How I designed a lifestyle business
I was recently interviewed by P. MAI, a luxury ergonomic backpack brand, for their Pioneers and Role Models series and we discussed how to design a lifestyle business.
Tell us three words that describe you.
Aesthete. Minimalist. Stoic.
What's your philosophy on life in one sentence?
Beauty. Simplicity. Creativity.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a life and business coach and creative entrepreneur. I help fellow and inspiring independent spirits — such as entrepreneurs, coaches, and creatives — start and grow businesses and balance life in the process.
You started your career in banking and asset management, which can sound really sexy on paper. How did you decide to give up that life and transition to building a lifestyle business?
Despite performing well, I knew from the start that finance was only a holdover until I could envision a more fulfilling career. The 2008 market crash was a great excuse to get motivated, and marked the beginning of my transition.
I went to business school at Stanford to buy some time and it ended up being a game changer. I took courses with names like “Interpersonal Dynamics”, “Lives of Consequence”, “Design Thinking”, and “Moral Inquiry through Literature” that were instrumental in helping me formulate a vision for not just my career but entire life.
Before and after graduation, as I was fine-tuning my vision, I worked for a variety of iconic and emerging/startup fashion brands and retailers. It was a great way to meld my strategic and analytical skills with my underdeveloped creative side.
However, I also discovered my entrepreneurial spirit while living in Silicon Valley. And even though I had no intention of launching a high-growth startup, I knew working for others was only a temporary stepping stone.
In 2014 I finally said goodbye to the traditional 9-to-5 and started working toward my goal: creating a business that would support a particular lifestyle I wanted to pursue.
And how did you go about building your current businesses?
I created a soul-searching strategy so I was being driven by a clear purpose. I wanted to make sure what I did for work was connected to who I was and the impact I wanted to have on others.
I then experimented with a number of different business ideas before I landed on creating a personal and professional development platform for fellow coaches, creatives, and entrepreneurs.
The concept of “life design” sounds inspiring but is fairly nebulous, so I created a destination that provides actionable insights and resources that help people do their best work and become their best self.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges? How did you overcome it?
I’ve always had this somewhat irreverent, independent spirit which never quite fit with a traditional career path. As a result, I never had any mentors nor found anyone I could emulate.
The most difficult but eye-opening moment was when I also realized I didn’t want to be a leader despite most people thinking this is the epitome of any career worth having.
So I decided to be a leader of self. I discovered that through the mere act of mastering personal excellence I could indirectly inspire and influence thousands of people — as an example rather than an authority figure.
That made all the difference and got me to where I am now with my platform.
What advice would you share with other solopreneurs who want to build a sustainable lifestyle business for themselves?
One word: Grit.
Anytime you are going against the tide, turning your back on social norms, and building something from nothing, you need passion and perseverance.
Everything I do is grounded in my overall life philosophy and self-defined purpose. This gives me a sort of quiet resolve to achieve what I set out to accomplish no matter the obstacles.