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LISA BILYEU: “It’s all about your belief system in yourself. If you're attacking something, if you're going off to something, and you fail, do you believe that you can stand back up? Okay, yes, I believe I can do that. Okay, then stand back up. Do you believe you can get back up and move forward? Like, you have to believe that you can do it before you actually are going to do it. You're never going to be perfect. You're going to mess up. You're going to make mistakes. Oh, my god, you’re going to do things where you’re like, ‘That was terrible. I can't believe as a leader I did that, or as a boss.’ And it's okay. It's okay. As long as you take a hard look at yourself every time it happens and you say, ‘How can I improve next time?’”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small–but–mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step–by–step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY PORTERFIELD: Could you imagine growing your company by 57,000 percent in just three years? Yeah, you heard me correctly—57,000 percent growth in just three years. Or how about this—$82.6 million in revenue in three years. Can it be done? Heck, yeah, it can. How do I know? Because my guest today did it.
My guest is Lisa Bilyeu, and she's the cofounder of Quest Nutrition and Impact Theory, two companies that we're going to talk about more in detail in this episode, but a little sneak peek. Quest Nutrition, it's a protein–bar company, which Lisa and her husband, Tom, have now sold, and that company landed in the Inc 500 list. They were number two on the list. And then, Impact Theory is a media company with a really big vision. And that company has found its own level of success with thousands of followers and video views.
Now, what I love about this interview with Lisa is that we dive into all of it. We talk about figuring things out as you go, which you know I love, and I think we all can relate to. We talk about mindset and challenges and actionable steps to grow your business. And we even talk about what it's like to work with your partner. We're going to go there, and I think you're going to love every minute of it.
So, I won’t make you guys wait any longer, because I know you are just as excited about this guest as I am. So let’s welcome Lisa Bilyeu to the show.
Lisa, thanks so much for being here.
LISA: What’s up, Amy? Thank you so much for having me.
AMY: Oh my gosh. I’ve been looking forward to this all day. I know this conversation’s going to be fantastic. And one thing I didn't say in the intro is how we met. And basically, you and I were backstage at Rachel Hollis’s RISE Business event in Charleston. We sat down. Hit it off. We just were chatting, chatting, chatting. And I thought, I’ve got to have this girl on my show because she's that fantastic. So just for the record, I loved you from the minute I met you.
LISA: Oh, girl. The feeling is so mutual. When I saw that you reached out to have me on your podcast, I was just like, it’s the best opportunity just to hang out with your friend. I’ve got to be on it, right? It's like such a smart strategy to do a podcast where you get to interview cool people because you get to hang out with them, and so the same thing for me, right? It's like talking to people and getting energy from these incredible women. And so it’s such an honor to be here. So thank you so much for having me.
AMY: Oh my gosh. I feel the same. Thank you so very much.
So, I thought we would just start out with the juicy stuff, like right from the get go, because you have such an awesome, inspiring story. And I told my audience a little bit about you and your insane success, but could you just talk to me about your journey and how you got to where you are today? I mean, it’s a loaded question.
LISA: I know. Where do you want me to start?
AMY: Surprise me.
LISA: Okay. Surprise you. So I came to America. I was twenty-one, and I just finished film school, and I’d found a brochure that was saying, filmmaking, Universal Studios, back lot, you get to film. It's like this intense four-week or eight–week journey that you get to make real movies and write and things like that. So I was like, that sounds great. So I come to America. My first day, I walk in, and my teacher is the person that ends up being my husband.
AMY: Oh my goodness. I didn’t know that part of the story!
AMY: I love it. So that’s Tom.
LISA: So flash forward a couple of years. He proposes. I'm Greek, so I have a very big Greek family. Did you ever see the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
AMY: One of my favorites. Is that your family?
LISA: So, that is literally my family. That movie came out the same summer Tom and I got married.
AMY: Oh, no. So he knew what he was in for.
LISA: Well, the funny thing is, we didn’t see the movie until after we had gotten married.
So we have a massive Greek wedding. There’s about two hundred people—ten of the guests were his family, and then a hundred ninety were mine. I had the big Greek family from Cyprus. We did the big party. We did the big barbecue.
Once we watched the movie, it was hilarious how much it mirrored our lives. It is kind of funny, but what I really love about that movie and about mine and Tom's journey is you really can come from different worlds. And while everybody else doesn't believe that it’s possible, because there are a lot of things that are just new to you—like deciding whether they eat, deciding culture, the way that they—do you go to church on a Sunday, things like that, which are embedded in certain cultures. And when you meet someone that’s a complete opposite, it can be very difficult. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter who thinks it’s difficult. If you really believe in it and your partner believes in it and you both want it, then you really can do it. And that's what I loved about the movie. No matter how many people are saying, they don't know your culture, they don't know you, you come from different worlds, all of that is true, but it doesn't mean it has to define your outcome.
AMY: That’s really powerful and very, very true. And you guys are a perfect example of that, 100 percent. It's even funny. Spending time with just a little bit—a little time with both of you, you both seem very different to me in terms of your energy, and maybe that might not be true because I only got a little bit of time with you guys. But would you say you two are really similar or different in terms of personalities?
LISA: We are very different.
AMY: Okay. That's what I picked out.
LISA: Yeah. At least for me and Tom, there's an important part of each person that your core values have to be the same. I personally truly believe that in a relationship, your core values have to be the same. Like, do you respect people? How do you treat people? What are your ethics? Things like that I think I have to be exactly the same—maybe not exactly, but you need to be on the same page.
But everything else, we complement each other. So I'm definitely the chatty one. If you go onto Instagram, I love doing IG stories. I'm very energy and engaged, and I'm pretty much like this all the time.
Tom, on the other hand, he's a complete introvert, which nobody would guess because when you see him on stage, he can easily stand up and talk to ten thousand people, and nobody would really think that this guy's an introvert. But he loves to be alone, or he just loves to hang out with me. He's not very social. And even with the wedding, he was like, when he proposed—God bless that man—when he proposed, he was like, “Okay, so what? We'll get married in three months?” And I looked at him. I’m like, “Are you joking? We need to [unclear 08:29]. I need to invite my whole family from Cyprus. We’ve got people in Singapore we know. We have to plan. I need the dress. I need the—” He's very much like, “Yeah, whatever. It doesn’t really matter.”
