Catalyzing Confidence with Lisa Sun of GRAVITAS

April 3, 2024

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Lisa Sun is the national bestselling author of GRAVITAS: The 8 Strengths That Redefine Confidence, and the founder and CEO of GRAVITAS, a company on a mission to catalyze confidence. GRAVITAS offers innovative size-inclusive apparel, styling solutions, and content designed to make over women from the inside out.

John Shegerian: Have you been enjoying our Impact Podcast and our great guests, then please give us a thumbs up and leave a five-star review on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you consume your favorite podcasts. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loops platform spans the arc of capital from venture capital to private equity bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to

John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian, and I’m so excited to have you with us today. Lisa Sun, she’s the CEO of Gravitas. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, Lisa.

Lisa Sun: John, thank you so much for having me. This is exciting.

John: I’m so excited to be here, I’ve read all about you, and I’m so excited you agreed to come on the show today. I’m embarrassed to say that having just returned from a trip abroad, I have not read your new book, which has become a bestseller Gravitas, but we’re going to be talking about this book today. I think the necessity for this book is so huge that I’m just honored you decided to come on the show. So thanks for being here.

Lisa: Thanks, John. I think the goal of this podcast episode should be that by the time you are done with the episode and your audience is everyone’s going to want to read the book cover to cover. So I’m totally fine that you haven’t read it. In fact, I’m going to breadcrumb you throughout this episode and you’re going to be like, “Oh, I need to know what’s happening in chapter 2. She just mentioned it and I need to go read it now.”

John: I used to pride myself and I’m embarrassed to say this, but it’s a God’s honest truth with having read every book of every author who came on the show. I’m sorry to trip up now, at this late stage of 17 years of doing this podcast. I don’t like to trip up, but it’s okay. I will read this book and so will my family. So we’ll get to…

Lisa: Plus it’s a very beautiful cover, right?

John: Yeah.

Lisa: Also, it’s sustainable, so once you’re done reading it, you can reuse the cover to cover whatever guilty pleasure reading you have on the plan. You can cover it with whatever mystery, spy novel, or romance novel. It’s a very sexy-looking cover.

John: It is a sexy-looking cover. I have to give you that. It is a sexy-looking cover. Lisa, before we get talking about the book though, I want to learn a little bit about what makes you tick and how you even got here. Where did you grow up and what was your upbringing like that made you take on such an important topic in this planet today?

Lisa: Well, the three things I usually share about myself, the first is I’m the daughter of immigrants from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. My parents are college-educated and came to the US in 1974. I grew up in Fontana, California. Some of your listeners may know the Inland Empire. My parents did not know anyone. So my mom worked on a hamburger truck. My dad worked on a loading dock. They ended up owning an all-you-can-eat Mongolian barbecue for $95 at lunch, and $12.95 at dinner. In 1987, there were no child labor laws. So I was the cashier at the age of 8. I can tell you firsthand, the grip strength required to run that old carbon copy credit card machine because if there was one number missing, my parents didn’t get paid. But one of the things I love is I grew up in the company of visionaries. I think immigrants believe in things before they can see it.

They know how to create something from nothing. That is a through line throughout my life is being able to have that perseverance and that grit. So, very lucky to have grown up working in the family restaurant. Then, the second part of my story is I spent 11 years at McKinsey & Company, the management consulting firm. Thank goodness for these Asian genetics. Most people spent 18 months there. I spent 11 years climbing the corporate ladder, and I love that I learned client service, apprenticeship, and mentorship. But even in the prep for this, we were talking about the fact that for women in 2000, I was one of 13% of the partnerships that were women globally, right? So it took me twice as long to get to the same markers of success as my male colleagues.

I think that really framed a lot of my insights around the systemic barriers women face. Then, the third part of my story is in 2013, my mom convinced me to take my life savings and start my own company Gravitas. Actually, she was a tiger mom before Tiger Moms were a thing. When Amy Cho’s book came out, she was like, “You’ll see someone write a New York Times bestselling book all about me.” She convinced me to drain my life savings to start a company that our mission is we catalyze confidence. So I spent over a decade now as an entrepreneur myself. We make fashion products, we make content media, but it’s all designed to help women believe in themselves from the inside out. I think the book has been a real milestone for us because a lot of men are reading it too. I always say confidence is a universal topic, whether you’re a woman, a man, or non-binary. So that really has set the stage for what we think is the next phase of growth. But I grew up with entrepreneurs. I spent over a decade in corporate America. In the last decade I’ve come full circle, being an entrepreneur myself,

John: I love that and I love what your mom did, which is such a tiger mom move. But I so agree with you, Lisa. I’m an Armenian, I’m an immigrant, so to speak. I have the blessing to be a third generation, but immigrant DNA is immigrant DNA, no matter which generation you’re in. The resilience and as you say, the grit that it takes to be an entrepreneur, I think immigrants are just from a DNA perspective. So well suited for that.

Lisa: Well, one of the highlights of my book as we talk about your life story is your leadership story. I love that you start with, tell me something from your childhood, because I think it gives you great insight into all the markers of success that have defined your character.

John: Right.

Lisa: It gives you great insight into who you’re going to become. It’s like that old movie, that Pixar movie inside out where your brain can only retain core memories, right? I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but we can remember those moments that really framed who we’ve become and who we want to become.

John: Honestly, what a move by your parents covertly to put you, at 12, in charge of the cash register. What’s a more important role than the cash register at a restaurant? Probably nothing.

Lisa: Well, John, I’m going to tell you, no one dines and dashes when your kid’s the cashier, okay? I think they just feel really bad for your parents. They’re like, “What family has to have their kid check you out?” I had skipped two grades, so I was a little bit more mature probably at that age. I started as a cashier at 8, and then when I was 12 years old, I was a freshman in high school, and I was working there after school on weekends and throughout the summer. I really think I became a fixture in my parent’s restaurant because they were all, I think every person in this tiny town was rooting for me. I went to an Ivy League college on a scholarship, right? Everyone was a part of this story, but literally no one dines and dashes if there’s a kid at the cash register. I think that was strategic on my parents’ part.

John: Literally, if you had a woman friend, a writer from Hollywood, that’s literally a Netflix show itself, that restaurant and what you learned and what you saw on that restaurant in your happy youth is itself a Netflix show that people would dig.

Lisa: Well, we joked. You remember those old ABC family after-noon specials, right? Those little…

John: Of course.

Lisa: There was that true story of an Asian girl who won the national spelling bee. It was called The Girl Who Could Spell Freedom.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: I was like, “I could probably have started like the girl who could check you out of your dinner.”

John: That’s just awesome. I just think that’s a great story and it’s a great backstory. Mom and Dad are still in Fontana, or in Southern California?

