Or Bokobza of Venn: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a CEO

Take smart risks. It’s natural to question yourself in the early phase of building your company. Often, you are not earning a salary as a founder and the pressure is really on, especially when the initial excitement burns off. One of the things that really helped us to get through that difficult early stage was that we knew we didn’t want to let anyone down. We weren’t going to risk our reputations by not delivering. That’s our biggest strength as founders — if we commit to something, we deliver all the way.

As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Or Bokobza.

Or Bokobza is CEO and Co-Founder of Venn, the world’s only platform and experience company focused entirely on neighborhoods. Raised in a cooperative community in Israel, Or started his first neighborhood development company in 2012. In 2014, he became a founding partner of Selina, a hospitality and wellness start-up with nearly 100 locations around the world and more than $350M in funding.

In 2017, Or and his co-founders created Venn, The Neighborhood Company, merging best-in-class digital, physical and human experiences to foster real-world connections between neighbors and neighborhoods. Operating in cities from Brooklyn to Berlin and Tel Aviv, Venn powers thousands of units and drives Belonging for members and business growth for partners. Or lives between New York City and Tel Aviv.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

I spent eight years in a special forces unit in the Israeli army, an incredible, formative time. It was during that time that I met my co-founder Chen, and we would often talk about our vision for building a community that we could call home, where people would really support each other. We both grew up in communal communities — Chen in a kibbutz and me in a moshav — and this shaped our worldview.

One day, after leaving the army, I got a call about a real estate opportunity in a run-down and neglected neighborhood in the south district of Tel Aviv — Shapira. Chen, our friend David, and I immediately went to take a look. I remember stepping out of the car as a bunch of chickens crossed the street. I could smell the lemon trees — so unusual in the city. It reminded me of the moshav where I grew up. We all looked at each other and without saying a word we knew that this was it — the opportunity we had been looking for.

Right away, we moved to Shapira and started building our plans for the neighborhood — the coffee shop, coworking space, shared spaces. Everyone thought we were out of our minds, but we had a big vision and we were set on seeing it through.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

In Hebrew we have this phrase “לייבש את הביצות” (“Leyabesh et habeytzot”), which means “to drain the water.” It goes back to when previous generations came to Israel and had to create an agricultural system from nothing, draining all of the wet mud to build livable communities like the moshav and kibbutz. When we started Venn, we had a feeling that we were going back to our roots, reinventing what it means to be an active participant in a community and building the framework to make that possible.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Entrepreneurship is the art of the impossible. As a founder, you need to believe what you see in your heart, not what’s already out there. For me, it’s not very exciting to see something that’s possible and just to go get it; I am passionate about going after the impossible and making it a reality.

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?

Back in 2017, we realized that the only way to grow was to partner with local landlords, so we focused on raising money. We invited some bankers to the Shapira neighborhood, and I remember this group of bankers coming to the neighborhood in their shiny shoes and buttoned-up shirts. I was wearing a t-shirt and flip-flops.

I remember walking down the street with them and pointing out where we were building the kindergarten and the coffee shop, among other things. I said, “And in 18 months, we’ll build 100 buildings on this site.” They didn’t exactly laugh in my face, but I could see that they were laughing inside, thinking “Here’s another entrepreneur who thinks he’s going to change the world.”

Eventually, we raised a $40M round, which was revolutionary in Israel — to raise that money around an idea. For me, it’s small proof that we can make things happen even if people may laugh at first. And we always want to keep that passion.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

There are moments in your life when you just know. It happened to me when I met my wife and when I enlisted in the army. It was the same when I first visited the Shapira neighborhood. I knew that Chen, David, and I would build our company there and call that place home.

All of the phases of our company have really been led by intuition, and I hope to hold on to that even as the company grows. Intuition is what led us to the vision. It made no sense, initially, coming to the Shapira neighborhood, but intuition led us there and

it’s one of the most beautiful and amazing neighborhoods in the world. It’s like an unpolished diamond — and we’re working to make it shine.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Know how to raise money and recruit the best minds. To make this idea a reality, we brought together the most amazing and talented people in Israel. People came to work with us because they saw that spark in our eyes and the determination to make it. They stick around because we’re all working together toward collective success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have a very entrepreneurial environment at home because my wife Tamara is also a founder. Her startup, Riseup, helps people manage their finances and get out of debt in Israel. We’re constantly sharing our experiences and talking about our challenges — how we can create a better culture, a better organization, a bigger business. And now we’re about to have our first child, so the conversation has shifted to, “How do we raise our child to be an impact entrepreneur so that he will make a positive impact on the world?” We try to live our values and to make them present in our day-to-day, whether at work or at home.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Community is a very buzzy word, but we’re building something real. With Venn, we’re defining the future of community and we’ll help others to envision how to build communities that are about real learning, education, and impact. Through our network of homes and shared spaces and investment in local businesses, Venn deepens the sense of belonging among neighbors and helps to build strong local economies.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Your company will never be bigger than your dreams for it, so you should aim high.

2. Once you have the vision, you must act on it. Tell as many people as you can in order to commit to what you are building and hold yourself accountable to make it a reality.

3. Take smart risks. It’s natural to question yourself in the early phase of building your company. Often, you are not earning a salary as a founder and the pressure is really on, especially when the initial excitement burns off. One of the things that really helped us to get through that difficult early stage was that we knew we didn’t want to let anyone down. We weren’t going to risk our reputations by not delivering. That’s our biggest strength as founders — if we commit to something, we deliver all the way.

4. Be a pro. You learn this in the army, and it’s what helped keep us going when so many talented people were willing to contribute their time and talent to building Venn.

5. Know how to raise money and recruit great talent. You can’t succeed without the right team, so invest in company culture to surround yourself with driven, like-minded people.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

We’re doing it! If you really want to improve people’s lives, start with their neighborhoods. Venn makes it easy for people to contribute to their communities, shop local, and find Belonging.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/or-bokobza-22411123/

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


Or Bokobza of Venn: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a CEO was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Dr Carolina Reis Oliveira of OneSkin On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Yo

Female Disruptors: Dr. Carolina Reis Oliveira of OneSkin On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Be laser focused on solving one problem at a time. If you have a clear problem, you have a business, if you have two problems, you are done.

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

Carolina Reis Oliveira holds her Ph.D. in Immunology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in collaboration with Rutgers University and is an alumnus of IndieBio, the world’s leading biotechnology accelerator. In 2016, Carolina relocated to Silicon Valley from Latin America to co-found OneSkin, and to lead the development of the company’s disruptive rejuvenation technologies for optimal skin health.

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?

From one side, I was lucky to witness my father and brother starting their own ventures and completely transforming the ecosystem they were inserted in. I was amazed at what is to create a significant impact in many people’s lives and in the land they were working on. On the other side, I was always inspired by the opportunity to use science to address the most fundamental problems of humanity, how we can live a healthy — free of diseases and suffering — and more fulfilling life. This passion led me to get involved in cutting-edge research in the field of stem cells and tissue engineering and by the end of my PhD I joined two other colleagues and we decided to bring this research to solve unmet needs in the life-sciences industry. That was the first step into an entrepreneurial journey that we have been on for seven years now.

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

We are developing products to address aging at the molecular level and extend the lifespan of our skin, aka, skinspan, which means the time our skin is healthy and functional. Most products in the market are focused on treating the symptoms, not the root causes. We have spent 5 years replicating skin aging in the lab and have found a proprietary peptide, a little piece of protein, that can target the underlying causes of skin aging, and promote an overall improvement in skin health, at the molecular and external level.

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?

In one of my pitch presentations I was brainstorming with a mentor that was a great storyteller and he made an analogy comparing old skin we were growing in the lab as if we were replicating many “grandmas” to test our products. The way he presented it sounded so intriguing. I tried to replicate the analogy and it didn’t land well and I learned the importance of authentic storytelling.

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 am very fortunate to have had so many great mentors along the way. From friend entrepreneurs who were more experienced and ahead of me in their ventures, to an advisor who prepared us to come to the US, to the founding partners of IndieBio, the biotech accelerator that helped us to get a foot in Silicon Valley. One of these partners specifically has become one of my main mentors and he is also one of the most inspiring leaders I’ve known. At one pitch presentation, he gave me very harsh feedback that made me feel terrible in the first moment, but it ended up working as a fuel to allow my real abilities to come around stronger and better prepared for whatever the future may hold.

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 reality is, disruption is always good for someone. But it is not inherently good or bad. While it is an opportunity for some, for others it’s a threat. For example, in our case, disruption means to develop a new approach to tackle skin aging. For all the other companies that are behind the new advances that could lead to a more effective product, we are a threat.

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

Build what you believe should exist, not what will make you money.

Be laser focused on solving one problem at a time. If you have a clear problem, you have a business, if you have two problems, you are done.