Now, in saying that, he's not like that at all in our business. He’s like the complete opposite.
AMY: Okay, so, let’s talk about that because the two of you created an insanely, wildly profitable, and successful business with Quest Nutrition, and you've since moved on from that. So talk to me a little bit about how that even came about. How long ago did you start that business? When did you sell it? How did that all come about? Because at the time, you didn't really have experience creating a business like Quest, right?
LISA: Oh, god, no. So my background literally was filmmaking. So I went to film school; then after, went to New York Film Academy, where I met Tom. And then, literally, we then got married, and our plan was, we were going to—I worked on a movie or two, and I really didn't like it. It was my first taste in Hollywood. I got a photography job, and I hated the fact that people were willing to step on you. I got yelled at by the DP for taking photos, which was my job. And people were just rude, and they weren't nice. And that was when—my entire life, I wanted to be in film. As you can imagine, this was like a dream job. Like, oh my god, I get to be in Hollywood. I get to work on a movie. The director was kind of semi-famous at the time.
And I was heartbroken. And I sat down with Tom, and I said, I don't know if I want to live my dream, if this is what it takes. Because when I really looked at the situation, I have to be willing to be stepped on or I have to be willing to step on people. That was the experience I had endured. And I said, it's not me, and no matter how much I want the dream—like, I always play the game No B.S., What Would it Take? And the no B.S. of what it would take at the time was to endure being treated poorly and to treat other people poorly so that you can make your way up the ladder. And I was like, okay, I’m not willing to do that. That crosses my moral code.
Tom had the same experience. He wrote a screenplay. They just butchered it. So he just turns to me kind of nonchalantly and was like, “Well, babe, I guess we're going to have to make the money ourselves so that we can control the content.”
AMY: No big deal.
LISA: That’s not a big deal. And I was like, “Okay, sure. That sounds like a great plan, babe. What do we do?” This is not seventeen years ago. And so he’s like, “Okay, so what we should do is one of us needs to go out, and it can’t just be nine to five. Has to be something that we have to really hustle, we can grow, and maybe in a year, we can just make so much money that we can go and make movies.” Sounds like a plan.
So we looked at all the successful people in the world, and we said, how do they function on a day to day? Like, what are the things that they do? Because at the end of the day, you want—personally, I want to look at the people that are doing what I want to do and emulate them, and then adapt it to be my own. But they've already done the proven model.
So we looked at Steve Jobs, and the first thing we noticed is the guy never changes his clothes. He always wears black T-shirts or polo necks. And once we started researching, we realized the reason why he did it was because people only have a certain amount of strong decision-making abilities—I can’t remember the technical term or how many it is. I think it’s something like ten or something—in a day, with absolute clarity. And so Steve Jobs was known for just never making a decision on his clothes so that he could always save that decision making for his business.
So we thought, “Wow, that’s actually really smart. All right, babe. If you go to work and you never have to make any decision outside of work, everything else in the house is taken care of,” so we got to the point where—no joke—he would wake up; his clothes were next to him, waiting. I was like, “Look, I'll be the housewife for a year.” I’m Greek. That was a belief system that was kind of instilled in me in a way. So I was like, I want to make movies, but I don’t mind being a housewife for a year. So I would lay clothes out for him. He would wake up, he would put his gym clothes on, he would go to the gym, he’d come back. I had a towel waiting for him, I had his lunch waiting for him, I had his breakfast, I had his work clothes. He literally didn’t have to make any decision outside of business.
And we had agreed as a partnership—because we really believe that when you’re married it is an absolute, true partnership—decisions of your life have to be made together. And so we made that decision—this is a goal that we're in it together. We want to make movies. So we agree on that goal. And this is the path and way of execution. So we metaphorically shook hands.
He then started. He met these guys, these entrepreneurs. They said, hey, we can show you how to get rich. It seemed great. I was at home. I was like, “Babe, I’ve got you. I can do this for a year.” And that year turned into eight years.
LISA: Yeah. So here I was. I had these big dreams, but I had a culture that definitely reinforced staying at home, supporting your husband, having a family. Tom and I were very driven; we had a goal. But that one year did turn into eight, and I had—in reflection now, looking back, it's weird how that time passed without really thinking about it. And when I look at emotionally what had happened through those eight years, it was, I had a purpose for the first year, right? Okay, support your husband, we’re doing this together.
And then over time, the fear of doing anything else, I think, set in, but I don’t think I actually could put words to that at the time. I think it was more like, it's safe what I'm doing, I'm supporting my husband, I was taught this was what I was meant to do. Even though your plans haven't panned out, Lisa, you’re a good wife. I really want to be a good wife. Support him. Support him. He kept saying, “Okay, another eighteen months, babe. I just need another eighteen months.”
And so I did somehow not really trick myself, but I think that we self–soothe as human beings, and I think it's a way to be able to get through things. And I was self–soothing. So I think every day I looked for things to be prideful of, even though I hated it. So I hated cooking, but I would put so much pride into making him dinner so that I had some pride of my own to—it was like my self-soothing mechanism or medicine is find pride in it, even if you don't like it.
And after eight years, it just got so grinding when my husband—like, I had lost who I had married. Him, so now in the zone of make money, make money, make money, and he was miserable, that I felt like I had lost my husband. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much successes, money, matters; my husband is the most–important thing to me.
So over those eight years, he had, on paper, got about $2 million dollars in equity of this company he’d helped build. Now, at the time, I mean, that was a shit ton, and still is a shit ton, of money. And that was all on paper. But I just turned to him, and I said, “Babe, I don’t care about the money. I need my husband back.” And so he’s like, “If I quit, I do not feel good about asking for my equity that I’ve earned.” And I was like, “I agree. If you don’t cross the finish line, you don’t deserve the win. Period.” And so I was like, “Yeah, I get it. I’m not in it for the money; I’m in it for my husband. So hand back over the metaphorical shares that you have and walk away because I want you back.” And he did. And he went in and he quit.
And that's the famous story where, then, his business partners called him up after he quit, and they're like, “Look, we can do this without you, but we just don't want to. So what do we need to do so that we can all work together and do something that we love every day, because we're miserable, too.” And that ended up being Quest.