Lisa: No, most people who grew up in Kaohsiung, it’s the southern part of Taiwan. They end up feeling really pulled by where they’re from. A lot of people from Thai Bay or the North will stay in the US. My parents retired and decided to move back. So my brother and I still live in New York City now. But my parents are retired. They love it. Up until last week, my mom said, “We had a woman president for 8 years.” Her mayor of town’s a woman, I think she was like, “You know what, when tsunamis happen, men make the speeches, women clean up the beaches. I want to live in a place that has a lady president.”

John: Good for your mom and dad. That’s awesome. So they’re back living the dream. They did the American dream and they’re doing the Taiwan dream.

Lisa: Yeah.

John: They went back home and got to live their youth and their retirement years there.

Lisa: Yeah.

John: That’s beautiful.

Lisa: Yeah.

John: That’s a great bookend to a life. I mean, what bookends to a life. That’s wonderful. You’re in my favorite city on the planet, New York City, which is also just a great place to be in the middle of all the action. So you went to McKinsey. What were you doing at McKinsey when you were there? What was your call to action in your specialty at McKinsey, which is, again, one of the greatest consulting firms in this whole world?

Lisa: Well, I started there as a business analyst in September of 2000, and I just stayed, I went direct to associate and then was on the partner track. My specialty was global fashion, luxury, and beauty. So I got to work with many of the CEOs of your favorite brands. I can’t say who, but really incredible brands that touch everyone’s lives and lives around the world. So with the McKinsey model, a lot of my clients I was able to serve throughout Europe and Asia, my last couple of years I lived in Latin America, Peru, Columbia, and Mexico. It was really one of those unique experiences where in your 20s and 30s, when else do you get to spend time with the world’s leading executives and thinkers and solve tough problems and compressed timeframes and get a chance to see the world?

John: It’s so true. What was mom’s impetus to say, “Lisa, take your money out of the bank and start your own thing? Go do your own thing.” Because any parent whose child works for McKinsey, that itself is almost the end game, you know?

Lisa: Yeah.

John: It’s just really you.

Lisa: Yeah.

John: Probably one of the most elite, if not the most elite consulting firms in the world.

Lisa: Yeah, for those who don’t know, most people stay 18 months. Once you stay past a decade, you don’t really leave.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: Most people end up retiring in their 50s when they’ve been at the firm. So once you get past a decade, maybe you stay 15 years, 16 years, 25 years, but very few people leave. I think it was the fact, and I always say, “You write the book, you most need to read yourself.” Right? If I could get in the DeLorean, Back to the Future style, I wish I’d had my book. There was a moment when I decided to take a year’s sabbatical. I had a paid sabbatical that I had earned. Over the course of the year, I realized that the ways in which I wanted to make a difference in the world, there had to be other ways to do it. I had a number of mentors say, “There’s probably so much out there that you haven’t explored.” Because I went to McKinsey straight out of college. It was my only place to work for over a decade.

That is also very rare. Most people go back to business school or law school and then decide if they want to go back. So my mom, while I was taking this year off, we were at the dinner table and I had just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. I remembered his Stanford commencement speech about connecting the dots in your life. On a napkin, I had just drawn some dots in my life, and my mom said, “Napkin is not a job. How much money do you save?” When I told her how much money it saved working in corporate America for over a decade, she said, “Oh, good, you beat on yourself.” I don’t know if I fully appreciated that moment, other than, to your point, if you sacrificed to move to America, you put your kids in the best schools possible. Do you really want them to live the risky entrepreneurial journey that you have taken? But I think my mom realized that there was something bigger that I wanted to do, to make a difference in the world and at McKinsey. As many gifts as I got from McKinsey, it wasn’t necessarily the natural home for me to execute the next phase of my life.

John: That’s really interesting. So you took the money out, and you started Gravitas. What was your initial business plan? What was the plan when you started, and how has that plan evolved?

Lisa: Well, to be open with you, when you use your own money, you don’t have to write a business plan, right? Usually, you write a business plan because you’re going to raise money or you need to get people on board.

John: True.

Lisa: I will say to you that it was a Word document, it wasn’t a real plan. But the inspiration, what was on that napkin of dots of my life was when I was 22 years old. In my first annual review at McKinsey, my first boss told me I didn’t have any Gravitas. I didn’t have any confidence. She told me to buy a new dress, look in the mirror, and love myself, which I think is very offensive. I don’t think you should tell a 23-year-old making $43,000 a year, size 18/20 to buy new clothes. But what she really was saying is she said, “Look, Dumbo does not need a feather to fly. But it reminded them that he could. So I can teach you how to be good at this job, but I can’t teach you to wake up every morning and like yourself.” She said, “For me, my ritual is I put on a great dress, it reminds me I can fly.”

I always loved that idea, and I saw a gap in the marketplace around, first of all, size inclusion. We were inclusive before it was cool to be inclusive. I used to be a size 20. So we were 0 to 26W from the day we launched, and we patented a bunch of products. I thought, “Look, could we change the perceptions around fashion?,” which I had spent over a decade learning along with this overall mission to catalyze confidence. So it was really, I saw white space in the market in 2013, and good for us, because within six weeks of launching the company, Oprah Magazine gave us two pages. People magazine gave us a page. I did Ambush Makeover on the Today Show, right? We were striking a nerve, I think, around the combination of innovation, size inclusion, but also really this bigger message around helping people remind themselves of how powerful they really are.

John: I want to go back to something you just said though, and I don’t want to glance over it because it’s really, really important. When I was learning about you and reading about you, and very excited for you to come on the show, Lisa, I had read that line from your first professional review, it was always my assumption that that was a man who said that.

Lisa: Oh, it was a woman. It was a woman, absolutely.

John: Now, again, I get the privilege of age at 61 to say something looking backward. I have seen with my own wife’s career, my daughter as well, who’s 37 and a lawyer, and now owns her own law firm, that in many cases, instead of pulling a sister or sisters up, women can be the most brutal to others who are now trying to follow their path or make their way on this planet, maybe even more brutal or damaging than men.

Lisa: But I think the reason for that is because they weren’t in positions of power to help anyway. If you think about where we’re sitting in the feminist movement there, we’re sitting in the fourth wave. So if you think about the first wave of the 60s and 70s, could women have bank accounts without a man’s name attached? Could they be in the workplace, right? Just having a set of rights, fundamentally. It wasn’t that long ago that a single woman was not allowed to have a bank account without their father or brother or somebody attached to it. The second wave of the 80s and the 90s, it’s sort of that Helen Gurley Brown generation. By the way, Helen Gurley Brown never said “We should have it all.” She said, “We should have all the choices.” So I think it was the expansion of women in the workplace.

I think the third wave, which is the mentor who gave me this feedback, by the way, she’s an angel investor in my company was really around scarcity. They had fought so hard for that one seat at the table, but the root of power was still in the man’s hands. So I don’t think she was doing it to tear me down or not raise me up, but she realized how hard it was for her. I think the third wave, I would say is like me too, time’s up when millennials were using their voice and activism. I think the fourth wave that we’re sitting in, which I’m very excited about, is a wave of abundance, right? There isn’t just one seat. There are an increasing number of women at the table. Therefore, you can have an abundant mindset rather than a competitive mindset. So yes, I do believe there’s a generation of women that have been much harder on women. I’ve had a lot of male mentors who have been an even higher impact on my story and my journey. But it’s because they have the power.

