Live Purely with Liz Tran
Executive Coach Liz Tran: Bringing Spirituality To Business and The Karma of Success
This week, Elizabeth welcomes Liz Tran, an Executive Coach renowned for her work with CEOs and founders in the tech world, whose clients have collectively raised over $400 million in funding and achieved a remarkable $4 billion in enterprise value. Liz wears multiple hats as an author, with her book 'The Karma of Success,' and as the host of 'Reset with Liz' podcast. Beyond her extensive experience in venture capital and tech, Liz brings a unique spiritual dimension to her coaching. Liz talks with Elizabeth about her own personal journey to spirituality and how it shapes her role as an executive coach. She also unveils the techniques she uses to empower her clients to manifest and lead their best lives including getting still, visualization, and the regular practice of gratitude lists to reprogram the mind for attracting positive outcomes. At the end of the episode, Liz shares a few of her own favorite wellness habits that keep her energized, grounded and ready for the next adventure.
I think it’s about placing our order with the universe so that we put that power behind the intention of our voice.- Liz Tran
Podcast transcript below:Elizabeth Stein 0:00
Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder, and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey.
This week's guest is Liz Tran, an executive coach to CEOs and founders of tech companies. Altogether her clients have raised over $400 million in funding and created $4 billion in enterprise value. She's also the author of The Karma of Success and host of the podcast Reset with Liz. In addition to her experience in venture capital and tech, she is also a trained meditation teacher and Reiki master and studied yoga at the Samyak Ashram. In this episode, Liz shares her personal journey to spirituality and its role in her success as an executive coach. We discuss the many ways Liz works with clients to live their best lives, like her process for manifestation, which includes visualization, self-gratitude, and a regular gratitude list to reprogram the brain to attract positive outcomes and practice confidence to improve performance. Lastly, we talked about the importance of utilizing downtime for clarity and creativity, strategies to help overcome fear and doubt, and the importance of maintaining a high energy level for optimal performance and well-being. There were so many great tips in this episode. Keep listening to learn more.
Liz, welcome to the podcast. It's such a pleasure to meet you. And I can't wait for our conversation today.
Liz Tran 1:45
Thank you for having me.
Elizabeth Stein 1:47
So we'd love to start with your journey and what inspired you to become an executive coach. I know that wasn't always what your path was. What led you there? And how are you enjoying it?
Liz Tran 2:01
I'm 38 right now and I didn't even know that executive coaching was a thing. I didn't know it was a job until I was probably 31. As soon as I heard it, I thought that's what I wanted to do with my life. But it's funny when you're deciding what you want when you're younger, or what suite of possibilities are open to you. I had a limited viewpoint. And my mom was an immigrant from Vietnam. And it was always this idea that being a lawyer or a doctor would be prestigious. I thought that my whole life because I only had this very narrow sliver of what I thought I could do. I tried to go to law school and did not succeed. I was a little heartbroken about that and on a whim, moved to New York, when I was 23. I wound up falling into the tech world. The thought line there was I was always interested in what people were motivated by, what they cared about, and what made them passionate about their work. And that expressed itself in being a recruiter for some time. I thought I was good at that I was helping people connect to the right jobs, and getting the right people to join the organizations I worked for. Then I became a consultant working largely in talent and HR. Then from there, that took me to working in venture capital, where I became a talent-focused executive at one of the world's top venture capital firms. And while all those jobs were at different levels and they were doing different things, some were very tactical, some were much more cerebral, they all have this one through the line. I cared about what made people passionate, and what could help them live up to their greatest potential. As soon as I thought about coaching, started researching it, and studying to be a coach, I thought this was exactly it. Every one of my clients is so different. It is such a joy in life to be able to understand them on such a deep level and then come up with a bespoke program and way of supporting them that is unique to them. In the book that I wrote The Karma of Success, I thought coaching was inaccessible for most people. I didn't even know it existed. Could I write a book that could help people dig inward? There are a lot of people reading this book. But could this book tailored to every reader in some way that encourages them to look inward and say what are my gifts? What are my passions? What are my motivations? All the same, questions I asked my clients I wish someone had asked me 15 years ago are what I was hoping to do with this book.
Elizabeth Stein 4:46
It's so exciting. Congratulations again on the book. It is such a great toolkit for unpacking, as you said, like having those moments of reflection and asking those questions. And helping people to live their best life and try to go for something in life that they want because we only have one of them. And it's so easy to be on auto mode and not stop to ask those questions. And that's what a great coach does and what this book can also help people to do. Before we unpack the book, would love to hear a little bit more about how you work with clients. And for people who don't know, what's an executive coach. You didn't know what that was. A lot of people probably don't know what that is. Can you go into more detail about what is an executive coach? What does that look like? And how do you work with some of your clients?
