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Finding Your True Confidence with Lisa Sun
Episode 5716th January 2024 • The Happiness Squad • Ashish Kothari
00:00:00 00:52:29

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True confidence is really about believing in what you're good at and feeling sure about yourself. It's not about trying to be perfect or fearless. Instead, it's about knowing your own strengths and what makes you special, and facing challenges bravely by making the most of your talents. 

Did you know that being confident is something you can work on? If you're ready to grow your confidence language and embrace your superpowers, get ready for our next guest. 

Meet Lisa Sun. She grew up in California as the daughter of Taiwanese immigrant parents. She was an overachiever at a young age, graduating from high school two years early and funding her entire Yale education with six part-time jobs, scholarships, and financial aid. 

After 11 years at McKinsey & Co., she took a solo trip around the world and started her own clothing line, Gravitas. She promotes body positivity and self-confidence and recently released her book, Gravitas.

In this episode of the HAPPINESS SQUAD Podcast, Ashish and Anil, together with Lisa Sun, CEO & Founder of Gravitas, explores how to grow your self-confidence and use it as your superpower.

Things you will also learn from this episode:

  • 6 Forces that Sabotage Your Self-Confidence
  • 8 Superpowers that can Unleash Your Self-Confidence
  • Understanding Your Confidence Language
  • 2 Mindsets that Influence Your Self-Doubt

Confidence is your superpower – ready to unleash it? 

Listen to our episode now and take the first step towards empowering yourself.

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Books:

Transcripts

Anil Ramjiani:

Hey friends, it's great to have you with Ashish and me as we host guests who are industry leaders helping individuals and organizations unlock higher potential and flourishing. That's what we champion here.

So let me ask you, what does Gravitas mean to you? If you're ready to grow your confidence language and embrace your superpowers, get ready for our next guest.

Meet Lisa Sun. She grew up in California as the daughter of Taiwanese immigrant parents. She was an overachiever at a young age, graduating from high school two years early and funding her entire Yale education with six part-time jobs, scholarships, and financial aid.

After 11 years at McKenzie, she took a solo trip around the world and started her own clothing line, Gravitas. She promotes body positivity and self-confidence and recently released her book, Gravitas.

In this episode, we focus on the six forces that work against you as saboteurs and the eight superpowers you can embrace to develop your confidence language. Ashish, Lisa, and I delve into topics and share personal anecdotes.

What stood out for me is how confidence is a mindset and a choice. You can own your superpower and your moment. Cultivating self-awareness is key, and it is our first hardwired for happiness practice, central to our core.

Lisa will explain how this practice enables confidence and the importance of self-belief as a mindset.

So, are you ready to shift your mindset to make this your competitive edge? Join Ashish and me as we welcome Lisa to the Happiness Squad podcast.

Lisa, Ashish, it's a pleasure to be with both of you today. Lisa, on your book tour and numerous podcasts, it's great to have you. Our favorite question for our guests is, what is your definition of happiness? Or what is happiness for you, and how has that changed since your younger years?

Lisa Sun:

Happiness is about how I feel about myself, my self-value, and how I contribute to others and the world. It's changed because I used to tie my happiness to external success markers. I thought I'd be happy when I lose 10 pounds, get a job promotion, or acquire certain possessions. But if you don't achieve these, you beat yourself up, and if you do, you chase the next thing.

Now, I define happiness not by looking at the summit but by turning around and seeing how far I've come. This shift in perspective is about self-soothing. As I like to say, things don't get easier, we get stronger. Acknowledging how much stronger you've become is, for me, the definition of happiness.

Ashish Kothari:

I love that, Lisa. It's a consistent theme. We're nearing our 60th podcast, started a year ago. It's our hope that as listeners continue to hear these messages, they understand that happiness is an inner game. It's about shifting and believing in our mindsets, moving away from programmed beliefs to embracing what's truly meaningful.

Lisa Sun:

It's nice to have goals in life, and having high standards and accomplishments is important. However, tying your self-worth specifically to whether you accomplish those goals is different. I contribute to the world, and that's what matters.