John: Good point, it’s close.

Lisa: I actually don’t bother with that. So what I think we’re sitting in the midst of right now is the most exciting time for your daughter especially, is that we finally don’t see each other as competition. We don’t see each other as threats. There’s more than one seat at the table. So with that abundant mindset, we can have real power of the pack, right? We can link arms. So it’s harder to push us over. But if you were the only, the first, the few, and the only at the table, you’re going to be that much harder on anyone who comes behind you.

John: It’s true. I see your opinion, and I see, and I respect what you just said, I think that’s absolutely true. I think you’re right. I always tell this to my daughter, I said, “You’re living in the greatest time ever to be a young, super bright, super confident young woman with a law degree and your own law firm. This is the greatest time ever.

Lisa: I mean, your granddaughter and your great-granddaughter.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: Are going to be in a better position. Like my grandfather used to say, “It takes two generations to progress it because it takes two generations to forget. He was actually referring to the Berlin Wall. So if you had met someone who was growing up during the time of the Berlin Wall, they would remember the Berlin Wall. If you look at grandkids now, they didn’t even know a wall existed. They didn’t know the difference between East Berlin and West Berlin. So it really is two generations. I feel like your great-granddaughter is in a really good spot, assuming that we do all the work. I can tell John, you’re an ally.

John: Right.

Lisa: Really, the work we’re doing is not just for ourselves, but I think we’re setting the stage for the next 50 years.

John: It’s true. I so agree with you. It’s fascinating. She focused on, but what I do love is that she gave you her opinion about Gravitas, lacking Gravitas, but she also walked you through sort of the spark of how you started your company. She walked you through how she lived her life in terms of putting on the dress every morning, looking her best, looking in the mirror, and getting on with it. Now, you started the company as a sort of fashion in many ways a fashion brand.

Lisa: That’s what I think a lot of folks, we don’t talk about this. I should say, that feedback is a gift, right? Only your best coaches care enough to tell you, and the mentor chooses you. You don’t choose the mentor, make yourself mentorable. I made myself very memorable. When people give me feedback, I don’t spiral. I absolutely say, “You must really care about me, otherwise you just wouldn’t bother to tell me.”

John: Amen. You’re right.

Lisa: One of the things I always tell people is the mission statement of the company is we catalyze confidence. It actually is category agnostic. That mission statement can apply to a lot of expressions of the concept. We started in fashion because I felt like that was the most physical entree into a woman’s life, right? You buy one dress from us, and then all of a sudden you get the door open to the messaging. I also think that what I realized is the dressing room was actually more anxiety-inducing sometimes than the boardroom. So most women, and I am excited for you to talk about this with the women in your family. They walk into dressing rooms hating themselves, truly self-loathing.

It’s an analogy for how almost all of us take on the day. My job and my team’s job is we change the chemistry of the room because most people set themselves up to fail. They tell me they’re going to lose 10 pounds. They hate their arms, they just had a baby and they’re going through it. They’ll tell me all this negativity in their life. For the first 10 minutes of any fitting, when I dress a woman, I always ask her, “What are you the most proud of in the last year of your life? If your best friend was standing here, what would they tell me about you? What are you the best at in the world?” We start to talk about life in a positive direction. I am a dress whisper and a velvet knife.

So I’m like doing it while she’s talking. She’s laughing. She’s telling me these stories. Inevitably, every woman comes out of a dressing room saying, “Oh my gosh, this is a skinny mirror? I’m like, “Nope. It’s from Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s 1990, rest in peace, Bed Bath & Beyond. But it’s 1995. I can’t trick you.” She said, “What did you do? Why was this different?” I said, “You set yourself up to fail.” I really think the huge thing that we unlocked is, yes, we sell fashion, but more than anything, confidence is a choice and a mindset before it becomes a behavior. We’re helping people reframe their mindset before they go do the hard work of their lives. Yes, we started in fashion, but what I love to tell people, and I think it’s fun to talk about now a decade later with a bestselling book, is it was never about clothing.

It was truly about tapping into people’s mindsets and all the stories we tell, and the research, the quantitative research we’ve done for the book really reinforces this idea that society has sold us a bit of a lie. That confidence is bravado or swagger. But if you look it up in the dictionary, it’s actually an understanding appreciation of, and belief in your own talents. It’s more about mindset than it is about behavior. I mean, ultimately it becomes a behavior. But what we’re really doing, our mission statement is we’re catalyzing a mindset and a set of beliefs in your life that yes, can be expressed through fashion, but might be expressed through the way in which you move through the world differently.

John: That’s really true. I’m here to also tell you, that it’s not just women who look in the mirror in the morning are meltdown, have a little mini meltdown. It’s happened to me a million times. We live in a vain world, and it’s so, yeah.

Lisa: Well, John, you put on a beautiful crisp white shirt, a button-down shirt, and a beautiful blazer. I’m sure that made you feel better about what you had to get done today. I think it is a flying feather. It is dumbos flying feather. It’s whatever it is for you. People have told me it’s red lipstick or it’s my lucky pen. There’s all these things. But what we’re really doing is we’re using those physical objects as triggers for the way in which we want to move through the world.

John: It’s so true. My last company was Dotcom started in 1998, and we democratized the student lending business. But we did it by professionalizing our sales force. Our sales force were young men and women out of college. Because the science proved what you just said, we made the women’s dresses, and the men’s dresses in suits, and they were basically on phones. They never went out and did a sale. We just said, “You look sharp. You be sharp.” The science was there, and it proved out massively for us. Every day people said, “Can’t we?” “Nope.” “Can’t we come in?” “Nope.” Back then, there was no Lululemon, I don’t think in 1998, but we just said, “No sweats, no flip flops, no nothing. You got to show up sharp and be your best every day.” I really believe in your approach. I think that’s right. When you started the company, go back to what you said about size 20. Were you size 20 when you started the company, or did you already shed some weight?

Lisa: I’ve been at every size and been happy at every size. I think I was a size 12/14 when we started the company, up and down pandemic. So it doesn’t really matter.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: We always say size is just a number.

John: Right.

Lisa: But one thing that you did say, John, which I loved, is when people ask us some of our core philosophies are, I always say, you don’t dress for other people, you dress for yourself.

John: That’s right.

Lisa: Because people say, “Oh, do I need to wear more color?” I’m like, “Well, do you like color?” I wear mostly black all day. That’s because that’s the color I feel best in.

John: Right.

Lisa: I always say with the casualization of the workplace, everyone’s like, Lululemon or sweatpants. I’m like, “If you put on your sweatpants and they make you feel invincible and powerful, more power to you, right?

John: Amen.