Now, the trick to this part is when he came home, and he’s like, “All right. We’re starting a company that we all really believe in, the health industry,”—his mom was severely overweight, my mom is severely overweight, so it’s something we could emotionally get behind and have a purpose for—but he was like, “I just need you to help get this off the ground.” I was like, “Of course, babe.”
At that point, I definitely had—my mindset had turned into a supportive wife, but I had lost that drive and that passion, the person that he'd married. I had literally, over that time, had trained myself enough to think about myself as being the supportive wife and nothing else. And I freakin’ love my husband, So I’m not saying one’s good or bad. I just didn’t want it. And that was the thing.
If someone's listening right now, and they are on fire for taking care of their partner and their kids or their home or whatever, that is so beautiful. I just was not on fire. Every day, instead of igniting my fire, I was dampening it with a wet cloth. I was blowing out that fire, and I didn't realize. And so by the time Quest came along, I was like, “Babe, I’m here to support you. What do you need me to do?” It was just another means to try to make enough money to make movies.
But at this point, you’re eight years down the line. You’re like, “Okay, are we actually really ever going to make movies?” Look, my husband really wants to make protein bars, then let’s make protein bars. And so I was going into it with a mindset that I’m here to support my husband. And our house, actually, was on the line. So when he came home—sorry, this is a piece of information—when he came home, and he was like, “We want to start this new business. But if we do, the house has to go on the line, because if it fails, we don’t have enough money for our mortgage, and so we basically lose the house.”
AMY: Holy cow.
LISA: Yeah. And in that moment, I thought about it, and I was like, okay, what’s the very worst that can happen? No one wants to lose a house. I get it. But what’s the worst—what’s the thing that I cannot live with? I couldn’t live with living on the streets. To take a gamble that gigantic and end up actually living on the street, I’m not willing to gamble that. Now, the truth is that would never happen to me, because I have friends, I have family. So in that moment, I was like, I don’t care if I lose my house. I believe in my husband. I believe that he needs to do this to prove something to himself. And when you don't allow someone to be who they truly are, that will start to crack. So I turned around. I said, “Absolutely, babe. Put house on the line. Yes, I'll ship bars from my living–room floor.” And so I just started shipping bars from my living-room floor, and I was walking to the post office every day, and I was mailing one order. And before you knew it, I mean, we grew by 57,000 percent.
AMY: Oh, gosh. In three years, to be exact.
LISA: Three years, yeah.
AMY: But wait. You were really an integral part of this business, though.
LISA: Yeah. So because we had—and I had no intention of being at the beginning, and that's where my purpose and drive changed. So initially it was, support my husband, don't lose the house. Those were my two thing. If I need to ship bars, I need to ship bars, because they were still, at their other company, they were still trying to exit it. So we were building Quest on the side. So I was literally the only kind of full–time person because I didn't have a job. I was a stay–at–home wife. So I was like, yes, I can ship bars from my living-room floor. So I would walk to the post office, I would weigh something, I’d get stamps, and I would just stamp it.
And then, before you know it, it was like there were ten orders a day, and it was like, oh my god, this is amazing. So we would rent a garage—sorry, not rent a garage. Tom's business partner had a garage. So every morning, I would go to his house because our house was too small. I would go to his house, and I would ship bars from his house. And then it got to the point where we were getting twenty orders a day.
And so what ended up happening was everyone kept just saying, “Oh, Lisa, you know what to do. Oh, Lisa, you know what to do. You've done it.” And so before I knew it, we had to warehouse—I had no idea what I was doing—and I'm Googling “ship freight to Australia,” and I'm Googling stuff, and I'm going on YouTube to see how do I print stamps from a home printer. And I have to hire someone—oh my god, I have no idea how to hire someone. I was a stay-at-home wife for eight years. The only people I had to order about were my two dogs.
So basically, the long and the short of it is that from the moment I was shipping bars in my living-room floor to within three years, I was running our shipping department. I had forty employees underneath me. We’re shipping out $80 million of inventory. I was dealing with freight, U.P.S., I mean, shipments, imports, exports, ingredients. I mean, you can name it, and I—yeah, that's where I ended up within three years.
And then I realized I was miserable because I didn’t want to do shipping for the rest of my life. I was in henna and sneakers. And that’s where we transitioned over to using my skills of what I really wanted to do in life, which was filmmaking. And I started to build out a studio within Quest.
So we were doing cooking shows, we were doing commercials. And so I went, again, started from scratch. So I left our shipping department of all these employees—I was a terrible leader, but learned on the job—took my skills I'd learned, went over to the media department, and at that point, I think I developed a belief system within myself, because going from shipping on your living–room floor for three years to then shipping 80 million dollars of inventory, it was really tough, and I had to learn a lot. And I was very insecure, and I proved to myself that I could actually do something I set my mind to. And that belief that I'd instilled in me in those three years literally is now taking me throughout my entire career. It doesn’t matter what you don’t know. Like, it really doesn’t. But if you believe you can learn it, then you really can learn. And I was living proof of what I’ve been able to do, just by going on Google and doing the funniest types of searches you can possibly imagine.
AMY: Well, okay, so, let's talk about that mindset because a lot of my listeners are trying to figure out their businesses, and just like you, they really don't know what they're doing. I mean, I'm here to teach them as much as I can. But when you're just starting out, you are really guessing through so much of it. So what advice would you give to somebody who doesn't know what they're doing? They're trying to figure it out, everything seems scary and intimidating, and I love what you said, that you really lack the confidence in those first three years. You didn't really have it when you were starting out. So what do you do to get past all those feelings and that feeling of inadequacy and just figure it out?
LISA: Yeah, that’s a really great question. And just so you know, I lack confidence in everything I start.
AMY: Okay. Amen, sister. You don't even know how important that is that you just said that. “I lack confidence in everything I start.”
LISA: Yeah! So when I started Quest, I lacked confidence. I trained myself. But then I started Impact Theory, and I started from zero again. And so we built a studio, and here I was having to learn things again. So I didn't have the confidence in like, oh my god, you've got it. But I had the mindset that if I believed I could, I could.
