:22:16] Yup.

Helping Other Women Realize Their Own Power

Brandon Stover: [00:22:17] how do you help women to do that? To realize their own power, to feel like enough.

Lisa Wang: [00:22:23] so I recently completed my executive coaching certification. and  the biggest difference between, so we use this model of the there's a psychologist. There is a friend and there's a coach. So psychologists or psychiatrists, tend to. Focus on the past.

What happened in your childhood? What trauma that's, where we're going to reveal that, to see how it affects you now and how we can release that past trauma. A friend is present focused. We say how's life, how's work, how's relationships. And they're primarily there for emotional support and empathy. And a coach is the only person. In your life.

If you choose to work with one who will consistently be future focused, they'll say, okay, what do you want to achieve? What ideas do you have to reach those milestones? How are we going to keep you accountable to where you're going? and that's what you're paying a coach for, right? It's it's to realign where you are presently to continue driving forward towards the things you want to achieve.

That's where in the work that I do with women, especially with the coaching aspect, it's, we're not going to spend all day talking about the problems, which is where I think a lot of organizations fall short or a lot of panel discussions fall short when it comes to discussions around gender inequality.

And it's always about problems. it's very sad that women aren't getting funding, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, but that's great.  I'm not one who's inspired by talking about problems all day. I'm always like, okay, well what's next? How do we solve it? And so that's where I really enjoy the coaching aspect is where we have something that I've created called the leadership dashboard.

And so when women become members of the glow, they fill out their leadership dashboard, which, is going to be their guide for the following quarter in terms of the goals that they want to achieve the vision and mission that they have for their life. their life. Metrics, like what are the KPIs? The key performance indicators that will allow them to track that they are making the right progress towards their goals.

we, we identify. Opportunities for development. So what areas in your life do you still want to develop skills that could make a big difference in your career in life? we're going to acknowledge things that might be holding you back now, but then we figured out ways to release those false beliefs so that we can move forward.

Brandon Stover: [00:24:56] I think this is important because as you mentioned, a lot of people will stay at that problem stage and continue talking about it. but never say, you know, okay, these are the cards that were Dell. How are we going to play these to get better, to actually reach the goal that we want and have it on our understanding of where we are.

How The Power Of Story Can Change Your Life

Brandon Stover: [00:25:12] You talk a lot about story and narratives and you have a podcast sharing other people's stories. What is the power of story for influencing someone's beliefs?

Lisa Wang: [00:25:22] Stories are the only way that you can move someone's heart. Whereas logic and data and numbers can, provide a foundation of. Fact. The reality is as humans, you need to move someone emotionally before you can convince them otherwise to do, to do anything else.

There's a lot of things, where it comes to, suppressed groups, right. Just minority groups. And that includes, you know, in the, in this case where I specifically focus is women. I think that there's something really powerful about the word I in storytelling, because it's the most vulnerable thing you can share. It's about your own personal experiences. And quite honestly, it's the only true story you can tell.

I often hear leaders who I. Don't necessarily respect. I'm using you a lot. They'll say you guys need to do this. Like, they'll talk about the masses and like the, you, you, you, but they never say I, you know, and I, it was really tough for me when I did XYZ and here's what I learned and here's how I'd like to help.

because the thing is it's the most vulnerable way to share a story. And at the end of the day, the only reality you can really talk about is your own, I can't purport to know how anyone else feels truly. and so I think about it as when you have the. Courage to share who you are authentically and vulnerably, you create space for someone else to do the same.

And that's where I think it's really powerful and why create my podcast around sharing other people's voices because, and encouraging them to share really vulnerably. Because I think that when people realize that leaders are people, we really respect also go through tough times that it's okay for them to feel that way as well.

Brandon Stover: [00:27:19] What responsibility do you think we have as media producers to broadcast messages like these, especially in a global conversation, such as the ones that we're in?

Lisa Wang: [00:27:29] I mean, I think that, yeah, there's, there's a duty to share diverse perspectives for sure. that's something that, I've noticed things like, oftentimes when I. When I see men's bookshelves, the majority of the authors are male. and it's, it's. It's coincidental. Right? I remember this one time I saw this, this man's bookshelf and it was books about the economy and leadership and business building and entrepreneurship and power and biographies.

And I asked him, do you have a single book here? That's written by a woman? And he was like, yeah, yeah, I've got this one book. and. it's unconscious, right? but I think being aware of those unconscious biases, and then realizing that the more you read those types of books, like the less you are creating, like you, you just don't have room in your mind for narratives by other people. and there was this. Author that I really respect. And she was giving a talk and she was, an African American woman. And she said, I had there, there was this, when Michelle Obama's book came out becoming that this man came to me and he says, I like, I, I bought all, I bought this book for all of my best female friends, women I'm inspired by and he felt really good about himself.

And she said, well, I appreciate that, but I think what would really make a difference if you bought that book for all your male friends and it, so again, like it didn't occur to him, but she was like, that's the mistake that we have. It's like, we try to help. But the best way you can help is to actively try to read stories and listen to stories by people who are, who haven't been part of the dominant narrative.

Brandon Stover: [00:29:21] What practices do you take in order to make sure that you're getting different perspectives?

Lisa Wang: [00:29:26] I mean, for me, it's just, it's the types of people that I talk to. Like, I, I actively, try to meet different people who aren't necessarily an entrepreneurship venture capital. who, you know, recently it's people of different ambition levels. You know, I tend to surround myself with a lot of ambitious, inspiring people and during Corona, right?

Like I'm in Texas right now. And, Since the bands have been lifted a bit, you know, the city is opening up and I'm meeting people who just, who don't have the perspective that I have. And I try not to prejudge. Right. I, you stay in a place of curiosity of really asking people, why they chose what they chose, what they're motivated by, what.

Yeah, what they're passionate about and what makes them happy. And I think if you stay in that state and you just create space for people to share why they choose to live the way that they live, then it's Yeah. It's, it's like information gathering, but really you have no right to judge how someone else wants to live their life.

Brandon Stover: [00:30:32] Are there any podcasts that you recommend, that offer this alternative perspective?

Lisa Wang: [00:30:37] well, I, I love listening to reboot podcast. and then of course, how I built this, as an entrepreneur. so those are kind of my, my two that I listened to.

How To Unlock Your Purpose

Brandon Stover: [00:30:48] Well with GLOW, you've called this your life's work and you think pretty adamantly about purpose and making an impact on the world. How do we unlock our own purpose and start taking steps towards that?

Lisa Wang: [00:31:01] First is recognizing what you're afraid of. Finding purpose is a really big, it's a big deal. I mean, it's at the end of the day, if you think across centuries, you know, the, the millennia basically since humankind has existed, the biggest question is like, what's the point of life? Like, why am I here?

What's my purpose. It's the question. That's perplexed philosophers, you know, since the beginning of time. And there is no answer to that. And, you know, even with an existential philosophy, there's, it's like, does my purpose exists when I'm born? Or do I have to find my purpose? Like the, you know, no one really knows the answer to it.

And I, I think that in, in many ways, like purpose is.  a construct that we've created where usually what happens is you, you have this curiosity or inclination towards something. At some point you commit to it, you have conviction or confidence that like, yeah, I'll, I'll put more energy into this, then it becomes your passion.

And then inevitably, if you're passionate about something, You start getting external validation, right? People are like, Oh, that's pretty cool. You've done pretty well. And then maybe you make some money doing it. If you are business minded. And then that creates this positive cycle of, okay. The more I do my passion, the more people compliment me, the more money I make, maybe there's this thing.

And so, and then at a certain point, you tie that to a greater mission or purpose. We're we're lucky that we're in a time where people care about impact and they, you know, want business and impact to be aligned. once it's tied to impact, and you're seeing other people positively being affected by the work that you're doing at a certain point, you decide, you're like, Oh, this is my purpose.

so, so that's really how I think about it, where it's there, isn't some divine inspiration. It's just going to handy your purpose. Also, we don't only have one purpose. It's kind of just where you drive yourself towards. and it's also often informed by your own personal experiences. So you have to be willing to be vulnerable and emotional and recognize those painful parts in your life.

Like there's a reason why, people who have gone through. You know, sexual abuse, want to empower sexual abuse survivors. There's a reason why, people who have, you know, friends or, friends who have been incarcerated now, they're fighting for the rights of incarcerated people around the world.

And, there's a reason why, you know, for me as a, as a minority woman, who. experience some of the things I experienced while raising money and then just working in finance and tech that I'm really passionate about helping women step into their power and learn to be confident because it's something that I overcame and I can empathize when you're on the other side of it.

I think that there's a lot of other things I could be passionate and feel purpose around, but a certain point, I do think it's important to choose. And that's that's, that's the important thing. Like you have to make a choice, because no one else is gonna make that choice for you.

Brandon Stover: [00:34:08] Yeah, I think, there's a lot of looking back and kind of seeing the puzzle pieces fit together as you construct this purpose, but when you're in the middle of it... So, you know, speaking of your own experience, when you were doing gymnastics and then you were doing the hedge fund, and then you were starting your first startup, how were you navigating what your purpose might be and building that along the way?

Lisa Wang: [00:34:33] I think that this is a story that people don't tell you about, which is like a lot of times, most of us just have no idea what we're doing. We don't have a clear purpose. We kind of stumble around and we have experiences that affect us deeply. And if you take the time to reflect on that, the deep impact of an experience and analyze it and say, Hey, like this kind of wasn't great.

