Female Disruptors: Natali Tshuva of Sternum On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

First, when you are building something new and innovative with no benchmark product to refer to, be very confident in your vision, despite the many “NOs” that you will likely receive throughout your journey. Second, there is always a path no one yet followed. Take pride in knowing you will be the first. Last but not least, most startups do not fail; it’s simply that entrepreneurs ultimately give up. Do not be that entrepreneur who gives up.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Natali Tshuva.

Natali Tshuva, CEO of Sternum, brings over 10 years of experience, both as a researcher and a team leader, in the field of offensive cybersecurity and software development. After graduating magna cum laude B.Sc. in Computer Science at the age of 19, as part of a special program for gifted and talented kids, Natali was handpicked to serve in IDF’s 8200 elite technology unit (the Israeli equivalent of NSA) as a low-level security software engineer. Prior to founding Sternum, Natali held several security research-related roles, including leading different R&D teams at two global cyber intelligence market leaders.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Thank you for inviting me to participate! I grew up with the dream of becoming a doctor, knowing from an early age that I wanted to make an impact. So I always asked myself- how can I best achieve that?

While that dream always remained, I also found another passion, cybersecurity. I pursued my undergraduate degree in computer science at 14 years old. After college, I was handpicked to serve in the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) esteemed 8200 cybersecurity unit as a security software engineer, where I designed, developed, and implemented sophisticated, critical software. Following my army service, I took on several security research-related roles, where I discovered several zero-day vulnerabilities in the Linux Kernel operating system, Android devices, and embedded systems, as well as led different R&D teams in building products and technologies.

But I eventually reached a crossroad. That childhood dream of mine to become a doctor remained and it was time to decide: should I continue on the already successful path of cybersecurity and technology, or switch focus completely and enter medical school? I battled with these conflicting thoughts for a while, but after consulting with one of my mentors, I realized that these two paths didn’t have to conflict after all. There was an option where both paths converged — cybersecurity and insights for the medical industry.

I discovered that due to security issues, life-saving medical devices that could have implemented advanced technologies and evolved to include remote treatments were often prevented from being released as they lacked the proper protection. I realized that by leveraging my domain expertise in cybersecurity and computer science, together with my passion for the medical field and saving lives, I could create a more significant and larger-scale impact than by practicing medicine. Creating technology that enables the connected revolution and offers insights from real-time data could truly make a difference across industries.

It was this passion to make an impact, my experience in cybersecurity, a deep interest in the connected revolution, and my mission to build something special that led me to co-found Sternum.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Until now, figuring out how to secure the IoT revolution was a big question mark. IoT devices affect and will continue to affect every aspect of our lives, yet they are very different from existing devices and networks that the cyber industry knows how to protect. While many companies have tried to use traditional solutions to secure IoT devices, it is now clear that those cybersecurity methods are simply not enough. Network security-based solutions only protect enterprises, not distributed environments where IoT is dominant. Passive approaches that include endlessly searching for and patching vulnerabilities are not sustainable and are very weak.

The IoT device market requires a new type of solution that is capable of preventing attacks and monitoring those diversified devices from within, while securing them at scale — whether old or new, high-end or low-end, resource-rich or limited, Linux or RTOS. While creating such technology is challenging, this is the work that we are committed to doing. It’s these solutions that will continue to disrupt the cybersecurity market.

We developed unified, military-grade solutions in order to secure the connected revolution from within. We leveraged our military experience, deep knowledge in vulnerability exploitation, and attack characteristics and embedded systems to create innovative solutions revolutionizing IoT cybersecurity for industries across the board, including critical infrastructure, medical devices, and other high-impact devices. This on-device solution is very disruptive, especially in a market that was and continues to be hyper-focused on network security-based solutions or vulnerability scanning. Building on top of these advanced on-device techniques to analyze and secure code, we offer first-of-its-kind visibility into those devices, enabling unique insights concerning various aspects.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

All I can say is, under any circumstances, do not go for an office that has a central air conditioning system. By the way, I am usually the one who prefers a cooler temperature.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have many talented and experienced friends who I’ve consulted with throughout the years, though I’m very careful who I take advice from.

One of my mentors, Professor Gabi Barbash, provided me with significant advice at the beginning of my journey. Before I started Sternum, I was seriously considering changing directions and becoming a doctor, so I consulted Gabi, who was the CEO of one of the biggest hospitals in Israel and a doctor himself. I explained how becoming a doctor was my dream, but that I had already established a prominent career in the cybersecurity and computer science space. Gabi heard me and asked about my motives. Then he delivered some of the soundest advice I ever heard. He said, and I quote: “you have a talent and with it you could be a great doctor, just like you’re a great technologist; however, you are ALREADY great at what you do. Take that and use it to make an impact on other industries including medical. Don’t waste any more years becoming the best in a new field when you already established yourself as the best in another.”

This was one of the most important insights I received that led me to co-found Sternum and make an impact on the medical industry through my existing unique skill set instead of pursuing an entirely different passion.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

When a truly new challenge appears that prevents us from moving forward and where existing solutions do little to clear a path forward — this is where innovation and disruption is usually positive. When a new approach enables new things to happen, this is where disruption is sustainable.

For instance, let’s take Sternum’s solution for medical devices. Until now, solutions that involve remote care and management of patients (through insulin pumps, pacemakers, neuromodulation devices, etc.) face a significant cybersecurity hurdle that prevented them from utilizing the full potential of connectivity. No existing solution could protect those embedded devices from within, as existing endpoint solutions for PCs or servers just wouldn’t work on embedded IoT devices. Sternum’s solution can protect old devices as well as new ones regardless of architecture, including the 3rd party code within medical devices which can pose significant cybersecurity risks and are considered hard to secure. Our solutions enable medical device manufacturers to innovate safely for better healthcare for us all.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

First, when you are building something new and innovative with no benchmark product to refer to, be very confident in your vision, despite the many “NOs” that you will likely receive throughout your journey.

Second, there is always a path no one yet followed. Take pride in knowing you will be the first.

Last but not least, most startups do not fail; it’s simply that entrepreneurs ultimately give up. Do not be that entrepreneur who gives up.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We are only at the beginning of our journey in securing the world of IoT devices. There is more to come as we continue to ensure that any connected device can have embedded protection and is able to be monitored and analyzed by its operator. So stay tuned!

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg was an inspiring read for me. Empowering women in the workplace is very important. In cybersecurity, where just 24 percent of workers are women, and even less are in leadership positions, I know first-hand the importance of encouraging young girls to reach for the stars.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This might not be the answer you’re expecting, but I’m actually not a big believer in life lesson quotes. I believe every person follows her or his individual path and learns lessons along the way. No quote can truly depict the human experience.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

An impactful movement that comes to mind is the international movement for women’s rights. Women are still facing violence, discrimination, and lack of rights across the globe; even in countries deemed most advanced we still see women forced to deal with painful inequalities. While many groups and minorities have suffered from many similar problems (and I empathize with them all), I think women are by far the most affected throughout history and if I could invest in one thing only — I would invest in that. If we can eliminate these inequalities, we will only be further empowered to solve the others as well, as they share the same traits.

How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/natali-tshuva-68b9b578/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Disruptors: Natali Tshuva of Sternum On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Britt Andreatta of 7th Mind On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Female Disruptors: Britt Andreatta of 7th Mind On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

In general, I think disruption is positive because it means that someone has challenged the standard ways of thinking and doing, whether that’s within an industry, market or individual organization. In marketplaces, disruption is generally healthy and a sign of an open economy. Sure, the organizations being disrupted may not be happy but it indicates that innovation is happening and those disrupted have a choice to evolve or double down on their original brand and/or value proposition.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Britt Andreatta.

Dr. Britt Andreatta is an internationally recognized thought leader who creates brain-science based solutions for today’s challenges and regularly consults with organizations on leadership development and learning strategy. The former CLO for Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning), Britt has 10 million+ views of her online courses. Named a Top 20 Influencer in 2020, Britt has authored several books and trademarked models.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Even in high school, I’ve always been someone who likes to help others be better. For the first stage of my career, I did that with college students, in my role as professor and dean. I created college success and leadership courses that have been adopted by several other universities. Then I pivoted to working with adult professionals on a variety of skills. I was the chief learning officer at Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) and it was during that time that I began studying neuroscience. Honestly, neuroscience was introduced to me in therapy–learning about the amygdala hijack started my ongoing curiosity.

I started learning about the neuroscience of learning to better my own craft. And then I knew I had to share what I was learning. My first book was on the brain science of learning, Wired to Grow: Harness the Power of Brain Science to Learn and Master Any Skill, which has become a go-to source in the learning industry. Through that experience, I became a keynote speaker and consultant, working with organizations around the world. I’ve since written 2 more books on the brain science of success, one on leading effective change and another on creating peak-performing teams. When people began asking if they could get certified in my models, we launched the trainer certification aspect of my business. I now have this perfect blend of research, writing, speaking, consulting, and training with each part informing or enhancing the others.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I’d say my work creates lots of little disruptions across a wide range of topics. My research brings new insights to common workplace challenges by adding a deeper understanding of how humans are wired neurologically. The modern workplace often asks employees to work against their biology, which leads to challenges to things like collaboration, change, innovation, teamwork, productivity, and professional growth. My research and models have created significant shifts in how people approach and resolve these challenges, which leads to higher employee engagement, productivity, retention, etc.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I once was invited to make a pitch to the founder and CEO of a company. In doing my research, I watched several of his speeches and he consistently framed his product as part of his passion to help people become better. I aligned my pitch to be a series of how I’d be helping his people become better. After my opening statement, he stopped me cold and said, “It’s not my job to help my people become better. They can do that on their own time.” I was so stunned, I said, “But you say that in all your speeches.” And he replied, “What I say to sell something is not the same thing as what I care about.” Needless to say, I didn’t land the gig, which was fine because I’m not sure I would have enjoyed working for him. But, I never went into another pitch without asking deeper questions about people’s real values and goals, not just the ones listed on their profile or marketing plan.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I’ve been fortunate to have different mentors at different stages along my career. During my years in higher education, Dr. Michael Young told me that your leadership is only as good as the relationships you have built. He talked about how important it was to get to know people on a personal level and remember what is happening with their family, their pets, and their interests.

Lynda Weinman, the founder of Lynda.com, continues to be a great mentor. She challenged me to really see the value I bring to an organization and to ask for what I am worth. I’m grateful she helped me overcome something that can hold a lot of folks back.