For example, at a book signing, someone commented on my origin story, mentioning how I was told in my 20s that I lacked gravitas and spent the last 20 years seeking it. I responded by saying I was faking confidence. Though I could perform confidently, I was an insecure overachiever at McKinsey and Company. I tied much of my happiness and self-worth to how others saw me instead of how I saw myself.

Another example is from my book tour about 8 months ago. My agent, editor, and book collaborator and I agreed not to focus on bestseller lists. We decided that if you change one person’s life, if you make a difference, that’s what mattered. And a week into my book tour after my book came out, I did an event in Denver for a large group of women at a chemicals company. And the night I landed back from Denver, my agent informed me that my book was number 41 on the USA Today bestseller list.

I initially didn’t want to post it, but a video from 200 women at the event, congratulating me, changed my mind. That meant more to me than hitting the list.

Ashish Kothari:

That's beautiful. It points to the importance of having goals and high aspirations, but ultimately, focusing on your actions rather than the outcome. There are many factors that can make us overly anxious, and the reality is we control so little of that. It allows you to focus on the journey and enjoy it, rather than just focusing on the list.

Lisa Sun:

Yeah. In the last decade, running my fashion company as an entrepreneur, I did not raise venture capital money. I used my own money and angel investors. I don’t need to be a unicorn.

Often, we celebrate youthful entrepreneurs trying to be unicorns. We do really good work, we're much smaller, and the brand is much bigger than the revenues, but we employ people and make a real difference in our customers' lives. I don’t need to have triple-digit growth and an IPO.

A lot of people have been surprised by that. I think the unicorn status is not something I attach my self-worth to. I am a billionaire in terms of how much value I've created for others, whether I make a connection to someone, connected someone with a retailer and they got the deal, or made a difference in people's lives enabling them to get a promotion or the things they want in life.

I don't need to be a billionaire in terms of cash for myself, but I probably have created at least a billion dollars of value out in the world. That surprises people. When you say you're going to be an entrepreneur, everyone puts these false attachments on you, like how much money did you raise, what series are you at. I'm like, I'm no series. I've just been doing good work for the last decade, and I think that’s good enough. It takes the pressure off too.

Ashish Kothari:

In fact, that’s kind of at the heart of Happiness Squad. When I started the company, a lot of people were like, are you raising money? And I’m like, no, I actually don't want to, we never plan to go IPO.

The reason is very simple: you can't fight gravity if you live on earth. If you want to create a conscious company and focus on the right things rather than just revenue and subscriber growth, then don't play the game. But if you're going to play the game, you have to live by the rules.

Lisa Sun:

Ashish, I can relate to that because I've known you professionally for a long time. I played a game with one of my best friends: name a good IPO. A lot of the venture-backed companies in the direct-to-consumer or consumer goods space IPO'd because the venture capitalists needed their cash out. Look at their stock prices today, one to two years post IPO, they're penny stocks, below a dollar.

apparel category collapsed in:

But people who don't follow this space closely are shocked when they pull open their phone, go on Yahoo stock ticker, and look up the stock price of their favorite hot consumer brand that IPO'd. Their stock price is 60 cents, their market cap is 60 million. That's ridiculous. I thought they were a billion-dollar unicorn. Is it okay that I went there? Well, I don't know who your listeners are.

Ashish Kothari:

No, exactly. I'm so glad you did. It is so good. It is at the heart of this work. And in that journey, not only did they create so much waste of investor money, the financials are not there, but also such a high cost of anxiety, stress, burnout for the people who work there and the leader. Everybody loses other than the people who came in early and cashed out.

Lisa Sun:

I did this really fun event in South Bend, Indiana, shout out to the South Bend entrepreneurship group. I did this event where they have this thing called the Awesome Fund, where once a quarter, they give money to small businesses in South Bend, Indiana, and it was really cool.

I got to be a judge at their startup event and what's fun is I looked at the folks that ran the group and I said, 'you broke three rules today.' They're like, 'oh my gosh, what rules did we break?' I said, 'one, the three winners were all people of color and women. And so if you look at the small percentage of funding that goes to minorities and women, you broke that rule.