I. Want to never experience it in this way again. And I want to help other people not have to go through the pain that I went through. and that's, that's really, I think how, how purpose starts coming along, but it's like, that means you need to put yourself out there. Right? And, and experience failure, take risks, experience rejection, because all of those things are opportunities to learn and figure out what you're passionate about.

Brandon Stover: [00:35:28] Well, I appreciate you saying, most people don't know what they're actually doing. They're kind of figuring out along the way. And I think if more people were to come out and say that, rather than put sort of like a front on or like, you know, I know what I'm doing, we're, we're all just kind of figuring it out along the way. And I think it's powerful to hear others say that.

What are some practices that you have for self reflection and kind of putting those puzzle pieces together?

Lisa Wang: [00:35:55] so I do a lot of my self reflecting on Apple notes on my iPhone and which is synced with my Mac. And I mean, I think at this point I have like 5,000 notes of ideas that I jot down. I think the most powerful question is just why. and I asked that question to myself, why did I react like that?

Why did I feel like that in the presence of this person? Why did this question make me feel uncomfortable? What about this experience? You know, like why did it make me happy? Why was I surprised? and so it's asking myself those questions, those why questions, and analyzing myself in a way that's, that's focused on wanting to grow.

Wanting to become a better, stronger person. because in many ways  I see myself as a role model as someone who has the, the potential to inspire millions of people. And, therefore I have a responsibility to not allow setbacks to. Bring me down, but rather to constantly see things as a learning opportunity and then reflecting upon them as lessons that I could eventually share with other people.

Brandon Stover: [00:37:11] When do you decide that it's time to move on from the rumination of maybe being in that WHY cycle to actually take action and moving towards what you want?

Lisa Wang: [00:37:21] You can practice it the next day. Right? It's like, I think when you, we kind of break down, where you learn a lot of lessons, like a lot of our lessons come from interactions with people, right? So whether it's business, whether it's personal, whether it's family, friends, and there's always an opportunity to try it with another person or, you know, try it again with the person that you were, you know, having some sort of thing with, positive or negative and say, let's try and work this out a different way. When it comes to opportunities where you're like something as simple as, Oh, I shouldn't have responded that way on email.

Right. well next I guarantee you, there's going to be another opportunity for you to respond and be like, okay. I learned from that last time, now I'm going to try this way. Look who you were yesterday. Doesn't have to define who you are today, and you have to have the courage to choose to be someone different the next day, which doesn't mean being inauthentic.

It's just, it's iterating. my friends joke to me that the same way that I think about ideas and businesses, where it's like, Just launch and iterate launch and iterate. Just keep going, just try and learn. It's the same way that I approach my own personal growth. It's the same way that I approach, you know, my, my dating and romantic life, which is, you know, you don't have to take things personally, if you, if you're it's like business, if your idea doesn't like you, you don't.

Go be all sad all day. It's like the thing with dating and such. It's like, if someone doesn't like you it's, or you don't like them, or it's the wrong fit, you don't need to take rejection. So personally just like, alright cool. Like let's iterate for the next time you like better.

If You Are Building Your Dream Right Now

Brandon Stover: [00:39:03] You have a quote that hangs on your wall from Walt Disney that is "if you can dream it, you can do it." What would you tell the founder who is grinding away right now on a dream?

Lisa Wang: [00:39:16] I mean, the quote pretty much says it all. the biggest limit for most of us is ourselves. It's our own belief in who we are and what's possible. I mean, life is a constant battle with yourself to bow, to believe in yourself, to believe that the reality that is in front of you. Today, when you wake up in the morning that you have the power to change it.

And I was having a, a conversation with a friend recently where I was just really thinking of about, especially during this time, during coronavirus, where there's a lot of time for reflection and you wake up in the same environment and you wonder like Groundhog day, is I think that the reality is there's a  majority of people wake up every day and life is a disappointment.

And I say that because, most people wake up and they're like another day, like, man, my alarm got to slog through. I can't wait for the weekend. Right. They're not actually living. They're just, they're, they're surviving the internal world is so much richer. Right. And, this is why I think of like artists and storytellers are so important because we articulate or, take what we see in our internal world and like make it tangible for the external world.

We bring beauty, we bring, emotion and make it three D so.  but the thing is the external world is more tangible. You see it and the battle or the challenge is to not let disappointment about the external world, like surpass the will of your internal world, and learning how to build up those reinforcements internally to remember that you don't need to be dictated by the external world. I mean, you think of the stories of people who came from poverty, right? And then they made it, or the person who came from an abusive family and then made it, and it's like, well, what's the difference between that person and the millions of other people who are also in poverty who also experienced abuse or, you know, anything else, that that's just unfortunate circumstance  and the only thing is they just wanted it more.

How Lisa Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

My first thought is that we don't need to push people. And what we need to do is we need to listen. We need to create space for people to feel heard because when people don't feel heard or they don't believe that people care about their voice, that's when you create anger and resentment and fear. And when that is suppressed long enough, it will eventually erupt into violence and war and bloodshed. And that is not what we need right now. so just listen and speak up and speak up when you see injustice.
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How To Feel Like Enough As A Founder

Featuring Guest -

Lisa Carmen Wang

hosted by: Brandon Stover
038

July 7, 2020

Lisa Carmen Wang is the Founder & CEO Of GLOW, 2 time podcast host, & is one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Yet she did not learn the entrepreneurial skills of grit, resilience, and determination from a background in startups. Starting at 9 years old she pushed herself to the top of gymnastics earning a spot in the Hall Of Fame by the age of 19. However what makes her one of the most renowned names as a Hall of Fame Gymnast is not her victories, but how she handled herself in defeat. In her dream to compete in the Olympics, she missed her qualifying run by a fraction of a point. Yet she did not sulk or call it quits, instead she trained harder than ever to come back 9 months later as a four-time US National Champion & gold medalist.

Refusing to let her past be bigger than her future, she retired that chapter in her life and has gone on to become a serial founder of 3 startups, including Sheworx which became the leading global platform empowering 20,000+ female entrepreneurs to build and scale successful companies and was acquired by Republic in 2019.

This extraordinary woman has been named Forbes 30 under 30, CIO’s Top 20 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch, Red Bull Hero of The Year, Red Shoe Movement Hall of Fame. She has spoken on hundreds of international stages including YPO, Chief innovation Officer Summit, Mobile World Congress, Harvard University and more. And been featured in forbes, fortune, business insider, the wall street journal, & dozens more. And She has also been an advisory board member to Delta and PepsiCo’s WomanMade initiative.

Yet to this introspective woman, these accolades are just checked off boxes. Her real passion lies in liberating women and helping them step into their full power. In a culmination of decades of mental, physical, and professional training she now provides world-class executive coaching through The Global League of Women & changing narratives through her podcasts.

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A Champion Is Born

Brandon Stover: [00:03:01] Well, my first question is, is it actually true that your mom was in labor with you during the Olympics and that your dad was saying basically the baby will come after the race has finished?

Lisa Wang: [00:03:11] Apparently, I mean, I don't have a direct memory of that, but that is the retelling that I have heard.

The One Thing All Champions Have: Fierce Focus

Brandon Stover: [00:03:18] Well, it kinda gives a good sense to start gymnastics  when you were very young and spent 10 years on the path to mastery of that, can you walk us through what it means to commit to mastery and go down that path? Because I think it's something very powerful that you need as a founder.

Lisa Wang: [00:03:34] Yeah, well, people have always asked me this question even when I was younger and they would always say, How do you do it? How do you stay so focused? Back then, I didn't know exactly how to articulate it, but what I did know was that I had a very clear vision of who I wanted to become. So at that point, I said, I want to become an Olympian and I want to be an Ivy league graduate.

And I was willing to bet my entire adolescence on turning that vision into a reality. The thing is, it wasn't that I had extraordinary confidence on the contrary, my self esteem throughout my childhood was actually very much below average. And I also felt like an outsider as an Asian in predominantly white circles.

What I could count on always though was my hard work ethic, my focus and my vision.  So even in those moments of insecurity, when I felt like I didn't belong, which is something that everyone almost experiences, I would just remind myself of my goals,  and I told myself that any feelings of inferiority that I had would pass.

So I would just close my eyes. Visualize who I knew I could become and could see myself perfectly executing those routines, standing on the podium, gold medal around my neck, and  imagine myself smiling at my parents in the crowd and just feeling this sense of fulfillment, because I knew that everything I had sacrificed had finally paid off.

The trick there is really that.  In my head, I had already made it.  it was this ability of believing in my dream reality so much so that. It's almost like the world conspired to help me make it happen. And I define this now as something called fierce focus.  Fierce focus is the intense commitment to a clear vision, driven by an unwavering belief in one's own ability to achieve it.

That's the thing that I think all champions have in common. All winners have in common. Is this fierce focus.

Brandon Stover: [00:05:44] You have this fierce focus, you had this vision and you have the dream. When you miss that  qualifying round by a quarter of a point, how did you not let this shatter your identity and just call it quits?

Lisa Wang: [00:05:56] One of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou. And, she talks about how the greatest burden  is your untold story.  the exact quote is there's no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.  As I thought about my story, that wasn't the way that my story was going to end.

There was more that I still needed to tell.  I kind of zoomed out on my life at that point. I talk often about metacognition and how there's like the reality that's happening to you. And then there is the stepping outside of your. Immediate reality and like observing it as if you were above yourself.

When I did that, I just said, that's not who Lisa is, she doesn't end losing. it was that conviction again,  that wasn't my dream,  that wasn't going to be my reality, and  I would regret it for the rest of my life  if I didn't try to end it the way that I wanted to.