Liz Tran 5:42
Yeah, definitely. I work with a very specific niche of clients. I work with CEOs and founders of venture capital-backed companies. These are companies that are usually growing pretty quickly. I see my clients either once a week, or once every other week for one hour. I coach them for as long as they want to be coached. For some of my clients, that means I've been working with them for three or more years, but for most of them, it's been on the magnitude of years. We work on three aspects. And the first one is just helping them be effective day to day, that can be as tactical as looking at their calendar and taking things off of their calendar and saying, “Are you sure you should be in this meeting? Does this make sense? Why don't we move your ones around?” Looking at their sleep patterns, how they are moving their bodies, whether or not they're focused and prioritizing the right things. That is just the bucket of are you the most effective version of yourself every day? We all know the difference between when we're feeling good, we're taking care of ourselves versus when we're just slogging through the work. The second piece is acute issues that pop up. A lot of it is I have to have a tough conversation with an employee, or I'm coming up to a board meeting that might be challenging, or I'm experiencing some type of disappointment. These are real-time issues, that just happened that week that we talked about, and we try to unpack and work through a solution. The final piece of it is zooming out and looking at the big picture. When we're busy, there's always a to-do list. As soon as it's done, there's the next to-do list, and so on. We don't stop to reflect and think about what well, what we could do better. So I'm this person who can say every quarter at the end of the year, let's do this reflection exercise. Let's see what the learnings are. Let's slow down a little bit and take everything that you're learning and see how you're changing and growing. And I call that the ontological side of the house. The three pieces are just day-to-day personal effectiveness, acute issues that pop up, and finally, the long-term, long arc growth of the person. How I work is generally I'm an employee or non-employee, but the client is the CEO, that person. But I have a relationship with the company that they work for. So my job is to make sure they're effective and get the metrics and the company goals done. Other career coaches do it a little bit differently. Some people work on a six to six-month program with their clients. Other people might say I focus on career transitions. I have a good friend who does that, and she helps executives think about the next thing that they want to do. She'll sign a three or six-month contract to help them figure that out. Some people focus on specific niches like engineers or sales, and I work with executives of all types, but generally, they're in a position where the company is probably growing faster than they are comfortable with. So I'm there to push them and accelerate that personal journey.
Elizabeth Stein 8:55
I love that. It's so important to have a coach for anybody to hold us accountable and for that personal and professional growth. We've done it for the last two years. We've had an executive coach within purely Elizabeth that everybody in the company utilizes. Not everyone has one but we've divided it where there are group sessions and then ad hoc one on ones. But to me, it's just been so important to have that personal growth and accountability and somebody to turn to that a lot of these conversations, you wouldn't take the time to turn to somebody in your close circle or be able to have that conversation until obviously having someone with experience to guide you. What resonated a lot in your work is the blend of spirituality into it, which I would love for you to dive into, and what your background was. How did you start to blend spirituality into this work? Because there are certainly some coaches out there who could be taking a more traditional look at it. And your approach is resonating with a lot of people today.
Liz Tran 10:15
Yeah, absolutely. I originally came to spirituality, because I was having a little bit of a life crisis. I got married in my 20s. And by the time I was 30, we were getting divorced. We had just grown in different directions as people. I had quit this job that I thought I wanted but didn't love and had spent a year traveling. I saved up some money and traveled. During that time, I wound up staying at an ashram in India and going to different monasteries across Burma, Japan, and Thailand, reading a lot about meditation. When I got back to New York, I started going to a weekly meditation group in the city. I remember I was there on a Friday night, and the teacher was like, “Listen, no one comes here unless they're having some issues in life.” Let's just acknowledge that. It's true. Things are going well, you're not there on a Friday night watching Buddhist movies with thirty strangers. But it was this solution for all these questions that I had why had my life taken this unexpected detour? How did I deal with this disappointment, the sense of failure? It was interesting because I was using spirituality to grapple with a lot of the questions in my personal life. It was very soothing to learn about Buddhism and detachment from the idea that life has 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. Many principles and practices helped me find peace in all this turmoil. And while that was happening, my career was also taking off. Because of those spiritual practices, I was showing up in a way, where I was very clear-headed, very calm, and able to take on a lot. It was literally during this exact time, that I got this dream job step forward, where I got hired by this venture capital firm. They took a little bit of a risk on me, I didn't have the best pedigree or the best background, and I worked with all these people who went to Harvard Business School and graduated top of their class. I wound up excelling there. Within a year or two, I was promoted to be the only female executive who was doing well and had a big team that I was managing. I attributed so much of that to these behind-the-scenes, spiritual practices of me, being able to be grounded, clear, and confident in myself. I could show up every day and not have this anxiety that was holding me back. When I became an executive coach, I realized that it's the same for the people I work with where, yeah, it's work, right? Like we have work-life balance, you’d probably resonate with this, when you've started your own business, that line becomes a little foggier because you've put so much of who you are into your work. So when work is going well, you feel good about yourself as a person. But when it's not, you could feel bad about yourself as a person. So I started teaching my clients some of these tools to help them detach a little bit, detachment in Buddhism, to be able to see their work more clearly to not feel pulled into the ups and downs, dragged around ups and downs and to experience those inevitable ups and downs of starting a business, but to not feel them so emotionally. With my clients, I meet them where they are. Some people may not be open to the language of spirituality, but I will share Zen parables and stories from Buddhism. I will have them practice breathing exercises, or I might even just ask them questions down a line of thinking that gets them thinking more expansively. Then others are interested and they might say, “Liz, teach me how to meditate.” Teaching meditation was also working at this venture capital firm. Some might even say, “What's going on astrologically right now? Can you fill me in on it?” I don't force it on anyone, but I am there and very receptive. If they have questions that cannot be answered by what's seen in a coaching methodology book, or some business school case study. Honestly, that's a lot of what we deal with. Sometimes there are black-and-white answers. And most of the time, there are not. There's no way to find the right answer besides looking inward and then tuning into our intuition. Because no one's figured out that problem before.