The second is you funded nice, small, profitable businesses. We actually didn't fund the one that said that they were going to be the Uber of this or the unicorn of this. We funded the awesome food truck business that is run by this amazing couple.

And the third rule you broke is you didn't over promise on where these things would go. All of these companies that you funded today contribute value to their communities. They make a difference. They're filled with purpose and heart. But the reality is they may not be the next mainstream brand in America, right? But they don't have to be.'

Ashish Kothari:

They don't have to be. I love that by the way. Your mission of the billion, I want to give a shout-out and you should check this out and we should make the connection Lisa, for Gravitas.

Barry Shore, he was on our podcast. He's kind of the ambassador of joy. He was on Oprah's show. He's on a mission to donate a billion dollars without costing a cent to any consumers. He's built this platform, it's an amazing story. He became a quadriplegic at 40 because of a genetic disorder. And now he swims close to two to three miles a day on this mission to make a positive difference.

So I love the fact that you said, 'I might not be a billionaire in my bank, but I've created a billion of value.' That's a little bit of what Barry's trying to do. And his whole thing is around getting brands to actually come onto his platform and he's got consumers. And as they do transactions, I think he's basically giving 5 percent back to the consumer, 5 percent to a charity, and 5 percent to run the platform. It's a beautiful, beautiful mission. But Anil, walk us through my friend, to the next question around confidence and really get into the meat of what Lisa has created, because it's really beautiful.

Anil Ramjiani:

No, totally. And Lisa, when I hear you talk, and I'm sure others would agree, you speak with incredible confidence. Our listeners may not know your story, which we will come to in a second, but in writing your book, Gravitas, you define confidence and innate strengths. Could you share with our listeners what that journey was and how you define confidence? What does it mean to you, and how are you able to speak so confidently?

Lisa Sun:

It's one of those things where you write the book you most need to read yourself. For hundreds of years, much ink has been spilled about confidence, focusing solely on behaviors. When I tell you to be more confident, it's about standing up straight, speaking up, being assertive, bravado, or swagger. But if you look up the word confident in the dictionary, it's about an understanding and appreciation of your own abilities and a trust in your talents. It's a mindset before it becomes a behavior.

I wrote this book because over the last 23 years, I've spent time with people in their most vulnerable moments. We're often asked to fake it till we make it. When someone tells you to be more confident, you have a single version of what that means.

Even though I speak confidently, one of my superpowers is performing. However, there are many who are not the loudest in the room but can be the most confident because they have other superpowers. I wanted to create a paradigm shift.

Dale Carnegie's book changed my life as an Asian woman growing up in Western society. It taught me how to shake hands, smile, remember names, ask good questions, but it didn't address my deep insecurities.

I wrote this book to help society create a new paradigm where everyone can feel confident without fitting a single mold. We're born fully self-confident, like any five-year-old. In my book, we identified six forces that hold us back from confidence, popping up between ages eight and twelve, forming the basis of an inner critic. As adults, to be confident, we have to choose to see ourselves as a five-year-old does, breaking out of these six forces. Self-confidence is a choice and a mindset before it becomes a behavior.

Ashish Kothari:

So true, and so is happiness. Self-awareness is at the heart of those. We talk so much about mindsets in the Hardwired for Happiness work. It's about the mindsets and mental models through which we experience the world and think about our place in it, what we have, what we don’t have, and how important it is to shift that if we are really going to achieve what we want.

Lisa Sun:

Yeah, and what I found is that in my role as the owner of a fashion company, where I dress hundreds of women a year, the dressing room is an analogy for life. Every woman walks into a dressing room with self-loathing, burdened by the six forces of her inner critic. She might talk about losing weight, not liking her arms, or just having had a baby. Systemic bias and the mirror in a dressing room become triggers.

Before trying on clothes, I spend ten minutes changing their mindset. Many are impatient, but I insist on shifting negative energy. I ask three questions:

What are you the best at in the world?

If your best friend was standing here, what would they tell me about you?

And what are you most proud of in the last year?

A five-year-old could answer these questions easily, but adults often struggle.

