“Know that every step you take is a building block.” With Ming Zhao & Erica Lasan

Know that every step you take is a building block. There is not one part of your journey, or life experiences that’s a waste. You’ll find that if you do it “right,” and opt to take the positive spin on everything you encounter (good or bad) they’re all valuable lessons. Your “failures” will be the things that […]

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Know that every step you take is a building block. There is not one part of your journey, or life experiences that’s a waste. You’ll find that if you do it “right,” and opt to take the positive spin on everything you encounter (good or bad) they’re all valuable lessons. Your “failures” will be the things that fuel your faith, and your faith will help you learn patience and perseverance.

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s well being, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and 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 leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As a part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erica Lasan.

Faith-Fueled and Purpose-Propelled, Erica Lasan is an Alignment & Empowerment Strategist… but you can simply call her a Vision-Pusher!

Erica’s work focuses on helping people in transitional phases discover “what’s next,” while strategically mapping out ways to get them there! As a multi-passionate creative, and stay-at-home mom, Erica’s “Live Rich” motto is a cry for everyone to use their gifts and live within their JOY — doing less of what they “have to do,” and more of what they WANT to do. How? By choosing to live a life that is happy, healthy, and purposed. #LiveRich, and Happy Dream Chasing!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

I’ve always been inspired by the creative process, and people being bold enough to pursue their dreams. But after graduating from college during the 2009 recession (with no job prospects), I found myself settling into a life that I didn’t want for myself. I had just turned 20 and was already willing to sell-out my aspirations for a job at my college internship — just because they were offering me monetary compensation. Yes, it was a job, but I wasn’t excited about it at all. I felt like my creativity, ideas, and gifts were not being used; not only this, I couldn’t see how they would grow within the company.

I took extended bathroom breaks just so I could escape my desk. I would sit on the toilet and cry for ten minutes, then I would wash my face, put on lip gloss, and then head back to my workstation. But it didn’t end there. The misery continued! On my lunch break I would take a walk around the office building and call my boyfriend crying and complaining about how undervalued and unhappy I felt. I felt stuck. I wanted to do something different, but I wasn’t sure how.

After a full summer of this routine my boyfriend made a simple statement that changed everything, “well Erica, just do something.”

… and so I did! I went back to the drawing board and considered all the things I enjoyed doing before going to college: Photography, jewelry design, singing/songwriting, and engaging in conversation (to name a few). At one point, this led me to create a YouTube channel and develop a few digital series where I was doing street interviews all over New York City!

In the years since then I’ve worked in a myriad of industries, but my interests and intrigue have always landed back with people. I would converse with strangers for hours about their life aspirations, dreams, goals, and giving ideas on how they could arrive there. At some point I realized I’d been working for free! I’d been so busy looking for a job, when all along I’d unintentionally built one for myself… as a consultant! So I made it official and started my company the Live Rich Movement (LRM) in addition to the freelance work I’d been doing through my site EricaLasan.com. The Live Rich Movement has been a culmination of everything I am passionate about: people, faith, purpose, creative execution (in many ways); while living each day intentionally, passionately, and in joy!

…Oh, and that wise (and supportive) boyfriend? I married him! 🙂

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are several people I am grateful to for helping me in my journey! My husband, Nick, has been a major supporter since day one (as I shared above). Aside from listening to me vent every day for an hour; his call for me to “just do something,” was one of the first signs of his dedication to my dreams. Not only did he believe in me when I found it hard to believe in myself, but in all the years of building my business he has never once complained. This is important because we got together young. As I’ve built my brand and navigated the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, Nick has been a steady anchor and an exceptional partner. There have been bouts of time where: I wasn’t working full time, I was freelancing odd jobs, and for the past three years I’ve been building my business while also being a stay-at-home mom to our two kids! We aren’t millionaires (yet!), but over the past decade he’s proved his faith in my vision by contributing to my dreams with his patience, his skills (occasionally as a photographer and videographer), and yes — even investing money if/when the occasion has called for it.