I believe in hiring the best and smartest people so my team mentors me every day. They are each brilliant in their area of expertise so I am constantly learning from Claudia Arnett, Teresa Fanucchi, Lisa Slavid, Jenefer Angell, and Pema Rocker.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

In general, I think disruption is positive because it means that someone has challenged the standard ways of thinking and doing, whether that’s within an industry, market or individual organization. In marketplaces, disruption is generally healthy and a sign of an open economy. Sure, the organizations being disrupted may not be happy but it indicates that innovation is happening and those disrupted have a choice to evolve or double down on their original brand and/or value proposition.

We often think of disruptors as startup companies but other things can be disruptors too, like climate change, geopolitical strife, social unrest or a global pandemic. COVID is challenging all businesses to innovate their services and processes, at least for the short term, and some of these shifts are actually improving business and will become part of the new normal. The protests following George Floyd’s murder are disrupting beliefs and practices around policing, justice, privilege and oppression and have the potential to make society better.

The disruption that my research shows can be negative is more on an interpersonal level, where one person’s words or actions can harm or negatively impact the group by threatening or destroying safety, either physical or psychological. Individual employees can impact each other, and managers and leaders have the ability and influence to impact a department or even the entire organization. This can harm trust, employee engagement, productivity, and eventually the organization’s ability to succeed. Learn more in my book Wired to Connect: The Brain Science of Teams and a New Model for Creating Collaboration and Inclusion.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Jennifer Hudson was mentoring a group of singers about how to succeed in the music business and she said, “Be someone who is good to work with and you will always have plenty of work.” I realized that applies to every industry and it shapes how I engage with all my clients.

The best boss I ever had is Dr. Kelly McGill. I remember watching her navigate sticky situations with grace and I asked her how she did it. She told me that people often try to convince others to change by telling them what’s wrong, like “Hey, that shirt you’re wearing is ugly.” But she said you first have to align with them and then lead them to a better place. Like, “Wow, that’s such a great shirt. I have this perfect scarf that will make it even better. What do you think?” When I am faced with similar situations, I start looking for the scarf.

The third is from Greg McKweon and his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s easy to get split into a million different directions, working on too many good ideas. His advice that if it’s not a “Hell yea!” then it’s an automatic “no” has really helped me stay focused on what matters.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m about to release my Brain Aware™ Manager Training, which weaves neuroscience into a six-session cohesive program that gives managers key skills for bringing out the best in others. I will follow that with my Brain Aware™ Leader Training in 2021.

I’m also starting to research my next book, Wired to Become, on the brain science of purpose, creativity and innovation. And believe it or not, I hope to not leave this earth until I write a musical play. I have one sketched out and it’s fun to work on it now and then.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Frederic Laloux’s book, Reinventing Organizations, is about the conscious evolution of humans and how it is shifting both organizations and societies. It really opened up my eyes and gave me a broader framework for my own research.

Dr. Brené Brown’s work has impacted me both personally and professionally. I find myself referring to her research often and her podcast, Unlocking Us, has helped me so much during this global pandemic and all the chaos it has brung. Every guest has aligned perfectly with something I am moving through myself.

In college, I was introduced to research on privilege, oppression, and bias, through Allan Johnson’s book Privilege, Power, and Difference. As a white person, this journey of awakening is both shocking and deeply uncomfortable because we learn that everything we were taught to believe about the world — by teachers, parents, the media, etc. — is wrong. Recent events have moved this conversation to the mainstream and I continue to learn from leaders like Ibram X. Kendi, Austin Channing Brown, and Laverne Cox.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m always inspired by Margaret Mead’s words:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It always reminds me that change is always possible and that we all have more power than we realize. This seems especially relevant given our current times.

In addition, I had a challenging childhood and it manifested as crippling panic attacks when I was turning 30. I had to do a lot of healing work and through that journey, this quote really resonated for me. As a result, I have always been open about my own challenges because I know we are all moving through life the best that we can.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I feel so fortunate because I’m already doing it. I am trying to change how work is done on this planet by making our workplaces better for all of us and I can see the results in organizations that use my work.

At this specific moment in time, I realize that we cannot allow college education to be the main pathway for people to learn about science. Both the pandemic and climate change are teaching us that human survival depends on every citizen having a certain level of science literacy. This means that workplace learning needs to expand to include some aspects of citizenship and how we can all be productive members of our societies and the planet.

How can our readers follow you online?

On LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter or Instagram.


Female Disruptors: Britt Andreatta of 7th Mind On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Cherry Tung On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Women may be faced with more sexual harassment, especially online. I was on a call with a coaching prospect one time. He completed the application form in full, pretended to be really interested in starting his own coaching business, and near the end of the call he suddenly started saying how “we should go out” because he thinks we are both cute. It was very rude, disrespectful and a complete waste of time for both of us. I have shared this story with some of my friends who are also coaches, and only the female coaches could relate to this story.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cherry Tung.

Cherry helps 9 to 5 employees break free of their corporate job and salary by launching their own coaching businesses, alongside with their full-time job! Cherry is also a full-time corporate employee so she knows first-hand how to juggle a business and a full-time job. In fact, Cherry has created 16 income streams for herself at the age of 24!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I had always played the part of the traditional good girl. I got good grades, was accepted to and attended a great university (USC), secured an internship at one of the Big 4 accounting firms, and converted that into a full time offer before I even had my degree. I was, in short, doing everything “right”.

But I became depressed and burnt out when I started my Big 4 full-time job. I realized I did not want to be in a Big 4 firm, I did not want to be an auditor, and I definitely did not want to keep working nonstop busy seasons… but I was really scared to give up on this prestigious job. It took me over a year to finally quit my miserable Big 4 job; my self-esteem was crushed as a result, as my entire self-worth and identity was tied to my role as a Big 4 auditor. Who is Cherry? Cherry is a Big 4 auditor. Nothing more. After quitting my prestigious Big 4 job, my self-esteem and self-worth was so low that I decided that I did not deserve to even live in a decent apartment, so I chose to live in my car.

As I spent nights in my car, zipped up in my tiny sleeping bag, barely sleeping as I was afraid of being attacked in the middle of the night, I had time to do a lot of self-reflection and contemplation. Is life really just like this? Is there no purpose in life than working a 9 to 5? Is there nothing more to me than my 9 to 5 identity? Am I just going to be an auditor/accountant forever?

During the “car-life” days, I realized that I didn’t just want to be an auditor. I wanted to have an impact and make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to create and connect. At that time, I didn’t know what it meant to create and connect but now I do. Now, I create content for 9 to 5 employees who don’t have the knowledge and means to be financially independent and job optional. I connect with them so they can see the possibilities beyond their 9 to 5 jobs. Starting a business and working a 9 to 5 are not mutually exclusive. Many people are afraid of starting businesses because they don’t want to “give up” the security of their 9 to 5’s. They are not ready to give up their stable paycheck and workplace benefits. But they don’t have to, I am living proof that it is possible to juggle both a full-time job and a business!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Instead of telling my audience to quit their jobs to start a business, which is the mainstream message most online business influencers preach, I show my audience how to start a business while they work their 9 to 5’s. Most other influencers preach that we have to burn all the ships and jump head first into entrepreneurship. I don’t think so. It is smarter to start a business while you’re still working your 9 to 5. First of all, you will continue to receive that stable paycheck which takes the pressure off of making money immediately with your business. Just like building a career, it takes time and experience to build up your business. Very rarely do businesses start making money right off the bat and therefore, it is better to start a business while you are working a 9 to 5. Your day job also provides healthcare, 401k matching, and other benefits so you can experience even fewer financial stresses while starting out your business (which by its very nature, is quite stressful). Your 9 to 5 can also provide you with the knowledge, experience and network that can translate into the success of the business you build. In short, you keep your day job so that you can focus on the important part of growing your business and not how to feed, cloth and house yourself.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was first starting my YouTube channel, I had no idea it would eventually become one of my multiple income streams. I had no expectations back then… So, one of the first YouTube videos I made was titled “Opening a Coconut Romantically”, which features 18-year-old Cherry, clumsily opening a coconut with a fruit knife. Unfortunately, that coconut already went bad, so the juices were quite… thick and clumpy… From that, I learned that you don’t always know where you end up in the next couple of years. 18-year-old Cherry had no idea that her YouTube channel would be one of her 16 income streams. She just went and filmed a funny YouTube video. You can too! You don’t necessarily have to plan everything out before taking action.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of my mentors is Vanessa Lau. She’s a business coach, a YouTuber, and a huge inspiration to me. I aspire to have a business like hers, one that can generate income passively via course sales, and she actually generates consistent 6 figure monthly income from just her one course, The Bossgram Academy.

In December 2019, I decided to purchase her program, The Bossgram Academy, and that changed my perspective of coaching entirely. Before taking her program, I had no thoughts of becoming a coach as that is “trading time for money”. “I am already trading time for money at my 9 to 5 job, so why would I want to do that for my business too?” I thought to myself. However, her program really opened my eyes to the potential in coaching and motivated me to start coaching myself. I soon realized how much I enjoy coaching, making a direct impact in people’s lives, connecting with my clients 1 on 1, and witnessing their transformations.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Whether a disruption is positive or negative really depends on which side you are on. The taxi industry got hit hard when ridesharing came out. That disruption is positive for the rideshare industry, for the customers, but not the taxi industry. That is why it’s so important for companies and people to keep adapting and evolving, as our world is constantly changing and advancing. Some systems and structures do withstand the test of time, but usually they do so, not because they came first but because they are either fundamental to our society like the rule of law, or because they were created with enough foresight. Taxi either failed to adapt or couldn’t adapt due to their structure, to the fact that we all have powerful internet-connected devices, our cellphones, in our pockets.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

My role model, Vanessa Lau once said, the difference between someone who is going to be successful and someone who is not, is how resourceful they are. Resourceful people don’t take no for an answer. They don’t expect other people to just hand them the answers. They are willing to do research and experiment with different strategies, and eventually find quick and clever ways to overcome obstacles.