Brandon Stover: [00:06:51] What I love about that  part of your story is you decided that you wanted to get better.  So you went and put in the time at the Russian Olympic training center and  was training for God awful amounts of time during the day. I think really committing to that vision that you had.

Lisa Wang: [00:07:06] there was definitely a chip on my shoulder, to prove that I did belong there. This desire to prove people wrong, right. To prove the judges wrong. That is something that continues to drive me. It's every time I'm underestimated, every time people think I can't do it, or judge me for the way that I look it's, it's almost like in my head, I have this tally Mark of  just one more reason to succeed and prove people wrong.

How To Feel Like Enough As An Entrepreneur

Brandon Stover: [00:07:35] Afterwards, you got your gold medals, you went to Yale, got a job and in successful  hedge fund. It seems like you were racking up these tally points. What was going on for you internally during that time?

Lisa Wang: [00:07:47] To me, there's just never been a question in my mind that I, it was meant to be successful. what has changed is my definition of success Whereas many, many people fall into the trap of believing success is, a game of checkboxes of accumulation of material goods, money, cars, houses, keeping up with the Joneses.

The way I define success now is really around creating, defining, and then creating your ideal reality. and mine is around, having the freedom to work on the things that I'm passionate about to be around people who inspire and motivate me without ever having to be afraid financially. it's not about as much money as possible. It's really around this idea of freedom.

back then, it's it was coming from a place of trying to prove that I was enough and I created a podcast called enoughness previously. That was, that's now rebranded to leadership with Lisa, ironically, even that rebrand is a reflection of how I started to perceive myself, which was  always, when is it ever enough? When am I ever going to feel like I'm enough? Realizing that a lot of people have these, these thoughts of scarcity. But when I finally stopped caring, about the external definition of success, that's when I realized that I'm already a leader and that I could come from a place of abundance.

when I think about the work that I do now,  it comes from this idea that the most valuable thing you can give people is a shift in perspective because you can't force anyone to do anything. You can't force them to live there life the way you want them to. But what you can do is help them see their own lives differently. And from that, perhaps motivate them too, go after bigger dreams or build something that's more aligned with how they want to live.

Brandon Stover: [00:09:47] Yeah, on the subject of enoughness, how did you come to the serenity with yourself that you were enough, but also striving as an entrepreneur and still going after those big goals?

Lisa Wang: [00:09:58] The thing that people often would push back on is they would say, well, if I feel like I'm enough, won't I become apathetic That's clearly for me, not true. I had that fear a little bit myself of if I go easy on myself, maybe I just won't be motivated and I'll become lazy. that hasn't happened and it's more of a mindset of appreciation and self-love where you can still want more.

But you're wanting it for the right reasons, the right reasons being to live a fulfilling life to you.  when you feel fulfilled, you're going to be more motivated to create impact for other people. You're going to feel more motivated to give back.  that was what I had to do.

I had to focus on self love.  I created the self love challenge that, I've shared with a number of women in the glow community. That are just reflections  of the exercise that I've done on my own.

From Gold Medal Gymnast To First Time Startup Founder

Brandon Stover: [00:10:54] During your process of your own discovery, what drove you to start your first startup, which was fooze, and go through an accelerator and  jump into the startup world?

Lisa Wang: [00:11:04] So I was working at a hedge fund at the time and this term creative freedom is something that I've always, it's always been there. all I know is that at that fund, I did not have creative freedom there. This voice inside of me that needed to be expressed that needed to take ownership. And, I left because of that feeling of I'm not happy here.

I'm not like  letting myself  explore my full potential. And so I ended up working at a mobile design development agency in New York, where I could work with the CEO and oversee all these other startups, pitching him to have him develop their apps and watch how he gave them feedback. So I learned what worked, what didn't work.

I just had an itch. I was like, I think I could be a founder. That was, that was, that was pretty much it. And I went to a hackathon, which is a three day weekend event where you got to pitch an idea and try and hack together a prototype in a weekend. I just thought about what my own issues were as a 20 some year old in New York.

And it was at the point when there was no Postmates yet. You know, there was no Uber eat yet.  the one button delivery still didn't exist. I was like, wow, it's really hard to get late night food and quality late night food, especially when it's freezing in New York. the on demand wave was just starting and I thought, well, it's a problem. My friends have it's problem. I have. And that would be cool to pitch. ended up winning that hackathon, which was a really big surprise to me. It was judged by VCs and, It gave me the boost in confidence that I needed.

And so in the early days, all I really did was I just thought one step ahead at a time, because next thing was okay now I need someone to build an MVP. Just so happened to work at a mobile design development agencies. So I was like, okay, how do I convince the developers to think this is a cool idea and help me. that was my next mission.  they helped me put together an MVP.

and then the next step was. okay, what do I need? I need money. Where in the world do I get money? And I had never heard of accelerators. I'd never really, I didn't know anything much about the tech world and I just Googled, I Googled around and it said things like, you have to create a pitch deck. I was like, great. I have no idea how to create a pitch deck, but I'll do.

And it says. Companies that have cofounders are more likely to get money than solo founders. So I thought, great. Now I need to find a co founder. That is not the way I recommend which I learned the hard way, but the point is then I got an interview at this food accelerator, food tech accelerator, and the interview was, was really around  founder fit.

I remember that most of the questions they asked me were really around  how I thought about problems, how I had solved problems in the past. and that's what you learn from even. VCs today it's most of it is really around. Do we believe in the founder and the founding team that they could be able to execute this.

And because early stage you're expecting companies to pivot and most of the bet is really on the people. And so I guess I was really able to sell a  compelling story around why I was  going to never give up as a founder.  I got into the accelerator, got money  and it was time to learn how to build.

Brandon Stover: [00:14:30] So what ultimately happened with the, how come that wasn't the startup that took off?

Lisa Wang: [00:14:35] So there are a couple of things. One was, I was building a late night munchies delivery company.  In order to solve other people's problems. I realized I was living my own nightmare, which is I had to stay up till 5:00 AM, monitoring logistics. I hate doing logistics in general. It was a fully just operations heavy company.

I was managing the bike fleet and I realized I would rather get served. My food then serve other people. Like it's just, I'd rather be in my bed waiting for my food to come. it was a realization like this. Isn't what I meant to do. I'm not passionate about it. I was passionate about starting a company and creating impact, but this wasn't necessarily the impact that I wanted.

Also. I wasn't really, inspired. At the end of the day by the customers we were serving. Which were people late at night who need, who need munchies.

But it was also during that process that when I went to Silicon Valley to fundraise and realized just how hard it was raised as a woman. and that was prior to me to, prior to any of these.

Initiatives around supporting female entrepreneurs.  I felt totally alone from my experiences. And I thought there must be other women who are experiencing what I'm experiencing. And she works was born really as a passion project to help me solve that challenge myself because, just  needed to be around other people who could empathize with that journey.

Brandon Stover: [00:16:01] So this was the passion that ultimately led to starting up Sheworx?

Lisa Wang: [00:16:05] Yeah. So again, it was solving a problem that I had and interestingly, the investors who wouldn't respond to me when I was just a founder pitching, suddenly did want to respond to me when I said I'm leading this organization and I want to feature you to speak to all these other female entrepreneurs.

And I think of it now where it's really around. There's kind of two currencies. In this world, there's financial capital in their social capital. Without realizing it, what I've done, especially in the last few years with she works in a lot of the other initiatives that I've created, it's around social capital, right?

It's a currency that is more and more valuable. And. Can be shaped in different ways to increase or decrease value exchange.

Using The Fuck Yes Mentality To Discover Her Passion

Brandon Stover: [00:16:55] Well, when it comes to passion, you have this mentality of things being a fuck yes or fuck no. So how did you navigate this, using this mentality in your life and your business and finding out that sheworx was really what you wanted to be doing?

Lisa Wang: [00:17:11] So this fuck yes or no mentality came from my natural inclination to be really indecisive. which I also discovered was rooted in my lack of confidence in my own voice and my own preferences. growing up as someone who just didn't really trust in my own judgment or intuition, as I grew up in, as I built my confidence and self love, I realized my intuition is really strong.  I actually I know a lot. And, it, it kinda, I've kind of done that one 80 of just really emphasizing my own capacity for making good decisions, especially if I've experienced them before. this confidence in my decision making ability and, especially vetting out things. That make me happy or make me unhappy, helps me inform how I shape my environments and the people I surround myself with and the opportunities that I go for.

So I say that there's kind of the external world and the internal world. And on the external world, you've got people environments. Material resources, opportunities that other people are throwing your way. And then internally you have your perception, your motivation, your willpower, your emotions, and you can only really control the internal.

so first you have to really know what it is that inspires you. What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy, to help you figure out what you want. And then from figuring out what you want and clearly defining those aspects. That's when you can start to field opportunities and people that are fits or not fit.

as I think about the, whether it's the businesses that I pursue or, or anything else,  there's kind of a second layer to the fuck. Yes or no. And that's the impact and profit consideration. is this making a positive impact? Is this creating the type of impact in the world that I want?

And then profit is okay. Is this going to be profitable for my bottom line? if there's something that's very profitable opportunity, but doesn't inspire me on an impact side, then that's still falls in the no category. Not the fuck. Yes. if it's something that's really, that's like socially impactful, but it's going to be really hard for me financially to like to, justify it then maybe it's, it's it's not a fuck. Yes, yet.

So I think that there's different ways for people to think about it, but at the end of the day, it's like the fuck. Yes or no, can come at an intuitive level as well as if it's a business opportunity, then the profit impact considerations.

Brandon Stover: [00:19:53] How did you use this mental model when you were deciding to be acquired by Republic?