Elizabeth Stein 14:52
You talked about tuning in and tuning into your intuition. In the book, you certainly start with that inquiring inward and that work that you do. So if you could talk a little bit about what that looks like, how do we set this foundation for freeing our inner genius and feeling like our absolute best in our life?
Liz Tran 15:16
Yeah. The first thing I want to say is that it's not easy in this world that we live in. It's very noisy. So our phones are always going off, we have a million emails to respond to you. The work is very simple. It's just about getting more of what I call the three S's which are silence, stillness, and solitude. This does not mean that you need to become a monk and just meditate on a mountaintop by yourself. But having these short moments throughout the day, where your inner genius and your intuition can come through, and you can hear it. We've all had this experience. This happens to me all the time when I'm walking with my dog. Walking with my dog, and suddenly an idea for a chapter came into my mind. Or I'm out hiking somewhere in nature and I suddenly get a ping to call a friend. And when I call her, she says, “Oh, my gosh, I was just thinking about you, I was about to call you.” Or I've been wrestling with a business problem that a client is going through. I don't have the answer. But I'm in the shower, and suddenly the idea pops into my head. And it's these little aha, or eureka moments that can only come in when it's not too busy. It’s a little quiet, and we can hear them. The work is all about creating those spaces for that magic, those insights, and that revelation to come in and pick your activity. Everyone's different. It could be over breakfast. I love having just tea, and a quiet breakfast where I don't have my phone. My husband's not there, no one's bothering me. And I can just look at my breakfast and eat and just allow whatever thoughts want to come through to come through. Some people do it through more formal meditation, and some people do it through movement, like yoga practice or exercise. Whatever those moments are getting to know when that space between your intuition and your consciousness feels thin. My favorite anecdote is Albert Einstein used to do this when he would sit in a rocking chair whenever he had a problem that he scientifically didn't know how to solve. And he would allow himself to drift off to sleep and say, “I'm gonna sit down, take a nap.” And he would hold these balls in his hands. And right when he was about to fall asleep, his hands would go limp, the balls would drop to the ground, waking him up with a noise. And he would spring up and write down whatever it was that he was thinking. Just so cool. He also went on long walks, slept for nine hours a night, he played musical instruments in the middle of the day. He did all of those things in service of knowing that was how he could open up the aperture of his imagination, creativity, and problem-solving. I always encourage everyone, my clients, to find those activities and to identify the areas in life where they most strongly hear that intuitive voice come through because we all have it. I'm willing to bet that anyone who's listening to this can think about a time when they had that insight, or they knew something right away and it happened during downtime.
Elizabeth Stein 18:27
100%. And it's so easy for us. We were talking earlier about walking our dogs this morning. And it's so easy to be multitasking. Most days, I'm walking my dogs and I'm listening to a podcast at the same time, or I'm using that time and making a phone call. After reading your book, I've been trying to be more conscious about having those moments. So instead of always having to layer on activity on top of activity, go on the walk without your Airpods, without something else to do, and have those moments of silence.
Liz Tran 19:03
That's so beautiful. For whatever reason, I think, the exercise of walking does open up those channels. And it must be because the conscious brain is distracted with doing something like making sure we put one foot in front of the other and don't fall into a hole. That's just on autopilot, so the subconscious brain can take priority.
Elizabeth Stein 19:26
Yeah. A big piece of your work is around creating a life that you want and feeling your best in it and that comes to manifesting. We'd love to talk about some of your favorite tools to manifest. I'm a firm believer in manifesting. So much of Purely Elizabeth has been born through different phases of manifestation, so I've seen it unfold in front of me. Would love for you to talk about some of your favorite tools.