Lisa: I’m not going to judge you, but if you put on a dress or a blazer or something that really makes you feel good about yourself, then if that’s your mindset, great. I always say to wear what makes you feel your best, not to impress other people. That doesn’t mean we’re not a judgmental society, though. There are moments where you do have to dress the part.

John: That’s true. Well, how did you get the nickname, The Dress Whisperer?

Lisa: Well, I think that is the hundreds and hundreds of hours I’ve earned being in the dressing room.

John: Okay.

Lisa: I do think, because I have been many sizes, I have been an 8, a 10, a 12, and a 22. I’ve been to many sizes and most people are always surprised when I tell them what size I am because I’ve learned how to dress for my body type. I think it allowed me to really understand how to help women highlight their best regardless of their size or their shape or whatnot. So I do get it right the first time, mostly because I am that woman in the dressing room. I am that person who has struggled and has figured it out along the way. So much of it is lived experience that is now applied to actually helping customers and serving women.

John: If you’ve just joined us, we’ve got Lisa Sun today with us. She’s the founder of Gravitas and the author of this bestselling book called Gravitas. It’s the 8 Strengths That Redefine Confidence, own your power, and live with self-insurance. It’s a beautiful cover. It’s a great book. It’s a bestseller. It’s at Airports, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and everywhere you can buy books and anywhere you want to buy books. Get this book now. We all have moms, and we all have wives or significant others. This is an important book. Lisa, talk a little bit about the evolution as an entrepreneur. So you start the company you’re off to the races. When do you really know you’re onto something, that you’re glad you made the move from McKinsey and you don’t have any backward-looking regrets?

Lisa: Well, I don’t believe in regrets, only learnings. I will also say, John, men should read the book too. A third of our audience is men who’ve read the book. because it’s important to understand the female mindset.

John: [inaudible]

Lisa: The thing that really has made all the difference is about three or four months after we started the company, because of Oprah, because of the Today Show, because of people, we had an early groundswell of success. We started to get hundreds of emails and handwritten letters. Joanna, a flight attendant who was laid off and with her last paycheck, bought a dress to go to her mom’s funeral and to interview for a new job. A woman running to be the youngest woman judge in LA Superior Court. She sent us a video of her winning the election in her Gravitas dress and her son’s putting the judge’s robes over her dress.

A woman going through a divorce in Virginia, and bought a dress to go to her son’s graduation where she would have to face her ex-husband for the first time. I think you’re onto something when people are giving you such windows into their lives and what you’ve meant to them. I really am only in this because we’re there for women when they most need it. The tagline of our company is Own Your Moment. I always say, “There are these incredibly important moments in our life where self-doubt increases and we’re here to turn those moments of self-doubt into bursts of self-consciousness.” I really wrote the book and we did the quantitative study because I realized not everyone gets to be in the dressing room with me. Not everyone can buy a $300 dress. I thought for the price of lunch, you should be able to have a chance to be in the dressing room or in the boardroom with one of us.

John: That’s great. In the book, you say self-confidence is a choice. Please explain what that means to you.

Lisa: Yeah, I love this one and I love that you have a four-year-old granddaughter because we are born fully self-confident. If I met your granddaughter today.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: What’s her name?

John: Her name is Coco.

Lisa: Coco. I said, “Coco, what are you the best at in the world?” She would say, “I’m the best at hugs. I’m the best at soccer. I’m the best at everything.”

John: Right.

Lisa: Because at that age, we really believe we’re the best at everything, right? We only see our potential. There are no flaws. Everyone around us supports us fully. We’re born fully self-confident that inner child is actually the purest form of confidence you’ll ever get in your life. That’s why so many people say, “Oh, when I was younger, I was so much more confident.” Right?

John: Yeah.

Lisa: What happens is, between the ages of 8 and 12, in chapter 2 of my book, we identified six forces that appear in adolescence that hold us back. It’s actually not your fault, and those six forces form the basis of an inner critic that never goes away. In order to break out of those six forces, what we have learned is you first have to make a choice. You have to be able to diagnose which of those forces are affecting you. I always say, “You can’t solve it until you know what the problem is.” People are like, “I’m afraid or I’m insecure.” I’m like, “Well, then which of these six feelings or forces are affecting you? You have to be able to name the problem.”

Then you have to make a choice to say, “Okay, these six forces, I see them. I’m no longer going to take direction from them.” Then you have to build a mindset and that mindset has to be really based on Coco’s view of herself. It has to be a genuine and authentic inventory of your talents and strengths. Something that we as adults have been deconditioned to think about. If I asked you what your flaws were, you probably could name them immediately. But if I put you on the spot and said, “Tell me what you’re the best out in the world, rattle it off for me.” It’s very hard for adults to do. So we, as a society talk about confidence so much, but it’s like an iceberg. Only 10% of the iceberg is visible above the waterline.

It’s the behaviors. Speak up, be assertive, stand. 90% is below the waterline. It’s thoughts, values, and feelings we have about ourselves. We have to really believe self-confidence is a choice to break out of these six forces. Then we have to adopt a mindset of what do I really bring to the table before I turn it into a behavior. If you flip that equation, guess what? The quietest person in the room might actually be the most confident. This is why Janet Yellen when she was nominated to be the head of the Federal Reserve in 2013, had hundreds of articles that she didn’t have the Gravitas to lead the Fed. Ezra Klein at the Washington Post called out those naysayers.

He says it’s because the pervasive view of Gravitas does not stretch to include her. She’s soft-spoken, she’s collaborative, by the way, she’s the most qualified for the job. Why do we only label confident people as extroverted and charismatic? Maybe she really likes herself. Maybe she really has talent. Maybe she’s super qualified. So really we’re flipping the story. I love Dale Carnegie. He changed my life when I was 12 years old when I read his book. But that is one version of confidence. What we’re really trying to say is, there’s so many other mindsets and strengths and talents that can lead you to self-belief.

John: What 12-year-old is winning? Is reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, though. Like, where did that come from? Was it your mom? Wait a second. Talk about Mom and Dad a little, but I want to understand this. Were Mom and Dad always, just for you and your brother, the biggest cheerleaders on the planet, because as you just said. I totally get what you mean. What you say, Coco, is like, you literally depicted Coco perfectly, but isn’t there also part of the parental, and even it takes a village type of model, that cheerleaders need to be around?

Lisa: Yeah, for sure.

John: Okay.

Lisa: I’m very lucky I still have them as my cheerleaders. Well, I will answer your first question.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: Then, I’ll get to your second question.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: The first question is, I was a freshman in high school at 12, and my parents realize they could not afford a $28,000 Ivy League education. This was 1992.

John: Okay.

Lisa: My dad started asking around town, like, “How am I going to make $28,000 a year to support my kid going to an Ivy League school?” The Rotary Club, and the Lions Club, they all had these student speaking competitions where you could win $2500, $5000, $15,000, and 20,000 at the nationals. So my dad decided I would start competing in these speaking competitions. The local Toastmasters chapter in Fontana adopted me. I mean, I was not old enough to be a Toastmaster, but they adopted me. They said, “Okay, well, everyone knew my parents’ restaurants, so I think they all just wanted like free gift cards to my parents’ restaurants. But I would go to the Toastmasters meeting on Tuesday mornings at the Sizzler before school. They trained me on how to become a public speaker when I was quite young so I could win money. I paid for my first two years at Yale. When you join Toastmasters, one of the books they recommend is How to Win Friends and Influence Others.