Building a company is a marathon, not a sprint. Burning yourself out won’t help the longevity of the business,

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

OneSkin will be at the frontier of the companies building preventative therapies to extend our health and maintain our vitality. We need to start treating ourselves in a more proactive way instead of relying on solutions that are reactive, when it may be too late.

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

Women are questioned by their ability to lead profound changes while men are considered audacious and bold.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

The book — A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. It brings an important revelation on how our ego is behind most conflicts and that by being present and aware of it, you can recover your consciousness and make rational, righteous decisions.

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. 🙂

The movement I want to inspire is to invite everyone to build a future where aging does not mean any limitation to do things we love doing, but rather more years to enjoy a joyful and fulfilling life. If we all believe this is possible, and start to educate ourselves, change our habits and help each other along the way, we are already building the movement.

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

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Rocky Balboa

When my father passed almost unexpectedly, it was like life had just punched me in the face and I had no strength to get up and keep fighting. Then you learn that life won’t get much easier, but we need to build the foundation and resilience that will get us through those hard times.

How can our readers follow you online?

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolina-reis-oliveira-a69b8a27/

IG: @caroll_reis


Female Disruptors: Dr Carolina Reis Oliveira of OneSkin On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Yo was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Dr Eva Beaulieu on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Jou

Women In Wellness: Dr. Eva Beaulieu on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

You learn to deal with death and suffering in a way that others do not. You learn that you cannot save everyone, which makes life so fragile. If it is time for someone to move on, all you can do is make their passing comfortable. The very fact that we devote our lives and time to help try to alleviate suffering and death is how some of us cope.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Eva Beaulieu.

Dr. Eva Beaulieu is an Internist at Piedmont Henry Hospital outside of Atlanta, Georgia. She completed her residency at the Medical Center of Central Georgia after graduating from Ross University School of Medicine. Dr. Eva knew from a very young age that her purpose was to positively impact the lives of many. With English as her third language, Dr. Eva moved to the U.S. when she was 15 years old. Equipped with a thirst and undeterred passion, she pursued medicine.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I was born in Haiti and moved to the U.S. when I was almost 15 years old. Both of my parents were physicians with their own practices: my father was a Radiologist (he passed away in late August 2019) and my mother was a Dermatologist. She moved to the U.S. and had to go through taking her boards all over again, and completed her residency in Family Medicine, which was easier to get into than Dermatology. Growing up with both parents as doctors was a blessing. Seeing how hard they worked, the sacrifices they made, as well as the dedication and the impact they had on the lives of so many only strengthened my desire to be a physician. My parents did everything they could to give my brother and I the best life possible, and for that I will forever be grateful.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I began medical school as an optimistic and eager to learn student. I had one goal in mind: learn everything there is to know about the human body so that I can, one day, have the incredible opportunity to impact the lives of others in a positive way.

During my last year of medical school, while spending hours at the hospital each day learning and studying, I discovered a mole on my left foot. Because of what I had been taught during my curriculum, I was able to recognize the warning signs of an abnormal-looking skin lesion and followed my instincts to immediately visit a dermatologist who excised the lesion. The pathology report confirmed: Melanoma in situ, which meant that there were cancer cells in the top layer of my skin (the epidermis). Fortunately, the cells were all contained in one area and had not grown into deeper layers of the skin. I had caught it early and had an extensive three-hour surgery to my left foot with a skin graft.

Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the United States, with an estimated 1.3 million cases each year. Melanoma is the most lethal skin cancer, but the diagnosis of thin melanoma is associated with a greater than 95% five-year survival rate. Who knew I would go to medical school to save my own life?

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

When I completed my residency and got my first job as an attending physician, I felt overwhelmed. No one really teaches you how to get by in the real world and having to figure things out on my own was a big deal. I had just gotten married, was in the process of buying my first house, and to top it all off, I was due to give birth within two months of starting my new job. This meant that I had to navigate being a wife, a Hospitalist, a new homeowner, and a new mom — all at the same time.

Within my first year as a Hospitalist, I decided to open my own practice, hoping that this would provide me with more flexibility, freedom, and time to spend with my son. Boy, was I wrong! This business venture was not at all what I had expected, as I ended up working more than ever. That’s when I realized I had made a big mistake by rushing into this new venture too quickly without giving myself the time and space I needed to turn my vision into a reality.

Through this experience, I learned that failure is not a bad thing. When we fail, we grow, mature, and achieve new understandings and perspectives on life. Failing has taught me my strengths and weaknesses, but most importantly, it taught me to always continue to move forward.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My parents had a huge impact on the person that I am today! They taught me to work hard and never give up. Through their example, I learned that hard work, effort, and education are the keys to success: they can change lives, open doors, and create opportunities that no one can take away from you.

Growing up with both parents as doctors was a learning process. Important-sounding words such as “biopsy”, “malignant”, “hemoptysis”, “popliteal fossa” would always be thrown around at home, and even at a very young age, I learned the meaning behind these words.

As a little girl, I can remember my father taking me to work with him. I could see how passionate he was about his work, and how he would go out of his way to help his patients. He was very dedicated and hard working. I will never be able to express my gratitude for my family. I would not be the person I am today without them and their positive life examples.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

The pandemic has shone a light on the long-standing health disparities within the African American community. This is largely due to social determinants of health that many Black people face, including the type of work we do, where we live and the quality of health care to which we have access. The death rate for African Americans is higher than Whites for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and more.

I want to change the culture of health and wellness by inspiring others to make healthier choices, no matter where they are on their individual wellness journey. I’ve also partnered with Clorox and Pine-Sol to educate consumers on why it’s important to disinfectant your home regularly as part of your overall health and wellness to help prevent the spread of viruses including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

First: Bring a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Make sure you’re getting at least eight glasses of water per day. Water helps your kidneys, keeps your skin clear, maximizes your physical performance, maintains normal bowel functions as well as mood, memory, and brain performance. The bottom line: even mild dehydration can affect you mentally and physically.

Second: Find new ways to move daily. There are many types of physical activity including swimming, running, jogging, walking, and dancing to name a few. Increasing your activity can help combat obesity, hypertension, diabetes, high triglycerides, depression, and anxiety.

Third: Prevent the spread of germs. Staying healthy is a key part of wellbeing– especially during the pandemic — so it’s important to wear a mask, frequently wash your hands and continue to social distance. I also recommend using an EPA-approved disinfectant on high-touch surfaces in the home, such as doorknobs, light switches, or countertops.

Fourth: Tend to your mental health by taking regular breaks from the digital world. Taking screen breaks throughout your day will help you get more done with greater ease and enjoyment and will also lower stress on your body and mind, which will benefit your overall health.

Fifth: Get 7–8 hours of sleep every single night. Good sleep improves concentration, boosts your immune system, increases productivity/mood/memory, reduces stress/depression, and can strengthen your heart.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would start a self-care movement that teaches people that caring for yourself is not self-indulgence but self-preservation. Paying attention to how you feel and prioritizing your mental, physical and spiritual health are important to relieve the pressures of life, decrease anxiety/depression/burnout, maximize productivity, improve energy, increase happiness, decrease frustration/anger and ultimately reduce heart disease/stroke/cancer and more.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. It is a long journey, one that is simultaneously exhausting and rewarding. As a Hospitalist, you don’t get to pick your work or vacation schedule. However, the ability to significantly improve the quality of life of your patients is a tremendously satisfying experience.
  2. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you still need to know. Contrary to what the public thinks, doctors don’t know everything about the human body. The body of medical knowledge is rapidly expanding, and for the rest of your career, you will still be learning about new medical discoveries and treatments.
  3. You will frequently question whether you made the right decision. Being a physician can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s a career nothing short of demanding, a job requiring constant studying and a chaotic schedule at times. But the rewards of this lifelong journey are plentiful. Every day is a gift to have the opportunity to care for patients in their most vulnerable times.
  4. You learn to deal with death and suffering in a way that others do not. You learn that you cannot save everyone, which makes life so fragile. If it is time for someone to move on, all you can do is make their passing comfortable. The very fact that we devote our lives and time to help try to alleviate suffering and death is how some of us cope.
  5. Put yourself first. You are the most important person in your life. You must take some time to unwind, take care of yourself and prioritize self-care to avoid burnout.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

The pandemic has taken away almost everything that keeps us sane: human connections, community, fitness, physical contact, friendships, etc. At the same time, it has also shone a light on our broken mental health care system. I’ve seen how mental illness affects others from all backgrounds and situations. Mental health is important at every stage of our lives because it can affect physical health and how we cope with life. Mental health difficulties are nothing to be ashamed of and should be discussed openly without fear of judgement.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram: @dr.evab or sign up for my newsletter by visiting my website: www.drevabtoday.com


Women In Wellness: Dr Eva Beaulieu on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Jou was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Cat Lantigua of Goddess Council on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help…

Women In Wellness: Cat Lantigua of Goddess Council on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

…Given that my work is centered around community and helping people feel better, mental health is the cause dearest to me. As I navigate conversations around loneliness and the effects of isolation, I am constantly reminded of the nuanced layers that go into “having a good life”. The conversation around mental health is slowly becoming less stigmatized and I’m happy about that, but we still have a long way to go in making sure that we create a society that is safe and equitable enough for everyone to seek the specific help they need.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cat Lantigua .