This first question is very important to me. If you remember the Pixar movie, Inside Out, your brain is like a fixed hard drive. It dumps most daily memories and can only remember the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The little girl in the movie had core memories, golden ones representing happy moments.

I often ask people to recall a time in the last year when they felt proud or powerful. If you've hit a marker of success in the past, it's likely you'll do it again. We often don't trust in ourselves, which is why I said we look at the summit so often that we rarely turn around to see how much ground we've covered.

I do this once a day, in the morning and before bed, recalling what I'm most proud of or looking forward to. It changes how you take on the day.

In the dressing room, when a woman starts telling me her story and she starts smiling and laughing, I'm like a velvet knife. You don't feel it happening. I start getting her dressed, and inevitably, she comes out of the dressing room and says it's a skinny mirror. I tell her it's from Bed Bath & Beyond, and it's not a trick. I explained that she made a choice that this was going to work. We got her in the right mindset, and that allowed me to do the work I do so well.

More importantly, if you think about the iceberg model of consciousness, only 10 percent of the iceberg is visible. That's the behavior. The other 90 percent is thoughts, values, and feelings about yourself, which is below the water. So when people say I'm good at what I do, it's really about getting them in the right mindset. It's not about the clothes; it's about the right mindset.

Ashish Kothari:

It's amazing, and that's why we wanted you on this podcast, Lisa. Almost 90 percent of our work is on the inner mindset and the confidence and awareness. It's about the inner journey, all the things below the iceberg, the thoughts, beliefs about ourselves and the world, our moods, how we feel inside. We say there is so much that you already have. Don't look for validation out there, don't look for validation from other people. It's really hard to live into that.

Lisa Sun:

I think that's very hard for people to do, and that's why I wrote the book. I wanted to create a framework for people to answer questions like "What are you best at in the world?" Many people undervalue themselves. They say, "Oh, my superpower is so boring, like getting things done on time." That's amazing.

I enlisted Sally Dancer, a former partner at McKinsey, who conducted a thousand-person quantitative study and 32 focus groups on confidence in America. We realized that confidence doesn't come in one form; it comes in eight types of superpowers that underpin self-belief.

Going on this journey created a framework for people to be able to answer my question. Without a guide, a self-discovery journey is challenging due to the six forces in our inner critic. Most of the book is about how to discover your superpowers, channel them, build new ones, and connect with others based on that.

Ashish Kothari:

So talk us through those eight superpowers. Give us an overview for our listeners.

Lisa Sun:

We found eight superpowers. Most people have two or three. You can take the test at myconfidencelanguage.com. My mom took the quiz and has all eight. Only 2% of our dataset actually has all eight. It's not a personality test but a self-affirming inventory of your strengths, so it can change over time. I started with three and now have four and a half. It's not like Pokemon; you don't need to collect them all. Here are the eight:

Leading: I set direction, I'm in charge, I inspire followership, and I'm in command.

Performing: What I'm doing for you today. It involves extraversion, charisma, and an exchange of energy between two people.

These two qualities of confidence are the most often written about but represent only 20% of our data set. It's important to recognize that the other six types of confidence cover the other 80% of the world. Just because you don't fit society's mold of leading and performing doesn't mean you don't deserve to feel good about yourself.

Achieving: I get things done on time, I have a winner's mindset, I meet or exceed goals. Practice makes perfect, and if I fail, I get back up and try again.

Knowing: I'm the most well-researched, most thoughtful, process-oriented, smartest person in the room. You want to build Ikea furniture with someone who has 'knowing' as their superpower.

The best example of these two superpowers in the world is the Disney movie "Hidden Figures," a true story about three black women who worked at NASA and did the calculations to send a man into space. They didn't fit the classic mold of leading and performing, but their superpowers were achieving and knowing.

My mom saw this data and said, "When a tsunami happens, men make speeches, and I clean up the beaches. Finally, a quiz that gives me credit for cleaning up the beaches."

Giving: I support others, I'm empathetic, I'm collaborative.