Liz Tran 20:00
I love Manifestation as well, it's so cool. This is just a little funny story. My friend is a founder named Piera Gelardi, she started this company called Refinery29. Now she runs a company called Wild Things World. She threw this workshop that was about making a vision board for the new year. I invited my clients to come, and my client was just cutting things out and putting them on the page. Then she just texted me nine months later. So, it was around this time. She sent me a picture of her vision board that she had made in January. Then she sent me a picture of a cat that she wound up just spontaneously adopting, who has changed her life and been miraculous. The picture of the cat and this surprise cat that came into her life were the same. She hadn't even planned it. She just found the vision board when she was cleaning up her apartment to move. We are so skilled at it. And the explanation that I like to come to is, one because I'm always dealing with like my business side and my spiritual side, my business side explanation is that when we believe that something is possible, then we take all the steps to go after it. An example is how professional athletes do this. Michael Phelps, before he swims any race, visualizes winning it 100 times in his mind. So when he shows up, he already feels like he's won it. He can show up with calm, excitement, and confidence. We're doing the same thing when we try to manifest. We're familiarizing ourselves with this prospect. So when it comes to us, we don't push it away. We don't self-sabotage. We say, I'm worth this, I deserve this. Then the spiritual part of me, says the universe is always answering our wishes. But we don't ask for them. Sometimes I ask my clients what it is that their goal is or what they want. And they're like, “One day, maybe I would like to sell this company. Maybe I'd like to make some money.” I'm like, “How much? When? To whom?” It's about placing our order with the universe so that we put that power behind the intention of our voice, and how we do that. However, we want to do that, whether it's writing, or saying it aloud. My process for manifestation is first to set your vision and repeat it over and over again. For some people, that means looking at a vision board. I'm a little bit more verbal and written words. So I write my vision down on a piece of paper, and I reread it all the time. I think about this vision, I imagine myself doing it, and I share it with friends.
Elizabeth Stein 22:52
Is it usually like one vision that you're writing down? Is it multiple visions?
Liz Tran 22:56
Yeah, it's usually where I want to be in life at a specific period. It can be anywhere from like a year from now to five years. One example that I had from a while ago was when I was at a meditation retreat, that was very beautiful and inspiring. I wrote down that I wanted to have a place like that of my own one day that was in the country, had a walking labyrinth, had gardens, had multiple small buildings where people could stay when I could host them on retreat, had a secret passageway and a library. I wrote this at a time when I was unemployed. I was just recently divorced, and I had no stability to be able to accomplish this dream. Seven years later, I moved into the house where I live now. I looked through this old journal, and it had that list of everything it wanted. I looked around and I was like, I have a secret passageway. I have a library. It just totally happened by accident. I looked at the name that I had written seven years earlier of the place. I said I'm going to call this place the uplands. I wound up in that period, meeting the person who would become my husband. It turns out that he grew up in a small neighborhood in Canada, called the Uplands.
Elizabeth Stein 24:14
Wow, that's incredible.
Liz Tran 24:17
It was this power of intention. I'd even forgotten about it. Other times, I'll work with a vision that I'm actively working with all the time because I have some block around it. I write about this a little bit in the book, but I tried to get pregnant for three years and did all sorts of fertility treatments and it didn't work and no one could figure out why. I think I had a lot of baggage around trying to get pregnant for various reasons just the way I was brought up in my life. I wrote a vision that was described as walking around my orchard barefoot being pregnant, and allowing this pregnancy to remind me of my health and my well-being during a very busy time of my book launch. I wrote this vision back in November of last year. I kept reading it to myself over and over again. And then it turns out in April, I found out I was pregnant. And I was walking around my orchard barefoot. And I was like working on my book launch, which was happening in July. And I remember thinking, wow, this is so nice that I have this baby inside of me to keep me on my healthy habits instead of having too many glasses of wine or staying up too late at night. There are things where in the first instance, I put it out to the universe. And the second instance, it helped me intentionally break through a block I had of being able to see myself as a mother.
Elizabeth Stein 25:47
That's so beautiful. That's incredible. So when you think about working through this process, using visualization, what are some of the other tools for writing down the vision that you suggest for people to do to manifest what they wish?