Now, in my mind those two are very different because I believed I could, but I had no idea what the hell I was going to do. It's just like, all right, Lisa, you believe you can, but oh my god, try this. And then you fail. And it's like, at least I believed that I need to fail to [unclear 24:06] succeed. And so there's little elements, and everything comes down to mindset, because when I started Quest, when I started Impact Theory, when I started Women of Impact, my new show, all of these things, I started at zero. And going into it, believing, okay, if as long as I can figure it out, I'm okay. And that's the thing is like everything—I think it's Marie Forleo—everything is figureoutable. I freakin’ love that. It's so true. But you have to believe that you can figure it out, and it starts there, because if you don't believe, you’re never going to pursue.
AMY: Okay, so I get that. And it starts with the belief that, okay, I can figure this out. Another thing, though, that my audience often says to me is that, Amy, I’m trying to figure it out, but this is taking forever. When do I cut bait and say I'm not cut out for this? This ain't going to work. This is taking too long. How do I know when I need to keep going or when I'm like, screw this, I need to find a different way?
LISA: Yeah. So in business, there's no guarantee it’s going to succeed. And we could agree on that.
LISA: Okay. No guarantee. It doesn't matter who you are, like even Richard Branson, right? He's had some incredible business successes. He's also had some crazy business failures, like crazy business failures. But people just look at his successes and go, oh my god, he's great at it. It's like, no, you have to look at both. So even for him, there's no guarantee of success. So if everyone can agree that, do you enjoy what you do every day? Because if you don't enjoy it, you're going to want to give up when you fail. You're going to want to give up when you fall on your face. You're going to want to give up when you trip. But if you think to yourself that I can learn anything, I can pick myself back up, and I love everything that I do even when I fail, then you’re going to keep going. But there's nothing worse than not having a guarantee of success and then hating your life while trying to get there.
AMY: Okay. That's powerful and such a great reminder. And I think it's like, yeah, of course. But then when you hear it, you're like, oh, that kind of hits me in my gut. I got to love it even on the hard days, even when it gets really tough. So talk to me about some of those hard days. You must have had some big challenges along the way, even just to get to where exactly you are today.
LISA: Oh my god, them crazy challenges. I think with any business, there's hurdles that you have to overcome. So the first thing was definitely just the knowledge side of it. I had no idea, especially at Quest, I had no idea what I was doing with shipping. And then even when I transitioned over to the content side of it and at Impact Theory, there's certain things that you just have no idea what you're doing, but you're just learning on the job. You're forcing yourself to Google stuff.
Like, I need to build a set kitchen, for instance. And I've never built a set in my life. When I went to film school, it was all about camera operating and directing. There was nothing about building a set. So I just stepped back. And I think limitations and blinders is what puts limitations on us. So if you think, well, I've never built a set before; I can’t do it. Well, guess what. I'm never going to build a set ever. But if I go, okay, let me just break this down. Lisa, I believe that you can do it. Even if you’re going to fall, even if you're going to fail, I believe that you can do it. All right. How do I actually do it? Okay. There's a kitchen. What do I need in a kitchen? I need kitchen cabinets. Who sells kitchen cabinets? IKEA. So I just kind of like—so I literally went to IKEA, built out a kitchen, hired a handyman to build walls, and then attached the kitchen to the walls, and then added wheels. It was so ghetto, but the kitchen’s still standing. It’s, like, what is this, like, seven years ago now, and it’s still—
So, I don’t actually know if I answered your question. I’m sorry. I can’t—
AMY: No, the knowledge, though. Just figuring out you don’t know all of it so how are you going to figure it out?
LISA: Yeah. And especially today, if you say, “I don't know,” it's an excuse. Like, let's face it. And I've told myself that as well. I tell myself, “Lisa, the second you say, ‘I don't know,’ it's an excuse.” I can pull up my laptop, look on Google, with the Internet the way it is and all the videos and YouTube and podcasts, there's someone out there right now doing the thing that you're trying to find out. So are you putting the time, energy, and commitment into finding out the answer?
Now, look, if you're not, ask yourself why not? Maybe you don't want it bad enough, and that's fine. That's the thing. It's actually fine. But don't fool yourself into thinking it's not in your control to go and dig and find out. And even with the 10,000 hours. Okay, if it takes you 10,000 hours to be an expert, what do you want to be an expert at? Is it playing the piano? If you've never even touched a keyboard or piano before in your life, do you really think if you don't sit there, you shut everything else out in your life—in fact, Amy, I’m going to ask you this. You don’t play the piano, right?
AMY: I don’t.
LISA: Okay. If you stopped what you do, you stopped your career, you didn't worry about your life, nothing, and all you did is you shut yourself in a room, and you played the piano day after day after day for years. Do you think you'd become good?
AMY: I do.
LISA: Okay. Do you think that if you really pushed yourself, you could become one of the best in the world, if you took the time, effort, and energy and commitment to do it?
AMY: I do.
LISA: All right. So that's the thing. It’s not that you can't play the piano, is you choose not to play the piano, right?
AMY: Right. So it’s just such a great point.
LISA: It’s all about framing. It’s all about how you think about it. So, I have literally switched the way that I talk. And every time I go to say “I can't,” like, this is an active thing I train myself to do. Like you may go to the gym and lift weights to build. I do this actively every day. Every time I go to say “I can’t,” I stop myself, and I say “I choose not to.” It is so freakin’ empowering, and that goes back to everything I’ve been saying. It’s all about your belief system in yourself. If you're attacking something, if you're going off to something, and you fail, do you believe that you can stand back up? Okay, yes, I believe I can do that. Okay, then stand back up. Do you believe you can get back up and move forward? Like, you have to believe that you can do it before you actually are going to do it. Otherwise, you’re going to—I’m kind of repeating myself now—but, yes, you have to believe it first.
AMY: Amen to that. I hear you.
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Okay, now, back to the episode.
One other thing you said that you had a challenge with in the beginning was you had never even managed a person before. And I think a lot of my listeners are brand new at building teams, like one person at a time, one V.A. to start with, and then they're expanding. And how did you get the confidence around leading and building this team, because I know you have a team that loves you, and they’d do anything for you, and you've built something amazing. But how the heck did you do that?