I had the honor to meet Gary Vee at a speaking event at USC, and I asked him how he was able to stay so energetic all the time. He said, “I don’t drink any energy drink or even coffee to stay so energetic. The secret to my high energy is gratitude.”At the time, I did not fully understand what that meant. As I continued advancing in my business, however, I started to realize how powerful gratitude is. Even though I am not yet at Gary Vee’s level of replacing my morning coffee with gratitude, I do practice gratitude every day, starting with writing down 3 things I’m grateful for in the morning and at night. This really helps me maintain high energy and motivation to serve my clients every day.

One of my mentors, Stefan James from Project Life Mastery once said, the best time to film a YouTube video is right after you filmed another one, because then, you would be in the state of flow. This is my secret to uploading 3 YouTube videos every single week, on top of a demanding full-time job, while maintaining 16 income streams. When I put on my filming clothes and makeup, I rarely only record one video in that sitting. Instead of just filming one video at a time, which is not only tedious but also inefficient, I tend to record at least three videos in one sitting so my creative flow, my makeup, my filming outfit and high energy does not go to waste. Content batching is my secret to uploading on YouTube consistently as a full time corporate employee!

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I am going to launch an online course that teaches corporate employees how they can start their own coaching businesses, even while working their 9 to 5s. This is exactly what I have done in my business and this is also what I helped numerous clients achieve through my 1 on 1 coaching. As I can only have so much time for 1 on 1 sessions, I’ve decided to launch a course, which will enable me to reach an even greater number of people, give them the tools to launch their own coaching businesses and become work optional!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women may be faced with more sexual harassment, especially online. I was on a call with a coaching prospect one time. He completed the application form in full, pretended to be really interested in starting his own coaching business, and near the end of the call he suddenly started saying how “we should go out” because he thinks we are both cute. It was very rude, disrespectful and a complete waste of time for both of us. I have shared this story with some of my friends who are also coaches, and only the female coaches could relate to this story.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield has a deep impact on my thinking. She is not afraid to share her own failures along the way — how her first-course launch flopped and one of her already-completed courses did not even get launched because she realized that she was not happy with the topic. This made me realize that no matter how successful the entrepreneur is, even if they have a 7-figure business, it is still very possible for them to make mistakes or fail along the way. This resonates with me so much because on my journey as a wealth coach, I have faced my own fair share of challenges along the way and this story reminds me that the issues that I run into are simply part of the process of starting your own business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Fail fast, fail forward”

Growing up Asian, I was not given the chance to fail. Even getting a B in my math class would bring “shame” to my family. Failing was a really new concept to me as I entered adulthood. In entrepreneurship, it’s almost impossible to avoid failing, as entrepreneurship is all about trying something new, and trying something new is almost guaranteed to involve failing to some degree. A lot of people decide against entrepreneurship simply because they are afraid of failure. Many people refuse to adapt to changes because they are afraid of failure. The single most important thing I’ve decided to do after pursuing entrepreneurship is allowing myself to fail, as long as I fail fast and fail forward. Failing is inevitable. Failing helps me move forward. Allowing myself to fail gives me permission to try new things that are risky but can potentially result in huge returns.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A lot of your readers might already be aware of the FIRE movement, which stands for Financial Independence; Retire Early. While I do agree with the first half of the FIRE movement, the financial independence part, I don’t necessarily agree with the second part that stands for retire early. I personally don’t see myself retiring anytime soon, as I love getting involved and working towards a greater goal.

If I were to inspire a movement, it would probably be FIIS; Financial Independence Income Streams. This movement will inspire more 9 to 5 workers to create income streams independent of their day jobs so they can eventually be financially independent from their 9 to 5s. The goal would be to inspire and help more 9 to 5 workers be financially independent from their day jobs and be work optional, instead of being forced to work because it is the foundation of their livelihood.

I’ve seen too many people work a job they resent simply because it pays the bills. Life is too short to live with resentment and a lack of fulfillment, yet most people are also afraid to give up on the steady 9 to 5 paychecks without first developing a proof of concept for their businesses. This is why I’ve decided to help 9 to 5 employees build their own coaching businesses, while working their 9 to 5s, so they don’t necessarily have to quit first to build wealth, and they can eventually grow to be financially independent and do things that actually bring them fulfillment. After building a successful and profitable coaching business, my clients can still work at their 9 to 5s if they want to, but it will no longer be a “must” or a requirement, as they will be able to maintain their livelihood with their new coaching income stream.

How can our readers follow you online?

Your readers can follow me on Instagram @cherrytung.co and on YouTube by searching my name, Cherry Tung.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thanks for having me!


Female Disruptors: Cherry Tung On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Franceska McCaughan On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Give Time, Time: Especially more so than ever, we are desperate for achievements and confidence highs to “ensure we’re on the right track”. However, all good things take time. When we don’t give adequate time to achieve our goals we tend to give up. Remember by giving time, time, we are able to create and build sustainable businesses.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Franceska McCaughan.

Franceska McCaughan is a multi-passionate entrepreneur and serial business builder who helps aspiring entrepreneurs design a business that gives them a lifestyle they love without fear of losing money through her course, Lifestyle You Love Business System. As a child who entered the foster care system at the age of 12, Franceska defied all odds securing a full-ride scholarship to a tier-one university, graduating top of her class Magna Cum Laude and by becoming the founder and owner of six businesses since graduating university within the last decade. Franceska loves to travel (47 countries and counting) and has lived in Europe and the Middle East while calling Houston, TX her home.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Absolutely! Prior to being a business coach, I built 4 businesses in the last 8 years from scratch across multiple segments and niches. Due to covid, those businesses were placed on pause so I have used this opportunity to launch my coaching business as well as launch a real estate business. As you can probably tell, I love business and the challenge of building a successful business at that. It has always been on my heart to help others build their own businesses so I decided to launch the coaching business to help them do that!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Until recently, I didn’t know much about the coaching industry. As I explored the rabbit hole, I realized that there weren’t a lot of coaches coaching on real-life business experience. I also noticed that many business coaches were almost reading the same script. It’s like they all went to coaching Bootcamp and downloaded a template on how to run a coaching business. Their success stories are built by selling the “how” and not focusing on the “why” behind it. We all need to figure out the “why” before we can probably use the “how” to move us into the direction we want to go. The “why” is what makes us authentic and by putting that before the “how”, I am disrupting the traditional business coaching industry as we know it.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Thinking back, my coaching career actually began last year when I launched my first online course for floral designers called Petals to Profit. I spent weeks developing this program, pouring out all my hush hush secrets and the launch totally flopped. I was devastated and so embarrassed. However, I learned from this experience that it’s impossible to know everything, including how to sell your tell-all secrets in a course. This year when I decided to revisit the online coaching world, I hired a coach to learn how to avoid launching to crickets, to ensure my success.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Haley Burkhead has figured out the blueprint for when it comes to launching an online course or membership evergreen, scaling to a million dollars.. She has been a great mentor in the online course world. I also have to shout out Vaness Lau who teaches entrepreneurs how to build wildly influential coaching businesses using social media without using sleazy sales tactics. Without this duo, I would have been lost and my learning curve would have been costly.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption can be positive to an industry when it causes positive change and/or growth through alternative insight/action. Success is acquired through evolution and evolution can only happen if disruption of status quo has taken place. When disruption is considered not so positive, it is typically when a minority benefits from the disruption and gains at the expense of the majority who are negatively impacted by the disruption.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Give Time, Time: Especially more so than ever, we are desperate for achievements and confidence highs to “ensure we’re on the right track”. However, all good things take time. When we don’t give adequate time to achieve our goals we tend to give up. Remember by giving time, time, we are able to create and build sustainable businesses.
  2. Your greatest differentiator is you: When it comes to a unique selling point, it starts with you. No one has your voice, your experience, your message etc. and because of that, this is what sets you apart. Humans like conformity because it’s comfortable however when we conform we lose our greatest asset that sets us apart. Remember you are the differentiator when it comes to business.
  3. I am worthy because I am: Many of us are driven and goal-oriented. While there is nothing wrong with that, those of us who have experienced trauma tend to make these attributes goal markers on not only our success but also how we value themselves. Remembering that worthiness doesn’t come from “doing” and simply comes from “being” which is a game-changer many of us could benefit from.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I’ve recently opened more space and focused on helping busy women design a business that gives them a lifestyle they love without failing. A big component of my online coaching experience is cycle syncing with their business goals. There is a lot of power when it comes to tapping into the divine feminine especially in masculine driven society. Part of that is understanding when women are their most powerful, strategic, creative and insightful selves which if understood correctly, has a huge positive impact on everyone involved.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

One book I tend to go back to over and over is 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna Wiest. There is something life-changing in almost every essay, many of them put into words how you’ve always felt. It resonants so much with me because it isn’t a “self-help” book because you are broken. It offers transformational perspectives to become even more whole.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It sounds cliche but the well-known quote “shoot for the moon, if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. I read it for the first time in seventh grade biology class and it’s still relevant 20 years later. The thing I love about this quote is that it gives a feeling of comfort and relief. That even if you aim high, you’re still going to make it and maybe achieve something even better than previously planned.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

To create a safe space to heal from trauma in order to reach one’s highest potential. I believe that we all have been given a passion and experiences for a reason. However many sell themselves short by either overcompensating or never trying due to how they handled their previous trauma. You can’t mindset your way out of trauma and sometimes it simply makes it worse. Therefore if there was a safe space to be open to healing trauma, understanding how it impacts your “why”, the “how” would therefore be more clear and the “what” would actually be accomplished.

How can our readers follow you online?

They can visit my website www.franceskamccaughan.com or sign up for my Lifestyle You Love Business System at www.franceskamccaughan.co. I’m always hanging out on Instagram at https://instagram.com/franceska.mccaughan and offer a FREE Masterclass at www.franceskamccaughan.co/invite.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Disruptors: Franceska McCaughan On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Madison Catania of Wildcast On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Female Disruptors: Madison Catania of Wildcast On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

We really hope to introduce more parties from the podcast space into the podcasting platform; sponsors, studios, editors, etc. Beyond podcasting, we’ve had companies approach us in different industries who are looking to use Wildcasts’ platform and adapt it to their own industry, so we’re also looking to partner with those outside of podcasting.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Madison Catania.