Lisa Wang: [00:19:59] I had been working on the company at that point. I think almost it was around four and a half years. the thing that had occurred to me really was around this. Enoughness concept that I had been. Working on myself. And what I realized with thousands of women that I'd work with is that all these women who are trying to raise money, scale their businesses, that.

It didn't matter how many tactics we taught them at the end of the day. If she didn't feel like she was enough, if she wasn't confident in herself, she never closed. She didn't close the sale, the deal, the negotiation, the fundraise. And so it was really about a much deeper core root problem. And that root problem was lack of enoughness

that lack of enoughness comes from so many false beliefs. We have about ourselves as a result of parental upbringing, society, media, culture, et cetera. And that is what got me interested in the root issues, like really, really deep root causes. I've always been interested in psychology, but, the co like coaching, realizing that coaching was something that I had benefited from, and that was one way to be able to tackle these root issues.

So essentially it got to the point where I found that I could be making greater impact or I believed with  my voice and my teachings that could tackle these root problems, rather than only talking about the symptoms, which were lack of funding for female entrepreneurs, lack of female investors.

it's an isolated world, you know, venture capital and entrepreneurship and leaders. Are not just entrepreneurs, it, crosses the boundaries of the, the industry and profession that you're in. And I think at that time and still to a degree now, entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley are glamorized.

And, I just was no longer as inspired by that echo chamber as I was when I started. Oh,

Brandon Stover: [00:22:05] Had you felt like that you had reached the point of feeling like enough for yourself that you basically wanted to free other women of that?

Lisa Wang: [00:22:16] Yup.

Helping Other Women Realize Their Own Power

Brandon Stover: [00:22:17] how do you help women to do that? To realize their own power, to feel like enough.

Lisa Wang: [00:22:23] so I recently completed my executive coaching certification. and  the biggest difference between, so we use this model of the there's a psychologist. There is a friend and there's a coach. So psychologists or psychiatrists, tend to. Focus on the past.

What happened in your childhood? What trauma that's, where we're going to reveal that, to see how it affects you now and how we can release that past trauma. A friend is present focused. We say how's life, how's work, how's relationships. And they're primarily there for emotional support and empathy. And a coach is the only person. In your life.

If you choose to work with one who will consistently be future focused, they'll say, okay, what do you want to achieve? What ideas do you have to reach those milestones? How are we going to keep you accountable to where you're going? and that's what you're paying a coach for, right? It's it's to realign where you are presently to continue driving forward towards the things you want to achieve.

That's where in the work that I do with women, especially with the coaching aspect, it's, we're not going to spend all day talking about the problems, which is where I think a lot of organizations fall short or a lot of panel discussions fall short when it comes to discussions around gender inequality.

And it's always about problems. it's very sad that women aren't getting funding, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, but that's great.  I'm not one who's inspired by talking about problems all day. I'm always like, okay, well what's next? How do we solve it? And so that's where I really enjoy the coaching aspect is where we have something that I've created called the leadership dashboard.

And so when women become members of the glow, they fill out their leadership dashboard, which, is going to be their guide for the following quarter in terms of the goals that they want to achieve the vision and mission that they have for their life. their life. Metrics, like what are the KPIs? The key performance indicators that will allow them to track that they are making the right progress towards their goals.

we, we identify. Opportunities for development. So what areas in your life do you still want to develop skills that could make a big difference in your career in life? we're going to acknowledge things that might be holding you back now, but then we figured out ways to release those false beliefs so that we can move forward.

Brandon Stover: [00:24:56] I think this is important because as you mentioned, a lot of people will stay at that problem stage and continue talking about it. but never say, you know, okay, these are the cards that were Dell. How are we going to play these to get better, to actually reach the goal that we want and have it on our understanding of where we are.

How The Power Of Story Can Change Your Life

Brandon Stover: [00:25:12] You talk a lot about story and narratives and you have a podcast sharing other people's stories. What is the power of story for influencing someone's beliefs?

Lisa Wang: [00:25:22] Stories are the only way that you can move someone's heart. Whereas logic and data and numbers can, provide a foundation of. Fact. The reality is as humans, you need to move someone emotionally before you can convince them otherwise to do, to do anything else.

There's a lot of things, where it comes to, suppressed groups, right. Just minority groups. And that includes, you know, in the, in this case where I specifically focus is women. I think that there's something really powerful about the word I in storytelling, because it's the most vulnerable thing you can share. It's about your own personal experiences. And quite honestly, it's the only true story you can tell.

I often hear leaders who I. Don't necessarily respect. I'm using you a lot. They'll say you guys need to do this. Like, they'll talk about the masses and like the, you, you, you, but they never say I, you know, and I, it was really tough for me when I did XYZ and here's what I learned and here's how I'd like to help.

because the thing is it's the most vulnerable way to share a story. And at the end of the day, the only reality you can really talk about is your own, I can't purport to know how anyone else feels truly. and so I think about it as when you have the. Courage to share who you are authentically and vulnerably, you create space for someone else to do the same.

And that's where I think it's really powerful and why create my podcast around sharing other people's voices because, and encouraging them to share really vulnerably. Because I think that when people realize that leaders are people, we really respect also go through tough times that it's okay for them to feel that way as well.

Brandon Stover: [00:27:19] What responsibility do you think we have as media producers to broadcast messages like these, especially in a global conversation, such as the ones that we're in?

Lisa Wang: [00:27:29] I mean, I think that, yeah, there's, there's a duty to share diverse perspectives for sure. that's something that, I've noticed things like, oftentimes when I. When I see men's bookshelves, the majority of the authors are male. and it's, it's. It's coincidental. Right? I remember this one time I saw this, this man's bookshelf and it was books about the economy and leadership and business building and entrepreneurship and power and biographies.

And I asked him, do you have a single book here? That's written by a woman? And he was like, yeah, yeah, I've got this one book. and. it's unconscious, right? but I think being aware of those unconscious biases, and then realizing that the more you read those types of books, like the less you are creating, like you, you just don't have room in your mind for narratives by other people. and there was this. Author that I really respect. And she was giving a talk and she was, an African American woman. And she said, I had there, there was this, when Michelle Obama's book came out becoming that this man came to me and he says, I like, I, I bought all, I bought this book for all of my best female friends, women I'm inspired by and he felt really good about himself.

And she said, well, I appreciate that, but I think what would really make a difference if you bought that book for all your male friends and it, so again, like it didn't occur to him, but she was like, that's the mistake that we have. It's like, we try to help. But the best way you can help is to actively try to read stories and listen to stories by people who are, who haven't been part of the dominant narrative.

Brandon Stover: [00:29:21] What practices do you take in order to make sure that you're getting different perspectives?

Lisa Wang: [00:29:26] I mean, for me, it's just, it's the types of people that I talk to. Like, I, I actively, try to meet different people who aren't necessarily an entrepreneurship venture capital. who, you know, recently it's people of different ambition levels. You know, I tend to surround myself with a lot of ambitious, inspiring people and during Corona, right?

Like I'm in Texas right now. And, Since the bands have been lifted a bit, you know, the city is opening up and I'm meeting people who just, who don't have the perspective that I have. And I try not to prejudge. Right. I, you stay in a place of curiosity of really asking people, why they chose what they chose, what they're motivated by, what.

Yeah, what they're passionate about and what makes them happy. And I think if you stay in that state and you just create space for people to share why they choose to live the way that they live, then it's Yeah. It's, it's like information gathering, but really you have no right to judge how someone else wants to live their life.

Brandon Stover: [00:30:32] Are there any podcasts that you recommend, that offer this alternative perspective?

Lisa Wang: [00:30:37] well, I, I love listening to reboot podcast. and then of course, how I built this, as an entrepreneur. so those are kind of my, my two that I listened to.

How To Unlock Your Purpose

Brandon Stover: [00:30:48] Well with GLOW, you've called this your life's work and you think pretty adamantly about purpose and making an impact on the world. How do we unlock our own purpose and start taking steps towards that?

Lisa Wang: [00:31:01] First is recognizing what you're afraid of. Finding purpose is a really big, it's a big deal. I mean, it's at the end of the day, if you think across centuries, you know, the, the millennia basically since humankind has existed, the biggest question is like, what's the point of life? Like, why am I here?

What's my purpose. It's the question. That's perplexed philosophers, you know, since the beginning of time. And there is no answer to that. And, you know, even with an existential philosophy, there's, it's like, does my purpose exists when I'm born? Or do I have to find my purpose? Like the, you know, no one really knows the answer to it.

And I, I think that in, in many ways, like purpose is.  a construct that we've created where usually what happens is you, you have this curiosity or inclination towards something. At some point you commit to it, you have conviction or confidence that like, yeah, I'll, I'll put more energy into this, then it becomes your passion.

And then inevitably, if you're passionate about something, You start getting external validation, right? People are like, Oh, that's pretty cool. You've done pretty well. And then maybe you make some money doing it. If you are business minded. And then that creates this positive cycle of, okay. The more I do my passion, the more people compliment me, the more money I make, maybe there's this thing.

And so, and then at a certain point, you tie that to a greater mission or purpose. We're we're lucky that we're in a time where people care about impact and they, you know, want business and impact to be aligned. once it's tied to impact, and you're seeing other people positively being affected by the work that you're doing at a certain point, you decide, you're like, Oh, this is my purpose.

so, so that's really how I think about it, where it's there, isn't some divine inspiration. It's just going to handy your purpose. Also, we don't only have one purpose. It's kind of just where you drive yourself towards. and it's also often informed by your own personal experiences. So you have to be willing to be vulnerable and emotional and recognize those painful parts in your life.