LISA: Lots of trial and error. And that's actually a very good question because now I can envision the person who you're talking about and what is that specific advice for that person that is just hiring their first one person or two is you're never going to be perfect. You're going to mess up. You're going to make mistakes. Oh my god, you’re going to do things where you’re like, “That was terrible. I can't believe as a leader I did that, or as a boss.” And it's okay. It's okay. As long as you take a hard look at yourself every time it happens and you say, “How can I improve next time?” Because let me tell you, I still mess up. There are days where I'm like, wow, I was a terrible leader. I just totally shunned that person. I didn't mean to, but now they feel like I've maybe dismissed them. Okay, so I'm always very conscious of my actions, what I did wrong, how I can do it better next time, what I can improve on. Because if you think you're going to get it right first step, then you're setting yourself up for disaster.
I always like to just use the analogy of a baby, right? The baby doesn't go and run a marathon. A baby crawls. A baby gets up. A baby takes his first step. It then walks, it then runs, it trains for a marathon for months and months and months, and then it runs a marathon, or the adult runs a marathon. But why is it those? Do we not allow ourselves and give us the grace to be the baby crawling? Why do we not give ourselves the grace to go, yeah, of course, a baby falls, but it always gets back up. A baby never goes, well, I'm not walking. Screw that. That hurt. But as adults, we've lost that.
And I try to remind myself that every day. It's, like, you can get back up. You can take that first step. But people want to be the best leader coming out of the gate. So I think that’s just from an emotional standpoint. You've just got to accept you're going to be bad, but it's okay. As long as you're trying and you're working on it, then it's okay.
Next up is read leadership books. There are people out there that’ve done this before.
AMY: Yes. I’m a huge fan of that. I’m devouring leadership books over and over again.
LISA: Do you? What’s your favorite?
AMY: So, anything Jim Collins, I mean, I love, and also Patrick Lencioni. I'm pretty sure I say his last name wrong every time, but he's got some great ones. What are some of your favorites?
LISA: I like Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last. I read, actually, the Sheryl Sandberg book, Lean In.
AMY: Yes. So good.
LISA: It was actually one of my first books that I read, and it was really good. Since then, I've heard a lot of people kind of argue and debate her position. But again, like for me, I actually like reading all different types of leaderships because I can go, no, that doesn't work for me.
And that's another thing, is that even with all the books and advice that you even may hear from me, they may hear from you, they may hear from other people, it's like you need to find what actually works for you, because forcing something that doesn't innately feel like you, forcing someone else's way of doing things may actually be more detrimental to you than successful. So find the things that work for you. Read the books. But the thing I'll say is be open to everything.
AMY: So, talk to me about Impact Theory. You've mentioned it a little, but you guys have seen massive success with this endeavor. And I just want to know a little bit more about Impact Theory and Women of Impact and your vision and your mission there.
LISA: Yeah, thank you for asking. So we exited Quest—and I know I talk a lot, so to make this as brief as possible—but when we exited Quest, we had a show. So I had built our film department. We had a talk show where Tom was interviewing these incredible people because we really want to help our employees. So at the time, because we were growing so quickly, a lot of our employees were inner–city kids. They were people that grew up hard. A lot of them had criminal records. At first, we didn't mind. For us, it's like everyone deserves a second chance. If you come in and prove yourself, then why don't you deserve a job? So we were kind of getting very well known as we would hire people whether you had a criminal record or not. And we really were trying to help people. And so we were helping people with the body, with the bars. People losing weight over it. It was amazing. We had the anorexic community that were coming out, saying, “Thank you for this product. It allowed to introduce calories back into my life.” And so we were really helping people with the body.
But we started to notice that a lot of the employees didn't believe that they could achieve greatness, that they could achieve whatever they like. They had been brought up with the same belief system: you do a nine to five, or you sold drugs, which is the truth, sadly, with a lot of them. And that was what they were taught.
And so Tom really wanted to help people. He was like, “How do we teach people or show people that it all starts with the belief you have in yourself? And that if you believe that you're always going to be in the inner cities and in minimum wage, well, then, guess what. You're going to live in the inner cities, earning minimum wage. So it's almost like we need to affect their minds.” And this is five, six years ago, before people were really talking about mindset. And so we're like, “Okay, well, maybe we'll do some videos, maybe we’ll put it on YouTube or send the link to our employees, because now we can actually reach them.” And so it kind of started to build like that.
So that show specifically started to build. And then we started to realize people were reaching out to us who, like, “Hey, I was suicidal. And I saw your content, and it really changed me.” And we're like, wow. It started to really impact us and what we were doing on a much bigger scale. And that's when we sat down—and we always have the question, the no B.S., what do we actually want to do with our lives, and what is actually our mission? And it really was to help people. And we started to realize that if we were only helping people on the body side of things, then we weren't really fulfilling our true passion. And even though we were extremely successful with Quest staying and only focusing on the body—oh, sorry—only focusing on the body would have not actually been fulfilling my purpose.
Now, our business partners at the time only believed in the body; they weren't very interested in the mind. And so that's where we came to a point where we're like, okay, Quest was announced as a billion–dollar company, and there's a part of us that we really feel like we need to do if we really want to help people, and it's the content side of it. And if we don't do the content, then we're really staying for the money. And do we actually want to sell our souls for money? We said no. So Tom and I said, screw it. Let's just take the money we have. Let's exit Quest. We still had our shares and everything in the company, but we were like, let's just exit. We'll leave. Our business partners, they'll keep running it, and let’s go and build the studio.
So we took our money. We came, we built a studio in our house. And we've now got four sets in our house. And we were like, this is our purpose. And since then, I look at someone like my mom. My mom was severely overweight when we were at Quest. And I was trying to give her free protein bars. I mean, we were so financially successful. I was trying to hire trainers for her, and she was just putting more and more weight on, to the point where she couldn’t even walk up the stairs anymore because she was so out of breath. And that was another reason with Impact Theory.
Tom and I just turned around and said, it’s not about the product. It's the fact that I would ask my mom, “Mom, hey, how are you doing? How do you feel?” And she's like, “Oh, I'm trying again. I just can't lose the weight.” Well, the second you say you can't, you're never going to. And so that kind of took us back to the mindset.
So we had these people in the inner cities that didn't believe it, I had my own mother who didn't believe in herself, and that's when we're like, okay, we really have to do this. We really have to show people that your mindset is absolutely what dictates the outcome of your life. And so we just put all our time and energy into that.