Madison is the CEO and Co-Founder of Wildcast, Inc. (gowildcast.com), a patent-pending podcast platform that connects those within the industry through guest and podcast discovery, booking, messaging, and calendaring. The Wildcast marketplace launches in late August/early September 2020 to the public after having soft-launched to early users, including top-charting podcasters and well-known guests in various industries. Madison recently earned her MBA at the Rady School of Management at UCSD (San Diego, CA) and served as lead producer at a podcast network prior to founding Wildcast.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Thanks for having me! I’ve definitely tried a few different career paths before I arrived in the podcasting space. After graduating from Villanova University in 2014, I worked in marketing in both the tech and entertainment industries while living in New York City. I decided to return to San Diego to take my marketing experience to the hospitality world, opening several restaurants as part of my family’s newly introduced restaurant group for several years. I decided to go back to school to pursue my MBA and that’s when I realized I wanted to try to take my passion for listening to and learning from podcasts and make it into a career. I ended up at a small podcast network, first working in marketing but then leading the production team. My years at the network combined with my entrepreneurship-focused MBA program ultimately inspired the idea that is now Wildcast.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

While the podcast industry is growing immensely both in the number of listeners and the number of podcasts, the great majority of new companies in the space are geared toward the consumers and listeners of podcasts, not the podcasters themselves. After having worked as Head of Production at a small podcast network, mainly working on top pop culture and reality TV podcasts, I realized there was much to do to streamline the podcasting space for those within the industry; the podcasters, producers, guests, and sponsors. After finishing my MBA program, my co-founder (who also happens to be my godfather!) and I decided to form Wildcast. Wildcast is a patent-pending networking platform for those within the podcast industry who are looking to connect with new talent, get their messages heard by a new audience, and promote their podcasts. We hope to end the chains of pointless emails and irrelevant pitches by introducing our platform that includes custom calendaring, messaging, and networking abilities to streamline the podcasting industry from within.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Before we were deep into founding the business, I was working on coming up with a name and found one that I fell in love with. Sadly, it was trademarked by someone in the space. I actually was so determined to make this name work that I reached out to the company hoping to find an agreement. Not shockingly, they said we could not use the name. Duh. I realized that things don’t need to be perfect to move forward — nothing ever is. I came up with Wildcast a few days later and love the name even more.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Some of my mentors include the two women who run the podcast network I worked for and who continue to work with me through Wildcast, Nadine Robinson and Clio De La Llave. My dad has always been a huge mentor throughout my life and career. My biggest mentor is my co-founder, Scott. He is an extremely positive and uplifting presence. I often feel discouraged when things don’t go the “right” way, but he always helps put things into perspective. After a not so amazing meeting, I can trust that he’ll call me with words of wisdom.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

A clear example at the time we’re speaking is the US Postal Service. I do not believe a service that provides such a meaningful purpose to so many people should be disrupted. There are certain systems and structures that when disrupted may improve the lives of the majority of those affected. If that is not the case — if disruption will not lead to bettering the lives of those benefitting from those systems or structures — then I believe disruption is far from positive.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Keep Going.” — A former client in the podcast space

I was speaking with a former client who is an entrepreneur herself and told her how doubtful I had been feeling that day. She said two simple words: keep going. Her belief in me was enough to get me moving. Often, you need to lean on those around you to remember you have more of yourself to give.

“Better an oops than a what if.” — ShrinkChicks

One of my favorite podcasts is led by two therapists who truly tell it like it is. Their Instagram by the same name featured this quote. I love this quote in all its variations. I believe in pursuing those things that are worthy to you even if you fail. In my mind, it’s not a failure if you learn or grow, despite how others may see it.

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”

This is a quote from Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. I listened to this book on Audible while walking my dog around the neighborhood as a way to take a break from work. This book inspired me in so many ways, mainly to work on being my most authentic self. You truly cannot please everyone. That’s a life lesson that’s been tough but important for me to learn. I’ve also decided I will not willingly work with assholes. If someone shows me they are negative or a jackass, I won’t take their money or advice even if they want me to have it no strings attached.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We really hope to introduce more parties from the podcast space into the podcasting platform; sponsors, studios, editors, etc. Beyond podcasting, we’ve had companies approach us in different industries who are looking to use Wildcasts’ platform and adapt it to their own industry, so we’re also looking to partner with those outside of podcasting.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I think it’s hard to be taken as seriously and perceived as competent and confident versus cocky. Most of the podcast networks are run by men and it’s difficult to come across as persuasive without seeming nagging or annoying, a couple adjectives mainly used to describe women. I’m also in my late 20’s, so the youth factor definitely doesn’t make it any easier!

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I mentioned ShrinkChicks before, but the two MFTs and their manager behind the podcast have really inspired me lately. Anytime I need a pick me up or want to feel like I’m listening to friends who truly understand me, I turn on their podcast. The other day, I had a terrible meeting with a potential partner. I was really discouraged afterward and turned on their podcast. Almost immediately, I felt a new energy to keep going. I keep a list of things like the ShrinkChicks podcast that I can return to and revisit when I’m feeling unmotivated. This list has saved me from breaking down and giving up multiple times!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right. — Glennon Doyle

We so often think that if we’re on the right path it will be easy and natural. It’s been important for me to realize, especially in the last few years, that most things worth doing are actually incredibly difficult. And that’s OK!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I hope that by introducing Wildcast, our guests, podcasters, and all those within the podcast industry can collaborate and spread ideas that truly make a difference in someone’s life. There are several podcasts that have made a difference in mine. Right now, I think providing content that is useful for students during the coronavirus as well as content that focuses on the most accurately sourced news information would be amazingly helpful to podcast listeners who can turn to these podcasts as free resources to combat stress and anxiety and to further their knowledge to ultimately change the world.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow Wildcast on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @gowildcast. You can also visit our site at gowildcast.com!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Disruptors: Madison Catania of Wildcast On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Sissy Lappin of ListingDoor On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Female Disruptors: Sissy Lappin of ListingDoor On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Live below your means. I suppose that’s four words! When opportunity knocks, it comes without a paycheck. If I had been saddled with debt, I wouldn’t have the freedom to start my own ventures. I know it’s tough, but save money! When I realized I essentially wanted to self-fund a real estate technology startup, I went through our budget and slashed every extra expense. Everything.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sissy Lappin of ListingDoor.

Sissy Lappin is a real estate entrepreneur with three decades of experience negotiating over a billion dollars in deals. An industry visionary and renegade, Sissy champions innovative, yet easy-to-use real estate products and programs that help homeowners navigate the intricate nuances of real estate. Sissy is the author of three books and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, NerdWallet, and other national publications.

A homeowner advocate, Sissy used her extensive experience to launch her real estate technology startup, ListingDoor. Described by Forbes as the Uber of real estate, ListingDoor provides a simple, step-by-step guide to selling your home by yourself. ListingDoor is disrupting the way real estate transactions are completed to transfer 100% of the profit to the homeowner.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was a real estate broker in the Houston area for over 20+ years when one of my closest friends came to me in a panic needing to sell her home. Her husband had defaulted on his child support, and left a huge income gap. She was worried for her credit, her ability to make the mortgage payment, and her family’s stability. Over a glass of wine, I mapped out how she could sell her own home. She put the house on the market two days later, sold it, and saved $24,000.00 in commission. This left her with enough money to move, saved her credit, and reaffirmed her pride in herself as a strong woman and single mother.

Weeks later, my friend came over to thank me. She gave me a big hug and said, “You have to help other people in this situation so that they can help themselves.” This was the moment that I decided to write a book showing people how to sell their own home. Most people don’t know this, but the real estate industry is controlled by the second-largest lobbying group in the country. There have been very few innovations in real estate on purpose. Somebody that was in the system needed to stand with the homeowners.

After I wrote Simple and Sold, I was getting emails from readers asking for the actual tools to sell their own home, which is why I started ListingDoor. ListingDoor is an online experience that empowers homeowners to price, list, and market their homes with resources that are superior to those of standard brokerage firms. My husband and I have bootstrapped since day one with day jobs and two children to raise, and we’ve had a blast along the way.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work that you’re doing that is disruptive?

We are disrupting the way homes are bought and sold. ListingDoor teaches you how to sell your home; we unlock pricing information, simplify marketing tools, and deliver professional marketing materials for homeowners to close their own deal and forego burdensome commissions.

There are “discount broker” companies that take a 4.5% commission, but that is not a game-changer. Losing 4.5% to commission could mean you lose your hard-earned equity. It is almost assumed that you need a real estate agent to sell your home, which isn’t true. Right now, that choice is controlled by a lobbying group in Washington, D.C. ListingDoor changes the way real estate transactions are completed to transfer 100% of the profit to the homeowner. It is my mission to empower millions of homeowners to sell their own home, save the commission, and start the next chapter of their lives on a stronger financial footing.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Actually, my interns and mentees have been my best mentors. Let me explain that. Jia Toletino, the author of Trick Mirrors and a contributor for the New Yorker, worked with me when she was 23 years old. Jia was an extraordinary writer and had just finished two years with the Peace Corps in Africa. Jia helped me write my first book Simple and Sold; she was a great mentor to me because she was actually a much stronger writer than I was. Her fresh way of looking at things made my book more approachable.

I have gained quite a few mentors through podcasts and books! Some of my favorite entrepreneurs include Tony Hsieh of Zappos and Roland Fraiser, the serial entrepreneur. Also, the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell should be required reading. It’s incredible how many people share their success stories and strategies online.

Lastly, one of the most impactful investments I’ve ever made is attending the Business Mastery conference with Tony Robbins. This conference will help you level up in every aspect of your life to support your dreams.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I think we are quick to call new companies ‘disruptors’ when they are not truly shaking up the system. In real estate, the biggest ‘disruptors’ are companies like RedFin that have allowed people to list their own homes. But they are masking the costs in the fine print. Using a discount broker will still cost you 4.5% of your equity, which can be absolutely devastating for your finances. A commission of 4.5% is simply not a game-changer for the homeowner. The system downplays the percentage rather than looking at the true dollars lost in the transaction. Painting these new companies as ‘disruptors’ actually masks the power of the real estate lobby in Washington. This lobby has blocked disruption in the real estate industry to line the pockets of agents. I truly believe that the financial health of millions can be saved if people educate themselves on how to sell their own home.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Live below your means. I suppose that’s four words! When opportunity knocks, it comes without a paycheck. If I had been saddled with debt, I wouldn’t have the freedom to start my own ventures. I know it’s tough, but save money! When I realized I essentially wanted to self-fund a real estate technology startup, I went through our budget and slashed every extra expense. Everything.