John: That’s right.

Lisa: If you think about it, how is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants going to learn how to operate in Western society? Shake hands, smile, remember people’s names, and be interested in others. My parents were not equipped to train me. That is not an Asian model of upbringing.

John: Right.

Lisa: I don’t think it was my parents who wanted me to read Dale Carnegie. I’m not sure my dad read it with me, but I don’t even think they knew what the book was. It was the Toastmasters if you can believe it. I love the Toastmasters. Everyone should just go enroll in Toastmasters. It’s a nonprofit. It’s not expensive. It’s a risk-free way to learn how to advocate for yourself and communicate effectively.

John: I mean, imagine what a gift that is at 12 for you to learn those communication skills, that look at how much the world’s opened up for you. You’re an amazing communicator, obviously.

Lisa: Wow.

John: It’s been honed in all these years since then. But what a story.

Lisa: Yeah.

John: That’s wonderful.

Lisa: Now, I will answer your second question about Coco.

John: Okay.

Lisa: Let’s come back to Coco.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: As much support as you can provide someone.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: When they get between the ages of 8 and 12, so they start going to middle school.

John: Right.

Lisa: There are world expands and those six forces for boys and girls, they just start to appear. There are things like a deficit mindset. You start to think about your flaws, shrinking effect. You underestimate yourself. You shortchange yourself, setback, spiral, something disappoints you and you think your whole life is off. It’s actually those six forces, doesn’t matter how great a parent or a grandparent you are, they’re going to happen.

John: Right.

Lisa: Because there’s 8 to 10 hours of the day that you’re not there. They’re amongst other people. Those forces appear, and I really encourage people who get the book chapter 2, a lot of people have told me it has been one of their favorite chapters to read, because they’re like, “You’ve just explained so much.” The problem is, as men and women climb the ladder for men, the systems have been built so that those six forces actually get alleviated over time because the men built the system, right? So you’re not going to shortchange yourself. You’re just going to say “Every promotion, I totally deserved it.” Women, because we didn’t build the system and the system wasn’t built for us. Those six forces get amplified. In fact, when you look at women who get promoted, they are more insecure than before the promotion. When they step up or step out, they go, “Do I deserve this promotion? Did they make a mistake?” Rather than when men get promoted, they’re like, “Yes, I totally deserved it. What are we talking about?”

John: Right.

Lisa: What’s fascinating is when men and women in non-binary, everybody reads chapter 2, they go, “Oh, this makes total sense.” Now, this is what’s driving my inner critic, but also this explains how in which society has built systems to help some and not help others.

John: That’s brilliant. I love it.

Lisa: It is the Janet Yellen problem, right? That the extrovert wins. People have told me chapter 2, there’s a study we quote from Kelly Shue, who’s a professor at the Yale School of Management. She looked at 30,000 employee records. Men were consistently rated the highest on promotion potential, but the lowest on actual results and performance. Women were the reverse. They actually were the highest performers delivering the best results, but they were the least promotable. When she double-clicked on promotion potential, it was extroversion charisma and water cooler talk. She said, “We can explain 40% of the pay gap correlated to promotion potential simply because the metrics are subjective. That is one of the main reasons I wrote this book, is to talk about how all these other ways in which we can value people have been ignored for too long.

John: So true. You started the company in 2013 or so, 2012 or 2013, you’re running the company, it’s going well, right? You’re growing the company and it’s going well. When did you decide you had a book in you that you wanted to write this book?

Lisa: Well, I would say this is now six years ago. One of the ways in which we reach our target customers is we doing speaking events along with pop-up shops. One of the things I realized during these speaking events, which were the mixed audience, by the way, not just women, men, women, and non-binary. What was interesting about these speaking events is people really said, “Wow, that is a totally new way to think about confidence.” I have never thought about it as a mindset before it becomes a behavior.

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Then six years ago, I said to one of my mentors from McKinsey, “Hey, should we do a quantitative study on confidence? Wouldn’t that just be fun just to do quantitative work around this topic?” She’s an angel investor in my company. It’s a former McKinsey partner. She said, “Hey, I’m retired and that would be intellectually fun.” We did this quantitative study where we identified 8 types of confidence, not just one, but 8 types of confidence. She said, “This is super fascinating. Like this is a really interesting way.” It’s like the Myers and Briggs of confidence, right? She said, “I think we should keep going.” So about a year later, I said, “Well, I think this is a book.”

I think this turns into something very interesting. The book allows us to reach a much bigger audience than we can do just through department stores and websites. Most product is commoditized now, right? You can buy anything you want on any channel. I said, “I think our reason to exist may be much bigger. There might be a bigger purpose of calling beyond just selling people clothes.” That’s really when we kicked off the journey to writing the book.

John: Compare your day-to-day life at McKinsey versus at Gravitas. On a macro basis, you are a manager. Now, you’re a maker. Talk about the difference between managing and making.

Lisa: Well, one of our 8 types of confidence is called “Creating.”

John: Yeah.

Lisa: It is the ability to create something from nothing and vision ideas. I think I always had that because I think a lot of immigrants have creating.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: I think I was always creating in some way, regardless of the place I was doing it. The primary difference is that I think our society has celebrated entrepreneurship to the point where they’ve actually not really communicated how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. So entrepreneurs, we eat glass, we stare under the abyss, you know this right? You kind of like do…

John: That’s Elon Musk line’s.

Lisa: Yeah, that’s his line. It’s an Elon. I credit him.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: I should have credited him.

John: That’s okay.

Lisa: It’s like, “Where’s the next dollar coming from? How am I going to do all this hard stuff that no one else wants to do on my team?”

John: Yeah.

Lisa: The primary difference is I’ll quote Zadie Smith, Time Is How You Spend Your Love. What I realized is how I spend my time, it’s something I genuinely love. Even if I’m eating glass and staring at the Biss.

John: Right.

Lisa: I genuinely love serving people.

John: Right.

Lisa: I genuinely love seeing women successful, but 90% of my job really sucks. Like, I don’t have a corporate Amex like I did at McKinsey. I don’t have a steady paycheck every month. On that last day of the month, which is tomorrow, I made sure payroll cleared, health insurance, and rent. There are some months when we haven’t cleared all the bills, and I have to call vendors and say, “Can you give me two extra weeks? Can I get on a payment plan?” That’s the stuff that’s really different and hard that I knew from my parents growing up. I saw it. So you really have to love it to sign up for it.

John: Right.