As a first-generation Dominican-Amercian, Cat learned to navigate the nuance of community, identity, advocacy, self-care and storytelling in everyday life. In 2016, while living in her hometown Miami, Cat launched a blog dedicated to vulnerable sharing her personal journey of trying to ‘Figure it Out.’ In addition to sharing her personal experiences, her blog amplified the voices of millennial women shifting the culture. After moving to New York City, Cat found herself depressed and lonely seeking true friendship in a new city. Doing what she knows best, Cat took her personal experiences online and realized there was a community of womxn with similar experiences. In these tender spaces, many shared candidly about them wrestling with belonging, self-understanding and navigating the windy sometimes unexpected curves of life. In 2018, Cat officially became a community architect and created Goddess Council, a vulnerable, authentic community that usher in honest, meaningful conversations and nourishing exchanges.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Yes, of course! I graduated from Florida International University in 2015 and at 22 years old was determined to commit my life to non-profit/NGO development for organizations dedicated to empowering women and children and alleviating poverty. I had my sights on moving somewhere across the world to embark on this path, but after dipping my toes into the nonprofit sector I realized that the bureaucracy of it all prevented me from being as hands on as I would’ve liked to be. Upon realizing this I was devastated but I eventually found myself reevaluating everything and distilled my sincerest interests to storytelling and fostering heart-centered spaces. Throughout that journey I launched my podcast Chats with Cat to document my journey of overcoming fear and paving the way for my soul’s purpose to shine through. I also launched Goddess Council, an online/ in-person wellness community and sisterhood for all women seeking deep connection, new friendships, healing, and joy!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

The most interesting element of my career thus far is that I basically stumbled into it! I started Goddess Council (GC) as a means of creating a solution for my loneliness while living in NYC but eventually learned that the very thing I needed was also something many other women were craving, so I made the decision to formally build GC into a space that would serve the needs of the community. Through this I’ve learned that there are life-changing magical surprises waiting for us along our journey but we have to be present and patient enough to create space for their unfolding.

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

I compared myself to other people…a lot. I wish that in my earlier days I had a better way of navigating the distraction and anxiety prompted by being hyper connected online. I wish I knew that I was always on my way and on the right path, because it was my own. There will always be other people we can seek out to be inspired and motivated by, but I learned that there’s a thin line between admiring and comparing. I am mindful of not crossing that line these days.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My partner Frank has played an instrumental role in helping me connect with my power, voice, and overall commitment to being the best version of myself. There have been a lot of moments where I’ve felt like I wanted to quit and live a life that didn’t require so much grit but Frank doesn’t let me give up. He always helps me reconnect with my truest desires, no matter how big or small!

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I hope that by bringing awareness to the conversation around social health and social wellness I’ll do my part to help us feel connected and supported in spite of living in a hyperconnected digital age.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Waking up early! There’s something game changing about waking up with the sun and committing to experiencing all that the new day has to offer.
  2. Integrating nature wherever possible. The trees and wildlife have an innate way of comforting the soul and healing the body.
  3. Writing letters to people you cherish. This practice has become more consistent during this era of social-distancing and has helped me stay connected with people I can’t be with right now, while providing them with a tangible reminder of my presence and commitment to staying in touch.
  4. Taking walks during phone calls. Like most people, I find myself on the phone more than ever! I find that when I go out walking while I’m on the phone I become so consumed by the conversation that I commit to exercising longer than usual. It’s a mindful distraction!
  5. Consider talk therapy! I’ve been in talk therapy for about 2.5 years consistently and it has been an absolute key element to my wellbeing. I recommend it for everyone!

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

It would be to start a movement that ensured every single person on the planet had the resources and tools necessary to uphold a global high quality of life standard.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. The first few years with starting a business will just be committed to laying the foundation and gaining the trust of others. Despite everything in life seemingly coming to us with less and less effort, when building a company the hard work has to go in first and then play time comes much later.
  2. Time management is key when it comes to running a business where you are the one who sets the rules.
  3. Not every opportunity that comes along is a worthwhile one. Sometimes saying no and turning down opportunities is the best option.
  4. Unlearning my inherited scarcity mindset was critical. You can’t grow your business and make your dreams come true if you’re secretly expecting it to not actually happen.
  5. Not everything that comes along is urgent, so although it feels like you have to do something right then and there because someone is asking for it, you can usually pace yourself and get around to it without feeling pressure or anxiety.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Oh this is a tough one because I find them all to be incredibly important, but ok I’ll just choose one! Given that my work is centered around community and helping people feel better, mental health is the cause dearest to me. As I navigate conversations around loneliness and the effects of isolation, I am constantly reminded of the nuanced layers that go into “having a good life”. The conversation around mental health is slowly becoming less stigmatized and I’m happy about that, but we still have a long way to go in making sure that we create a society that is safe and equitable enough for everyone to seek the specific help they need.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Your readers can follow me on Instagram at @cat.lantigua ,by visiting www.catlantigua.com or by checking out my podcast Chats with Cat on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you stream your favorite shows!

Thank you for these fantastic insights!


Women In Wellness: Cat Lantigua of Goddess Council on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple”, With Joyce Shulman & Eric Cohen of 99 Walks

Veto Power. We have an agreement where if one of us feels very strongly about something they can veto a decision or project. And the other must respect those wishes and go along with the veto even if they don’t fully agree. It’s all about respect for each other and our trust in each other’s ability to make the best decision for both of us, our team and the business in that moment even if we can’t see it at that time. Veto power must be used judiciously and respected by both.

As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joyce Shulman and Eric Cohen, the husband and wife team behind 99 Walks.

Joyce Shulman is Co-Founder and CEO of 99 Walks: a wellness and walking lifestyle brand, community and app on a mission to get a million women walking.

A self-confessed idea junkie Joyce traded her law career more than two decades ago as a commercial litigator for an entrepreneurial journey focused on what mattered to her most: family, community and empowering women to get healthy, happy and chase their dreams all through the simple act of walking together.

Throughout her personal and professional life, Joyce’s regular walking practice has been her key for managing stress, fueling creativity and maintaining her health. After discovering that the research bears out all that Joyce learned instinctively, she and her husband and partner Eric Cohen started 99 Walks as a way to help women experience what recent studies have shown: that walking can also improve decision-making and executive function, combat depression, increase creativity and literally add years to one’s life.

In addition to being the “Pack Leader” at 99 Walks, Joyce is an author, speaker, TEDx veteran, podcaster and consultant for companies and women’s groups, where she shares her expertise about how a consistent, intentional walking practice is life-changing.

Joyce received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland and her JD Cum Laude, from St. John’s University School of Law. After law school, she spent more than a dozen years as a New York City lawyer where her practice focused on complex commercial litigation.

Eric Cohen is the Co-Founder and President of 99 Walks, a comprehensive walking app, community and lifestyle brand designed to help women combat loneliness and improve fitness by encouraging them to walk their way to better.

Prior to 99 Walks, Eric Co-founded Macaroni Kid, a mom-focused, hyper-local and national e-newsletter that reached hundreds of thousands of households each month. A digital marketing expert, Eric coached and mentored thousands of women helping them to become business and ad sales dynamos by teaching them how to create unforgettable experiences that also added additional revenue to their family’s journey as Macaroni Kid publishers.

Eric received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Vermont. A sales and marketing expert, he has generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue for a robust roster of clients throughout his career including: Disney, P&G, Netflix, Amazon, Viacom and many more.

And in his “spare time?” Eric is a competitive CrossFit athlete, currently ranked 17th in the world in his age group.

If you asked Eric to label himself with one word it would be “coach”. He is a natural teacher and leader and this quality is the cornerstone of his personal and professional success at being the best entrepreneur, elite athlete, husband and parent he can be.

Joyce and Eric call Sag Harbor, NY their home where they live with two teenagers and a slightly unruly dog named Moose.

joyce@99walks.fit

eric@99walks.fit

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?

We both left high-powered positions in our prospective fields because we had a shared desire to use our experience and skills to work together on projects that truly make a difference.

The first questions we always ask ourselves when creating something new is ‘how can we make things better,”– and “what kind of world will we be leaving for our kids, family and friends.”

And we’ve really honored that thought process as it has been at the foundation of each of the lifestyle brands we have developed and grown ourselves. And the best part is that we’ve found out along the way that we’re a great team — we inspire and support each other in such a fun and powerful way. And nothing equals sharing it all with someone who you know has your back no matter what.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?