Like there's a reason why, people who have gone through. You know, sexual abuse, want to empower sexual abuse survivors. There's a reason why, people who have, you know, friends or, friends who have been incarcerated now, they're fighting for the rights of incarcerated people around the world.

And, there's a reason why, you know, for me as a, as a minority woman, who. experience some of the things I experienced while raising money and then just working in finance and tech that I'm really passionate about helping women step into their power and learn to be confident because it's something that I overcame and I can empathize when you're on the other side of it.

I think that there's a lot of other things I could be passionate and feel purpose around, but a certain point, I do think it's important to choose. And that's that's, that's the important thing. Like you have to make a choice, because no one else is gonna make that choice for you.

Brandon Stover: [00:34:08] Yeah, I think, there's a lot of looking back and kind of seeing the puzzle pieces fit together as you construct this purpose, but when you're in the middle of it... So, you know, speaking of your own experience, when you were doing gymnastics and then you were doing the hedge fund, and then you were starting your first startup, how were you navigating what your purpose might be and building that along the way?

Lisa Wang: [00:34:33] I think that this is a story that people don't tell you about, which is like a lot of times, most of us just have no idea what we're doing. We don't have a clear purpose. We kind of stumble around and we have experiences that affect us deeply. And if you take the time to reflect on that, the deep impact of an experience and analyze it and say, Hey, like this kind of wasn't great.

I. Want to never experience it in this way again. And I want to help other people not have to go through the pain that I went through. and that's, that's really, I think how, how purpose starts coming along, but it's like, that means you need to put yourself out there. Right? And, and experience failure, take risks, experience rejection, because all of those things are opportunities to learn and figure out what you're passionate about.

Brandon Stover: [00:35:28] Well, I appreciate you saying, most people don't know what they're actually doing. They're kind of figuring out along the way. And I think if more people were to come out and say that, rather than put sort of like a front on or like, you know, I know what I'm doing, we're, we're all just kind of figuring it out along the way. And I think it's powerful to hear others say that.

What are some practices that you have for self reflection and kind of putting those puzzle pieces together?

Lisa Wang: [00:35:55] so I do a lot of my self reflecting on Apple notes on my iPhone and which is synced with my Mac. And I mean, I think at this point I have like 5,000 notes of ideas that I jot down. I think the most powerful question is just why. and I asked that question to myself, why did I react like that?

Why did I feel like that in the presence of this person? Why did this question make me feel uncomfortable? What about this experience? You know, like why did it make me happy? Why was I surprised? and so it's asking myself those questions, those why questions, and analyzing myself in a way that's, that's focused on wanting to grow.

Wanting to become a better, stronger person. because in many ways  I see myself as a role model as someone who has the, the potential to inspire millions of people. And, therefore I have a responsibility to not allow setbacks to. Bring me down, but rather to constantly see things as a learning opportunity and then reflecting upon them as lessons that I could eventually share with other people.

Brandon Stover: [00:37:11] When do you decide that it's time to move on from the rumination of maybe being in that WHY cycle to actually take action and moving towards what you want?

Lisa Wang: [00:37:21] You can practice it the next day. Right? It's like, I think when you, we kind of break down, where you learn a lot of lessons, like a lot of our lessons come from interactions with people, right? So whether it's business, whether it's personal, whether it's family, friends, and there's always an opportunity to try it with another person or, you know, try it again with the person that you were, you know, having some sort of thing with, positive or negative and say, let's try and work this out a different way. When it comes to opportunities where you're like something as simple as, Oh, I shouldn't have responded that way on email.

Right. well next I guarantee you, there's going to be another opportunity for you to respond and be like, okay. I learned from that last time, now I'm going to try this way. Look who you were yesterday. Doesn't have to define who you are today, and you have to have the courage to choose to be someone different the next day, which doesn't mean being inauthentic.

It's just, it's iterating. my friends joke to me that the same way that I think about ideas and businesses, where it's like, Just launch and iterate launch and iterate. Just keep going, just try and learn. It's the same way that I approach my own personal growth. It's the same way that I approach, you know, my, my dating and romantic life, which is, you know, you don't have to take things personally, if you, if you're it's like business, if your idea doesn't like you, you don't.

Go be all sad all day. It's like the thing with dating and such. It's like, if someone doesn't like you it's, or you don't like them, or it's the wrong fit, you don't need to take rejection. So personally just like, alright cool. Like let's iterate for the next time you like better.

If You Are Building Your Dream Right Now

Brandon Stover: [00:39:03] You have a quote that hangs on your wall from Walt Disney that is "if you can dream it, you can do it." What would you tell the founder who is grinding away right now on a dream?

Lisa Wang: [00:39:16] I mean, the quote pretty much says it all. the biggest limit for most of us is ourselves. It's our own belief in who we are and what's possible. I mean, life is a constant battle with yourself to bow, to believe in yourself, to believe that the reality that is in front of you. Today, when you wake up in the morning that you have the power to change it.

And I was having a, a conversation with a friend recently where I was just really thinking of about, especially during this time, during coronavirus, where there's a lot of time for reflection and you wake up in the same environment and you wonder like Groundhog day, is I think that the reality is there's a  majority of people wake up every day and life is a disappointment.

And I say that because, most people wake up and they're like another day, like, man, my alarm got to slog through. I can't wait for the weekend. Right. They're not actually living. They're just, they're, they're surviving the internal world is so much richer. Right. And, this is why I think of like artists and storytellers are so important because we articulate or, take what we see in our internal world and like make it tangible for the external world.

We bring beauty, we bring, emotion and make it three D so.  but the thing is the external world is more tangible. You see it and the battle or the challenge is to not let disappointment about the external world, like surpass the will of your internal world, and learning how to build up those reinforcements internally to remember that you don't need to be dictated by the external world. I mean, you think of the stories of people who came from poverty, right? And then they made it, or the person who came from an abusive family and then made it, and it's like, well, what's the difference between that person and the millions of other people who are also in poverty who also experienced abuse or, you know, anything else, that that's just unfortunate circumstance  and the only thing is they just wanted it more.

How Lisa Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

My first thought is that we don't need to push people. And what we need to do is we need to listen. We need to create space for people to feel heard because when people don't feel heard or they don't believe that people care about their voice, that's when you create anger and resentment and fear. And when that is suppressed long enough, it will eventually erupt into violence and war and bloodshed. And that is not what we need right now. so just listen and speak up and speak up when you see injustice.

Selected Links & Resources From This Episode

Connect With Lisa Carmen Wang:

Blog | Website | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

Want to hear an episode with the coach Lisa listens to all the time on the Reboot Podcast? — Listen to my conversation with the CEO Whisperer Jerry Colonna in which we discuss how to become a better leader through radical self inquiry and he coaches me through some vulnerable childhood memories.

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Lisa Interview

Brandon Stover: [00:00:54] Hey, everyone. Welcome to evolve. Today's guest is one of Entrepreneur Magazine's 100 most powerful women.

Yet she did not learn the entrepreneurial skills of grit, resilience, and determination from a background in startups. Starting at nine years old, she pushed herself to the top of gymnastics, earning a spot in the hall of fame by the age of 19. However, what makes her one of the most renowned names as a hall of fame gymnast is not her victories, but how she handled herself in defeat.

In her dream to compete in the Olympics, she missed her qualifying run by a fraction of a point. Yet she did not sulk or call it quits. Instead she trained harder than ever to come back nine months later as a four time, US national champion and gold medalist.

Refusing to let her pass be bigger than her future, she retired that chapter in her life and has gone on to become a serial founde of, three startups, including Sheworx, which became the leading global platform empowering 20,000 plus female entrepreneurs to build and scale successful companies and was acquired by Republic in 2019.

This extraordinary woman has been named Forbes 30 under 30, CIO top 20 female entrepreneurs to watch, red bull hero of the year, red shoe movement hall of fame, and she has spoken on hundreds of international stages, including YPO, chief innovation officer summit, mobile world congress, heart of their university, and more. And she's been featured in Forbes, fortune, business insider, the wall street journal and dozens dozens more. And she has also been on the advisory board member to Delta and Pepsi CO's women made initiative.

Get to this introspective woman, these accolades are just checked off boxes. Her real passion lies in liberating women and helping them step into their full power. In a culmination of decades of mental, physical, and professional training,  she now provides world-class executive coaching through the global league of women and changing narratives through her podcast.

I'm honored to welcome founder and CEO of GLOW, two time podcast hosts, and a woman who was born two hours after the 1988 summer Olympics.  Lisa Carmen Wang.

Lisa Wang: [00:02:58] Thank you Brandon. Happy to be here.

Brandon Stover: [00:03:01] Well, my first question is, is it actually true that your mom was in labor with you during the Olympics and that your dad was saying basically the baby will come after the race has finished.

Lisa Wang: [00:03:11] Apparently, I mean, I don't have a direct memory of that, but that is the retelling that I have heard.

The One Thing All Champions Have: Fierce Focus

Brandon Stover: [00:03:18] Well, it kinda gives a good sense to start gymnastics  when you were very young and spent 10 years on the path to mastery of that, can you walk us through what it means to commit to mastery and go down that path? Because I think it's something very powerful that you need as a founder.

Lisa Wang: [00:03:34] Yeah, well, people have always asked me this question even when I was younger and they would always say, How do you do it? How do you stay so focused? Back then, I didn't know exactly how to articulate it, but what I did know was that I had a very clear vision of who I wanted to become. So at that point, I said, I want to become an Olympian and I want to be an Ivy league graduate.