Saving money and being super disciplined enabled me to say no to investors and outside partners from day one. Investors aren’t always a negative, but maintaining autonomy helped keep the ethos of the company. Money always comes with a personality so you better like that personality! I didn’t have to worry about these issues because I had the money saved to forgo outside investment.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Since the beginning of my career, I have been blessed with opportunities to provide high-quality, attentive care to all my clients. I’ve made so many good friends along the way. I share my expertise in real estate with as many people as simply and accessibly as possible.

Next, you’ll see me championing ListingDoor as the tool to sell your own home. It is my mission to empower millions of homeowners to sell their own home, especially in this economic climate.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by woman disruptors that are typically faced by male counterparts?

I was at a seminar and sat next to one of the developers for WhatsApp. We started talking, and I told him about ListingDoor. He swiftly told me four things: I should not quit my day job; women were not CEOs in tech; I was too old to be starting a company; and that I was silly for not taking outside investment. He acted like my husband gave me money for a vanity project. There are obviously still many hurdles for women in business, but I choose to let it light a fire in me to work harder to earn my success and free others to do the same.

The last thing I’ll say is that sometimes friction is a good sign. When the first article came out on Listing Door, I got a phone call from the president of a major real estate firm that was two comments short of a death threat; he told me I needed to pack my stuff and start another business. That’s when I knew that I was really onto something important. Don’t be afraid of the naysayers.


Female Disruptors: Sissy Lappin of ListingDoor On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Charlotte Maumus of Memwris On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Female Disruptors: Charlotte Maumus of Memwris On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

I’m a perfectionist by nature, and through my years of event production, I have a penchant for always having a plan A, B, C… And don’t get me wrong, this is a good habit to have, but even the most careful planning can’t anticipate in-the-moment, unpredictable on-site issues. In a particularly client event-filled summer, my managers gave me the advice to “roll with the punches” that has not only benefited my event production, but is especially important when founding a software company.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlotte Maumus.

Charlotte Maumus is the co-founder and CEO of Memwris where the team is designing the first meaningful interface overhaul since the 80s. Their patent-pending UI uses a unique algorithm to unlock complex workflows on small touchscreens for the first time. Charlotte spent her decade-plus long career in marketing communications, leading strategy and equity programs for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I spent my career in marketing comms/PR, making my way up to Vice President of an NYC firm, working 60+ hour weeks, and normalizing putting work before my personal well-being. Unsurprisingly, I suffered from regular burn out, and eventually crashed in the fall of 2017 after an intense few months of me struggling to even tread water. At the advice of my therapist, and my supportive husband, I quit my job.

I had thought I’d have some grand epiphany of what my next steps would be, or that I’d find my true passions. But the reality is I was suffering from years of exhaustion, didn’t know how to slow down, or take the time to think vs react.

It took four months of self-reflection before I started thinking clearly. I was now ready to move forward and take control of my future, let my inherent leadership skills thrive, and serve a better purpose with my “get sh*t done” work ethic. I was ready to start my own company.

It all started with a seemingly impossible dream. Turn back the clock to 2014 when my software engineering husband, Zach, wanted to do real-world programming on his phone. He was used to walking the streets of NYC, coding on his mobile device, but when he switched to a touchscreen, things took a turn. The user interface made it impossible to program. And while I’m not a programmer, I did understand the headache-inducing moments of trying to get work done on my phone, and empathized. So from our tiny apartment closet, he began building a new type of user interface that would throw out the decades-old point-and-click.

But flash forward a few years, a move across the country, and reaching professional milestones, his UI development had taken the back burner, and was sitting cold.

Secretly we were both harboring a desire to bring the project back to life, and knew we had the perfect pairing of complementary skills.

Our pivotal conversation happened in January 2018, in our downtown LA apartment’s kitchen. We shocked each other when we both expressed wanting to team up to start a business to bring a new UI paradigm to life. And as they say, the rest is history.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

It’s been 13+ years since the iPhoneⓇ revolutionized mobile computing, and ushered in an era where consumers expect powerful mini-computers in their pockets.

And while our smartphones’ hardware continues to improve, we are still unable to unlock the true power of our devices. We know this each time we reach for a laptop when tasks get “too complex” or headache-inducing for mobile. It’s why we carry around multiple devices, and why replicating intricate desktop software proves impractical.

So what’s the problem? Our devices use a decades-old point-and-click interface that was never designed to be used with fingers or touchscreens! It was built 40 years ago for desktop computers and was designed for a physical mouse and keyboard.

Rethinking the incumbent technology could benefit billions, and shake up the $500B mobile industry. It can close the digital divide by enhancing the abilities of existing smartphone-only persons and households. A new UI can allow a larger population to access education and employment resources. For example, smartphone-only households in emerging markets could compete for jobs globally. And replacing our current UI would support mobile workflows that weren’t previously possible, such as computer programming, dev ops, IT.

To capture these benefits, memwris is designing the first interface overhaul since the 80s. Our patent-pending UI uses a unique algorithm to unlock complex workflows on small touchscreens.

Specifically, the UI we’re designing optimizes for the small screen real estate, so fingers will no longer be in the way.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I used to wake up at 4:30 am in my first 6 months of memwris (even on the weekends!). While there is certainly some value in starting your day early to accomplish more, there isn’t value if you’re falling asleep at 7:30 pm!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely journey, and you’ll be faced with negativity from people who don’t understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and think you’re absolutely crazy for leaving your career to venture on your own.

What’s been the most valuable for me in combating negativity is having a network of cheerleaders that I can turn to when I need a boost of positivity. When I surround myself with positivity and energetic people, it not only boosts me mentally, but can help reset my motivation and remind me why I’m going down this path.

I am incredibly fortunate to have a supportive family and over a dozen strong, supportive female friends that cheer me on.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Ever go down a YouTube black hole and watch videos of kids reacting to old tech? It will definitely make any millennial feel much older as you’ll see a diverse mix of Gen Z and Alpha playing, usually judgmentally, with tech that was a big deal back in the day (like those colorful Nokia phones or the Motorola Razr). Aside from feeling old, it shook me into reality that these generations expect way more from technology that I ever would have as a kid. I was perfectly fine with my Speak & Spell!

But even more so, these generations are going to lead tech in directions we couldn’t have predicted, most likely challenging current digital paradigms we can’t imagine changing.

And I’m here for it.

It’s easy to fall into a pattern of an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset because it’s scary to mess with a good thing. With that thinking, we’d still be using candles because they were “just fine” for light! And with that mindset, we certainly wouldn’t have touchscreens (just ask those phone hardware companies whose sales were “not broken” when the iPhoneⓇ first came out…). Without disrupting and challenging existing paradigms, we won’t be able to progress.

And not every paradigm shift is going to be a success, but that shouldn’t stop us from innovating, disrupting, and pushing the limits.

But the time when being disruptive is harmful to innovation is when said innovation is touted as the next big thing without any hard evidence. It can do serious damage to future disruptors trying to break into that field, and can make investors and consumers cynical the next time an innovation in that field comes out. For example, Theranos was such a huge pipedream, but Elizabeth Holmes was incredibly persuasive and succeeded in getting investors, the medical market, a major drugstore chain, and employees to not question if the disruptive tech was “too good to be true.” I’m sure they’ll all agree that yes, it was too good to be true, and will think twice about any future blood test disruptors.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Roll With the Punches: I’m a perfectionist by nature, and through my years of event production, I have a penchant for always having a plan A, B, C… And don’t get me wrong, this is a good habit to have, but even the most careful planning can’t anticipate in-the-moment, unpredictable on-site issues. In a particularly client event-filled summer, my managers gave me the advice to “roll with the punches” that has not only benefited my event production, but is especially important when founding a software company.

This Too Shall Pass: Growing up my mom would comfort me with the words, “This too shall pass.” And while I may not have believed her as a kid or teenager, these words especially ring true as you grow and experience life. The same goes for founding a business when you may feel like the world is against you, but it’s imperative to realize that even the worst moments are temporary.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others: I’m unsure when I was first told that I shouldn’t compare myself to others, but I was reminded of this as an entrepreneur. It’s easy to get caught up in what other companies are doing, their successes, or feeling like you should be achieving more each time you check LinkedIn. The reality is that all companies have their own timelines and goals, and once you start comparing yourself and business to others, it will distract you from your path. You’ll have your moment. Don’t rush it.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m incredibly focused on memwris and shifting the mobile UI paradigm. I’d love to already be thinking about the next big thing, but the reality of getting a business started is that I need to have a bit of tunnel-vision of the goals we have in place for the company.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women disruptors have a lot more to “prove”. I can’t even tell you how many times my professional background has been challenged or have had to essentially read through my full resume. I’ve even been told straight up, unprompted, that I couldn’t be a CEO….by a supposed “mentor” in my first and only call with him.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

In the months leading up to officially founding memwris, I was a voracious reader of entrepreneur and founder books.

The one that had the greatest impact is The Founder’s Dilemmas by Noah Wasserman. I put into action team communication tools, and one our first day working together, Zach and I discussed our personal goals for starting memwris, and how we’d effectively have conflict resolution on a business matter without it affecting our personal relationship.

One of my favorite talks is Sarah Knight’s “The Magic of Not Giving a F*ck”. When getting a business off the ground, you have to stay focused on your longer-term goals and not compare yourself to others. But it can be difficult if you’re in a moment of vulnerability, and you might let something someone said affect you. Or you might end up making a small issue much larger because of how you’re reacting to it. Sarah’s talk has helped me objectively view each moment as to whether it’s something I want to invest my time or energy into (aka does it go into my “I give a f*ck bucket”?).

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you don’t build your dream, someone will pay you to build theirs.” Serendipitously I saw this quote in the window of a co-working space in my old LA neighborhood right when my husband and I decided to start our own business. These words are incredibly important to remember as entrepreneurs as we take the risk to make our dreams a reality.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In a world where we speak of “opportunity” as something one should grasp, we have to realize there are millions of people who either aren’t given the same opportunities, or if they are, there can be numerous obstacles that prohibit them from seizing upon it. Those that can grab their opportunity or make their own are privileged.

We need to level the playing field and allow for more equal opportunity: From diversifying who gets a seat at the leadership tables to leveling out the enormous wealth gap to enable the lower socio-economic population proper access.

How can our readers follow you online?