Believing: If you're a Ted Lasso fan, believing was his superpower. It involves optimism, positive intent, seeing the best in others and situations. If things don't work out, they weren't meant to be. In season one, Ted Lasso said he was underestimated because he's not a classic command and control coach. He doesn't care if they win or lose; he's there to help people become the best versions of themselves. By the third season, you realize how powerful believing is as a route to self-belief.

Creating: My number one superpower, common among immigrants. I believe in things before I can see them. I can put an idea into existence. I create something from nothing. It's like a writer who looks at a blank page and gets excited rather than nervous.

Self-Sustaining: Very few people in our data set have it, but the whole book is an exercise in self-sustaining. It's liking yourself, not needing to impress others, knowing your value. It's most needed to overcome criticism and objection without spiraling and to ask for a favor or a raise. If you need a raise, you need to say, "This is my market value. If you say no, somebody else will give me that market value."

Together, these eight qualities reframe and double-click on the idea of confidence. When Janet Yellen was nominated to be the first woman head of the Federal Reserve, many articles questioned her gravitas. Ezra Klein said it's because the pervasive view of gravitas didn't include her being more soft-spoken and collaborative, but she was the most qualified person for the job. We're changing the scorecard by which we measure confidence.

Anil Ramjiani:

Just thinking about that, two of the superpowers stood out for me: giving and self-sustaining. But let me come back to that. What I'm taking away is that a textbook definition of confidence may not be what we think it is. It can come in different forms, and we have to be open to embracing that.

Today in a meeting, someone was given a compliment and they said, "Sorry, I don't take compliments very well." You earlier acknowledged a compliment with kindness and confidence. It was respectful and humble. I find it fascinating that when you mentioned self-sustaining, I'm thinking, how many people actually fall into that bucket?

I imagine the majority are the opposite, more self-deprecating. We have an amazing ability to cut ourselves down rather than focusing on raising ourselves up and acknowledging our worth, our ability to give, our ability to sustain ourselves. Those two stood out for me. Before we go to the next question, what is your take when you think about giving and self-sustaining as superpowers?

Lisa Sun:

They're all equally valid. You said two things that I want to parse out a bit. At the beginning of the session, you complimented me on my confidence. Now, I would ask you to say, "Lisa, your superpower is performing." It's important because when we tell people to be more confident, you can now say, "I need you to be more self-sustaining." It means not spiraling or taking things personally. It doesn't mean I don't like or value you. You should value yourself. I'm giving you this feedback because I care about you. So, be more self-sustaining. I am confident in the classic sense of being great at performing and being articulate.

The second point is about receiving compliments. You can't receive a compliment properly until you've paid yourself one. I'm on a mission to stop the habitual use of "sorry" when it's not necessary.

In my book, two forces contribute to self-deprecation. The deficit mindset, where you see only your weakness or what's missing over your potential and strengths. For instance, do you focus on your beautiful eyes or your wrinkles when looking in the mirror?

The second force is the shrinking effect, where you shortchange or underestimate your abilities compared to others or a standard. This is why women might apply for a job only if they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men might apply with just 60%.

This mindset leads us to default to saying sorry, thinking we are less than. If you count the number of times you say sorry in a day and subtract the times you're genuinely sorry, you'll see the difference. Replace it with "thank you" or "great catch, it won't happen again." For example, instead of saying "Sorry I was late," say "Thank you for waiting for me. I value your time and don't intend to be late." This approach puts you in control, rather than feeling like you're less than or that you did something wrong.

Most of us are stuck in this deficit mindset or shrinking effect. To break out of that, recognize which of the eight superpowers you truly possess. People often undervalue their abilities, like getting things done on time, thinking it’s boring. However, that’s actually the superpower of achieving. I lack that and greatly value it. It changes the way we think about ourselves.

Ashish Kothari:

I love that, Lisa. You highlight two really important things. One is the significance of words. There are huge differences between saying 'sorry' and 'thanks.' You're saying sorry when you mean it, but when you say thank you, you're appreciating them without pulling yourself down. You're acknowledging their patience without beating yourself up.

It's crucial because we often get messages of not being enough, of messing up. You don't need to add to that inner chatter on top of what you get from the outside. That was powerful. The second point you highlighted is also important: recognizing those who are different because their superpower, combined with yours, creates a beautiful dance, a symphony. It's the magic of bringing these together that creates great outcomes.