Liz Tran 26:07
Definitely. The vision part is about being clear about what you want. The second piece is about believing that you're good enough to deserve it. And that's the harder part, that was the hard part for me with being a mother. I didn't know if I deserved it. It felt like maybe I wanted to be a good mom. There was a lot of stuff that came in. Part of it is about rebuilding our confidence to believe that we can. This is a very simple tool, and it is about writing down three things that you did well every day, I call it your self-gratitude list. The reason why that's so impactful is that we have a negativity bias. All humans do, where the bad things that we do, where we mess up, or we have disappointment, the brain creates that as a memory immediately. It automatically inputs, everything that we've done wrong and saves it. But when it comes to the things that we do well, the number varies, some people say seven seconds, and some people say 20 seconds. But regardless, it's a very long time, where you have to purposely focus on something you did well for it to imprint as a memory. So they say the brain is like Velcro for remembering your shortcomings, and Teflon for remembering your assets and your strengths. This self-gratitude list is a way of reprogramming the brain, where you notice the things that you do well, three things every day. They can be as simple as you were kind to someone, or you solved a problem, or you even just got through all your emails, you woke up on time. Then you start to teach yourself that, you are a worthwhile person. And yes, you can do this thing that you want and you deserve it. To me, the exercise is simple but powerful. Because when my clients start doing it, they have a hard time coming up with three things they did well that day. And these are people who are highly accomplished. We all have three things. I woke up this morning, I made myself a good breakfast, and we did the dishes. That is good enough for me. We start to become not only gentler with ourselves but our own biggest cheerleaders. Then you create these synapses in the brain that start to look out for things that we do well because you're training the brain after several days to know that you have to do this at the end of the day, you have to write those three things. So, you start to spot them. First is vision. The second is self-gratitude. And the third is straight-up regular gratitude. Three things that you have in your life. And the reason why this is so important is because when we're trying to manifest, it's this energy of I want, I want, I want. And it's great. You want to go towards what you have. But we also have to balance that with this energy of I have already, I have. It's like, I want this, but recognizing that we already have enough is so important. I call this bouncing your pleas and thank yous. You say to the universe, “Please, I want to manifest this cool.” But you also want to tell the universe, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for what you've already given me.” My favorite anecdote is that Oprah kept a gratitude list for 10 straight years every single day without fail. And this was when her career was just skyrocketing. Even when she was getting what she wanted, she didn't stop. She kept going. It kept this positive flywheel going where the more good things happened to her, the more she would feel grateful for them. That gratitude would open the door for even more goodness to come into her life. It's keeping ourselves in the mindset that the universe is generous and is here to support us is super helpful, because the law of attraction says, whatever we believe is what we receive. And so that gratitude list is keeping us in that very receptive state.
Elizabeth Stein 30:00
Interestingly, you talk about the confidence piece because I feel like the times in my life particularly about the business where I've been able to like manifest the biggest pieces of the business have been times that I connect with feeling the most confident in my life. It's interesting how that plays a part in going after what we want. One of the things I want to think about is, to manifest, you have to sit down and have a vision for something grand, an unpredictable future that feels like it's not easy to attain. But it's hard for people in our day-to-day life, I think, to take that time. All of a sudden, we're so busy that we never sit down to be able to figure out the thing that we wanted to accomplish. How do you help people to take that time and put together that greater, grander vision for their future?
Liz Tran 31:08
It starts with just the smallest moments. Whenever I have a client who's doing anything, like about to have a conversation with one of their employees or to go ask an investor for help on something, or even have a conversation with their partner that feels a little challenging, I always ask the question, what does the ideal outcome look like? It's so funny because we often enter into everything we do in life without knowing what we want as the ideal outcome. So they're like, “Oh, interesting, I guess this ideal outcome, then I expressed myself well on this employee hears me. And then we agree to severance terms”, something like that. If you start to do that with small things, even in the morning, when you wake up and you go do a yoga class are go to walk, you say, okay, what would the ideal outcome for this walk look like for me? What would the ideal outcome of this conversation with my mom look like? Whatever it might be, there's always some ideal that we can pinpoint. Then we start to do that with our larger projects too. When people are embarking on something big like a fundraising round. I always ask my clients, what does the ideal outcome look like? Describe it in detail. Who are your ideal investors? What do they see in you? What do these conversations look like? Trying to create this image for ourselves in five sensory details is really, important. I help them do that just by asking the question. And then secondarily, I remind them to practice their confidence, because you said it best that you've seen the most progress with the business with all my clients, they have to fundraise regularly on an 18 to 24-month cycle. If their confidence isn't strong going in, they do so poorly. It's extraordinary. Same business, same person, just the vibe that you're entering in with. I say to them you were looking for this, fundraise success to confirm your confidence so that you feel like you have something to be proud of. But if you wait till, it's already too late. You have to walk in the door, feeling like it's already happened, and that you can already do it. And it makes a meaningful difference. I have them create a document that I call the hype document. They list everything that they're proud of that they've done not just in their career, but in their lives, everything they're proud of about the business, to remind themselves. I say before you go into any pitch meeting, read your hype document, be your own biggest cheerleader, and listen to some music that pumps you up because so much of it is energetic.