And then, Women of Impact, again, I kind of just stumbled on, just telling my story. I’d meet people, I’d meet incredible women like yourself, and Rachel, and just talking to incredible women and hearing their stories and then sharing my own. I was like, wow, this is a life I could live. And when I look at what is my purpose in life, it is not to make more money.
Now, look, I have no problem with wealth, at all. I think wealth creation is beautiful. And let me tell you, I’ve gotten to grow Women of Impact and Impact Theory to be bigger than Quest. So Quest did sell, like, two months ago for a billion dollars.
LISA: Yeah. Which is very exciting.
AMY: Sure. How very exciting.
LISA: So, we sold Quest two months ago, and so wealth creation is beautiful. It allows you to do more causeships, but you have to do the cause stuff if you really want to make use of the money in a positive manner. So when people are very negative on money, I think they're just not thinking about the person who has it. I think money literally comes down to what—it’s like your superpower. Are you going to use your superpower for good? Are you going to use your superpower for evil? It’s your choice. It’s the same with money. Are you going to use it for good, or are you going to use it for evil? I choose to use it for good, so I am a massive advocate for wealth creation. Just had to say that. Sorry. Side note.
So, with Women of Impact, it really was like, okay, I'm not in it just for the money. I really do want to impact people. And Impact Theory and Women of Impact just started to reach people on a whole different level. So we had, from Quest, people saying, “Oh my god, thank you. You’ve changed the way I feel about myself,” to now with Impact Theory and Women of Impact, where people are saying, “You've helped me start my own business.” “I was literally suicidal, and then I came across your content.” “I didn't believe in myself, and now I do.” “I look in the mirror now and I tell myself, ‘I love you,’ and I never used to. I used to hate myself.”
Things like that are so freakin’ moving and motivating that when I even started Women of Impact, I had no intention of being in front of the camera. I never did interviews. It wasn’t a desire of mine. I want to be a movie director. I want to make films. I don’t necessarily want to be in front of them.
And so when people kept saying like, “Lisa, you need to share your story more. You need to share your story more. It can really impact people,” I was like, “But I don't know if that's actually what I want to do.” And then I thought, okay, I love content. I love impacting people. And so, in fact, I actually lied just there. It wasn’t I didn’t know if I wanted to do it; I didn’t know if I’d be any good to do it. That’s actually the truth. And I was like, “Give me a set. Give me cameras. I’ll build a team. I can do that, no problem. But talking and being in front of the camera and being interviewed or interviewing people?” I was like, “No, that’s not me. I can’t do that”—going back to the “can’t”—and that’s when I was like, “Lisa, you just said you can’t. Okay, well, you’re not going to be good at it, that I know. You’re not going to be good at it yet. So are you not doing the show because you're so worried about your ego and you're so worried that you're not going to be good, when the positive outcome could be that you're about to impact hundreds of thousands, hopefully millions of people?”
And that's when I was like, “Okay, I'm letting my ego get in the way. I'm going to test it, and I will still have the love of my life.” So if I stepped in front of the camera and I didn't enjoy it, then I wouldn't have chosen to do it. But I stepped in front of the cameras. Okay, I'm going to give this a shot. Hey, what's going to happen? It fails, I remove it from YouTube. No harm—like, that’s the worst that can happen.
So I stepped in front of the camera, and I’ve kind of been doing it ever since because I love it.
AMY: And it kind of works really well for you, so I’m so glad that you did so.
Now, because this is a show for people that are building their businesses online, I’m curious to know what were some of the big needle movers as an entrepreneur with Impact Theory? So you've built that into something really successful. And what do you think are some of those strategies that you've used that have really worked?
LISA: Okay, well, I'm always going to start with the belief in yourself, so that's always going to be number one. So no matter what you start—like, I got someone the other day that literally asked me, “I want to start a podcast, but I don't know. Is the space too crowded?” And I just looked at him like, “Are you joking? There's always room for the best.”
AMY: Thank you. I always believe that.
LISA: Right? There’s always room for the best. When we started Quest, people were like, oh my god, protein bars is a dying market. No one’s buying protein bars. It was in 2010, the economy was still terrible, and we came in with the arrogance, I guess, and conviction that we were going to do it, and probably even the naivete of believing that we could do it. And we went in, and we changed the face of protein bars. The market now is bigger than ever because we believed that we could change it. And so, again, going to anyone starting online, you have to believe you can, and you have to believe that you can be the best in the world at it if you’re willing to put the time, energy, and effort into it.
Now, once you believe that, now it’s like what strategies are you going to try? The thing that we do from Quest to Impact Theory to Women of Impact, the biggest thing we do is bring so much value to someone’s lives, rule number one, because you can never make an ask if you’re not giving. I want to give so much that when I ask someone to subscribe, they trip over themselves because they want to subscribe because I’ve given them so much value. And it has to be authentic value. You can’t persuade someone into believing in your stuff.
So when we started Quest, the very first marketing-method tool that we used, the very first thing is we made bars, we shipped them for free. We had a master list of everyone in the fitness industry that had clout and influence. And we sent all the bars to them. And we put in a little letter, and on that letter, it said, “Here’s some free samples. If you like us, please talk about us. If you don’t like us, please talk about us. All we want to know is the truth.”
And if you can get over the fact that, like, your ego or anything that’s going to sting you, “Oh, I don’t like this flavor,” or “I don’t like this content,” “I don’t like this video,” “Lisa, I don’t like your hair,” whatever it is, if you can get over the sting of hearing the truth, oh my god, that’s a game-changer in your business.
AMY: Game-changer. I mean, Rachel was just talking about this need for having thicker skin, and that’s exactly what you’re talking about here.
LISA: Mm-hmm, absolutely. Because there’s so much wisdom in people’s insults.
AMY: What if it’s just their opinion, though? So, we’re often taught, don’t listen to strangers take you down on the Internet. It’s just their opinion about themselves. So when you say there’s wisdom there, how so?
LISA: So I would look at an insult or a complaint about something. So I had a fan write on one of my videos. It was an episode with an African American. And she wrote, “Lisa, I was about to unsubscribe. While as much as I love your content and it's very empowering, I wanted to hear from somebody that looked like me.” Now, I could have turned around and gone, “I can't believe her. Is my content not good enough? I don't even charge for it. And here she is complaining.” Or I can go, “Wow. She's got a point. It never even occurred to me. And even though I've maybe upset somebody, I can rectify it.” So it's things like that. So that's where I just look at them and go, is there truth to it? Is there any truth to it?