Lisa: But that’s the primary difference. I’ve also loved getting over status. I will say that’s a freeing thing. When you’re at McKinsey, it’s sort of like you’re throwing around your status a little bit. That’s your reason for being at the table. Whenever I tell people I run a small business, it’s got a fashion brand, it’s got a content business. I say it unapologetically now, right? I don’t have to worry about a big name. We’re not a household name yet. I’m totally fine with that. I don’t need to be a unicorn.

John: Right.

Lisa: Unicorns are mythical and very few people accomplish it. I make a difference.

John: Yeah, you’re right though. You’re so right. Like you said, when you’re calling up the vendors and you’re sweating out everyone’s paycheck and paying the payroll tax, and everything else that comes with being an immigrant. But being an immigrant is where then we shine through where, because we’re not quitting.

Lisa: Yeah.

John: We don’t care [crosstalk] it gets. It doesn’t, right?

Lisa: We’ll figure out a way.

John: You’re not quitting. Never. You love what you do. You could tell you love what you do. Talk a little bit more about the definition of confidence. You said there are 8 types of confidence, historically though, what was confidence in the 60s and 70s? Now, what’s the modern-day definition of confidence in your mind?

Lisa: Yeah. Actually, if you look up the word confident in the dictionary, it’s an understanding appreciation, and trust in your own abilities. So that hasn’t changed.

John: Okay.

Lisa: What has changed is how we have used the term. I do love Dale Carnegie, so I’m actually not taking away anything from it. It’s more that we’ve really thought of it as extroversion and charisma, right? I think that historically, at least in Western society, by the way, Asian society is the opposite, right? It’s not about bravado or swagger, but I think that the historical ways in which we’ve looked at it are that, I think we’re just pulling it back to the original definition, which is how do you appreciate your own abilities? So we created 8 types of confidence from the dataset. The first two are the most classic definitions.

Leading, I’m in charge, I set direction, I inspire followership. It is our leaders, right? Leading. The second is what we’re doing, performing, extroversion, charisma, being center stage, loving an audience, and the exchange of energy between two people. Leading and performing, those two types of confidence represent less than 20% of America. That means 80% of us have been made to feel bad about ourselves our entire lives. In fact, if we led and performed all day, nothing would get done. The next two are achieving and knowing.

Achieving, I get things done. I have an athlete’s mindset, practice makes perfect. If I fail, I get back up again. The second one, knowing. I’m the smartest, most well-researched, most process-oriented person in the room, you want to build IKEA furniture with someone who has known as their confidence language. The best example of these two types of confidence is the three black women from Hidden Figures. How are three black women able to have the Gravitas to be in the room at an all-white male NASA and do the calculations to send a man into space? It’s because their superpowers were achieving and knowing. The next two are giving and believing. Giving, I’m empathetic, I’m thoughtful, I’m collaborative. I care about others. Believing, are you a Ted Lasso fan by any chance, John?

John: Of course.

Lisa: Okay. Yeah, believing is his superpower. So it’s optimism, it’s seeing the best in everyone in every situation. He’s not a leading coach. He’s not a commander coach.

John: No.

Lisa: He actually says in season 1, “I’ve been underestimated my whole life because I don’t look like the other coaches and I’m not here to win or lose. I’m here to make these people the best possible versions of themselves.” So giving and believing is a completely different route to self-belief. The last two creating we talked about, that’s my number one. A lot of immigrants have it. Entrepreneurs believe in things before other people can see them. We create something from nothing. Then, the 8, which actually it’s the hardest for women to get. So I’m curious to see if your wife when she takes the quiz, gets this one. My mom has a lot of it. It’s called self-sustaining.

I like myself. I don’t need to impress you. In fact, it’s the quality most needed to overcome criticism without spiraling and to ask for a favor or a raise, not to ask for a promotion. If you ask for a promotion, it’s achieving. Here’s why I deserve a title change. Here’s why I deserve to manage more people. When you ask for a raise, it’s “Here’s my market value. I’m worth it. I’m willing to walk away because someone else will pay me for it.” To gather these 8 qualities, all of a sudden you shouldn’t tell someone to be more confident because that’s ambiguous and anxiety-inducing.

I need you to be more performing. I need you to be more outspoken and assertive, or I need you to be more self-sustaining. When people criticize you, you don’t have to take it personally, or hey, I do need you to be a little bit more achieving, right? Like exceeding your targets. I think we have taken the word confidence as a catch-all when no one really knows how to explain it. As we talked about before we got on, you can take a free quiz,

John: Right.

Lisa: To discover which of these 8 you have. My mom has all 8. She’s like, “I take your quiz. I have all eight.” 2% of people have all 8. It’s not Pokemon. You don’t need to catch them all. But it starts to be able to ask, and answer the question that Coco could answer, which is, “What are you best at in the world?” I could tell you now that my Confidence Language is creating, and performing, obviously. I stood on a stage from the age of 12, leading and giving. Those are the four qualities that define who I am and why I deserve to be here. I am working on self-sustaining so that you can grow your confidence language over time. Self-sustaining is the next one I’m going to get.

John: You’re going to get it. I know you’re going to get it, but we do call those four of your best qualities. Are those your superpowers?

Lisa: Those are my superpowers.

John: Okay.

Lisa: That’s my confidence language. But by the way, my team has the opposite to me. I hire people who are high on achieving and knowing because they get things done.

John: Right. You are a brilliant leader because that’s really intelligent. You can work. You don’t want to come to the office or sit down with your team and look at yourself. That doesn’t get you anywhere. How many people are on your team now? How big is your team?

Lisa: Well, we have a pretty large team in Asia. So our team in China is 32, because we have factories all over Asia. Then, the team in New York is quite small. There are only six of us. I think the great thing is we are able to pull on lots of other providers.

John: Right.

Lisa: I think that was the brilliance because we’ve bootstrapped this thing. We haven’t raised institutional money. We’ve just brought on great partners throughout the way. I am happy that we are scaling slowly and profitably. During the pandemic, nobody was buying workwear. So we made hospital gowns and face masks because we’re a small team because we’re nimble, and because we believe in our talents. We focused on how we help. So everyone’s always shocked. They’re like, “Such a small team, and you’ve like pivoted so many times.” I’m like, “You know what, that’s actually because we have so many talents and strengths on this team.”

John: Just so I understand though, if someone wants to come to you to hire you after they read your book, and they want to come to you for fashion wear, or they come to you and they hire your team to help them dress for success and dress who they are, how does that work?

Lisa: Well, they can just email us hello at gravitasnew and book a virtual fitting, and then, we do pop up all. I did during the book tour, I did 51 events across 20 cities in nine weeks, last fall.

John: Wow.

Lisa: We did do a lot of fittings, but we usually pop up at conferences in New York.

John: Can they come to meet your team and get assessed, and then you’ll create a wonderful [crosstalk]

Lisa: Yeah, they can email us and we can set up an appointment for them, but we don’t do a lot of them anymore. At the end, John, I’ll pivot around and you can see our factory.

John: Oh, I’ll see it.