Within just a few months of getting married, Eric and I cooked up an idea for a business. We quit our jobs, sold our apartment and moved to launch our very first business making the world’s first nutrition bar for dogs. It was fun and stressful — a disaster in so many ways. We lost just about everything — all of our savings, our retirement funds, all of the money we had borrowed from friends and family. And yet it was the best kind of experience as we learned so much about ourselves and each other as we began our extraordinary entrepreneurial journey together as a couple and as business partners.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

Back in 1998, we had embarked on our first business making the world’s first snack bar for dogs. We spent months developing the recipe, packaging and branding. Five months in, we built our first trade show booth in our backyard, shipped it to Las Vegas and days later were greeting buyers from major retailers at the year’s biggest pet industry trade show. We were proud of ourselves and beyond excited — until the first five people walked into our booth. When we told them about our new product — the world’s first energy bar for dogs — each one laughed and said, “the last thing I want is to give my dog more energy.”

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We learned two important lessons in that moment. First, the importance of conducting market research before you create your product, position and brand. Second, we learned how to listen and be flexible so when you need to pivot you can do so easily and quickly. Because when the sixth person stopped by we introduced them to the very first nutrition bar for dogs, which turned out to be the right tone and a big hit for us and our customers.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What sets us apart is our commitment to our community, our remarkable ‘Pack Members,’ and how they have come to support and cheer on one another throughout their own personal journeys. The engagement and vulnerability we see throughout this community is really one-of-a-kind, and this support and acceptance of one another is at the core of who we are as a company and as people.

When a ‘Pack Member’ reaches out with a personal story about how they’ve personally been impacted by being a part of 99 Walks, we are deeply touched as much today as we were when we began this journey. And knowing that we’re having such a positive influence on the lives of others is what drives us to continue to inspire women to crush their goals — all kinds of goals — every single day.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We launched 99 Walks about 18 months ago to help address two major challenges we saw facing women: the loneliness epidemic and the fitness and wellness crisis. We believed that if we created a community in which women were inspired to participate in an intentional regular walking practice with others, where they were encouraged to hold themselves accountable for setting and reaching their own goals that they would access, nourish and grow their true authentic selves and heal some of their issues along the way. And it’s been an incredible experience as we are succeeding beyond our wildest expectations.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Respect and honor and listen to your team. Employees thrive when they are seen and heard while working within a structured environment. And it is essential that every member of your team is committed to the mission and the vision — everyone has to know and agree that they are in it together and have a role in accomplishing something meaningful.

How do you define “Leadership”?

Leadership is about setting the course and then empowering and guiding your team in a way that allows them to take agency and be their best selves during the journey.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It is impossible to identify one person because, over 23 years of entrepreneurship as a couple, we have learned from so many people what to do and what not to do — sometimes at the same time.

In a prior business, we had a partner for six years who was remarkable in the respect that he was able to keep work stress out of his personal life by saying “It’s just business.” Over the years, we’ve learned that he was both right and wrong. He was right in the sense that business will present challenges every single day and you need to realize that a business challenge is very different from a life challenge. But he was wrong because if you are building a business that is creating jobs, supporting families and changing lives, it’s not just business, it’s people’s lives, and that’s a responsibility that we take very, very seriously.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We believe that doing well and doing good are two parts of the same thing, and so paying it forward is at the very core of 99 Walks.

When we realized that we are in the midst of an unprecedented loneliness epidemic where many women feel isolated while also facing personal health and wellness crises, which has only been enhanced by this past year, we wanted to start a company that addressed those issues by creating a community where women could come together and thrive.

We wanted to create a space with 99 Walks where women could connect with others while walking, as doing so enhances the experience, boosts wellness, and can help combat depression. It can also have a terrific impact on one’s productivity, performance and creativity. There’s a whole bunch of science around this, but essentially walking engages one part of the brain while letting the other part wander and dream and explore. And we loved the idea of helping women to find their own fun and wonder while feeling good and connecting with others.

What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.

Well, we actually have 6 things. And respect is at the core of any kind of thriving relationship and must be at the forefront if you’re going to take your personal relationship to the next level and begin to work together.

  1. This is Your Dance Space, This Is My Dance Space. Have your own distinct roles and responsibilities while also being mindful and cognizant of the strengths that your partner brings to the forefront. It’s important to remember this because there are definitely going to be moments when your partner will drive you crazy. Separate interests are also key. It is critical for us to have our own separate spaces.
  2. Time/Space Continuum. It’s important to maintain your independence. When you’re living with someone and working with them and building a business and raising a family, it is really easy to give up your independence and become so interdependent that you’re waiting for each other all the time. We often commute separately so that we don’t have to rely on each other for every single thing. It also allows us to have the necessary time alone.
  3. Veto Power. We have an agreement where if one of us feels very strongly about something they can veto a decision or project. And the other must respect those wishes and go along with the veto even if they don’t fully agree. It’s all about respect for each other and our trust in each other’s ability to make the best decision for both of us, our team and the business in that moment even if we can’t see it at that time. Veto power must be used judiciously and respected by both.
  4. Never Go To Bed Angry. We try never to let a conflict fester. Sometimes it’s tough, but we really believe in taking a deep breath and communicating. It’s really important to try and work through an issue in a respectful way.
  5. Talk Time. Set aside time to talk about work. We often brainstorm while taking a walk. And set aside time to not talk about work. And we never talk about work at the dinner table.
  6. Find The Fun. Have some fun along the way. Especially when you are working together, it is easy — too easy — to let the stresses from work seep into every aspect of your life. You have to work pretty hard to be sure they don’t swallow up your sense of fun and playfulness.

You are people 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. 🙂

It’s exactly what we are doing right now! We often say that we’re starting a movement to get a million women walking and it’s happening. So far our ‘Pack Members’ have logged almost two million miles walked and counting!

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

We love the Thomas Jefferson quote, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have it.” It really speaks to the foundation of our beliefs about how working hard, consistently, every day is the only way to really create opportunity and ultimately change.

And the great Michelle Obama quote, “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives,” because we are driven by our commitment to service and using our super powers to enrich the lives of others.

We also have a funny little inside joke that we often say to each other that continues to inspire us while also cracking us up. “It’s you and me and a trade show booth,” is our silly way of saying that together we can do anything. And it’s a terrific reminder to continue to find the fun while on this journey. And because it’s really just between us, it’s an expression of this deep well of trust and partnership we’ve created over the years. A reminder that we’re in it together and that sometimes that means that the road is harder, but it’s also sweeter.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Of course if we’re talking about power couples then Bill and Melinda Gates would be at the top of our list. Their focus and dedication to using their influence and financial power to change the world for the better is an inspiration to us all.

How can our readers follow your work online?

Our app is 99 Walks. And our website is 99walks.fit.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


“Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple”, With Joyce Shulman & Eric Cohen of 99 Walks was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women Of The C-Suite: Jacqueline Fae of ‘I Deserve Love’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As…

Women Of The C-Suite: Jacqueline Fae of ‘I Deserve Love’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

The truth is we all have our own superpowers (what we’re really good at). Part of what makes humanity so great is that we all have different backgrounds and life experiences that inform our views. So, I think it’s important to have a team that can see things from many angles. I’ve found that diverse perspectives can lead to creative problem solving. Even in my marriage, my husband is Latino, and we are constantly learning from each other in subtle ways. Besides, in any evolving industry, why wouldn’t you want a team with a diverse range of backgrounds and superpowers?

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jacqueline Fae, The Faery Matchmaker, Founder of I Deserve Love, Author, Celebrity Matchmaker, Dating Coach, and Love Manifestation Expert.

Jacqueline Fae is former actress turned Celebrity Matchmaker, Dating Coach, and Love Manifestation expert. She had a successful career in acting but fell out of love with the industry. She pivoted and capitalized on her background in Psychology and intuitive ability to read and understand people, has given her a unique ability to successfully match people for long-term, successful, and fulfilling partnerships.

More than just a matchmaker, Jacqueline helps her clients to resolve toxic relational patterns, decode their own underlying values, and open up to the love they deserve.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! 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?

After being a working actress for a decade, I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled and realized my heart was no longer in the craft of acting. At that point, I decided I truly wanted to do something to help people, so I studied and got certified in Hypnotherapy, NLP, and Life Coaching.

Eventually, a coaching client asked for my help with his online dating profile and our sessions quickly evolved into dating coaching. Within six months he was married and that’s when I realized I absolutely loved being able to give dating advice and more so, I enjoy helping people find a real love connection. I truly believe every one of us deserves love, but we often block ourselves from receiving it, which is why I started I Deserve Love Matchmaking.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Where do I even begin? I guess the search for love is so universal that it’s brought out some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. As complex thinking creatures, we are shaped by our traumas and our breakthroughs. Our baggage can hold us back in so many ways that finding love can feel hopeless for people that are otherwise winning in career or financially. So, it’s been incredible to work with some of the most successful and truly fascinating people on the planet from Billionaires to Influencers, Athletes, and Boss Babe CEOs. It’s a real privilege to both teach and learn from these incredible people. You should see our VIP Match Club parties! When all those energies are together in a space, it’s something magical.