So another insult that I got—let's just go down that rabbit hole for a second—it was an episode and I was wearing pink leg warmers, and I've got really funky hair. So somebody wrote, “Lisa, you look like this is an episode from the ’80s. I love your show, but your look is so distracting that I can't watch your show.”
AMY: Okay, so, what did you do with that? Because you could say, “Screw you. This is me.”
LISA: Right. So I looked and go, okay, is there truth to it? And so I looked at the video, and I’m like, “Does it look like an ‘80s— oh my god, kind of does.” And I’m like, “Is my hair over the top? Yeah, it kind of is. But I like it, so I’m going to choose to keep going with it.” And so that's really the difference of, is it an emotion? I like it. This is the look that I'm going for. If you don't like it, I feel bad that you don't like it. I wish you did. But this is what is authentically me, and I refuse to do anything else that is not authentically me.
But when the person complained about having a certain raise or something like that, that’s nothing to do with being authentically me. That’s a hole in my game that I didn’t. So I’m like, “Oh my god, thank you so much for enlightening me and showing me where the hole in my game is. I'm going to change immediately,” and immediately I did. And the thing is, it wasn't that I didn't have other ethnicities on the show. I really did. I just didn't—and she was very articulate. She's like, you just didn't have someone that was very dark skinned like her.
AMY: Got it. Yeah, that’s a great example, though. You just separated those two; one, you could learn from; another one, you kind of check in and you’re like, “You know what. No, this is me. I'm cool with it.”
LISA: Yeah. And you have to put your ego aside because you have to take a hard look to see is it actually true.
AMY: Yes. Is it actually true? Is there truth there? Can I learn from this, or is this just feedback that is not going to serve me and I'm moving on? So that’s valuable.
And I've got one more. Before I let you go, can we go to one more area? And I promise I won't make it long, but we got to touch on this. So many of my listeners are going into business with their spouse, with their loved one, with their partner. And because you’ve been working with Tom for so long, what's really interesting is you were in the housewife capacity. You weren't necessarily in the business, but then you were. So you had both worlds. How do you make it work with working so closely with Tom?
LISA: Yeah, I love this question. So it hasn't been easy, and so no one should need to expect it’s easy. It’s going to have to be an evolution. You have to communicate. So those are really big key things to do.
Now, let's get a little nitty gritty. So with mine and Tom's relationship, just on a personal level, when we got married, we basically said, what do you want in a wife? And he asked me what I want in a husband. And then what type of husband do you want to be, and what type of wife do I want to be? Because the truth is there are going to be things that he wants me to do that I'm not interested in and keen to do, and vice versa. But the one thing—we both come from divorced families, so we both said we don't want to ever get divorced. So we have to look at everything that is hard and the things that people don't talk about, and we have to talk about them because what we noticed in every divorced couples we've ever seen is that they're always just like, “Oh my god. I blink, and one day we're just not connected.” So it's like, okay, that doesn't ever just happen, right? It's one day after the next that leads into two or three years of not communicating.
So for us, when we got together, we said, what are your roles and responsibilities? Who takes out the garbage? If someone breaks in, who goes after the robber? Is it me or is it you?
AMY: It’s a robber. I love how you say that.
LISA: So we had that discussion, like, who cooks every night? Do you deal with your own food? Who does the dishes? So even with something as petty as the dishes, I'm sure everyone could relate. So, I'm a neat freak; Tom is the complete opposite. And so he would leave his plates everywhere, and over time, I was getting really frustrating. And so I said, “Babe, it really frustrates me. I really want you to please do the dishes, or why don't you—?” He's like, “You want me to want to do the dishes?” I'm like, “Yes, I do want you to want to.” He’s like, “I'm never going to want to do the dishes. So the question is, if I do the dishes, I need you to know that I'm doing it for you.” So this is what he was saying to me. So I’m like, “Well, no. Don’t you want to do it for yourself?” He’s like, “I don’t care. I’ll use paper plates.” And I was like, “Okay, use paper plates, then.” So he literally turned and started using paper plates because he didn't want to wash up. But I wasn't willing to wash his dishes. So as small and minute it may seem, we got that specific on our relationship.
Then when it came to business, we're like, okay. It worked very well for our relationship because there were no unknowns. There were no expectations without the other person knowing about them, because that's the worst, when someone has an expectation of you and you just don’t know about it. So being honest and open, communicating about your expectations, and never making assumptions.
So we would sit down with our business and go, okay, let's not assume anything. Let's go over every type of scenario we can possibly think of. And so in a business we sat down and said, like our relationship, there has to be someone that has final say on things because let's say, for instance, we're in business, and we come to a head, and we don't agree. Well, then what happens? Do you just keep not agreeing? Do you make a decision in spite of the other person? Let me tell you, that's a sure recipe for disaster because the animosity that will build up after that. So we said, okay, let's finalize now. We call it emotionally sober, where your emotions aren’t rattled off, where you're very even keel. So on an even–keel level, let's sit down, and let's go over scenarios.
Okay, scenario number one. There’s some business decision that has to be made. You don’t agree, I don’t agree, and now what? Okay. He pitches me his way and why he's right. I pitch him and why I’m right. And then what happens if we still don't agree? Okay, who has the final decision? So we, together, in the sober moments, we said, “Tom, you have the final decision.” And in three and a half years, since we started Impact Theory, that has only ever happened once because we always respect each other enough and never really feel strong enough to then push back. I don’t know if you've noticed. You can tell when someone feels way stronger about something than you do?
AMY: Oh, 100 percent.