Lisa Sun:

When you see the value in someone's style different from yours, you make them stronger. Here's a piece of data from my book: Kelly Shue at Yale School of Management released a report examining 30,000 employee records.

She found that men were consistently rated lowest on performance and results but highest on promotability. Women were rated highest on delivering performance and results, but lowest on promotion potential. The promotability aspect was tied to extroversion and charisma, which is subjective. This explains a significant portion of the pay gap related to promotability. We're not recognizing the strengths driving performance and results. Why add an additional layer of extroversion?

Most of my team has a confidence language opposite to mine. If we all led and performed all day, nothing would get done. I value that you're achieving, knowing, or believing. There are so many qualities I see in people. When I need someone to speak up in a meeting, I will say, "This is a moment where I need you to be uncomfortable and bring your performing superpower to the table."

Someone might respond, "Okay, I've been working on that. I'm never going to be perfect at it, but I know I want to do it because this situation requires it." This changes the way we value people. If I say, "You get things done on time incredibly well, and that's why you're always my go-to," that person's confidence level rises because they see themselves in a stronger light. Remember, things don't get easier; we get stronger.

Anil Ramjiani:

I love that. I'm just thinking to myself, if you both agree, I'm going to jot down these eight superpowers and keep them handy. Tomorrow when I come back to work, I'm going to identify colleagues I work with and as they speak, I'm going to share with them, "Hey, what you did was [blank]. That was incredible." I'm going to see how they react to that.

One thing we talk about in happiness practices, Lisa, is gratitude. But what I'm reflecting on now is awareness and self-awareness and how we cultivate that. What you're talking about is something I would invite our listeners to think about. Take a moment and pause. Ashish mentioned earlier that the words we use can be incredibly important.

Even while recording with you, I'm reflecting on how saying what I said earlier is okay, but what are other words I can use that are more powerful, more applicable, and like you said, raise not only you but others up. That's something we need to think about as we grow our Gravitas.

Ashish Kothari:

Even better, you print out those eight and send a link to Lisa's website because everybody should do their quiz. I did mine; I have six of the eight. Have everybody do the quiz and have a share maybe over lunch. Just say, "Hey, what are your superpowers? Which of those do you resonate with?" It'll be a beautiful share because remember, awareness is about knowing yourself, but also about knowing the other. In that, you'll be able to play back, and that's strength-based development right there.

Lisa Sun:

Yeah, and I love that. Thank you for hyping myconfidencelanguage.com. It's really fun. I love that you have six; I would have thought no less. When people take the quiz, I get three different reactions.

One is, "Oh my gosh, do I really have five or six?" People often underestimate or undervalue themselves. The quiz is not wrong; it's developed by a former McKinsey partner and is statistically valid. It might indicate that you've been underleveraging or underestimating your abilities.

The second thing that happens is, "Well, why don't I have this one? It says that this is my opportunity area." Okay, can we just, first of all, pause? Let's not jump at the opportunity. In chapter six of my book, I take 30 situations in life and we correlate it in the data set which superpower you need for which situation. So I said, "Are you ever going to start your own business? Yes or no?" No? Well then why do you need ‘creating’ as a superpower?

Sometimes we focus on what we lack. But remember, it's not like Pokémon; you don't need to catch them all. It's more important to stand in the power of the superpowers you do have. However, if there's something you want in life, see which superpower you need. Often, you'll find you already have it, so trust yourself next time.

There are four superpowers needed to start your own business. If you don't have them and want that in life, you need to develop them or hire people who do. And we don't have to be all of them.

I'm a work in progress. When I took the quiz the first time, my number one was ‘creating’, my number two was ‘performing’ and my number three was ‘leading’. That's three out of the four you need to start your own business. It also means I didn't fit in at McKinsey. That is not a classic McKinsey profile of success. If I had taken the quiz earlier, I might have left McKinsey sooner.

And then the second thing I said to myself is, I want to be able to overcome criticism and objections better. I really spiral out of control. I care what people think. I'm a people pleaser. So I want to work on self-sustaining.