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?

One of my favorite parts of being a Matchmaker is throwing members’ singles events we call Match Club Parties. My very first event was a Valentine’s Day party at a gorgeous home overlooking the Hollywood Hills. I figured most people wouldn’t show up, so I padded the guest list… way too much. To my surprise, most of the list showed up and even brought friends! I ended up having one hundred people at what I thought would be a thirty-person singles event. Naturally, we ran out of alcohol and I had to pay the owner of the house so we could drink his. As I tried to MC throughout the night, no one could hear me, because there were so many people. I learned to always have more alcohol and appetizers than you think they’ll need.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I definitely am grateful to my husband, Ramón who has been my biggest supporter since day one. Not only has he helped me build and strengthen my brand through content and marketing, but he believed in me and encouraged me to start my own business in the first place. I know it’s not easy for most men to feel good about their wife meeting dozens of successful, single male clients, but he has always trusted me 100%, which has not only made our business successful, but our relationship is as well. Secure is sexy!

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

I’m a huge advocate of meditation, so before I go into a meeting, I like to close my eyes, relax and do some deep breathing. Sometimes, I’ll even ask the Universe or take some time for self- care. It’s so important to listen to your body and answer it when it asks for something.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

The truth is we all have our own superpowers (what we’re really good at). Part of what makes humanity so great is that we all have different backgrounds and life experiences that inform our views. So, I think it’s important to have a team that can see things from many angles. I’ve found that diverse perspectives can lead to creative problem solving. Even in my marriage, my husband is Latino, and we are constantly learning from each other in subtle ways. Besides, in any evolving industry, why wouldn’t you want a team with a diverse range of backgrounds and superpowers?

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

My husband likes to say that real voting power comes from how you spend your dollars. So, when we discuss all the levels of division and inequality in our current system, I think it all starts with simplicity.

Listening has become a great tool when attempting to help people find love.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

There are many days when I feel like the pressure of navigating our company direction is less important than helping a client with a healing heart, but the truth is success comes when I can find a balance of both. As the decision maker on so many aspects, I’ve found that being able to trust your team is crucial to any real success. That means building confidence and identifying the right team members.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

I don’t know if it’s still considered glamorous and comfy, but I can attest it isn’t. At least not at first. It can take months or years to be profitable and the first few years of the business. I think the myth I would dispel is that matchmaking is easy. It’s not! And the second myth I would dispel is that anyone can do it and they absolutely cannot. It takes a very unique spirit and a certain skill set to truly be great in this career. I think people don’t truly understand that being a matchmaker means that you need to understand the deepest parts of your client and help them to heal and work on themselves while you intuitively seek out another person that you can match to the person you are helping them to build themselves into. You have to be able to project and then time this perfectly.

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

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve definitely come across men that won’t even negotiate with a woman. There are certainly some outdated patriarchal attitudes that are ripe for throwing out.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I think we all have different expectations going into a new role, but I really was tossed into this because of my innate abilities to read people. I think I was more surprised that I was destined for this role than anything else and I have to say that it’s been the most rewarding journey. I began my career as an actress and fell out of love with the industry. It just didn’t bring me happiness anymore. The Universe has a way of making sure we always end up where we are meant to when we trust in it. So, I ended up right where I was meant to, matchmaking. I have helped so many people find their soulmates and it’s been such an incredible experience. I think the biggest difference that I truly experienced was what I thought my career path would be and where I ended up. I am happy with where I am!

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

It’s honestly the same advice I’d give anyone, but the key is to ignore the doubts of others as you build your empire. There will always be people who want to knock down your sandcastles but keep on building and eventually that sand will crystalize.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I’m in a fortunate position to have the freedom to do what I love. A central part of that is helping people unlock self-love and receive it from others, so I’d like to think in my own way, I’m improving it one person at a time.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. I wish someone would have told me how hard I would have to work. I will put in 12–14 hour days to really be successful in my industry.

2. I wish someone would have told me how much time you will spend on calls connecting, networking, meeting, negotiating.

3. I wish someone would have told me how picky and challenging it can be to work with people.

4. I wish someone would have told me how important persuasiveness is in business.

5. I wish someone would have told me how hard it is to stand out in an industry. Paving your own way takes risk, hard work, and persistence.

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

I would inspire people to empower other people. It’s the most powerful thing and if you can genuinely tell someone something positive you can empower them.

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

We are always learning and evolving, here on this earth school.

It’s relevant because it reminds me to control my emotions and treat everything like a lesson and this is true for all people. We all learn and evolve at different rates. Send love and light.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

I’d like to do a double date with Grant Cardone & his wife Elena Lyons with my husband Ramon. They are an inspiration as a power couple. I’d love to pick their brains and get to know them. I’m sure we’d have a great time and I’d benefit so much from their expertise.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefaerymatchmaker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFaeryMatchmaker

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thefaerymatchmaker/


Women Of The C-Suite: Jacqueline Fae of ‘I Deserve Love’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Tracy Lawrence of The Lawrence Advisory: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO

Who You Hire is Who You Become: In startup mode, it’s easy to recruit from a reactive place, where the focus is on putting out fires rather than building the culture that will help you reach your business goals. Often, early stage hiring starts with the founder’s immediate circle, such as college classmates or even relatives. But as a business scales, early hires may not level up. Conflicts can arise and resentments burrow into the firm’s culture. Think of hiring as ground zero for building a company culture. If you get it wrong culture, you will stunt your business’ growth.

As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy Lawrence.

Tracy L. Lawrence is the Founder and CEO of The Lawrence Advisory. The Lawrence Advisory is known for hiring, coaching and building high-performing teams with an emphasis on innovation and performance. Lawrence was recently named the first Executive-in-Residence at USC’s Marshall School of Business.

Prior to launching The Lawrence Advisory, Tracy Lawrence led the Los Angeles based Consumer and Entertainment practice at Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the world’s largest recruiting and assessment firms. Previously, Lawrence served as General Manager of Fox Family Channel, leading the cable network until its sale to The Walt Disney Company for more than five billion dollars, the largest price ever paid for a cable network.

Lawrence uses her real-world expertise to advise Fortune 500 companies, private equity firms, asset management companies, media and technology companies, and non-profits in creating teams that drive growth and performance. She has held leadership roles at Viacom, Kraft, Nestle, and PWC.

Lawrence frequently speaks about her “hire//build//lead” model of organizational development, which focuses on incorporating strategic goals into the hiring process for long term sustainability. Stanford University, Harvard Business School, the Aspen Institute and University of Southern California are among the places where Lawrence has lectured and shared her experience and knowledge.

Lawrence earned her BA in Economics from Stanford University and her MBA from Harvard Business School.

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

I spent the first half of my career as a marketing executive in the television industry. I loved the work, but I am the kind of person who needs to keep moving forward. After over 15 years in this business, I was ready to move on, and was looking for something more entrepreneurial. When a major executive search and assessment firm approached me to lead their entertainment practice, I decided to give it a try. I soon realized two things. First, my passion for understanding how people think and what motivates them is what drew me to marketing in the first place. Second, leadership and recruiting work aligns with that passion. After only two years with the recruiting firm, I started my own leadership consulting firm. Building up and running my firm has been both meaningful and creative work; it has also given me the freedom and the chance to make deeper connections with my clients.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

The hardest part about starting my firm was overcoming my own fears. I was raised to value the security and prestige that comes with a big corporate job. But, despite the advantages and the many lessons I learned from working for some of the world’s most recognized brands in entertainment, I knew the day would come when I would swap corporate life with the life of an entrepreneur. As soon as I moved past my fear, I was off to a fast start.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

When I know I am on the right path, I stay focused, listen to my intuition, and work hard. A relentless optimist, I invest my time and energies on the opportunities rather than the dead ends.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

I am incredibly proud of where The Lawrence Advisory is right now. We’ve tripled in size over the past few years and have continued to grow despite the pandemic. Much of this growth stems from our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practice’s rapid expansion. This is work we have always done, but it’s been exciting to see that companies are prioritizing it at higher levels in light of the social justice movement.

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 began talking to prospective clients, I was so focused on convincing people to hire me that I hadn’t thought through what to do when someone actually did. For the first few months, I didn’t have a business name, I didn’t know how to write an invoice, and I didn’t have a company bank account. I was flying a plane while putting it together! With so many balls in the air, I worried I would drop one. Fortunately, none of the few I dropped were deal breakers.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We work more closely with clients than other firms in the business do. This gives us several advantages. We’re able to keep track of their evolving issues and anticipate solutions they’ll need. Because we’re able to stay relevant, not to mention provide a higher level of service, we can build longer-term relationships with our clients. Just as important, we are leadership experts first. Combining our approach and expertise has given us a unique perspective and depth of understanding of our clients’ firm culture and who will not only fit in but succeed. Take our Diversity Equity, and Inclusion practice as an example. As leadership experts, we don’t simply deliver bias training — we help clients operationalize their DEI goals to deliver real results.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Boundaries are crucial to business owners. They’ll help you focus on what’s important and let go of what’s not. Adopting practices for wellness and renewal is also important. I meditate daily and try to spend as much time as possible in nature. My best ideas emerge from these practices.