LISA: So, that’s kind of what’s happened. He feels way stronger than I do, so I just, fine; let's go your way, and vice versa. Only once. And this probably happened about four months ago. And so we're in a team meeting. We’ve got about twenty-five team members at Impact Theory. So we’re in a team meeting. Twenty–five people were all sitting there. Me and Tom don't agree on something. He tries to persuade me. I tried to persuade him. He turned to me and he's like, “I disagree. We're moving forward with my suggestion.” Now, in that moment, it still stings, right? I'm not invincible. So my ego was dented. My husband's saying, I don't care—well, he didn’t say, I don't care. But that's how you interpret it in your head. Like, oh my god, he doesn’t care. But literally so I sat down. I was like, oh my god, this stings. I want to argue with him. I want to say, what do you mean? I was like, Lisa, you agreed. You said to him in that moment of if we come to a head, you have to make final decision, because if you don't and you keep headbutting, what's going to happen? Your company’s going to come to a standstill. Neither of us want that. So if we both agree that we need to keep moving the company forward, then we both agree this is the best strategy. And I have to be on board with it because I've agreed to it.
AMY: Okay, here's one thing I absolutely love about you, and there are many things, but I believe you do such a great job of putting your ego in check and not letting your ego dictate the decisions you make and the feelings you have. I mean, I know there's moments, but to be able to make that decision with Tom, and then to sit in a meeting and see it actually happen and knowing that it stings, but you're moving forward knowing it's for the greater good of the business, that's an example of putting your ego aside. I think we can all learn from that.
LISA: Thank you, my dear. And again, it really just comes down to in that moment, in a sober moment, right now, as you're listening to this, your listeners, ask yourself, what's more important, your ego or your business goals? And if it’s ego, that’s fine. Don't feel badly about it. Say, “Yeah, I want to protect. I want to feel good about myself all the time.” Then get out of business. Like, that’s my first [unclear 56:35]. Because let me tell you, if you’re in business, you’re never always going to feel good about yourself. There are times where you feel like you’re an utter failure. I still feel like that, and I sold a company for a billion dollars. But you just have to keep putting yourself in check.
And in that moment where Tom said, “All right, we're going to move forward,” I just had to put myself in check. I'm like, Okay, this freakin’ stings. And look, I have a raging ego. I'm not like someone who doesn't really care. I do have a raging ego. I've just recognized and I've trained myself that it doesn't serve me. And if it doesn't serve me, then why do it? And I live my life by that motto. Does it serve you? And when in that moment, it was a great—I actually love challenges as well. So in that moment, it was kind of like, “This sucked. And I so want to argue.” Lisa, this is a challenge. This is a time where you said you would be on board. And so we actually have a phrase as well that we use within the company. This was transformative as well. I think this is from principles. It is, I disagree, but I commit.
AMY: Ooh, I’m totally behind that one. I disagree, but I commit. Yes.
LISA: Because a lot of times, you'll have teammates or business partners or whoever that don't agree with you. So you’re going to keep going in that direction. Now, what happened? That person sits in, they’re like, “It’s going to fail. It's going to fail.” And you know they're hoping it fails. And when it does, you know they're thinking, “I told you so.” Now, that's not a good business plan. That's not a teammate you want on your side. You want someone that wants and believes and is going to fight for it to succeed. And so even if I don't believe in Tom's strategy, you better believe I'm going to freakin’ fight for it to succeed. And so that—
AMY: That’s powerful.
LISA: Yes. And you have to say out loud, because it almost—don’t know if you notice, when you say things out loud, it kind of just reinforces your actions. We said to our team, anyone that doesn't agree with something, that's okay. You are more than welcome to say it out loud. But you also have to say in that sentence, but you commit to it, because it just solidifies. It goes back to belief, right? It goes back to, you saying it out loud solidifies that belief within yourself.
AMY: Yes. I totally am behind you 100 percent. If I say it out loud— sometimes I just need to talk to Hobie, my husband, and say, look, I need to just tell you this because I need to get it out and I need to say it because it feels truer when I hear myself. So I'm behind it 100 percent.
Lisa, you have shared so many incredible gems in this episode, and we've gone places that we've never gone before in conversations on the podcast, so I cannot thank you enough for your honesty and vulnerability and really just taking us there. Thanks again for being here.
LISA: Oh my god. Thank you for having me, and thank you for everything you do. I think you're a freakin’ incredible woman. I adore you.
AMY: Oh my gosh. Coming from you, the hugest compliment. Tell everybody where they can learn more about you.
LISA: Yes. Please, please go see me on Instagram, @lisabilyeu. And then Women of Impact on YouTube is definitely where my heart is, and I did not expect that at all, but I'm desperately trying to grow that. So, guys, if you're into female empowerment, please, please do go check it out on YouTube. Women of Impact.
AMY: Awesome. And we’ll link to everything in the show notes. Lisa, thanks, again, for being here.
LISA: Thank you, Amy.
AMY: All right. Take care.
AMY: So, there you have it. I hope you found some gems in this interview. I think there are so many life lessons and great reminders for us all. So I hope you took some notes.
And I think my favorite part of it was when she said in the very beginning, I don't have confidence for anything that I'm just starting out with. And I think that's so important. It's like, duh, of course you don't. But we forget. Hey, I'm new at this. I’m just starting out. I have no idea what I’m doing, so of course I have a lack of confidence.
A lot of times, so many of my students and so many of you, you will tell me, “I struggle with confidence,” and it's like you're supposed to have it. But you're just starting out. You have no idea what you're doing. You're just getting going on this journey. You're in your first few years, and you're like, “I really need to get more confidence. That’s one of my biggest struggles.” What if we just owned it? and we said, “Of course, I don't have a lot of confidence just yet. I’m figuring this out. So anything I'm new at, I don't have a lot of confidence, that's going to take time.”? And then you just ease into it. And as you take action, the confidence starts to build. So anyway, that was probably my biggest takeaway from this episode. I hope that you have a bunch of takeaways as well.
Here's the deal. I want to tell you about next week. It literally, after I recorded the episode, because it's already been recorded, I actually said at the end, I think this might be my very favorite episode, because it's an episode all about selling. And we're going to get into a six–step process so that you can master selling your product like a pro and talking about it and actually getting more and more confidence with talking about your offer and selling it and finding different ways to get it out there. So we're going to talk all about selling, but I think it was my favorite, favorite topic because I gave some insight and behind the scenes of what it looked like in my own business when I was learning to sell. And I think you're going to find it incredibly useful inside of your business. You're going to walk away with strategies and tactics that you can apply right away. So, anyway, one of my favorite episodes is coming down the pipeline. It's next week, so don't miss it.
I’ll see you here, same time, same place. Bye for now.