I also recognized that I can come across as hard-charging, so I have been working on giving. I retake the quiz every six months, and now my confidence language includes leading, performing, creating, giving, and I'm halfway to self-sustaining.

So now my confidence language is leading, performing, creating, giving. And I score half on self-sustaining. It's a strength and not a superpower yet. But for me, it allowed me to control my learning journey. I am never ever going to be someone who has ‘knowing’ as a superpower. You do not want to build Ikea furniture.

I cannot believe I built financial models as a business analyst at McKinsey. It drove me crazy. I hate the process. Some people get a lot of energy out of deep diving on content, but I don't. I shoot from the hip. I'm an entrepreneur. I'm never going to be the highest on ‘achieving’. I was raised by a tiger mom, so achieving was built into me, but I never enjoyed it. I don't enjoy blue ribbons and so it's hard for me to be an optimist.

I usually see the worst in situations, but I'm working on it. I know when people need me to do that. So I see this as a tool for us to just see where we are. It complements Myers Briggs, it complements DISCS, Enneagram, or StrengthsFinder. But what I love about it is it's not static. It's a dynamic look at yourself. It is not just, “this is who you are.”

Ashish Kothari:

You know, Lisa, in that language, you bring to life one of our Hardwired for Happiness practices. In addition to awareness, knowing yourself and all your parts, your strengths, as well as opportunities, there's also the practice of self-compassion and intention.

Practice nine is about intention, and practice six is self-compassion. It's about recognizing what you have, being compassionate with yourself, and building together. It's not overly focusing on just opportunities.

And I like it because it's not just about your quiz. I love the notion of using it every six months as a wayfinder, rather than defining yourself rigidly. This is not like a genetic makeup that can't change. You can focus on which strengths you choose to develop and how you can turn opportunities into strengths or lesser strengths into superpowers.

Anil Ramjiani:

I'm going to share the link, have them do it, and then we're going to have lunch on it. I will indeed come back. I'm actually really excited about doing it.

Lisa Sun:

I have to tell you, someone wrote to me after Thanksgiving in the US this year. They had their whole family take the quiz because they wanted to know their family's superpowers. She realized she might have been taking away her youngest son's power his whole life. Her oldest son is ‘leading’ and ‘performing’, classic extroversion, while her youngest is ‘achieving’, ‘knowing’, and ‘believing’.

She used to say at parties that her older son would be the life of the party and her younger one was shy. She now realizes she should have said her oldest will have you laughing, and her youngest just finished reading a book on pandas and would delight in telling you every fact he knows. She thinks she may have made him feel bad about himself by calling him shy publicly. This tool is broader than just how you work on teams; it's about understanding and valuing each other's strengths.

Anil Ramjiani:

I think that's beautiful. I'm going to ask our listeners to think about that because parents and professionals alike, whether with your kids or team members, having that mindset is a shift. I wouldn't have thought of it that way. Sometimes we don't.

That was a beautiful tip, by the way. In your book, you talk about owning your moment. Could you describe what it feels like to be in the zone and how our listeners can rewire away from negative bias and actively own those moments, whether in a personal or professional context?

Lisa Sun:

I love when you feel that you're in the flow of things, and I know flow is likely a part of your happiness practice. There are two main components to it. One is knowing the gas you have in the tank, knowing your superpowers, knowing the strengths you bring to the table. Secondly, being able to approach ups and downs, knowing that you are strong enough to handle it.

ng your moment is in March of:

Everyone asked, "You're a little fashion company. How did you do that?" We had gas in the tank, so we could be a speedboat when everyone else was an aircraft carrier. You know my superpowers. I put out on LinkedIn that the sales of my company were negative. I had nothing to hide. If you have a company that needs face masks, DM me. Uwe Voss, the CEO of HelloFresh, and other ex-McKinsey people needed face masks. They wire transferred my company money to make face masks. I needed bulk orders.

My superpowers are creating, performing, and leading. My team is achieving and knowing. They set up the process and spreadsheet for making 2,500 face masks in a week for HelloFresh. I couldn't execute that; my execution skills are not at that level. When I say own your moment, it's not about the moment, it's about the 'own' part. It's about how strong you are and what action you can take based on it. You create a new solution space when you know your strength and capabilities.