Elizabeth Stein 33:43
Totally. What about somebody who doesn't know what their future is that they're trying to achieve? They have this kind of, I know that I want to manifest something greater. I don't want to be doing the same day-to-day that I'm doing right now. But maybe I might want to do another job, or I might want to live somewhere else. Or what are some of those prompts that help people to find that stillness and think about what could their future look like that might be different from where they are today? How do you expand your mind to think about those possibilities?
Liz Tran 34:26
I love that question. I love it so much. Because people often say that. They're like, “I know this isn't it for me, but I don't know what is. I don't even know where to begin. I usually say there are three steps to this process. The first is to broaden your slice of the world. Broaden your horizons. This doesn't mean you have to travel around the world or meet all these different people but explore because we all are born in a house in a neighborhood and that's all we know when we're three years old. Slowly, our life expands. And just me finding out about executive coaching at age 31, there's always more blossoming that we can be doing. I say, one, push open the boundaries of what is possible. You can do that by listening to podcasts. I loved listening to How I Built This when I was just starting my executive coaching practice. There are books, there are podcasts, and there's internet research you can do. Look for people who could be role models to you, but also industry scenarios and slices of life that might appeal to you. So one, broaden your worldview, and then two, broaden your understanding of yourself. To know what you want, you also have to know who you are. For personality tests, take the Myers Briggs type inventory if you haven't already. It's free online, there's a website called 16 personalities.com that's great. Take the Enneagram, that's free through the Enneagram Institute. Get an astrology reading, get your numerology read, and start to build a vocabulary of what motivates you, and what scenarios are going to be good for you versus scenarios that are not in the right environment. That was how I arrived at doing the work that I do now. I thought I liked my job in venture capital. But as I got to know myself more through these practices, I realized, no, there are parts of this job that are unfulfilling for me. Let me shape not just the right job, but also the right day-to-day life that feels good for me. Finally, the third piece to this is just taking tiny steps forward. The analogy is when you go to the ice cream store, and you try out different flavors, they just give you a tiny spoon, and you just take a small bite. You won’t just eat an entire cup of every flavor you want to try. It would just be too much and too time-consuming, too exhausting, and you'd feel unwell. It's the same thing where sometimes people think they might want to do something so they invest a lot of time, and a lot of money, and they jump in right away both feet first. And then they wind up being exhausted when they realize that thing isn't right for them. So whenever there's like a little inkling you might be interested in some area, just choose the tiniest step forward and do that. If it feels good, take another tiny step forward and do that. That combination of having a big sense of possibility, not editing your dreams, but just taking small steps forward to see if you like it, is positive. I've done so many things in my life that haven't worked out like. I took a small, small step forward, and could be like, okay, this isn't for me. And then there are other times when I've taken a big chunk forward, then I wish that I had taken a smaller bite. I did a whole month-long yoga teacher training. As soon as I started to teach yoga, within the first class, I was like, I don't like this. And I wish I had just like maybe explored it a little bit more, talked to some yoga teachers, maybe practiced teaching a class, trying to figure it out. That part is important. Otherwise, we exhaust ourselves and feel this pressure because we've already sunk time and resources into exploring everything. It's called the sunk cost fallacy or bias where you're like, oh, I've already put so much into it. I have to now go pursue this path. If you keep your costs and your investment low, then you can tune into what you want, not what you think you should be doing.
Elizabeth Stein 38:36
That's great advice. Someone's now open up their mind and think about the possibilities, certainly a big obstacle is fear and doubt coming in saying, I can't do this, I'm not worthy, whatever, all those things that come up for someone and the fear and the doubt, which stops us from moving forward. What are some ways that you work with clients or suggest for people to overcome and work through those emotions?
Liz Tran 39:08
Yeah, absolutely. The first thing that I want to say is that whenever a client brings me, fears and doubts, I want to acknowledge them because if we try to bury them, then they wind up festering even more. So even just bringing them to the light is very important. I have them tell me, what is the worst-case scenario. What are your fears? What are you worried about? What’s your greatest fear that could go wrong here? They told me and I asked them in detail to describe them so I truly understand what those might be. The second question I ask is, where are these coming from? Is it from past experiences? Is it from childhood? Is it from the voices of other people who are casting that doubt? And oftentimes the realization is that fear and doubt don't belong to us. It's someone else's voice. It's connected to your parents fighting a lot when you're growing up, or your dad saying that you couldn't do something. Identifying this doesn't belong to me. And then finally, the third way is to reframe it there are always two ways to look at a situation. One is with scarcity and one is with abundance. And so to rewrite it. For instance, I'm afraid that I'll never raise this round of funding, and my company will completely deteriorate and die. Then you can say also I'm excited because of the unknown. And I know I'm capable. Listening to those two sides, and knowing that we always have two voices, one is of scarcity and one is of abundance. It's like that old, saying that everyone talks about where within us, there's a battle between two wolves. One wolf is fear, doubt, scarcity jealousy, anger, etc. The other Wolf is positivity, optimism, abundance, success, and joy. And then which one wins? It's the one that you feed. It's the same thing for us. We have to be intentional about what we feed ourselves. And so I say that when people are in that fear, doubt mindset, be careful about what you're putting on your plate. Curate the conversations with people you're having to not talk to your most negative friends about stuff like this. If your mom's a worrier, do not bring it up to her. On the flip side, fill your plate with positivity. Whenever I'm going through a fear, or doubt phase, I turn to my trusted self-help books and just reread them. This voice is like you can do it. I listen to positive podcasts and positive music. I have a playlist that's songs of people being like, you can do it. It's different songs like Ariana Grande and Ty Dolla Sign, but they're all these songs like I did it, I accomplished it. I try to tell my clients to watch what they're allowing into their lives because you have to feed the good wolf.
