Conversation with Lisa Abramson, Author, Mindfulness Teacher, Coach, & Speaker & Founder Wise Mama and lisaabramson.com
Helping Overachievers Find the Joy in the Hustle
October 10, 2018
1. What is your business?
I help overachieving, Type A, women “reset,” create a resilient mindset and build a successful career and life without sacrificing their well-being along the way. I do this through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, online programs and corporate workshops and keynotes. My work is about helping people who are overscheduled and busy gain clarity on what they want, move through self-doubt and then take action. I help women move towards success in a way that honors their whole, authentic self. And this doesn’t have to mean quitting a day job and doing a complete 180, even small changes can have a big impact.
For example, I offer a free 30 Day Meditation Challenge where participants listen to a guided meditation for five minutes a day to help them lower their stress, connect with their intuition and feel calmer. Every single person can find 5 minutes in their schedule, no matter how busy they are. The magic is that this Challenge is completely do-able. My meditations have been streamed around the globe over 500,000 times, so people are seeing results and taking action to create a daily habit.
I’ve heard from so many people about the profound impact of those five minutes and it warms my heart. One woman, Natalie, just wrote to tell me “The 30 Day Meditation guided meditations woke me up to live more purposefully, to pay attention to my current path, and to question whether I was living fully. I realized I wanted to make a bigger impact, but in a different capacity, so I embarked on a different path much better aligned with my values. I’m much happier because of it.” And this was just from my FREE program!
2. What made you decide to start your business and/or switch careers?
Early in my career, I joined a mobile advertising company in what ended up being the perfect time—one year before the iPhone came out. The smartphone was a new and exciting technology, and mobile advertising was starting to evolve rapidly. We were early to the wave, and the company I worked for started to pivot into iPhone apps. We ended up developing apps for Ellen, TMZ, E! Online. I got to do some marketing, but then I also did product management there to help launch the apps in the iTunes App store, which was super exciting. I was working directly for the CEO and ended up being the first and the youngest woman in the executive team. I was sitting in board meetings and was a key decision-maker, and it felt super exciting. I was in my late 20s, and I was enthralled by being involved on such a high level. It felt really fun.
On paper, everything looked great, but ultimately I couldn’t get away from questions like, “Is this all there is? Selling stuff to people that don’t need more stuff on their phones?” Over time, I came to the conclusion, that this wasn’t enough for me. The challenge of developing and selling apps didn’t really make me hop out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t imagine my future at the company, so I spent a long time exploring what was next and how to solve this crisis.
Via a late-night Google Search into stress reduction techniques, I started investigating meditation. I read all of the scientific research: how it helps connect you with your intuition, it can make you feel calmer and actually create neurological changes in your brain, so I gave it a try. Thankfully for me, this new meditation practice was the beginning of starting to connect with my intuition and uncover my calling to empower and inspire women. And it opened up a whole can of worms (in a good way!) that lead to me starting my company.
3. Was there ever a particularly tough time that in retrospect was a priceless learning moment?
After having survived postpartum depression and psychosis after the birth of my first daughter, I started doing more work as an advocate for moms and ended up writing a book about that. I also ended up being on a TV commercial talking about my postpartum experience and giving a TEDx talk about it, confessing to having spent 10 days in the psych ward. This was an experience I thought I’d take to the grave because it made me feel exposed, vulnerable and “weak.” But through my recovery, I found even greater resolve, determination and a resilient mindset that has stayed with me and made me stronger and more confident than ever before.
Then just a month ago, I got the chance to speak on stage with Brooke Shields since we both had similar experiences with postpartum depression. That was a pretty special moment for me.
Sometimes life gives you lemons, but you never know how things will evolve and eventually turn out. You can take it as a setback or you can realize that every experience you have (positive or negative) increases your capacity to give to others. I’ve certainly found this to be true.
4. What are some successes you have had with your business that make you proud?
Being able to help give other moms hope, and help reduce the stigma around maternal mental health disorders through my TEDx talk has been incredible. The big shiny moments are great but so are the “little” moments. The more that I practice what I preach of trying to stay in the moment, I appreciate what’s gone well with my week and the little things like a kind email from a client saying that I really helped them through a tough spot.
Just this morning, a woman wrote to me that she was having a tough time with her relationship and that she listened to my meditation and it made her feel better. I mean, that’s a huge success and that honestly feels just as important as being on stage. Being able to touch someone’s life and feel you generally made it better is success for me. It feels good to get to do what I love each day.
5. What are some of your current challenges?
To not go into overdrive. That is always my temptation, being a workhorse and focusing too much on the finish line. I have to be intentional to recognize and savor the moments of joy along the journey. The process is the goal, and I am always trying to figure out how I can truly enjoy each day.
I am also a recovering control freak. But I’ve realized I don’t always need to be the master of everything behind-the-scenes. When I cede some of that control and trust that things will work out the way they’re meant to be, I’m more at ease. We’ll always encounter problems. There’s never a state where you’re without problems, it’s just a different set of problems. So, I’ve had to learn to dance with whatever it is.
Like once I was supposed to be a keynote speaker at a conference but because of one thing or another, the opportunity didn’t come to be. I was disappointed at first, but you have to trust in the bigger process and that the universe is conspiring in your favor. And the universe did have my back in the end – that door closed, but a new, and better opportunity presented itself. So no point in freaking out.
6. Have there ever been moments when you regretted what you started or had to abandon part of the plan?
Sure, at times my marketing has been a mess, and I haven’t been able to convey the impact my programs have had on clients. I believed in what I was doing, it was good material, and people loved it. I had positive feedback. But I needed to figure out the positioning, I wasn’t explaining it the right way. I needed to take a different approach.
So I broke it all down into modules: this is why you might relate to me, maybe you have some of these same things going on–I created a common ground instead of saying “take this program for the answers.” People want to know about the mess, they want to know you’re real. Behind my brand and my messages, it’s just me: Lisa Abramson. I’m not a megacorp, I’m a real person.
I guess you could say I was focusing too much on the “what” and not enough on the “why.”
7. What would be your biggest piece of advice you would give to yourself ten years ago?
“It’s going to be okay.” I know it’s very simple but it’s true–when I’m having a hard time, everything will be okay. We’re all allowed to make mistakes and to keep learning. We live and we learn. Plus, no one else is ever paying as much attention to your life as you are, so, that’s a blessing. I think it’s important to remember that.
8. What was the best and worst piece of advice you have received as you were starting your business?
When I was switching from my PR career to in-house marketing, one of the leaders at the company said to me verbatim, “You’re not going to succeed. You don’t have enough experience.” It’s funny because this was both the worst and the best advice because instead of it depressing me and creating doubt, it actually motivated me. I mean, I certainly don’t think this is something I would recommend saying to a budding entrepreneur, but for me, I just couldn’t stop thinking about how I was going to prove him wrong. And I did.
9. What are your hopes for your business for the next five years?
I would love to keep doing what I’m doing now–continue speaking and maybe start speaking to larger audiences. My biggest dream it to be on a SuperSoul session with Oprah. I would love for my next book to be a New York Times bestseller and to have the chance to talk to Oprah about it.
Date of conversation: May 24, 2018
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