@CharlotteMaumus

linked.com/charlottemaumus

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Disruptors: Charlotte Maumus of Memwris On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Connie Chesner of Armored Team Building On The Three Things You Need To Shake…

Female Disruptors: Connie Chesner of Armored Team Building On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

I’ve long believed in the power of memorable mantras to remind each of us of our focus in times of uncertainty or stress. In Krav Maga, the number one rule is “use whatever works;” it is easy to remember in an overwhelming situation and frees the mind to use all resources available to react, overcome, and prevail. Outside of self defense situations, that rule can sometimes feel like you are bordering on the unethical. It works well for emergency situations, sparking innovative and open-minded thoughts, but for the day-to-day, a more tempered mantra is needed.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Connie Chesner.

Connie Chesner, co-founder of the Armored family of brands, has spent over 25 years on a mission to change the world through her passion for the diverse fields of market research, communication, and strategic thinking. She’s been an international media expert, keynote speaker at conferences such as Loyalty 360, a professor, has run projects to launch and reform multi-national brands, and today she weaves that deep understanding into guiding people to stronger leadership and fulfillment. She has successfully founded three businesses and worked within corporations and agencies, allowing a diverse understanding of how individuals and organizations motivate, build trust, maintain, and grow. Her latest proprietary market research work, “America on Pause,” focuses on how markets have changed due to the impact of the 2020 Pandemic and transforms that original research into strategic planning training that is leading organizations forward to post-pandemic success.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

As you asked this question, the late 1960s pop hit “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother,” by the Hollies sprung to mind. The lyrics not only reflect my career path, but the backstory of how I got here. For those not familiar, the song starts out with a line that says, “The road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to who knows where, who knows where; But I’m strong…”

My life has been spent leading with a helping heart, looking for ways to lift the burden of others by empowering them in some manner, and standing back in awe at the power of sharing knowledge. As a young girl, my favorite fantasy game was to “play school,” setting my stuffed animals up in rows, teaching them new skills and lessons. I went on to teach at the collegiate level and then to lead the market research efforts which afforded me the honor of educating teams at some of the world’s largest brands on insights, impact, and innovation through newfound knowledge. My passion for sharing my knowledge and ever-unique perspective on the world continues with my current companies at the Armored family of brands. Together with my business partner, we lean on our unexpected blend of skills and advance lives at every opportunity.

The most common question we get tends to revolve around the idea of: why would a world champion martial artist and a professional market researcher/trainer start a business together? And the answer lies in a common passion for sharing knowledge that lifts others and leaves them better than before. We are on a mission to change the world, one person at a time.

From the moment of conception, our companies have had a foundational vision to help people. We bring new knowledge to market with our proprietary market research in “America on Pause,” our report and strategic training designed to help businesses move forward past the pandemic. We even offer fully interactive and immersive corporate training sessions, in-person or virtually, that interlace the core principles of Krav Maga with expert soft skills development to improve teams and leaders. No matter how we interface with others, my goal is always to lift their burden just a little and to leave them better than when we first met.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Anyone who has been in an organization that values professional development knows that it’s tough to find engaging options for true training in soft skills sessions. My mission is to change that landscape, through offering innovative and engaging programs that don’t feel like work, but have a lasting impact on the mindset and soft skills tools available to teams.

But to understand that disruption, and the power it has, first I have to ask a few (rhetorical) questions…

  • Did you know that a large number of highly successful executives train in a martial art?
  • That martial arts trains the mind even more than it does the body in core skills such as confidence, discipline, and perseverance?
  • Or that most soft skills training programs lack fresh, proprietary research backing?
  • That improving communication skills, our ability to trust, and goal achievement are vital to individual AND team achievement?

Our work at Armored fills those gaps, offering programs infused with fresh research, approaches, and expert level martial arts elements. We bring the best of what top executives (who train martial arts) have already realized to company-sponsored training sessions: increased confidence, enhanced self-image, renewed trust in others and teams, boosted focus and more.

We take the adventurous and hesitant alike through a safe and enthralling flow experience that weaves together expert-level professional soft skills development tools, such as enhancing trust, increasing goal execution, and strategic thinking enhancement, with real-world, Israeli Krav Maga (self-defense) drills designed for every skill level in the room. It’s an unexpected disruption, but one that instantly excites those looking for fresh ways to impact their teams in positive manners. There is an enjoyment that emerges as we dance the line of an expansive mindset with enough grounding in familiarity for comfort, pushing people to the edge of thrills, but within a safe and controlled environment. The result is an energetic room, even when training lasts an entire day, where people easily lose track of time, are eager for more, and shift from a work to a play mentality that is sadly missing in teams.

Our innovative approach not only gets people moving and interacting in fresh ways, it speaks directly to the base human needs to feel safe, secure, and more in control of the world around us. And therein lies the magic, because as we shore up those base needs through easy and fun drills, the neural pathways to higher learning open further, allowing our bridges to life skills to have more meaning, relevance, and ‘stickiness’ than most have ever experienced before. No other provider is priming the neural pathways in such a uniquely powerful manner and that catches people off guard, in all the right ways.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I know that many great storytellers like to build-up to the lesson behind a story, but I think that sometimes setting the stage can make a story a bit more powerful. So, the lesson nested in this mistake is that:

perspective matters more than you know and when you disrupt, you must still find a way to connect your new world vision to that of the rest of the market or you’ll keep hitting speed bumps. How do I know this? Ah, now THERE’S the story…

One of the cardinal rules of marketing is to highlight your points of differentiation. You have to stand out from the competition to gain attention in the overcrowded marketplace. And so, when I was designing the branding for our companies I looked to two things: my source of faith and inspiration and what made us markedly different. From those roots, our first branding emerged: Armored Self Defense. Our logo infused a single Spartan helmet with deep bold colors of black and orange. Only a few knew the faith-based dual meaning of the word Armored, and as a strong word it lent itself to many analogies. Professional, different, and ready to take on the world.

But the world wasn’t quite ready for us, at least not with that framing. You see, after many months of networking and conversations, I had a bit of an epiphany moment when I realized that some of our closest advisors and supporters…were still unclear what we actually delivered. We’d also noticed that well-meaning contacts would refer us to their Security teams or to one-off groups looking for fitness or Health and Wellness events. These were not the departments or conversations where our insane level of skill and programs were needed, but we were being framed as “just another self defense/martial arts provider” in many circles. It was killing our ability to make the kind of difference we craved. Talk about eye opening.

In short order, we did the hard work and adjusted our branding: slightly softer colors and a fresh name too: Armored Team Building came to life! Looking back, we met loads of fun folks under our original branding, and now engage that for our regional traditional self defense business targeting consumers, but the Armored Team Building brand has served us well by allowing our brand to resonate with the right markets, open the right doors, and prime people for the unexpected fun mixed with learning that lies ahead.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

When you are a natural-born leader and disruptor, mentors can be tough to find because you think in unexpected ways and connect ideas that have never been looked at in quite the same way before. And so, in my fields, I have struggled to find true mentors to take me under their wing and shepherd me forward, yet I have had mentors in areas that cut across industries and to the heart of that which makes a disruptor powerful. Watching those with incredible work ethics, perseverance, an enduring passion for creation, and expertise has been a theme throughout my life. Engaging them in conversations, getting to know them, knowing their struggles and stories have allowed me to seed the traits that serve me across any field of work I enter.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

The systems that professionals and organizations have come to know as a part of the “training and development’ industry are, to be frank, tired and over used. Too many trainers lean into the “old standards” and rely upon assessments and similar exercises to try and advance soft skills training. The results are sometimes evident, but many times if you chat with someone a few weeks or months later, they can barely recall what was covered or show evidence of progress based on their learning. So, although these systems have “withstood the test of time,” I would argue that it’s because the systems haven’t had true innovative thinkers inject them with fresh ideas in a long time.

Many practitioners have the capacity and drive to be creative and innovative, but are stuck in organizations that dictate or restrict their ability to innovate. Innovation breaks barriers. It requires more thinking, more planning, and a touch more risk than some organizations are willing to take on internally.

Negative disruption imitates change, but leaves building blocks out. For example, recent years have seen a rise in “pseudo-team building” markets and the meaning of the phrase “team building” has been watered down and distorted by these negative disruptors. What does that look like? Well, it looks like paint-ball based team building or escape rooms where the promise is team building, but the experience is more team bonding. Without vital layers and pieces of true content mixed in, these experiences often leave teams feeling pumped in the moment, but still lacking the tools and skills advancement to work together back at the office. These are different and flashy, just to be different and flashy. They latch onto the phrase “team building” as a marketing gimmick, without the expertise to back up the promises. In the process, they do more damage to the industry than good.

Positive disruption, such as what we do in the fields of training and development, shatter expectations in many ways, but still give credence and attention to the foundations which allow them to exist. At our Armored family of brands, we blend together the thrill of learning a new and exciting skill (Krav Maga/self-defense) with the grounding of expert-level traditional professional development, simultaneously speaking to the base human needs for safety and security, and our needs to engage and work together with others through integrated soft skills tools and lessons. That balance of honoring the past, yet jumping into the future is a recipe for positive disruption.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

I’ve long believed in the power of memorable mantras to remind each of us of our focus in times of uncertainty or stress. In Krav Maga, the number one rule is “use whatever works;” it is easy to remember in an overwhelming situation and frees the mind to use all resources available to react, overcome, and prevail. Outside of self-defense situations, that rule can sometimes feel like you are bordering on the unethical. It works well for emergency situations, sparking innovative and open-minded thoughts, but for the day-to-day, a more tempered mantra is needed.

My entire life has been a journey of incremental growth and change. And that is best embodied in the mantra: “Keep moving forward.” Simple. Memorable. Easy to repeat to yourself over and over again in times of stress, especially when you are tired and want to give up. It comes into play in my regular workouts at the gym, where it pushes me to try one more rep or to hold a plank for just a few seconds longer, knowing that little changes add up over time.

And in the business world, it makes things like a pandemic just another reason to find ways to move forward. Life is a series of shifts and adjustments, it is never-ending in its challenge to our desire for routine and tradition. There is comfort in traditions and systems, but the best insights and impacts are often experienced when we step out of these and move forward into new territory.

Being an entrepreneur and a disruptor is never easy. The flashy images and fancy toys are what people see on the outside. They see the veneer of confidence and the public-facing elements of the business. But what they don’t readily see is the drive, dedication, passion, and mindset that allowed you to achieve those other things. And when they decide to stop or quit, to take a break or kill a few hours in the middle of a week, they don’t realize that behind the scenes, I’m still pushing, repeating time and again the mantra to “keep moving forward.”