Lisa: We actually work inside a factory on 39th Street. So at the end, I’ll take you into the factory. We still make products made in New York City. So about half of our products are still made here and support local workers.

John: Women’s wear.

Lisa: We’ve had people come. Yeah, women’s wear. We make a lot of products, but a lot of people come to the factory for fittings and we’re like, “It’s not fancy. We got rid of the showroom during the pandemic.

John: Right.

Lisa: We used to have a showroom with fitting rooms. I was like, “You know what? In 2020, and 2021, that’s not an expense we need to spend right now. So we work inside the factory.

John: Right. That’s brilliant. I think that’s brilliant. You also outfit men as well?

Lisa: No, we do private label work.

John: Right.

Lisa: We take other brand’s work from our production standpoint.

John: Got it.

Lisa: You can only design for people you understand. I’m not sure I quite understand men. So we don’t make Gravitas men’s products yet.

John: Talk a little bit about, what’s the takeaway from today. We want everyone to buy this book, men and women, but what do you want them, when they put down this book after they’ve read it? What do you want them to say to themselves? What’s their takeaway? Then, you’ll say that you’ve succeeded, Lisa.

Lisa: Yeah.

John: What you’ve done with this wonderful book you’ve created?

Lisa: Well, I think it’s on the cover, right? So, which is Gravitas for us is not a state of mind or state of me. It’s a total approach to living life with self-assurance. Because things don’t get easier. We get stronger. So I think when you read the book, I want you to say, “I feel stronger. I feel more capable of handling setbacks, but also celebrating victories.”

So my goal is I feel stronger after reading this book, but also I know where I want to grow and I understand the people around me better. I want to tell you a fun story from Thanksgiving of last year. I got a long message from someone on LinkedIn who said, “You know what? Instead of what we were grateful for, I had my whole family take your quiz. I wanted to know my family’s superpowers.” Look at that. John’s getting ideas. He is like, “Next family gathering. Let’s all hop on our own.”

John: I like where this is going.

Lisa: She said she has two sons both in college two years apart. She said, “I think I’ve taken away my younger son’s power from him his whole life.” She said, “We took the quiz, and my oldest, his three superpowers were leading, performing, and achieving. He’s always in charge. He’s the loudest voice in the room. He gets things done. he’s got a winner’s mindset. He’s the athlete, he’s the captain of the team. My younger son, took the quiz and his superpowers were knowing, believing, and self-sustaining.

So he’s super smart, he’s optimistic. He likes himself. He doesn’t feel like he has to be the loudest voice in the room. He said we would go to parties when there were kids, and I would say, my oldest will have you laughing in stitches. He’s going to be the life of the party. My youngest doesn’t talk to him. He doesn’t deal well with crowds. He’s very shy.” She said, “What I could have said, he just finished an awesome book about pandas. Ask him anything you want. He loves to talk to people one-on-one, he loves one-on-one.” She’s like, “Why did I label one as positive and one as shy?” That for me was like, wow, I didn’t know the book was going to go there. Like, for me, the book was, I know myself better.

I know what makes me tick. I feel strong in advocating for myself. I know how to handle situations better and differently from a place of strength. But then the implication was even further for her when she read the book, she said, “And now I see other people very differently.” When they’re different than me, I can absolutely elevate their differences or help them develop qualities that will make them more successful in the roles they want to be in.

John: I love that.

Lisa: That’s why men should read the book.

John: Yeah.

Lisa: Because actually, yeah, there’s an awesome Amazon review. A man said, “I think we’ve been coaching women incorrectly and with the wrong vocabulary. I read this book and I saw all the women that I work with so differently.”

John: That’s wonderful. It’s going to be in the show notes, but I want to make sure we give it out again. To take the quiz, you go to To find also, Lisa, you can go to Both of those links will be in all the show notes and everything else. Lisa, you’re so fun to talk to because you have such a broad array of interests and you can quote from anywhere. You also have a great knowledge of modern media. I have to bring up two topics with you.

Lisa: Okay.

John: First of all, Barbie, walk me through Barbie. What’s your take on Barbie? I want to hear it and then I’m going to share my take. But take me through, where do you fall out with all this recent division on Barbie?

Lisa: Well, I think like most of us, the summer of Barbie, Taylor Swift, and Beyonce was such a wonderful moment, right? I think there is such economic purchasing power as well as economic power that was generated from the enthusiasm around, not just Barbie, but Taylor Swift and Beyonce, right? So if you think about all the things, I think someone called it “The Funflation economy.” I think it was the CEO of Best Buy. She’s a woman. She’s like, “It’s Funflation.” Right?

John: Cory Barry has been on this show.

Lisa: Oh, I love her.

John: Cory Barry has been on the show her, and she’s a brilliant leader.

Lisa: You can now tell I read everything because I read about the Funflation.

John: She’s a great leader.

Lisa: One of the things that I loved about Barbie, and my book came out in September of 2023. So it came on the heels of this incredible summer, right? Of all these topics and the monologue that America Ferrera’s character delivers around women and the triple standard, that’s actually a huge part of my book, which is we have to be competent, confident, and warm, take away any one of those and we’re labeled. I think what is important and why I got so excited about is my book the playbook on how to overcome that. It’s amazing that we had this moment where we all felt uplifted and powered and saw a lot of the issues firsthand, but then what do we do about it? So I’m really proud that my book came out at a time where it was like, “Okay, and this is what you can do about it.” It’s almost like, I think Lean in Girlboss started a movement, but no one knew what to do with it.

John: Right.

Lisa: That’s the first thing. I think the recent controversy around the Oscars and all of that for me, like, I don’t think that’s why Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie did the movie. I don’t think they did the movie for the accolades. I think they did the movie to create a movement or to be a part of the movement. So I’ve kind of said, I’m really upset about it, but at the same time, that’s not why you do anything. I don’t do anything for awards or accolades.

John: That’s right. No, you’re so right. Your take is so brilliant on that, and it’s so right. I have to give you a funny side note. The fact that you, of course, and saying, “of course,” because why wouldn’t you know this? I mean, the Monologue of America Ferrera, to me was just beyond brilliant. So it’s two weeks ago, and my wife and I are in an elevator, and in she comes. What I always like to tell someone when they’re an artist is, “I just love your art.” So I just said, “Hello,” and she’s standing. It’s a crushed elevator. A lot of people on, but I wanted to tell her how much I loved the monologue. I’m so pissed that I didn’t because I just thought that monologue, that’s the whole essence of the whole movie was right there. But the funny part was most people don’t get it, I have a friend, a very, very dear friend who this week had breast reconstructive surgery.

Lisa: Oh.

John: Her husband and I worked together actually. I said, “Oh, my gosh, this is so wonderful. It’s happening this week. It’s earlier, it was supposed to happen in March. Thank Barbie.” He thought I was kidding. I said, “I’m not kidding. Breastfeed, constructive surgery is all because of the brilliant Ruth Handler.” Ruth Handler, the founder of Barbie, and the first CEO of Mattel who was highly, was put in a whole different light and put under different rules and procedures than other CEOs of corporate America back in the late 60s and early 70s. She had a double mastectomy herself and was the one who started creating the reconstructive movement.