Also, as a mother of two, I carve out time and space to be fully present with my children.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My father was my inspiration. He pursued a career in electrical engineering at a time when few Black men did. He was a smart, fierce individualist, who encouraged me to stake my own path rather than live according to the values and priorities of others. Even when I tried and failed, I could count on him to be in my corner and cheer me on.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I love mentoring young students and professionals of color. For the past two years, The Lawrence Advisory has partnered with the Emma Bowen Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports college students of color interested in the entertainment and media industry. We manage the Launch career activation program, focused primarily on college seniors, offering workshops, matching them with mentors from the industry, and providing on-going support to prepare them to begin their careers. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to provide advice and support to these incredible young people.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Never lose sight of your vision: Founding a new business is creating something where nothing existed before. The ideation is the fun part, but tactical execution makes it come to fruition. It’s hard work, and it becomes easy to lose sight of your long-term vision. What’s more, I find that as we reach each milestone, our long-term goals may shift as new information emerges. It’s vitally important to keep an eye on the big picture while executing on details.

Who You Hire is Who You Become: In startup mode, it’s easy to recruit from a reactive place, where the focus is on putting out fires rather than building the culture that will help you reach your business goals. Often, early stage hiring starts with the founder’s immediate circle, such as college classmates or even relatives. But as a business scales, early hires may not level up. Conflicts can arise and resentments burrow into the firm’s culture. Think of hiring as ground zero for building a company culture. If you get it wrong culture, you will stunt your business’ growth.

Stay in Your Zone of Genius: The best use of my time is focusing on those tasks that only I can do. In my case, it’s working directly with senior leadership for certain clients, developing business, and setting strategy. My philosophy is, “If someone else can do it 80% as well as you can, delegate it!”

Build a Container for Growth: I spend time each week thinking about where I want to be, and whether I have systems in place that will allow me to get there. From accounting to legal policies to hiring practices, my business will not scale if I have not created the appropriate infrastructure to do so.

Under Promise, Over Deliver: My firm has had great success maintaining long-term relationships with clients because we understand their needs and frequently deliver above and beyond expectations.

If you could start 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. 🙂

My movement would be about developing empathy across cultures, on a global scale. I believe that when people truly see each other in all of their humanity, they are able to act from a place of love and compassion. From there, good things follow!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

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


Tracy Lawrence of The Lawrence Advisory: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Cat Lantigua of Goddess Council On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Female Disruptors: Cat Lantigua of Goddess Council On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

“Build it and they will come” this was advice shared to me by my boyfriend Frank during the early days of Goddess Council. There were a few events that I planned in which nobody showed up and I worried whether my idea was sustainable or not and he comforted me by reminding me of this.

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

As a first-generation Dominican-Amercian, Cat learned to navigate the nuance of community, identity, advocacy, self-care and storytelling in everyday life. In 2016, while living in her hometown Miami, Cat launched a blog dedicated to vulnerable sharing her personal journey of trying to ‘Figure it Out.’ In addition to sharing her personal experiences, her blog amplified the voices of millennial women shifting the culture. After moving to New York City, Cat found herself depressed and lonely seeking true friendship in a new city. Doing what she knows best, Cat took her personal experiences online and realized there was a community of womxn with similar experiences. In these tender spaces, many shared candidly about them wrestling with belonging, self-understanding and navigating the windy sometimes unexpected curves of life. In 2018, Cat officially became a community architect and created Goddess Council, a vulnerable, authentic community that usher in honest, meaningful conversations and nourishing exchanges.

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?

Sure! I graduated from FIU in 2015 and at the time was determined to commit my life to non-profit/NGO development for organizations dedicated to empowering women and children and alleviating poverty. I was ready to move across the world to embark on this path, but after dipping my toes into the nonprofit sector I realized that the bureaucracy of it all prevented me from being as hands on as I would’ve liked to be. Upon realizing this I reevaluated everything and distilled my sincerest interests to be storytelling and fostering safe spaces. Throughout that journey I launched my podcast Chats with Cat to document my journey (and the stories of my inspiring peers) of overcoming fear and paving the way for my soul’s purpose to shine through. I also launched Goddess Council, a wellness community and sisterhood for women seeking deep connection, new friendships, healing, and joy!

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

The work I’m doing within Goddess Council is disruptive because our mission to raise awareness around social wellness by bringing together women in a meaningful and authentic way is requiring the context of wellness and the conversations relegated to that category to expand.

In the absence of physical touch and in-person connection, our society is realizing the critical role our relationships play in our overall wellbeing and health. I’m committed to furthering this awareness by amplifying the conversation around social health in accessible spaces and platforms as a means of bridging the knowledge gap that has existed between academic social science and everyday people.

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?

Something I used to do often was downplay my qualifications and commitment to this work while in the presence of highly established women until one day someone just flat out told me “you don’t need to do that”. I learned that minimizing myself was in no way flattering to me or anyone else, I just came across insecure.

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?

To be honest, I’ve never formally had a mentor. I used to feel like I had to go out and recruit one or else I wouldn’t be “doing this right” but then I realized that all of the authors and podcast hosts that made up my media diet were all my mentors! Sure, I’ve never met most of them but they’ve all impacted my life and attitude in some way or another which is ultimately what I think a mentor is supposed to offer.

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?

This is a great point. I think the positive element to disrupting an industry, system, or institution is usually in the context of demanding an overdue update or change that will impact the lives of those involved in a more equitable and sustainable manner. In other words, if it makes the system more inclusive, intelligent, and fair I think it should be interpreted positively.

Conversely, negatively disrupting a facet of industry or an institution can look like creating an unequal distribution of power, making decisions that will endanger the quality of life and safety of the beings involved, creating an impact that will thwart the culture toward an outdated approach

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. “Build it and they will come” this was advice shared to me by my boyfriend Frank during the early days of Goddess Council. There were a few events that I planned in which nobody showed up and I worried whether my idea was sustainable or not and he comforted me by reminding me of this.
  2. “People come into your life for a season, reason, or a lifetime”. My mom would always say this to me as a child, but after experiencing a tough friend breakup while living in NYC she shared this with me and it really landed.
  3. “Ni un paso atras” is something my Guela (grandma) always tells me, which translates to “not one step back”. When I find myself in uncomfortable situations and want to give up Guela adds this into her pep talk and it seems to always help.

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

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

One thing that comes to mind is that men aren’t typically filtered through the lens of being overly emotional or hysterical beings, they just are. Unfortunately, women often have to work to convince men that they’re level headed and worth paying attention to instead of just being heard to begin with.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

All about love by bell hooks is a book that deeply impacted the way I define the different ways I can imagine love to be embodied. I read it during a time in my life when I needed that awareness the most and was absolutely transformed by it.

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. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement it would be one about eco-conscious and sustainability through intentional community architecture!

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

I have to share it in Spanish because it is the language I learned in! It’s “lo que es para ti nadie te lo quita”, which translates to “what is for you nobody can take”. Throughout my life the elders in my family have said this as a way of reminding me of my destiny and that I should always remain focused on my own path.

How can our readers follow you online?

They can follow me on Instagram at @cat.lantigua ,by visiting www.catlantigua.com or by checking out my podcast Chats with Cat on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you stream your favorite shows!

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


Female Disruptors: Cat Lantigua of Goddess Council 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: Jada Shapiro of ‘boober’ On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” I struggle with perfectionism, as do many entrepreneurs. Sometimes that intense drive to do everything perfectly or at least as well as possible, pushes me to work hard and continue to accomplish. However, I have finally, after many years of being in business and in therapy, come to the understanding that sometimes being “good enough” means that whatever I’m working on will actually get done. I’m laughing as I write these answers and struggle to accept that what I’ve written is good enough to share with your readers! At some point, you just have to let it go, take that step and push whatever it is out into the world. Ok, I’m done!

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jada Shapiro, maternal health expert, doula and founder of boober, where expectant parents and new families find classes and on-demand expert care providers, pregnancy to postpartum. She founded boober to empower parents to positively transform their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences and outcomes through expert education and easy access to qualified maternal healthcare providers. She also founded Birth Day Presence, NYC’s most trusted source for birth worker trainings and expectant parent education, which has supported over 20k parents since 2002. She is a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, birth photographer, mother, and step-mother.

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?