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

One of the greatest thrills in life lies in never settling and always striving to grow, so you are right, shaking things up is a way of life! Next up is the evolution of our custom research looking at the ways the world has forever changed due to the pandemic of 2020 and how businesses can harness those changes to make fresh traction in their markets. “America on Pause,” the research project and report was just the start. We’ve transformed the learning into practical and adaptable strategic planning workshops and programs that are making a massive impact in how companies can come back stronger than ever.

To date, we’ve had over 500 people go through our post-Covid strategic sessions, giving them renewed focus and plans to forge forward in powerful ways and that number will continue to grow. A good fit for businesses of all sizes, the workshops can be conducted in person or via our highly engaging and passion-driven virtual offerings. Everything we do is designed to bring true and enduring impact from custom expert perspectives that aren’t available anywhere else in market.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Being female, showing my intelligence, curiosity, and sense of self often directly intimidates others. Whereas, a man would be seen as desirable and driven, my same actions are sometimes seen as more brazen and risky. Being a female disruptor means I have to think more about what I wear, how I phrase things, and how I come across.

Males have role models like Gary V., Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Joe Rogan, Bill Gates, Eric Thomas, and more: men who can dress casually and still be taken seriously. Men who are lauded and admired for embracing who they are, but where are the female counterparts? Perhaps that’s why I had a bit of trouble answering your earlier question about my mentors.

This is further complicated by the tendency for many females to hold each other back by withholding support in key manners, whereas males have discovered how to navigate together to find mutual success.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

When you don’t imitate, but you innovate, your influences are scattered because you are always pulling from tiny bits and making them your own, leaving your mark. Which is to say that I honor what others have built before me, but that I work actively to enhance it farther.

The key thread lies in having an ever-curious mind. It’s always being open to and looking for opportunities to learn. And that means that my playlists and nightstands are full of a variety of topics and resources. And with an ever-curious mind, influence often comes from the most unexpected places. Such as driving down the road and seeing a truck with a unique brand of glass which claims to have been around since before the Civil War and working with those you are with to explore who that brand is and what they do, not because you work in glass, but because learning is everywhere. The company had survived the Civil War, endured the Great Depression, was still family-owned and stayed true to core values and tradition. And that was why they were successful and THAT is inspirational. But it didn’t come from a podcast or book. It came from being present and curious in the everyday. Books, podcasts, and talks are fantastic, but the world itself is a curious and engaging place, you just need to take a fresh look around.

And that is the same approach we use in our work with the Armored family of brands. We lead with ever-curious minds and a desire to understand, improve, and make the world a better and richer place in which to live.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

As someone who appreciates nature, I love hiking. And if hiking teaches you anything, it’s that the climb is worth the view. Perhaps that is why I resonate so strongly with this quote from Vince Lombardi: “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”

It’s great to have goals, but so many times people get hyper-focused on the goal over the journey — and the journey is where the most valuable learning often happens. The journey teaches you to stumble and recover, to know when to rest, to appreciate each step, and to really value the reward of the view and experience of reaching the summit.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

One of the themes that we focus on in the Armored family of brands is the power of mindset and we are on a mission to repair the fabric of relationships across the world, so I’d love to spark a Mindset Movement.

The infection of having a negative mindset and always looking for the downside or criticism seems to have taken hold of the world. Sarcasm, bickering, hypercriticism, inability to allow others to grow/change, cancel culture and more are drastically impacting the day-to-day prevailing mindset of millions. As we have run our workshops, we have seen groups that were struggling to work together across divisions, roles, and other challenges transform within just a few hours of our mindset training.

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to encourage people to shift their mindset, leading each interaction with a search for the positive. This does not mean to ignore true dangers or wrongs or to be all-accepting, all of the time, but it does mean that more people would enter interactions with the framework of positivity, opportunity, and cooperation.

How can our readers follow you online?

Linked In:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/conniechesner/

Website (teambuilding):

https://www.armoredteambuilding.com/

America on Pause (report preview & corporate training):

https://www.armoredteambuilding.com/americaonpause2020

Armored Research:

https://www.armoredteambuilding.com/research

Email address and phone: (feel free to reach out directly anytime)

cchesner@armoredteambuilding.com

336–749–7556

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Disruptors: Connie Chesner of Armored Team Building On The Three Things You Need To Shake… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Gabrielle Pickens of Pickens Creative On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up…

Female Disruptors: Gabrielle Pickens of Pickens Creative On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Everything you want, you deserve: Don’t shy away from your big dreams and goals. Your awareness has planted those seeds inside of you for a reason. Also, don’t expect everyone to believe in or support YOUR vision at first… that’s why it’s in YOUR head. You have to take it to the next level.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gabrielle Pickens.

Gabrielle Pickens, CEO of Pickens Creative, is a skilled media professional that understands the power of communication and persuasion. Gabrielle leads with a genuine interest in her clients and their brands — a perfect mixture of military-grade precision and free-flowing creativity. From event and television production to strategic public relations, Gabrielle hopes to inspire and empower all people and servicemembers to conquer the mental blocks that are holding them back from living a life they truly desire.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Joining the military was never a part of my plan. As life had it though, I joined in 2013 at 22 years old and spent six years of my life serving this country. During my time in, I explored the world, met some of the most unique and dedicated people on Earth, and built an unshakeable work ethic and discipline that money simply can’t buy.

Fast forward June 2019, the beginning of my year-long transition phase, I realized there were significant holes in the journey to becoming a civilian. I believe the military, specifically the US Navy, tried really hard to provide a comprehensive program for separating service members, including but not limited to resume practice, skills search, and robust, albeit linear career options. However, what I saw missing wasn’t related to anything one could create on paper. For me, it was the emotional and psychological aspects that were swept under the rug. That’s where the idea for Barracks To Baller came about.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Barracks To Baller is disruptive because it addresses the mental health of the servicemember via the lens of mindfulness. Originating as an online community for melanated, military women, Barracks To Baller is a result of my own intense soul searching and self-reflection; a place for all women, but especially Black servicewomen, to come and explore new ways of thinking, develop compassion and grace, and ultimately engage in mindful meditation.

While there are undoubtedly effective military transition coaches, resources, and programs out there, very few that address the tremendous mental strain that is exacerbated during the transition from Active Duty to civilian. Moreover, there are even fewer programs dedicated to exploring the Black female service member and her unique experience.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Where do I begin, ha! I’d say the funniest mistake I made was looking for other versions of “Barracks To Baller” as a guidepost. I spent a lot of time with this idea in my mind, afraid to put it out. Then, once I finally took my first step, I stalled — -dissatisfied with the product because it wasn’t turning out to be what I had envisioned. It was like I was hoping someone else was going to do the work for me; someone else was going to come down and take what was in my mind and make it the “Barracks To Baller” I wanted it to be.

The lesson? There wasn’t a Barracks To Baller platform. I had created the first and only. I needed to understand that my vision and ideas were all I needed to move forward. I didn’t need the validation from “another “ replica. All I needed was myself.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

My mentors have been other Black women forging their own path. From my close friends to family, to public figures I’ll probably never meet, I’m continuously inspired by the world around me.

I was first introduced and inspired by Lauren Ash, a Black woman, entrepreneur, and mindful meditation practitioner. Through her courage, I understood that being mindful was okay to say out loud and build a profitable brand around. At the time, she was one of the first Black women I’d ever come across in this digital world that created a space for herself (and others!) in a mostly whitewashed wellness space.

It’s interesting to me because Black women are the natural healers of the universe, yet we are underrepresented in the very spaces we naturally inhabit. I seek to add my experience as a military service member to that changing narrative.

Another popular figure I admire is Karen Civil. A woman entirely defined by the beat of her own drum and never to a title. She makes it’s very clear she is a woman of many talents and proceeds to do whatever her heart desires. I respect that. As a multi-hyphenate and Navy Veteran, I experienced the inevitable identity crisis we face when transitioning out. Before I started following Karen Civil’s career, I made a decision to myself that after my separation, I’d never work a job I wasn’t passionate about or get so attached to a title that I limit myself to a box. Karen Civil has proven to follow that same line of thinking.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

If we look at nature, we can see that some of the most beautiful, most majestic occurrences, take mountains, for example, are a result of massive disruption. This idea of disruption or “trying something new” is innate in humans. Therefore, I believe disruption is inherently positive — it makes way for innovation and new players. However, when that disruption is spearheaded without humanity in mind, i.e., a new efficient process that generates a more significant ROI for investors, but continues to marginalize underrepresented groups or people, this is what we’d call a ‘not so positive’ disruption.

Many companies deem the insurgence of POC or WOC at the helm of organizations and companies as “disruptive” in their respective industries. Take a look at Hollywood. Since it’s inception, white creatives have been front and center, continuously creating and perpetuating stereotypes and caricatures of BIPOC. Now, we have Lena Waithe, Ava Duvernay, Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, and Will Packer hiring Black and brown actors and crews to showcase their talents, in a way that is authentic and accurate. While holding the title may seem like a badge of honor to some, if we’re being honest and objective, BIPOC professionals are simply “reclaiming their time” in the words of the Honorable Maxine Waters of the U.S. House of Representatives. We have to be honest with ourselves and realize, many of the “disruptors” have been forced in the shadows or mysteriously overlooked for decades — they didn’t want to be deemed a “disruptor”. They simply didn’t have a choice.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Everything you need is already inside of you: So many of us spend ample amounts of time seeking validation from external sources. Stop it. Listen to yourself and move on. You only have one life to live!
  2. Treat every day like Monday until Friday comes: As an entrepreneur if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Invest in yourself enough to push through and push forward with the same energy of a perfect, well-rested Monday morning. Your bank account will thank you!
  3. Everything you want, you deserve: Don’t shy away from your big dreams and goals. Your awareness has planted those seeds inside of you for a reason. Also, don’t expect everyone to believe in or support YOUR vision at first… that’s why it’s in YOUR head. You have to take it to the next level.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

My goal is to introduce 1,000 Black women to engage with and embrace a mindful mediation practice. As the original trendsetters of this universe, I’m sure if I can get these women to seek the light within themselves and learn to quiet their minds, they will certainly inspire the rest of the world to do the same.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Writer Cheryl Strayed aka “Sugar” hosts a podcast called “Sugar Calling” where she quite literally calls some of the world’s most brilliant minds and prolific writers. On an episode that aired on April 8th, 2020, she calls famous writer, environmentalist, and octogenarian Margaret Atwood at her home, in which she casually mentions she is sharing with no one — in self-inflicted isolation.