Elizabeth Stein 42:15
I love that. That is so true. That so resonates back to what I was saying about being in that confidence state. When I started Purely Elizabeth, I had graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a holistic nutrition program. In that program, it was so much. It was called every other weekend, and the whole thing was like you can do anything in your life that you want to do. You had all of these successful graduates talking about positive things that they had done in their lives and amping up that you can do it, feel the fear, and do it anyway. That positivity just becomes contagious in your life. That completely resonates. What are some other things, maybe some other wellness habits that you enjoy for yourself, or that you suggest people do to feel their best?
Liz Tran 43:12
The first thing I want to say is that energy is everything. Paying attention to your energy level in the same way you pay attention to whether or not you're hungry tired or angry is very important. I try to structure my whole day around feeling like an energetic 10. And some mornings I wake up and I'm already 10. This morning, I slept super well. I didn't have any early morning meetings, I took my dog on a walk, and it was beautiful outside. And then I was like, I have tons of energy. I'm going to sit down and instead of working out, because I have lots of energy, I want to just start writing right away. So I'm working on my next book, I started writing. Other days I wake up and I'm on the wrong side of the bed. Things are not happening well. I already have a million emails in my email box that are annoying. I'm at an energetic three. And before I do anything, before I answer those emails, I'm like, how do I get myself up to a 10? And that sometimes means making myself a good meal and watching Netflix. Literally at nine o'clock in the morning, I'm watching TV, or watching a comedy special, or joking around with a friend on text message or whatever it is like watching TikTok because I'm like, I know I have to feel better to start my day. Nothing important happens in my life unless I'm feeling like a 10. For me that's like making a specific type of smoothie that I like, doing a certain breathwork practice. Maybe it's sitting down and reading the New Yorker listening to a certain album I like, and just lying down on the ground with my dog. We all should connect with those things that just make us happy and make us feel vibrant. I know the quality of anything I do whether it's coaching someone or writing. If I'm not feeling like a 10, it's not good. It's horrible. I have to go back and rewrite it anyway or I'm not going to be helpful to that person. So much of my job is like a wellness hack, is just like prioritizing and keeping my energy at the highest state possible.
Elizabeth Stein 45:17
I love that. I keep in my notes on my phone, a list of things that make me feel the best. All those things that you're saying, I don't truthfully ever remember that it's there. But I need to remind myself that it's there. It's a good tip. So that you can look at that list and be like, oh, I could do all these things. This might take five minutes, this might be 20 minutes, this might be an hour. But here's a reminder of the things that make me feel personally great.
Liz Tran 45:43
Yeah, I love that. Because we all have a list of things we need to do every day, and it's nice, I love that you're keeping a list of things that make you feel good also. It's the same urgency around it.
Elizabeth Stein 45:53
I just need to remember to look at it. All right, we're gonna move into some rapid-fire Q&A. Three things that you are currently loving.
Liz Tran 46:08
The first thing I love is the Chani Nicholas astrology app for anyone who hasn't downloaded it. It's very cool. For people who aren't experienced in astrology, it just breaks down very clearly what's happening for you that day and that week. I just think it's nice to have a little bit of a frame. Like, I might open the app and might say, hey, be a little more cautious about your finances. And whether or not it's true, it's nice to just have something to bounce off of. And I think it's pretty accurate. She gives you a little 15-minute weekly reading that you can listen to and then journal prompts for the week. I always do the journal prompts on Sunday night, and it helps keep me aligned. The second thing that I am into is, that I've been rereading Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic, as I've been writing this probably the third time. I've read it, but it helps me like reconnect to that creative zone when I'm working on a project. And then, thirdly, there is a beauty brand called Dieux. I just love the energy behind it. It's a small business. I don't think they've gotten funding. It's run by women. And they are so passionate about the skincare products they make and they only have like five or six. But like, you can feel the energy behind it where the people are obsessed with making the best products. I'm not a big beauty junkie, but I do feel like when I use their stuff, I feel that these people love what they do. And therefore, it works for me.