In college, I found myself interested in reproductive health and took a class called “biology, politics and reproduction” which was fascinating, but focused only on aspects of reproduction with little focus on the actual birth. How can we discuss the politics and language of the reproduction process and then disconnect it from the actual birth experience?

Later that year, while skimming the stacks at a town library I stumbled upon a book about midwifery. The title piqued my interest, though I didn’t know what midwifery was. I opened the book and entered a world where childbirth was described as a peak and positive experience, where midwives helped people safely birth their babies outside of hospitals without pain medication and with extreme levels of support and where the birthing people moved throughout their labors, ate as they wished, had lots of people surrounding them and gave birth in a wide variety of positions. Having mostly seen images of childbirth in our culture as medicalized experiences where people in labor ran to the hospital and then laid on their backs while doctors pulled their babies from them, my whole perspective on birth shifted. My senior thesis was about the medicalization of childbirth in the US.

After college, a dear friend invited me to photograph her birth and as I watched her move about, get in and out of the shower, the bath, lean on a birth ball, squat, stand, lie down, move, eat, drink, moan and wiggle all while surrounded by 20 of her closest friends and family, my path was set. Soon after I took a birth doula training, met my first business partner and launched my first company, Birth Day Presence, in 2002, which I grew into NYC’s top childbirth education and doula training and matching center. Boober grew out of market demand from my students who couldn’t get the lactation support they needed fast enough. I would get endless calls and texts reaching out for help and eventually gave out my cell phone on a postcard encouraging new parents to text if they needed lactation help. When the texts started rolling in faster than I could keep up with, boober was born and has now grown into a marketplace where expectant and new parents can find all their classes and on-demand in-person and virtual care providers they need to thrive from pregnancy to postpartum.

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

My work is only disruptive in that the American approach to community, healthcare, family, pregnancy, birth and postpartum and let’s just say it, life, is so far-off from the “normal” order of things, that my focus on educating and empowering birthing parents and making it easy for parents to find the care that they need becomes disruptive. It is incredibly sad to know that the disruption we are providing in the US is the norm in other countries. My goal is to revamp our reproductive care system entirely including midwifery led birth care, healthcare for all where profit is not the main motivator of the procedures we use in childbirth, ending systemic racism in birth care, and returning birth to the family and community so we don’t need to hire outside people to care for us during these transformative times of our lives. Until then, I am doing what I can to ensure that all people are able to easily access the care providers they need like birth doulas, postpartum doulas, lactation professionals, and mental health therapists who can help parents not only thrive, but survive the transition to parenthood.

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?

At the first birth I attended before I trained as a doula, I walked in, and saw my friend perched on her birth ball leaning over a double bed. I remember waving to her and saying “hi” enthusiastically, as though we were going to hang out, and she barely glanced at me and gave me no response. Suddenly, I realized that birth and labor was monumental and entirely different than what I had imagined. My friend had been working for over 24 hours already to birth her baby into this world. I was humbled and in awe at her power.

Childbirth is a major transition for human beings, undervalued by many, and the experience impacts individuals, families, communities and society at large in a profound way. The lesson learned for me was birthing people are powerful and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, be allowed to choose the positions during labor that feel right for them, be allowed to bring whomever they want to their birth to support them through one of the most physically challenging experiences of their lives, and to be placed at the center of the birth experience with all aspects of care geared toward not only keeping birth safe, but keeping the parent in the driver’s seat as much as possible. No one told my friend what to do, besides making gentle suggestions and she was able to have a vaginal birth despite the slow pace of progress (which easily could have resulted in major surgery in a standard hospital), surrounded by the people who loved her, which impacted her so deeply she went on to become a midwife herself.

This lesson has stayed with me throughout my career and empowering parents with the education and information they need to make the best choices for their own experiences is what motivates me; we show up for families in their time of need and solve their real life problems even in the beginning. Even when our tech was minor (simply texting parents on my cell!), we had considerable success because we cared and because we meet parents where they are with no judgment. We were (and are) here for when families need us responding to their requests day in and out, making the space for them to transition to parenthood and removing the shame associated with asking for help.

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 am lucky to have learned from some amazing people along the way both from the birth side and the business side. Debra Pascali-Bonaro, longtime expert doula, childbirth educator and trainer, who offered the first doula training I took, opened my eyes to the amazing possibilities in childbirth. She showed me how the birth experience affects health outcomes, like the likelihood of nursing one’s baby, and to the ways people birthed historically and currently around the world.

I met my first doula/business partner, Terry Richmond, in my doula training and she was instrumental in helping me develop confidence and power in my voice in order to become the teacher I am today. Right after my training, she and I jumped into starting our birth business with a deep passion for making childbirth more positive in this country with no real business knowledge. Eventually I hired business coaches, but I realize now that my natural marketing impulses came from watching my father, Gary Shapiro, a Hollywood studio marketing expert. Along the way, I was lucky to be mentored by a couple in my childbirth class who became my doula clients. They were both successful business people, who formally helped me grow my first company after I helped them with the birth of their baby! Soon after boober was born, I reconnected with an acquaintance, Arshad Chowdhury, an entrepreneur and early-stage growth expert who encouraged and supported me along the way as I took my new idea and turned my brick-and-mortar lifestyle business experience into a company with much larger scale and potential. My co-founder, Noah Shapiro (not related), deserves some serious praise for bringing his operational & financial know-how to this care-focused business.

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?

Disrupting a failing US healthcare system is not what I would call a positive thing, as much as a necessary thing. I would much rather see families getting the care and support they need from our healthcare system (like Canada or many European countries do), than be the one doing it. Pregnancy and postpartum care is a basic human right. Having doula care can literally save your life, but when the costs are inaccessible to many parents or when the care is not covered by most insurance, then families lose. That’s why, beyond boober, I work with an activist organization in which we regularly meet with local city and state council, assembly and senate members to fight to help families get access to the insurance and care they need and are entitled to and to advance midwifery in this state. In this country, entrepreneurs are often the ones setting new standards for the community around them.

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

“Birthwork is political,” is a quote you’ll hear often in my field. I’ve been lucky to be working among a vibrant, vocal and politically active birthworker community in NYC. I am endlessly reminded of the privileges so many of us, including myself, hold, which affords us opportunities that many do not have. Who we refer our clients to for care matters to keep our clients safe and in some cases, alive, how we educate the people we work with matters, who we vote for matters and where we direct our money matters. Birthwork will be political as long as Black and Brown people experience preventable death in labor due to racism. And this leads into more great advice, “Whatever the question, the answer is in the community.” Kimberly Seals Allers reminds us that our racist system devalues the community perspective especially in communities of color and that it’s time to listen to community members and learn from the community members, not so we can “fix” or “change” or even “help,” but so we can look to the community as a place that actually has answers and if we listen to the people we can learn from them and do better. Finally, “Get the best, it’ll cost you less” is something my mom often says. It’s simple but a good one to remember. Always focus on the value and remember that many costs remain hidden or delayed. It’s not only in purchasing items, but in how we live and act ourselves and with whom we engage. I want to elevate the work that I do by surrounding myself with people who do their best.

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

Far from done! I plan to shake up the way this country gives birth. First, I’m creating the marketplace where pregnant, planning, and postpartum parents come to find all their expert classes and on-demand care providers who help people thrive during the childbearing years. My grand vision: A country that is patient centered and equitable with midwives running the reproductive healthcare system (as they do in every other country… who all spend less than we do and have significantly better outcomes), an end to the systemic and medical bias and racism in our birth care system, and creating a new type of place where people can give birth safely, but do not have to set foot in hospitals which are meant for sick people..

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

Let’s start with this question! Men are rarely asked what challenges they face that women do not. More often than not, “women disruptors” or let’s say “people disruptors” who gave birth and are feeding their babies from their bodies, face bias and discrimination, more demands from their family, prejudice, less opportunities, lower pay, and most of the time are the primary caretakers. Women face the fact that they are rarely seen as fund-worthy with only 2.7% of venture funding going to female CEOs. The lion’s share of a family’s responsibilities still typically sits on women’s shoulders. Finding the right balance? I think we all recognize that it’s not really possible to find balance in a country that doesn’t offer significant paid maternity leave. I receive the benefits of white privilege, have older children who do not require every minute of my attention, and am lucky to have a partner who makes almost every meal and does significantly more housework than I do, but I see many women entrepreneurs abandoning their ideas for lack of support in their personal lives or because of systemic barriers to entry which include race and gender. The expectations to do it all — parenting, leadership, look a certain way etc. without missing a beat is exhausting. In the healthtech space, talking about the birthing body to predominantly male investors who are not always parents can be a challenge. Elevating an issue and solving a problem that may not be felt by them can be very challenging.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

This question assumes that somehow in my time of parenting my daughter and three stepdaughters and building a startup that there would be anytime for reading or listening! I live in a walking city, so I do not spend time driving and listening and I prefer to hear my environment while walking. That being said, I do attend talks about birth, postpartum and parenting frequently at the birthworker trainings we host and most recently attended a talk on anti-racism and birth justice by maternal health advocate and founder of the game-changing Irth App, Kimberly Seals Allers. Kimberly presented the idea that doulas think about a “co-liberation model in doula work,” in which our lives and freedoms and rights to a safe birth experience and life are inextricably linked and that none of us will be free until all birthing people and mothers are free. A plea for the white doulas among us to care as deeply about Black and Brown birthing people and their experiences as their own.