Anil Ramjiani:

Awesome. I'm thinking about how I'm going to discuss this with my wife this evening. We had a chat yesterday; she had a bit of a low day. You've given me a few things to consider. So, tonight's homework with the Mrs. and tomorrow's homework with my team. I'm looking forward to it.

Lisa Sun:

One thing I often tell people is, if you had a bad day, don't ask kids, "Are you sad?" but rather, "What happened?" I have people take the six forces that hold them back and ask, "Which of these six forces are you feeling?" I had a friend the other day, and I asked her which of these six forces she was feeling.

One is called satisfaction conundrum, where you tie your happiness to an external marker. She mentioned that she saw her friends win a gold medal in a tennis tournament without her because she was injured and couldn't play. She was bummed she wasn't in the photo and tied her happiness to being in that tournament.

I asked her about what else was going on in her life. We talked about the fun things happening in her job and what she was doing personally. I pointed out she had so much abundance in her life. She realized she was too tied up in that marker of success. She decided to like the post, reshare it, and text her friends to congratulate them, saying she could be happy for them now.

So, I don't know why your wife had a low day, but I think really digging into what was the force working against her helps. You can't fix it until you diagnose it.

Anil Ramjiani:

I love that, and I actually don't like fixing it. Once you diagnose it, it's great to give her the opportunity to go, "Right, this is how I'm going to approach it and take it forward." Which reminds me, once you recognize that and own that, that's the key. Like you just said, it's about owning more than just the moment.

Lisa Sun:

Everybody just wants to be seen. I'll give you two fun facts from my book. First, people over the age of 55 are the most powerful in our data set. We as a society have become ageist, but as you age, you have more superpowers than when you were younger, and you have time, talent, and treasure. People just want to be seen, and I wish we could see the strengths in that.

The other group is full-time parents. Full-time parents were the least satisfied in our data set because there are no external benchmarks of success. We did focus groups with full-time parents who took the quiz, and they were like, "Wow, I really needed to see this today." Achieving is their number one superpower. When I was a corporate lawyer, the ladder was clear, but as a full-time parent, what do I have to show for myself every day? It's interesting to see different groups go through this process because it's changing the way we see ourselves, regardless of what stage of life we're in.

Anil Ramjiani:

I agree with you. I have a few quick questions for you as we wrap up. Lisa, what is your favorite song that you love to listen to when you want to turn your frown upside down?

Lisa Sun:

I have a couple. I have a playlist for events. I love "Special" by Lizzo. That's usually my hype-up song because it celebrates how special everyone is. I think Lizzo genuinely talks about how hard self-love requires.

I love anything by Beyonce. I listen to "Diva." My last name is Sun, so if I were ever to run for president, I have a built-in playlist. There are so many songs with 'sun,' like "Walking on Sunshine" or "Here Comes the Sun."

Anil Ramjiani:

If you were stuck on an island and could only take one book with you, what book would it be?

Lisa Sun:

The answer I usually give publicly is "Woman Warrior" by Maxine Hong Kingston because it spoke to my Asian American identity. But really, I'd probably bring the complete works of Jane Austen. I reread her every year. If I were stuck on a desert island for a long time, that would be the book I'd bring.

Anil Ramjiani:

Awesome. And the last one is your favorite comfort food.

Lisa Sun:

My mom's dumplings. Anything your mom makes carries that extra special dash of love, but these are definitely good pork chive dumplings.

Anil Ramjiani:

Superpower number nine. Lisa, this was absolutely incredible. For our listeners, definitely check out her book "Gravitas." And the website myconfidencelanguage.com. We're going to add all these to the resources, including the books and songs you mentioned. Thank you for giving, knowing, and performing. Ashish, final thoughts?

Ashish Kothari:

Lisa, it's such a joy connecting with you after such a long time. Let us know the next time you come through Denver or Boulder. Let's get together. Thank you.

Lisa Sun:

That would be great. Thank you. Thanks for having me.