Elizabeth Stein 47:44
Oh, I love that. I'll check it out. What do you want more of in your life?
Liz Tran 47:48
I want to have more fun, too. I think I'm a pretty serious person. I'm very work-focused. And I derive a lot of my joy from coaching and my work. As soon as you said you have a list of things that make you feel good, I was like, I want to put a little more effort towards it.
Elizabeth Stein 48:06
Best business advice you've received.
Liz Tran 48:08
My boss, when I worked in venture capital, he said, “You don't get what you don't ask for.” And it sounds simple, but it was very cool to hear. Because I'm a very people-oriented person. I've always valued making accommodations or compromising so that the people around me can be happy. Because that matters to me whenever I step into a room. I'm automatically thinking about how I can make everyone feel comfortable and how I can create harmony. And when he said that it was just this permission to advocate for myself. I found that it works whenever I'm on the fence where I'm like I don't know if I should ask for this, or if I should charge this amount. Then I'm like it will not come to me unless I ask for it. So I try to specifically ask for things as much as I can. Even if it's a non-monetary, non-business thing, how are my friends and loved ones supposed to know what I need unless I tell them? I used to spend my whole life waiting for people to guess because I was so good at guessing what they needed. And I've wasted all this time and frustration being mad at the people who love me the most because I was like, why can't you read my mind? And I'm like, you know what? I just have to ask for it.
Elizabeth Stein 49:26
It's such a good word of wisdom. Favorite words to live by?
Liz Tran 49:32
My favorite words to live by, what I've been enjoying right now is build your castle brick by brick. And why this is important to me because you know everything is like one step at a time. And nothing was built overnight like the best things that we have in our life take time. We live in a world where social media and the news cycle try to tell us that we need everything overnight. I think it's beautiful and joyous to take a long path forward which has ups and downs and builds, if not slowly, then intentionally and giving yourself that patience and that grace to know that all the best things that arrive in our lives happen through perspiration, hard work, and just taking one step at a time.
Elizabeth Stein 50:23
Love that. A favorite book or podcast for growth.
Liz Tran 50:30
I have been into my physical health recently. I've been listening to On Health with Aviva Romm, and she is a doctor, a midwife, and a writer. But she's also an expert on hormonal health. And she is just such an advocate for women and women understanding our bodies related to this. There's this company called Aviv that does testing for your vaginal microbiome. And they're amazing. What I learned from them is that women didn't even have to be included in clinical trials until the 1990s. So there's just an extreme lack of information about our bodies. I realized that recently, where I was like, I don't even know how like some of these functions that I do every month, like getting my period, like how that works. So I found her podcast to be this accessible way of knowledge that also elevates and puts the female body on a pedestal like, wow, look what we do. We're amazing.
Elizabeth Stein 51:28
Oh, I’ll check that out. It's incredible the lack of information that we have or knowledge. And lastly, what is your number one non-negotiable to thrive on your wellness journey?
Liz Tran 51:41
This has taken me years and years to recognize this. But I always say that I need three things all the time. It is nature, movement, and rest. Those three things, if I get those, I am so good. If not, I feel so horrible. Because I live part-time in New York City. And sometimes I'll go like 10 days without seeing a real tree. I have to center my life around that. Knowing that you live in Colorado, I'm so jealous. I'm like, that’s so nice. But yeah, nature, movement, rest. The thing is, it sounds so simple because we are always meant to move around, sleep well, and be in tune with our natural surroundings. But just daily life has made that hard. So I consciously always have to be like nature, movement, rest, nature, movement, rest.
Elizabeth Stein 52:33
Enclosing awareness, can everybody find you your new book, your podcast, and then what's next?
Liz Tran 52:43
The book is called The Karma of Success. And you can buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, some independent booksellers, wherever you find books. You can find me on Instagram @resetnyc. There are just some posts that are meant to help people reach their greatest potential. And then on Instagram is a link to everything, my website, things like that. And what's coming up next? I have just started the process of writing a new book that is all about how to deal with change, uncertainty, and the unknown. Probably because I just went through a period of a lot of change, uncertainty, unknown. All of us have been through COVID. So, I was very interested in that topic. That’s it.
Elizabeth Stein 53:23
Amazing thank you so much for being here today. It was such a pleasure to meet you. And thanks again.
Liz Tran 53:31
Thank you for having me. And thank you for asking all these wonderful questions. You're great. I'm so happy to be here.
Elizabeth Stein 53:39
Thank you. Thanks so much for joining me on Live Purely with Elizabeth. I hope you feel inspired to thrive on your wellness journey. If you enjoyed today's episode, don't forget to rate, subscribe, and review. You can follow us on Instagram @purely_elizabeth to catch up on all the latest. See you next Wednesday on the podcast.