And I was willing to bet my entire adolescence on turning that vision into a reality. The thing is, it wasn't that I had extraordinary confidence on the contrary, my self esteem throughout my childhood was actually very much below average. And I also felt like an outsider as an Asian in predominantly white circles.

What I could count on always though was my hard work ethic, my focus and my vision.  So even in those moments of insecurity, when I felt like I didn't belong, which is something that everyone almost experiences, I would just remind myself of my goals,  and I told myself that any feelings of inferiority that I had would pass.

So I would just close my eyes. Visualize who I knew I could become and could see myself perfectly executing those routines, standing on the podium, gold medal around my neck, and  imagine myself smiling at my parents in the crowd and just feeling this sense of fulfillment, because I knew that everything I had sacrificed had finally paid off.

The trick there is really that.  In my head, I had already made it.  it was this ability of believing in my dream reality so much so that. It's almost like the world conspired to help me make it happen. And I define this now as something called fierce focus.  Fierce focus is the intense commitment to a clear vision, driven by an unwavering belief in one's own ability to achieve it.

That's the thing that I think all champions have in common. All winners have in common. Is this fierce focus.

Brandon Stover: [00:05:44] You have this fierce focus, you had this vision and you have the dream. When you miss that  qualifying round by a quarter of a point, how did you not let this shatter your identity and just call it quits?

Lisa Wang: [00:05:56] One of my favorite quotes is by my Angelo. And, she talks about how the greatest burden  is your untold story.  the exact quote is there's no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.  As I thought about my story, that wasn't the way that my story was going to end.

There was more that I still needed to tell.  I kind of zoomed out on my life at that point. I talk often about metacognition and how there's like the reality that's happening to you. And then there is the stepping outside of your. Immediate reality and like observing it as if you were above yourself.

When I did that, I just said, that's not who Lisa is, she doesn't end losing. it was that conviction again,  that wasn't my dream,  that wasn't going to be my reality, and  I would regret it for the rest of my life  if I didn't try to end it the way that I wanted to.

Brandon Stover: [00:06:51] What I love about that  part of your story is you decided that you wanted to get better.  So you went and put in the time at the Russian Olympic training center and  was training for God awful amounts of time during the day. I think really committing to that vision that you had.

Lisa Wang: [00:07:06] there was definitely a chip on my shoulder, to prove that I did belong there. This desire to prove people wrong, right. To prove the judges wrong. That is something that continues to drive me. It's every time I'm underestimated, every time people think I can't do it, or judge me for the way that I look it's, it's almost like in my head, I have this tally Mark of  just one more reason to succeed and prove people wrong.

How To Feel Like Enough As An Entrepreneur

Brandon Stover: [00:07:35] afterwards, you got your gold medals, you went to Yale, got a job and in successful  hedge fund. It seems like you were racking up these tally points. What was going on for you internally during that time?

Lisa Wang: [00:07:47] To me, there's just never been a question in my mind that I, it was meant to be successful. what has changed is my definition of success Whereas many, many people fall into the trap of believing success is, a game of checkboxes of accumulation of material goods, money, cars, houses, keeping up with the Joneses.

The way I define success now is really around creating, defining, and then creating your ideal reality. and mine is around, having the freedom to work on the things that I'm passionate about to be around people who inspire and motivate me without ever having to be afraid financially. it's not about as much money as possible. It's really around this idea of freedom.

back then, it's it was coming from a place of trying to prove that I was enough and I created a podcast called enoughness previously. That was, that's now rebranded to leadership with Lisa, ironically, even that rebrand is a reflection of how I started to perceive myself, which was  always, when is it ever enough? When am I ever going to feel like I'm enough? Realizing that a lot of people have these, these thoughts of scarcity. But when I finally stopped caring, about the external definition of success, that's when I realized that I'm already a leader and that I could come from a place of abundance.

when I think about the work that I do now,  it comes from this idea that the most valuable thing you can give people is a shift in perspective because you can't force anyone to do anything. You can't force them to live there life the way you want them to. But what you can do is help them see their own lives differently. And from that, perhaps motivate them too, go after bigger dreams or build something that's more aligned with how they want to live.

Brandon Stover: [00:09:47] Yeah, on the subject of enoughness, how did you come to the serenity with yourself that you were enough, but also striving as an entrepreneur and still going after those big goals?

Lisa Wang: [00:09:58] The thing that people often would push back on is they would say, well, if I feel like I'm enough, won't I become apathetic That's clearly for me, not true. I had that fear a little bit myself of if I go easy on myself, maybe I just won't be motivated and I'll become lazy. that hasn't happened and it's more of a mindset of appreciation and self-love where you can still want more.

But you're wanting it for the right reasons, the right reasons being to live a fulfilling life to you.  when you feel fulfilled, you're going to be more motivated to create impact for other people. You're going to feel more motivated to give back.  that was what I had to do.

I had to focus on self love.   I created the self love challenge that, I've shared with a number of women in the glow community. That are just reflections  of the exercise that I've done on my own.

From Gold Medal Gymnast To First Time Startup Founder

Brandon Stover: [00:10:54] during your process of your own discovery, what drove you to start your first startup, which was fooze, and go through an accelerator and  jump into the startup world.

Lisa Wang: [00:11:04] So I was working at a hedge fund at the time and this term creative freedom is something that I've always, it's always been there. all I know is that at that fund, I did not have creative freedom there. This voice inside of me that needed to be expressed that needed to take ownership. And, I left because of that feeling of I'm not happy here.

I'm not like  letting myself  explore my full potential. And so I ended up working at a mobile design development agency in New York, where I could work with the CEO and oversee all these other startups, pitching him to have him develop their apps and watch how he gave them feedback. So I learned what worked, what didn't work.

I just had an itch. I was like, I think I could be a founder. That was, that was, that was pretty much it. And I went to a hackathon, which is a three day weekend event where you got to pitch an idea and try and hack together a prototype in a weekend. I just thought about what my own issues were as a 20 some year old in New York.

And it was at the point when there was no Postmates yet. You know, there was no Uber eat yet.  the one button delivery still didn't exist. I was like, wow, it's really hard to get late night food and quality late night food, especially when it's freezing in New York. the on demand wave was just starting and I thought, well, it's a problem. My friends have it's problem. I have. And that would be cool to pitch. ended up winning that hackathon, which was a really big surprise to me. It was judged by VCs and, It gave me the boost in confidence that I needed.

And so in the early days, all I really did was I just thought one step ahead at a time, because next thing was okay now I need someone to build an MVP. Just so happened to work at a mobile design development agencies. So I was like, okay, how do I convince the developers to think this is a cool idea and help me. that was my next mission.  they helped me put together an MVP.

and then the next step was. okay, what do I need? I need money. Where in the world do I get money? And I had never heard of accelerators. I'd never really, I didn't know anything much about the tech world and I just Googled, I Googled around and it said things like, you have to create a pitch deck. I was like, great. I have no idea how to create a pitch deck, but I'll do.

And it says. Companies that have cofounders are more likely to get money than solo founders. So I thought, great. Now I need to find a co founder. That is not the way I recommend which I learned the hard way, but the point is then I got an interview at this food accelerator, food tech accelerator, and the interview was, was really around  founder fit.

I remember that most of the questions they asked me were really around  how I thought about problems, how I had solved problems in the past. and that's what you learn from even. VCs today it's most of it is really around. Do we believe in the founder and the founding team that they could be able to execute this.

And because early stage you're expecting companies to pivot and most of the bet is really on the people. And so I guess I was really able to sell a  compelling story around why I was  going to never give up as a founder.  I got into the accelerator, got money  and it was time to learn how to build.

Brandon Stover: [00:14:30] So what ultimately happened with the, how come that wasn't the startup that took off?

Lisa Wang: [00:14:35] So there are a couple of things. One was, I was building a late night munchies delivery company.  In order to solve other people's problems. I realized I was living my own nightmare, which is I had to stay up till 5:00 AM, monitoring logistics. I hate doing logistics in general. It was a fully just operations heavy company.

I was managing the bike fleet and I realized I would rather get served. My food then serve other people. Like it's just, I'd rather be in my bed waiting for my food to come. it was a realization like this. Isn't what I meant to do. I'm not passionate about it. I was passionate about starting a company and creating impact, but this wasn't necessarily the impact that I wanted.

Also. I wasn't really, inspired. At the end of the day by the customers we were serving. Which were people late at night who need, who need munchies.

Brandon Stover: [00:15:27] right. Exactly.

Lisa Wang: [00:15:29] But it was also during that process that when I went to Silicon Valley to fundraise and realized just how hard it was raised as a woman. and that was prior to me to, prior to any of these.

Initiatives around supporting female entrepreneurs.  I felt totally alone from my experiences. And I thought there must be other women who are experiencing what I'm experiencing. And she works was born really as a passion project to help me solve that challenge myself because, just  needed to be around other people who could empathize with that journey.

Brandon Stover: [00:16:01] So this was the passion that ultimately led to starting up she works?

Lisa Wang: [00:16:05] Yeah. So again, it was solving a problem that I had and interestingly, the investors who wouldn't respond to me when I was just a founder pitching, suddenly did want to respond to me when I said I'm leading this organization and I want to feature you to speak to all these other female entrepreneurs.

And I think of it now where it's really around. There's kind of two currencies. In this world, there's financial capital in their social capital. Without realizing it, what I've done, especially in the last few years with she works in a lot of the other initiatives that I've created, it's around social capital, right?

It's a currency that is more and more valuable. And. Can be shaped in different ways to increase or decrease value exchange.

