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How I Thrive: “Just get started with something; Put one foot in front of the other”, with Miiko Shaffier

An Interview With Ming Zhao


When I feel down or stuck I try to do what I tell my kids to do. Just get started with something. Put one foot in front of the other and things are usually not as bad as they seem.


At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep, preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving women who have gleaned and are practicing their own philosophies on maintaining their wellbeing. As a part of this series about what successful women leaders do to thrive, both personally and professionally, I had the pleasure of interviewing Miiko Shaffier, mother and founder of LearnHebrew.TV.


Thank you so much for doing this with us, Miiko! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path and to where you are today?

Thanks for your interest:) When I was pregnant with my ninth child I was on strict bed rest for about five months. During that time I wanted to find a way to provide something of value without leaving the couch. My husband is a tour guide who also does live broadcasts of his beautiful tours of Israel. It gave me the idea to put together some easy classes on Hebrew reading and use technology to broadcast them since I was unable to leave my home.

I was pretty nervous about doing a live broadcast (something I’d never done before) and teaching Hebrew in real time. However, it was an immediate success and I love getting to know the most unexpected people from around the world.

My book “Learn to Read Hebrew in 6 Weeks!” was an audience request and my kickstarter campaign to produce the book was triple funded by my faithful followers.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

While writing my book, I wanted an illustrator with a unique modern style and was immediately drawn to Ken Parker. It turns out, he himself had tried unsuccessfully to learn to read Hebrew in the past. Through his work on my book he successfully learned to read Hebrew with my method. Of all the illustrators out there, it seemed so perfect that he illustrated this book.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I was once hosting a live broadcast of my classes and had a guest teacher in front of the camera. I was really into the class and was snacking on pretzels behind camera. Turns out, my snacking was a total sound distraction and there were people sending out tweets about it. First of all, the tweets were good natured. From that I learned that people are pretty much just nice and forgiving…and honest too. Second of all, I learned how important it is to pay attention to details.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture and work life?

Choose something you’re passionate about. It’s a lot easier to create a good culture around it.

Ok thank you for that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule. Can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

I love Pilates. I’m actually a certified Pilates instructor. Even when I’m not teaching it I make sure I to do a routine at home at least a few times a week. A big glass of water first thing in the morning before I begin to

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

I’ve been listening a lot lately to audiobooks on finance and entrepreneurship. If you see me in line at the grocery store with headphones in, I’m probably not listening to music.

I also make a habit spending time with people who are smarter than me. Sometimes it rubs off.

Finally, can you share with us two routines that you use to help your heart, your emotional or spiritual life to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

As an orthodox Jew there’s just so much that my Faith provides in this department! The biggest thing as a busy mother and entrepreneur is Shabbat. Every week For 25 hours straight we don’t touch our devices, don’t take calls, don’t drive and spend the time focused on family, God and community. It’s like a weekly reboot switch.

Every morning I get up a few minutes early so I have time to just talk to my little ones. Hearing what’s on their minds is very grounding and brings peace of mind.

When life is very busy, and you cannot stick with your ideal routine, are there any wellness practices, rituals, products or services for your mind, body, or soul that you absolutely cannot live without?

No matter what’s going on, I always do my makeup before getting started in the morning. Conquering that little task makes me feel like I’m off to a start and even if I don’t feel it, others think I’m ready to get to business.

All of us have great days and days that are not as great. On days when you feel like a rockstar what do you do? What does that day look like, and what did you do to get there?

Usually I find that the days where I feel like a rockstar are the days that I planned carefully and carried out the plan step by step.

In contrast, on days when you feel down, what do you do?

When I feel down or stuck I try to do what I tell my kids to do. Just get started with something. Put one foot in front of the other and things are usually not as bad as they seem.

Do you have a story about the weirdest, most bizarre or most humorous wellness experience, treatment, practice, or practitioner that you’ve ever partaken in? If you do, we’d love to hear it.

I pretty much stick to conventional medicine but once, my friend insisted that I go with her to get her evil-eye removed.

We went in through the backdoor of this house in an old Jerusalem neighborhood to the kitchen of the woman who is said to have this power. She placed a dingy towel over my friend’s head. With one hand she held a bowl of boiling water above the towel while she dropped globs of oatmeal into the bowel. When it was done the woman told us that the procedure was successful but that she should come back once a month for maintenance.

You’re a high achieving business leader, and you also have family and loved ones that may require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the executive at the door, and be the most loving caretaker at home?

I actually work from home so for me the challenge is to carve out space and time for work without letting it take over the home and vice versa. For that I have different environmental reminders. Like putting on music when it’s not work time or sitting in a certain place when I’m working.

Is there a particular practitioner, expert, book, podcast or resource that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

The book Rich Dad Poor dad is a classic and while I don’t relate to everything in the book reading it switched something in my mind about how I think about my business.

Recently I had finished some long term projects and I was considering taking a part time job. I remembered the mantra From the book, “mind your own business”. I decided instead of working by the hour to build someone else’s business, to use that time to tighten up my accounting and begin plans for new projects that will be an asset for me in the future

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If all people, myself included, would do one thing better today than they did yesterday in a mindful way, the world would look better every single day.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Do the best you can with what you have.”

The accomplishments I’m most proud of in my life are the things I wasn’t comfortable doing, but had the tools to give it a shot. When doubt creeps in about what I’m capable of, I only ever expect to do my best with what I have. Over the years, it’s been a consistently productive approach to have. I’m now teaching something I love, raising a large family, teaching Pilates classes that give women renewed faith in their physical strength, and I’m an active member in my local community. It’s a full life with many small but meaningful accomplishments.

What are the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

LearnHebrewTV on the Periscope app or www.Periscope.tv @LearnHebrew.tv on Instagram @LearnHebrew.tv on Facebook @LearnHebrewtv on Twitter

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


About the Author:

Ming Zhao is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host. She is co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare, a technology-powered personalized skincare company that won MIT’s AI Technology of the Year award and is backed by Y-Combinator and Stanford StartX. She is an immigrant, a third-generation entrepreneur, and a mother whose daughter is the same age as her startup. Prior to founding PROVEN, Ming was a private equity investor where she frequently worked 80-hour weeks, wreaking havoc on her skin and soul, leading her to pursue personalized skincare. She has an MBA from Harvard University and lives with her family in San Francisco, CA. Checkout PROVEN’s Skin Genome Quiz at www.ProvenSkincare.com.

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