Lisa: Interesting.

John: Her first client was Betty Ford, a maker and a creator. A great immigrant entrepreneur doesn’t stop creating because one dream goes away, or if she’s already done one dream doesn’t mean you stop making and creating. It all goes back to me, the great Ruth Handler. I also have to, tell you, my wife and I just finished two days ago, the new show Griselda. I don’t know, have you seen that show yet?

Lisa: No, I’m going to. I have said it.

John: You have to see it. But the two main themes of the show, what wasn’t really, of course, the platform is woman becomes a female…

Lisa: Yes. She’s the Scarface, she’s the female Scarface. Yes.

John: Correct. But when they interviewed Sophia Vergara about why she made the movie, and she was approached in 2015 by the makers of Narcos on making the movie, it’s because the main two themes throughout the movie, she was treated differently. The Griselda was treated much differently and put under other rules and other oppression than the other drug dealers. She outsmarted them all over and over and over again. The woman cop trying to catch her in Miami back in the day, back in the late 70s and early 80s, similarly, was considered just a coffee maker in the office.

Meanwhile, she was the one who broke the case and was the smartest person in the whole office among all these horribly misogynistic and ridiculous men. Basically, they made the men without making them wear it, but in the movie, they basically made them wear the T-shirt, uncanny basically because they made them a little bit all bunch of goofballs. But Griselda is definitely a movie. A show that I would definitely recommend for you. You would totally dig it. I think.

Lisa: Well, I can’t wait to dig into it, and what I’ll say to you, John, is a challenge is hopefully you’re now intrigued to go and read the book, but one of the fun things that’s going to, I think to bubble up as you think about the insights at the end of chapter 4, there’s a little section of data that explains a lot of the systemic bias women face. It’s actually hidden. Not a hit you over the head feminist.

I’m more like a used data to explain why we see the things we see. But at the end of chapter 4, after you’ve read about your superpowers, there’s a little section of data, it’s called a “New Way to See the World.” It actually talks about the 8 superpowers, which of them are society’s values and which ones they take for granted. I think it fuels everything you’ve just shared about Griselda. It fuels that Barbie monologue of, “Well, we have just deemed some qualities like giving, we’ve just deemed them as not worthy of notice, or we assume or take for granted that women will have them, right? We don’t get credit for it. One of the fun things my team did when we were reading the book, we were reading the book together before it was published.

Our intern, our 17-year-old intern who made us all go to the Barbie movie, we all dressed up in Barbie costumes in Times Square. My head designer actually sewed real costumes for us. We were sitting at lunch before we were going to go to the movie. She’s half Korean, half American. She said, “Hey, one of the things I was thinking about is let’s look up countries that have ever had a female president.” So we went and like looked up and they are countries that value hard work and results over swagger and bravado. Let me give you an example. Scandinavian countries like Finland.

John: Finland.

Lisa: Germany, and India. It was this really random walk of countries. It wasn’t a long list, but we wrote them down. We’re like, “Huh, I wonder if we launched our quantitative study in those countries.” In the data table in chapter 4, we actually show you the percentages of America that fall into each of the 8. I wonder if this would be reversed, in terms of what people valued.

John: So interesting.

Lisa: I thought that was really interesting. It explains why when we’re watching films or TV shows or whatnot that really show the way in which the systems have pushed back on female leadership. It’s what we all know, right? Women, we get the job done. We don’t ask or talk about it, right? We’re not the people at the front of the stage giving the speech. It’s when tsunamis happen, men make speeches. Women, we clean up the beaches.

John: It’s so true.

Lisa: It’s fascinating. I’m happy that we as a society are exploring all of this through different formats.

John: I think it’s brilliant. I think your book is so important. No more important than right now, actually. The time has come for more women leaders in every walk of society both business and government. We need women leaders in every form. I mean, at my company here, I couldn’t do this company without my wife of 40 years. She’s my partner here with two other partners, and she’s the number two in control of the company. Then, we have our chief of staff a woman. Our director of finance is a woman. We have 7 or 8 women directors here. Cory Barry came on the show and she talked about diversity and the diversity of voices. We need women’s voices everywhere we go now, more than ever. I was at a conference, this was so prescient. He’s so brilliant though. Ted Turner, this was 15 years ago. I’m at a conference and he got up in front of the whole crowd and basically said that the world would be a much better place if there were more women leaders of countries to your point. I remember that [crosstalk]

Lisa: Well, okay, John, last challenge for you. I think every woman on your team, or man, and anybody on your team should take this quiz, I think be a fun lunchtime conversation around what superpowers did you get.

John: Okay.

Lisa: Well, four year old’s too young. She’s going to have all 8.

John: My daughter.

Lisa: But I think your daughter and your wife, I think it’ll be fun for you to see your results against all the people in your team and in your family.

John: We’re going to do that. Off the air, I’m going to ask you to sign some books from me, because I’m going to give out signed books. I’m going to buy the books from you, and I’m going to have you sign them for me. So I want to give them out, signed by you, because that will be really special. Can you show me your factory before I let you go.

Lisa: Oh, yes. Let’s go.

John: I want to see [inaudible] factory.

Lisa: 39th Street between 7th. You could see all the lighting that was propping me up. So here we go. This is our little conference room.

John: Right.

Lisa: Here we go. If you ever want to see old-school garment production, here we go.

John: This is a real Schmatta factory in New York City. This is wonderful.

Lisa: Yeah, it goes all the way back.

John: That’s huge.

Lisa: [crosstalk] feet. This is where we work. That’s our production manager’s desk.

John: This is great.

Lisa: Yeah. So we have floor upstairs, yeah. So this is what we do. We make things. Look, this is our designer’s desk.

John: This is great, Lisa. Thank you so much for that.

Lisa: Yeah. No, we really make clothes. I think everyone’s always shocked when they see it. They’re like, “Wait, when you say you work inside a factory, do you really work inside a factory?” I’m like, “Yeah, I really work inside a factory every day.”

John: Where does the Gravitas brand sell?

Lisa: We’re online right now.

John: Okay.

Lisa: We’re no longer in department stores. Post pandemic. We’re no longer in department stores.

John: They can find the clothes at

Lisa: Yeah.

John: Great. For our audience, the clothes at, those will be in the show notes. To take the quiz that we’ve talked about that’s in this wonderful book, Gravitas that you could buy at, Barnes and Noble, and find bookstores, wherever you are, including in airports across the world. You could go to Lisa Sun, thank you so much for spending this much time with us today. Thank you for all the great and important work you’re doing, and more importantly, thank you for what you’re doing for women and the confidence movement, and the insurance movement, and making the world a much better and equitable place.

Lisa: Thank you, John. This is so much fun.

John: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent booking industry with thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, live streams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit

Take the quiz to discover your superpowers at Purchase the book wherever books are sold.