Using The Fuck Yes Mentality To Discover Her Passion

Brandon Stover: [00:16:55] Well, when it comes to passion, you have this mentality of things being a fuck. Yes or fuck. No. So how did you navigate this, using this mentality in your life and your business and finding out that she works as really what you wanted to be doing?

Lisa Wang: [00:17:11] So this fuck yes or no mentality came from my natural inclination to be really indecisive. which I also discovered was rooted in my lack of confidence in my own voice and my own preferences. growing up as someone who just didn't really trust in my own judgment or intuition, as I grew up in, as I built my confidence and self love, I realized my intuition is really strong.  I actually I know a lot. And, it, it kinda, I've kind of done that one 80 of just really emphasizing my own capacity for making good decisions, especially if I've experienced them before. this confidence in my decision making ability and, especially vetting out things. That make me happy or make me unhappy, helps me inform how I shape my environments and the people I surround myself with and the opportunities that I go for.

So I say that there's kind of the external world and the internal world. And on the external world, you've got people environments. Material resources, opportunities that other people are throwing your way. And then internally you have your perception, your motivation, your willpower, your emotions, and you can only really control the internal.

so first you have to really know what it is that inspires you. What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy, to help you figure out what you want. And then from figuring out what you want and clearly defining those aspects. That's when you can start to field opportunities and people that are fits or not fit.

as I think about the, whether it's the businesses that I pursue or, or anything else,  there's kind of a second layer to the fuck. Yes or no. And that's the impact and profit consideration. is this making a positive impact? Is this creating the type of impact in the world that I want?

And then profit is okay. Is this going to be profitable for my bottom line? if there's something that's very profitable opportunity, but doesn't inspire me on an impact side, then that's still falls in the no category. Not the fuck. Yes. if it's something that's really, that's like socially impactful, but it's going to be really hard for me financially to like to, justify it then maybe it's, it's it's not a fuck. Yes, yet.

So I think that there's different ways for people to think about it, but at the end of the day, it's like the fuck. Yes or no, can come at an intuitive level as well as if it's a business opportunity, then the profit impact considerations.

Brandon Stover: [00:19:53] Yeah. How did you use this mental model when you were deciding to be acquired by Republic?

Lisa Wang: [00:19:59] I had been working on the company at that point. I think almost it was around four and a half years. the thing that had occurred to me really was around this. Enoughness concept that I had been. Working on myself. And what I realized with thousands of women that I'd work with is that all these women who are trying to raise money, scale their businesses, that.

It didn't matter how many tactics we taught them at the end of the day. If she didn't feel like she was enough, if she wasn't confident in herself, she never closed. She didn't close the sale, the deal, the negotiation, the fundraise. And so it was really about a much deeper core root problem. And that root problem was lack of enoughness

that lack of enoughness comes from so many false beliefs. We have about ourselves as a result of parental upbringing, society, media, culture, et cetera. And that is what got me interested in the root issues, like really, really deep root causes. I've always been interested in psychology, but, the co like coaching, realizing that coaching was something that I had benefited from, and that was one way to be able to tackle these root issues.

So essentially it got to the point where I found that I could be making greater impact or I believed with  my voice and my teachings that could tackle these root problems, rather than only talking about the symptoms, which were lack of funding for female entrepreneurs, lack of female investors.

it's an isolated world, you know, venture capital and entrepreneurship and leaders. Are not just entrepreneurs, it, crosses the boundaries of the, the industry and profession that you're in. And I think at that time and still to a degree now, entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley are glamorized.

And, I just was no longer as inspired by that echo chamber as I was when I started. Oh,

Brandon Stover: [00:22:05] Had you felt like that you had reached the point of feeling like enough for yourself that you basically wanted to free other women of that?

Lisa Wang: [00:22:16] Yup.

Helping Other Women Relize Their Own Power

Brandon Stover: [00:22:17] how do you help women to do that? To realize their own power, to feel like enough.

Lisa Wang: [00:22:23] so I recently completed my executive coaching certification. and  the biggest difference between, so we use this model of the there's a psychologist. There is a friend and there's a coach. So psychologists or psychiatrists, tend to. Focus on the past.

What happened in your childhood? What trauma that's, where we're going to reveal that, to see how it affects you now and how we can release that past trauma. A friend is present focused. We say how's life, how's work, how's relationships. And they're primarily there for emotional support and empathy. And a coach is the only person. In your life.

If you choose to work with one who will consistently be future focused, they'll say, okay, what do you want to achieve? What ideas do you have to reach those milestones? How are we going to keep you accountable to where you're going? and that's what you're paying a coach for, right? It's it's to realign where you are presently to continue driving forward towards the things you want to achieve.

That's where in the work that I do with women, especially with the coaching aspect, it's, we're not going to spend all day talking about the problems, which is where I think a lot of organizations fall short or a lot of panel discussions fall short when it comes to discussions around gender inequality.

And it's always about problems. it's very sad that women aren't getting funding, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, but that's great.  I'm not one who's inspired by talking about problems all day. I'm always like, okay, well what's next? How do we solve it? And so that's where I really enjoy the coaching aspect is where we have something that I've created called the leadership dashboard.

And so when women become members of the glow, they fill out their leadership dashboard, which, is going to be their guide for the following quarter in terms of the goals that they want to achieve the vision and mission that they have for their life. their life. Metrics, like what are the KPIs? The key performance indicators that will allow them to track that they are making the right progress towards their goals.

we, we identify. Opportunities for development. So what areas in your life do you still want to develop skills that could make a big difference in your career in life? we're going to acknowledge things that might be holding you back now, but then we figured out ways to release those false beliefs so that we can move forward.

Brandon Stover: [00:24:56] I think this is important because as you mentioned, a lot of people will stay at that problem stage and continue talking about it. but never say, you know, okay, these are the cards that were Dell. How are we going to play these to get better, to actually reach the goal that we want and have it on our understanding of where we're

Lisa Wang: [00:25:10] Yes.

How The Power Of Story Can Change Your Life

Brandon Stover: [00:25:12] you talk a lot about, story and narratives and you have a podcast, you know, sharing other people's stories. What is the power of story for influencing someone's beliefs?

Lisa Wang: [00:25:22] Stories are the only way that you can move someone's heart. Whereas logic and data and numbers can, provide a foundation of. Fact. The reality is as humans, you need to move someone emotionally before you can convince them otherwise to do, to do anything else.

There's a lot of things, where it comes to, suppressed groups, right. Just minority groups. And that includes, you know, in the, in this case where I specifically focus is women. I think that there's something really powerful about the word I in storytelling, because it's the most vulnerable thing you can share. It's about your own personal experiences. And quite honestly, it's the only true story you can tell.

I often hear leaders who I. Don't necessarily respect. I'm using you a lot. They'll say you guys need to do this. Like, they'll talk about the masses and like the, you, you, you, but they never say I, you know, and I, it was really tough for me when I did XYZ and here's what I learned and here's how I'd like to help.

because the thing is it's the most vulnerable way to share a story. And at the end of the day, the only reality you can really talk about is your own, I can't purport to know how anyone else feels truly. and so I think about it as when you have the. Courage to share who you are authentically and vulnerably, you create space for someone else to do the same.

And that's where I think it's really powerful and why create my podcast around sharing other people's voices because, and encouraging them to share really vulnerably. Because I think that when people realize that leaders are people, we really respect also go through tough times that it's okay for them to feel that way as well.

Brandon Stover: [00:27:19] What responsibility do you think we have as media producers to broadcast messages like these, especially in a global conversation, such as the ones that we're in.

Lisa Wang: [00:27:29] I mean, I think that, yeah, there's, there's a duty to share diverse perspectives for sure. that's something that, I've noticed things like, oftentimes when I. When I see men's bookshelves, the majority of the authors are male. and it's, it's. It's coincidental. Right? I remember this one time I saw this, this man's bookshelf and it was books about the economy and leadership and business building and entrepreneurship and power and biographies.

And I asked him, do you have a single book here? That's written by a woman? And he was like, yeah, yeah, I've got this one book. and. it's unconscious, right? but I think being aware of those unconscious biases, and then realizing that the more you read those types of books, like the less you are creating, like you, you just don't have room in your mind for narratives by other people. and there was this. Author that I really respect. And she was giving a talk and she was, an African American woman. And she said, I had there, there was this, when Michelle Obama's book came out becoming that this man came to me and he says, I like, I, I bought all, I bought this book for all of my best female friends, women I'm inspired by and he felt really good about himself.

And she said, well, I appreciate that, but I think what would really make a difference if you bought that book for all your male friends and it, so again, like it didn't occur to him, but she was like, that's the mistake that we have. It's like, we try to help. But the best way you can help is to actively try to read stories and listen to stories by people who are, who haven't been part of the dominant narrative.

Brandon Stover: [00:29:21] yeah. What practices do you take in order to make sure that you're getting different perspectives?

Lisa Wang: [00:29:26] I mean, for me, it's just, it's the types of people that I talk to. Like, I, I actively, try to meet different people who aren't necessarily an entrepreneurship venture capital. who, you know, recently it's people of different ambition levels. You know, I tend to surround myself with a lot of ambitious, inspiring people and during Corona, right?

Like I'm in Texas right now. And, Since the bands have been lifted a bit, you know, the city is opening up and I'm meeting people who just, who don't have the perspective that I have. And I try not to prejudge. Right. I, you stay in a place of curiosity of really asking people, why they chose what they chose, what they're motivated by, what.

Yeah, what they're passionate about and what makes them happy. And I think if you stay in that state and you just create space for people to share why they choose to live the way that they live, then it's Yeah. It's, it's like information gathering, but really you have no right to judge how someone else wants to live their life.