However, the most memorable moment isn’t her isolation. For me, it is the way in which she effortlessly explains death, and the ease and comfort in instantly bought me.

She explains to Cheryl that while “your loved ones aren’t going to be in your life anymore… in the way that they used to be….they’ll still be in your life, it’s just that there probably won’t be any new conversations”. I froze.

When I was 16, my grandmother died due to cancer. Then, at 17, days after my high school graduation, my brother was tragically killed in Chicago due to gun violence. Currently, my mother lives in Chicago while I work and live in San Diego. During the pandemic, I struggled with severe anxiety attacks over what I thought was the inevitable demise of my mother to the coronavirus. *Spoiler alert: she’s still alive*

When I heard Maragaret’s word, a wave of calm came over me in a way that I hadn’t felt before. I’d failed to realize or face the reality of the nature of death in humans. At some point, we will all go. However, that doesn’t wipe away the feelings, memories and energy shared between two loving humans. While I wish my grandmother and brother were still alive, I now feel my heart open enough to allow their infinite power to come and visit me.

Thank You, Margaret.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Well, I don’t have a quote, more so a mantra. The idea of Sho Shin in Zen Buddhism means to approach everything with a “beginner’s mind”. The purpose is to release prejudice and assumptions to open your mind and heart to the experience of life as it is. So many times, especially as adults, we assume that since we’ve done something one hundred times, then we are in fact, an expert. While this might be true, there is something to be said about the innocence and rich experience of new places, faces, and things. Therefore, manufacturing the idea of a beginner, we tend to open our minds, eyes, and hearts to new stimuli and hopefully, new lessons. At the very least, I can guarantee life will be much richer once you adopt the Sho Shin mentality.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In the perfect world, mindful meditation would voluntarily be a part of our everyday routine — -as automatic as showering and brushing your teeth. We live in a world that celebrates running around and “getting things done.” I’d like to show people that being mindful can increase your happiness and brain function, all the while providing you with the edge we so desperately seek in stimulants and other external sources.

Mindfulness will help you get things done faster, better, and more efficiently!

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me online on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram at Gabrielle Pickens.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank You! May you be happy. May you be at peace. May you be safe. May you be healthy.


Female Disruptors: Gabrielle Pickens of Pickens Creative On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Erin Levine of Hello Divorce On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Female Disruptors: Erin Levine of Hello Divorce On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Hello Divorce — a “modern break up service” that allows consumers to “opt out” of the legal system and get divorced peacefully and conveniently. I leveraged my knowledge of the law to design a process that guides the consumer through divorce, start to finish. If they need a little extra help along the way, they can access legal help, on-demand, in increments as small as 30 minutes. In other words, lawyers are available, but they are not the center of the case.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Levine.

Erin Levine is an entrepreneur, legal innovator, and Certified Family Law Specialist. She is the founder and CEO of Hello Divorce, a “modern breakup service” offering an affordable, convenient, and low conflict divorce option through a revolutionary web application, the Divorce Navigator. Her legal technology and access to justice work has been recognized by the legal industry and beyond — with recent awards from the American Bar Association, Women Founders Network, Super Lawyers, Duke University School of Law and Fastcase 50, which honored the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

It’s my pleasure. As a late teen I was a Plaintiff in a civil lawsuit and a witness in a criminal action. The defendant, my childhood gymnastics coach, was incredibly abusive to me and several other teammates — manipulating us to keep quiet while he promised that he’d make good on our dreams of competing in the Olympics. While I received “justice” in the traditional sense of the word (he went to prison), I found the whole process to be frightening, confusing, disempowering, inefficient and overly expensive. The experience ignited my interest in the legal field — especially consumer facing areas of law. After managing my law firm for several years, I set out to build a company that makes law more accessible (read: easier to understand) and affordable without compromising the quality of legal services. Enter Hello Divorce.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The legal system is one of the last industries to embrace technology — primarily because the regulatory scheme discourages innovation so as to protect the “status quo” — the billable hour and a seller’s market. The entire divorce system is stacked against us. It’s overwhelming and outdated. It encourages conflict and is unreasonably inefficient. But consumers have had enough and they no longer want to pay thousands in legal fees just to exit a relationship. Unfortunately, online “DIY” services do not offer enough support to the average person because court forms and procedures are extremely confusing and dissolving the marital “contract” is financially complicated and fraught with emotional triggers and profound implications.

Enter Hello Divorce — a “modern break up service” that allows consumers to “opt out” of the legal system and get divorced peacefully and conveniently. I leveraged my knowledge of the law to design a process that guides the consumer through divorce, start to finish. If they need a little extra help along the way, they can access legal help, on-demand, in increments as small as 30 minutes. In other words, lawyers are available, but they are not the center of the case. For as little as $99 per month, users have access to the Divorce Navigator, an easy to use web application that guides them through divorce — complete with AI powered form generating software, interactive checklists and tutorials. Upgrade to have your forms filed with the court and served with a click of a button or connect with lawyers on-demand. End result: A divorce that puts the focus squarely on your next chapter, not the conflict or trauma that got you to this point. Some cost and conflict are inevitable in divorce. But by creating the right tools and providing meaningful support, we’ve taken the average cost of divorce down from $20,000 per person to $1,500 per couple.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

“Funny” wouldn’t be the word I’d used to describe most of the mistakes I’ve made! But one example I can think of is my assumption that making divorce less expensive, low conflict and easier to manage would be met with a warm reception. I thought it was a “no brainer” — nobody “likes” divorce but everybody recognizes a need to change how it’s done. Wow, was I wrong. Early on I struggled to gain traction. Journalists rejected my work citing that they only feature companies who offer a “societal good.” Comments on Facebook were the most mind blowing — we were accused of “encouraging” or “promoting” divorce — as if now that it is easier, everyone would run out and leave their spouse. I always look for a silver lining and there’s certainly one to this story — clients and friends helped accelerate our growth and community building by jumping to our defense and starting a new conversation around divorce. I’ll never forget how courageous some of our early supporters were.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Sarah Lacy (TechCrunch, Pando Media and Chairman Mom) called me just after we launched (and were putting out fires left and right) to make a request: “Drop everything and head to Pulga (an old gold mining, Wild West town in the middle of nowhere) for four days to talk all things female entrepreneurship and tech.” I thought she was insane. Camping with 75 women in the middle of nowhere with no internet access? But I did it and it was by far, the most empowering, supportive and mind blowing few days ever. Startup life is a team sport — I definitely would not be where I am without my tribe.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

You have my number. I definitely am not done. We’re working on a few different projects right now. Most exciting is that we are gearing up to launch Hello Divorce nationally. That’s so tricky when the law varies from state to state (and sometimes county by county). By the time this article is published, we will be in California, Colorado and hopefully a few others!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I get this question a lot and I usually find a way to avoid it. Not that I don’t think it’s important to ‘call out’ the differences, but because there are so many other humans who have far more challenges than I do and I want to do what I can to highlight their experience. That being said, the two biggest differences I see between male and female founders have to do with (a) raising capital; and (b) perception of our “worth.” And, surprise surprise, they are definitely interrelated. There is no doubt about it — trying to get funding for your startup as a woman is not only next to impossible, it’s demoralizing. The questions my peers have received during investment rounds range from “Would you consider this a hobby or career?” to “Do you expect to have any more kids?” While the climate is definitely changing for the better, at present, women raise less than their male counterparts and only % of women founders receive venture capital.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I live in Podcasts. I credit them with so much of my success because there’s always an awesome episode for every pain point I’ve experienced along the startup journey. When I was first struggling with messaging and honing down on my ideal customer “avatar,” I turned to Donald Miller’s “Story Brand.” When I was transitioning from ‘brick and mortar’ to ecommerce, I spent a lot of late nights listening to Amy Porterfield’s “Marketing Made Simple.” I am obsessed with “How I Built This,” “The Angry Therapist,” and “Marketing School” with Neil Patel and Eric Siu (because they get right to the point). My favorite type of books are those that you can pick up, turn to any page, and feel home. These never get old and keep me inspired, accountable, empowered and motivated to (re) discover my relationship with my company, myself and the people I love. I usually turn to Cleo Wade, Jordan Sondler, Lalah Delia, Elise Joy, Tim Desmond and John Kim.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ve got enough favorite quotes and mantras to fill an entire book. Just checkout my Instagram account (@hellodivorce) if you don’t believe me. But here are a couple I love:

“Honor your scars. They are proof you have lived.” — Cleo Wade. I don’t remember when exactly it happened — but I remember how it felt when it did. There was this energetic shift each time I was triggered — I no longer cringed with self-loathing and instead just noticed. Noticed how it felt to be reminded of my pain and trauma and then felt a sense of pride for how much I’ve overcome and who I’ve become. Imperfect but me. “Flawed. & (still) worthy.” (Another Cleo Wade quote).

A quote that feels particularly relevant right now is from Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ The last few months have been full of sorrow and outrage. And I know I am not alone. It’s so easy for white folks to hide behind privilege and live life in a bubble. But we cannot stand by and let our communities of color suffer or be silenced. Look for the helpers. Be a helper. Find your tribe. There’s something each of us can do. I’m proud of my community who has stepped up in so many different ways — from offering free legal services or highlighting minority voices to examining their own internalized racism and educating our kids. It will never feel like enough but if you surround yourself with the helpers, this is how we lift each other up and keep focused on pushing forward.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I truly believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves in this life is the chance to turn our obstacles into opportunities — our breakups into breakthroughs. But divorce is complicated. The system is complicated. It’s a system set up to create conflict, to pit spouse against spouse. If I could inspire a movement, it would be one that changes the culture of and conversation around divorce. The process is broken, but we don’t have to let it break us. So, I guess you could say that creating Hello Divorce is my attempt to start a movement to change the experience of divorce itself — to make divorce legal process manageable and to support people as they let go of shame and prioritize their relationship with self.

How can our readers follow you online?

I love meeting new people and innovators on social media. On Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, my handle is @hellodivorce. Connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/erinlevine/


Female Disruptors: Erin Levine of Hello Divorce On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.