I also enjoy the How I Built This Podcast by Guy Raz and have been inspired by listening to these founders on their pathway to building their amazing companies from the ground up. I remember listening to the story of Angie’s List and the founder was talking about how she’d sit on her floor with two phones and a notepad answering endless calls and hustling. I thought, that’s me! When boober was in its early days and people were texting my cell thinking it was a bot, I was in bed in my PJs fielding late night desperate texts, calling and calming parents and getting them immediately connected to lactation professionals. I was on the phone endlessly, running out myself when the parent was nearby. It is amazing to see where we have come from and how we are growing. Listening to all these founders, hearing their setbacks and nuggets of wisdom from their trials, watching how they cobbled together things to make their business take the next step, inspires me through the long days and nights of startup life!

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 would hope to inspire as many white people, hospitals, institutions and our government to support and get involved in the birth justice movement which already exists, led by Black midwives, doulas and thought leaders. The birth justice movement is working hard to reverse maternal mortality trends in the US — the worst of all developed countries! — In my own city, NYC, Black birthing people are 8–12x more likely to die in childbirth (or soon after) than their white counterparts, due to systemic racism and bias. I would also flip our maternity system on its head and we’d go back to our roots and to the way all countries and groups of people have always given birth; with midwives and in birth centers which encourage freedom of movement, position choice, unlimited support people and keep birthing parents with their babies at all time and can also offer live-saving medicine and procedures when medically called for. Midwifery is much more cost effective and saves lives. We just need to follow the evidence and implement the care.

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

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” I struggle with perfectionism, as do many entrepreneurs. Sometimes that intense drive to do everything perfectly or at least as well as possible, pushes me to work hard and continue to accomplish. However, I have finally, after many years of being in business and in therapy, come to the understanding that sometimes being “good enough” means that whatever I’m working on will actually get done. I’m laughing as I write these answers and struggle to accept that what I’ve written is good enough to share with your readers! At some point, you just have to let it go, take that step and push whatever it is out into the world. Ok, I’m done!

How can our readers follow you online?

@getboober on IG, www.getboober.com

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


Female Disruptors: Jada Shapiro of ‘boober’ 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.

Joyce Ong On How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business

Connect with your audience if they are active on LinkedIn. Have they updated their profiles (do they even have a profile picture?) and if so, when was the last time they posted anything? You’d want to avoid spending time on inactive profiles and make sure you connect only with your audience if they are there

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joyce Ong of Marketing Tech.

Joyce is the founder of Marketing Tech, a Marketing Consultancy that supports small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Together with technology partners in the UK, they deliver solutions such as App, Web, Search Engine Optimization and LinkedIn Marketing services.

Marketing Tech is more than an app developer, web developer, or SEO provider — they work with the businesses providing 360 degree Marketing Advice to ensure businesses will generate results from their investment.

Joyce has more than twenty-five years of Corporate and SME marketing experience in Singapore, Zurich and London, a passion for marketing technology and uses her experience and skills to champion SMEs and facilitate digital transformation within organizations.

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’d been dabbling with LinkedIn for many years, first as a marketing professional working for a global financial institution, subsequently with the two businesses that I’d started since leaving the bank.

It was only in the last two years that I’d learnt to harness the power of LinkedIn properly.

There aren’t always quick fixes to getting LinkedIn to work for your business, but there are a few things I wished I had taken the time to learn and implement, when I first started out on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a marketing channel I use to generate a pipeline of qualified leads for my B2B Marketing Consultancy. I also teach many UK business owners to use it effectively, as I’ve noticed most businesses spend a lot of time on LinkedIn but don’t get the results they want.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Small Businesses quite often work in their own silos and get left behind by advances in technology. This is especially the case with small, traditionally-run businesses who are not online, or do not sell online.

Since the pandemic, this is even more evident as many businesses struggle to survive partly because they’ve not promoted themselves online, and struggle to make sales in a lockdown.

I’ve been talking with some of these businesses helping them to innovate and grow in these challenging times and by doing so, we’ve had to offer new marketing services in order to meet rapidly changing demand

In the wise words of Seth Godin: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” How true!

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 started my Marketing Consultancy, I was invited to an event to talk about Marketing to a bunch of startups. 25 registered to attend the talk

I arrived at the event and there were just three people in the room.

About two thirds through my 90-minute workshop, one person made her excuse and left. I never really found out why. Then another person left shortly after!

At this point I found myself talking to just one person. I was starting to get this sinking, really cringe feeling and wished the floor would just open up and swallow me up.

However, I stayed the course, I soldiered on trying to look unfazed by it all, pretending I was talking to 25 people in the room instead of just one.

Just then, the organizer ushered someone into the room. As it turned out, he was really keen to learn and asked lots of questions which really kept us going. Together with the other guy who was in the room, we managed to finish my talk unscathed. Whew!

Later it transpired that last guy who walked into the room towards the end of the talk was a staff member the organizer dragged into!

Moral of the story? Never agree to hold a free workshop right in the middle of a World Cup match…you’re not going to win.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

LinkedIn of course! Although I like Instagram simply for fun and creativity, it’s also a nice practical way of connecting with local businesses, businesses that we can help. We’ll be doing something soon on Clubhouse to grow our Instagram following.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Knowing the demographic of the audience you’re building is a good start. It’s a good idea to run a simple search to see if your audience is indeed on LinkedIn. Which leads me to the first point…

  • Connect with your audience if they are active on LinkedIn

Have they updated their profiles (do they even have a profile picture?) and if so, when was the last time they posted anything? You’d want to avoid spending time on inactive profiles and make sure you connect only with your audience if they are there

  • Proactively build your audience

It’s natural to think that, by connecting with people you’ve met or accepting invitations that come your way on LinkedIn would be enough. But are you really building the audience that you want?

Quite often, you will receive LinkedIn requests from people who just want to pitch at you.

Once you’re clear on who your audience is, doing a simple search on LinkedIn would bring up 2nd and 3rd degree connections, valuable contacts you may not normally come across.

One of the best things about LinkedIn is you can narrow down your search for people you’d like to connect with from specific locations, business sectors, job titles, even alumni or people affiliated with the same organizations as you are. And it’s all free.

I use an automation software to help me build my audience — this isn’t free to use but frees up time for me to do the stuff that will really generate leads

  • Quality versus Quantity

What constitutes quality is a matter of testing, creativity and content planning. I used to think posting anything everyday will work but, save for some vanity likes, all I did was adding to the noise on social media.

If you’re under time pressure, 2–3 times a week of relevant, insightful, helpful posts interspersed with your promotional content works better than just sticking links to articles you’ve read elsewhere, without sharing your insights on that article.

  • How to Engage

Telling your story behind the business, inviting your audience to share their thoughts, discussing a customer pain, posting customer reviews, promoting your own events and collaborations are all good places to start. Comment, like and share in return and make this a habit

  • Start a 1–2–1 Conversation

Here’s where you demonstrate the value you provide to your audience, by offering something free, relevant to your business and of some value to that audience. This can be a download, quiz, video clip or an invitation to your event etc.

Why? At this point, you’d want to take the conversation with a member of your audience who’s responded to the value you provide, and has now become a Lead, out of LinkedIn and onto a call, zoom demo, meeting, app download or email marketing. And continue with a sales conversation.

When you’ve made the above activities a regular part of your LinkedIn marketing, you’ll start to generate leads. This is the first step towards qualifying and converting leads into customers.

If you would like to join our LinkedIn Marketing webinars and join a support group where you’ll get to implement some of the lead generation tactics we’ll learn, sign up here

Because of the position that you are in, 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 Sept-October 2020, we zoom-interviewed a hundred Corporate Escapees turned Business Owners (SMEs) in the UK, to hear their stories of success, struggle, failure and lessons learnt. Crucially, we learnt first hand, warts and all about the mindsets and skillsets required to run a business.

I’ve shared our findings in a Podcast and LinkedIn blog, hopefully a TEDx talk in May 2021 so that those making the switch from the 9–5 to running their business in this pandemic will benefit from it. Since the pandemic, there’s been a huge increase in the number of new company formations, many of these are started by people who’ve been furloughed, lost their jobs and now taking a shot at fulfilling their dreams. These are the people I’d love to reach out to.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’d love to have breakfast with Gary V or Jay Z — they are entrepreneurs in the true sense of the word and would love to get their advice, one-on-one

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


Joyce Ong On How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.