Brandon Stover: [00:30:32] Is there any podcasts that you recommend, that offer this alternative perspective?

Lisa Wang: [00:30:37] well, I, I love listening to reboot podcast. and then of course, how I built this, as an entrepreneur. so those are kind of my, my two that I listened to.

How To Unlock Your Purpose

Brandon Stover: [00:30:48] Well with glow, you've called this your life's work and you think pretty adamantly about purpose and making an impact on the world. how do we unlock our own purpose and start taking steps towards that?

Lisa Wang: [00:31:01] First is recognizing what you're afraid of. Finding purpose is a really big, it's a big deal. I mean, it's at the end of the day, if you think across centuries, you know, the, the millennia basically since humankind has existed, the biggest question is like, what's the point of life? Like, why am I here?

What's my purpose. It's the question. That's perplexed philosophers, you know, since the beginning of time. And there is no answer to that. And, you know, even with an existential philosophy, there's, it's like, does my purpose exists when I'm born? Or do I have to find my purpose? Like the, you know, no one really knows the answer to it.

And I, I think that in, in many ways, like purpose is.  a construct that we've created where usually what happens is you, you have this curiosity or inclination towards something. At some point you commit to it, you have conviction or confidence that like, yeah, I'll, I'll put more energy into this, then it becomes your passion.

And then inevitably, if you're passionate about something, You start getting external validation, right? People are like, Oh, that's pretty cool. You've done pretty well. And then maybe you make some money doing it. If you are business minded. And then that creates this positive cycle of, okay. The more I do my passion, the more people compliment me, the more money I make, maybe there's this thing.

And so, and then at a certain point, you tie that to a greater mission or purpose. We're we're lucky that we're in a time where people care about impact and they, you know, want business and impact to be aligned. once it's tied to impact, and you're seeing other people positively being affected by the work that you're doing at a certain point, you decide, you're like, Oh, this is my purpose.

so, so that's really how I think about it, where it's there, isn't some divine inspiration. It's just going to handy your purpose. Also, we don't only have one purpose. It's kind of just where you drive yourself towards. and it's also often informed by your own personal experiences. So you have to be willing to be vulnerable and emotional and recognize those painful parts in your life.

Like there's a reason why, people who have gone through. You know, sexual abuse, want to empower sexual abuse survivors. There's a reason why, people who have, you know, friends or, friends who have been incarcerated now, they're fighting for the rights of incarcerated people around the world.

And, there's a reason why, you know, for me as a, as a minority woman, who. experience some of the things I experienced while raising money and then just working in finance and tech that I'm really passionate about helping women step into their power and learn to be confident because it's something that I overcame and I can empathize when you're on the other side of it.

I think that there's a lot of other things I could be passionate and feel purpose around, but a certain point, I do think it's important to choose. And that's that's, that's the important thing. Like you have to make a choice, because no one else is gonna make that choice for you.

Brandon Stover: [00:34:08] Yeah, I think, there's a lot of looking back and kind of seeing the puzzle pieces fit together as you construct this purpose, but when you're in the middle of it. So, you know, speaking of your own experience, you know, when you were doing gymnastics and then you were doing the hedge fund, and then you were starting your first startup, how were you kind of navigating, you know, what your purpose might be and building that along the way?

Lisa Wang: [00:34:33] I think that this is a story that people don't tell you about, which is like a lot of times, most of us just have no idea what we're doing. We don't have a clear purpose. We kind of stumble around and we have experiences that affect us deeply. And if you take the time to reflect on that, the deep impact of an experience and analyze it and say, Hey, like this kind of wasn't great.

I. Want to never experience it in this way again. And I want to help other people not have to go through the pain that I went through. and that's, that's really, I think how, how purpose starts coming along, but it's like, that means you need to put yourself out there. Right? And, and experience failure, take risks, experience rejection, because all of those things are opportunities to learn and figure out what you're passionate about.

Brandon Stover: [00:35:28] Well, I appreciate you saying, most people don't know what they're actually doing. They're kind of figuring out along the way. And I think if more people were to come out and say that, rather than put sort of like a front on or like, you know, I know what I'm doing, we're, we're all just kind of figuring it out along the way. and I think it's powerful to hear others say that.

what are some practices that you have for self reflection and kind of putting those puzzle pieces together?

Lisa Wang: [00:35:55] so I do a lot of my self reflecting on Apple notes on my iPhone and which is synced with my Mac. And I mean, I think at this point I have like 5,000 notes of ideas that I jot down. I think the most powerful question is just why. and I asked that question to myself, why did I react like that?

Why did I feel like that in the presence of this person? Why did this question make me feel uncomfortable? What about this experience? You know, like why did it make me happy? Why was I surprised? and so it's asking myself those questions, those why questions, and analyzing myself in a way that's, that's focused on wanting to grow.

Wanting to become a better, stronger person. because in many ways  I see myself as a role model as someone who has the, the potential to inspire millions of people. And, therefore I have a responsibility to not allow setbacks to. Bring me down, but rather to constantly see things as a learning opportunity and then reflecting upon them as lessons that I could eventually share with other people.

Brandon Stover: [00:37:11] When do you, decide that it's time to move on from the rumination of maybe being in that Y cycle to actually take it? Action and moving towards what you want.

Lisa Wang: [00:37:21] You can practice it the next day. Right? It's like, I think when you, we kind of break down, where you learn a lot of lessons, like a lot of our lessons come from interactions with people, right? So whether it's business, whether it's personal, whether it's family, friends, and there's always an opportunity to try it with another person or, you know, try it again with the person that you were, you know, having some sort of thing with, positive or negative and say, let's try and work this out a different way. When it comes to opportunities where you're like something as simple as, Oh, I shouldn't have responded that way on email.

Right. well next I guarantee you, there's going to be another opportunity for you to respond and be like, okay. I learned from that last time, now I'm going to try this way. Look who you were yesterday. Doesn't have to define who you are today, and you have to have the courage to choose to be someone different the next day, which doesn't mean being inauthentic.

It's just, it's iterating. my friends joke to me that the same way that I think about ideas and businesses, where it's like, Just launch and iterate launch and iterate. Just keep going, just try and learn. It's the same way that I approach my own personal growth. It's the same way that I approach, you know, my, my dating and romantic life, which is, you know, you don't have to take things personally, if you, if you're it's like business, if your idea doesn't like you, you don't.

Go be all sad all day. It's like the thing with dating and such. It's like, if someone doesn't like you it's, or you don't like them, or it's the wrong fit, you don't need to take rejection. So personally just like, alright cool. Like let's iterate for the next time you like better.

If You Are Building Your Dream Right Now

Brandon Stover: [00:39:03] you have a quote that hangs on your wall from Walt Disney. That's if you can dream it, you can do it. What would you tell the founder who is grinding away right now on a dream? They have to make the world better.

Lisa Wang: [00:39:16] I mean, the quote pretty much says it all. the biggest limit for most of us is ourselves. It's our own belief in who we are and what's possible. I mean, life is a constant battle with yourself to bow, to believe in yourself, to believe that the reality that is in front of you. Today, when you wake up in the morning that you have the power to change it.

And I was having a, a conversation with a friend recently where I was just really thinking of about, especially during this time, during coronavirus, where there's a lot of time for reflection and you wake up in the same environment and you wonder like Groundhog day, is I think that the reality is there's a  majority of people wake up every day and life is a disappointment.

And I say that because, most people wake up and they're like another day, like, man, my alarm got to slog through. I can't wait for the weekend. Right. They're not actually living. They're just, they're, they're surviving the internal world is so much richer. Right. And, this is why I think of like artists and storytellers are so important because we articulate or, take what we see in our internal world and like make it tangible for the external world.

We bring beauty, we bring, emotion and make it three D so.  but the thing is the external world is more tangible. You see it and the battle or the challenge is to not let disappointment about the external world, like surpass the will of your internal world, and learning how to build up those reinforcements internally to remember that you don't need to be dictated by the external world. I mean, you think of the stories of people who came from poverty, right? And then they made it, or the person who came from an abusive family and then made it, and it's like, well, what's the difference between that person and the millions of other people who are also in poverty who also experienced abuse or, you know, anything else, that that's just unfortunate circumstance  and the only thing is they just wanted it more.

Brandon Stover: [00:41:32] Well, before I get to my last question, where can everybody find you and all the wonderful things that you put down?

Lisa Wang: [00:41:37] I am Lisa Carmen Wang on all social channels. and then the glow. Is you can access that. And my podcast leadership with lisa@theglow.org. my blog is her power dot  dot com.

How Lisa Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

Brandon Stover: [00:41:54] Awesome. Well, we will put all that in the show notes. my last question is how can we push the world to evolve?

Lisa Wang: [00:42:02] My first thought is that we don't need to push people. And what we need to do is we need to listen. We need to create space for people to feel heard because when people don't feel heard or they don't believe that people care about their voice, that's when you create anger and resentment and fear. And when that is suppressed long enough, it will eventually erupt into violence and war and bloodshed. And that is not what we need right now. so just listen and speak up and speak up when you see injustice.

Brandon Stover: [00:42:46] Well, I think youb for coming on and sharing your voice today and helping all of us to hopefully listen more and share our voices.

Lisa Wang: [00:42:54] Thank you.

About The Host

Brandon Stover

Brandon is an entrepreneur, certified professional coach, and podcast host. His aim is to evolve the individual through education, entertainment, and philosophy so together we can ask the world's biggest questions, build businesses to solve them, & live fulfilling lives in the process.

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