My family is also very supportive of my goals. My parents are from Nigeria, so I’m a first-generation American. So much of the lifestyle I wanted for myself was foreign territory for my parents. After graduating college, this proved to be a little difficult. My parents wanted me to go back to grad-school, then I quit my Marketing job and went to work in fashion (retail) in New York City. They wanted me to lock down a great corporate job, but I chose the path of networking and entrepreneurship instead. They wanted me to be with a Nigerian, and ultimately I married my college sweetheart — a Jamaican. I’m sure that for a while, they probably thought I just enjoyed being “rebellious.” I promise I was a respectful child, but I also knew that I had to do what was best for me.

I couldn’t live for them or anyone else. When it came down to it, I didn’t want to look back on memories of a life that I never wanted to begin with. I wouldn’t have anyone to blame but myself. I wanted the challenge of building a life of creativity, self-expression, color, style, and genuine connections. I also knew that if I stuck to my guns and pursued my passions, they would eventually come around, and that’s exactly what happened. After two years of hustling and networking, I was finally starting to see tangible results. My jewelry line was being sold in boutiques across New York City, and once I landed a freelance gig with EBONY Magazine, my mom finally let up.

Now my mom is one of my biggest supporters. She’s always sharing my work with friends and family. I’m sure there’s a lot she still doesn’t fully understand about what I do, but she understands that I am happy and living in my purpose. I was a guinea pig… now my [super talented] siblings are free to pursue creative freedoms and relationships as they please!

Last but not least, I’m super grateful for my first employer, Ms. Bonnie. She hired me when I was 13 years old; and she was the first person to help me recognize that my creativity (and love for arts and crafts) was something that I could monetize. Ms. Bonnie and I came from such different worlds, but God saw fit to bring us together in the weirdest way — at a holiday craft fair! She was crying, overwhelmed, and having a minor anxiety attack.

I asked her what was wrong and if there was anything I could do to help. So I took some time to help her set up her booth and then went about my business enjoying the fair. At the end of the event Ms. Bonnie offered me a summer job helping her with her jewelry business, Beads by Bonnie. This eventually led to me making jewelry out of boredom later that summer with some leftover beads that she’d given me. Less than a month later I sold my first piece of jewelry to a woman as I was buying ice cream! I’ve been finding novel ways to make a creative living (while helping people) ever since!

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?

One of the most humorous things I did when I first started, was doing things for free — at the expense of my wellness, time, peace of mind. I was starting a business around helping other people, but I found it so hard to help myself! Lol Sometimes I would take on more than expected, for little to no compensation- delivering top-notch service, but barely able to pay for gas! It’s not funny, but it is humorous to consider as I was building a business!

Businesses need payments to keep the lights on and the service flowing. Valuing your time, talent, and access to your presence should all require compensation. I’m not saying that I’m a “big deal” (there is still so much growth for me to experience), but all the work I was doing for free was time I could have been spending with my family or friends. Keep in mind, I’d already done a few internships to get my foot in the door, so at this point I wasn’t in it solely for the “experience,” though it never hurts to practice your craft!

Keeping in line with this, another mistake I made was thinking I could do things on my own. It’s funny because a mindset like that will only lead to stress, wasted money, wasted time, and isolation. As soon as you’re able to afford it, I would highly suggest getting a mentor or a business coach. This will change the game of how you approach your business and brand!

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

Don’t stop, keep going!

Know that every step you take is a building block. There is not one part of your journey, or life experiences that’s a waste. You’ll find that if you do it “right,” and opt to take the positive spin on everything you encounter (good or bad) they’re all valuable lessons. Your “failures” will be the things that fuel your faith, and your faith will help you learn patience and perseverance. Perseverance is the name of the game. When the dust settles, who’s still in the race long enough to cross the finish line? Hang in there and hold tight to your vision!

Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?

Two effective strategies I can share in building an engaged community are: 1) Love people, and 2) don’t try so hard.

Care about the people who care about you, don’t just treat them like numbers — they are souls invested in your success! That’s nothing to take lightly. Thank them, value their time, engage in their lives, and their stories in the same way they do with yours. Treat them like the friends they are! Just because you haven’t met them face-to-face doesn’t mean the relationship should be one-sided. If someone takes the time to send a message or leave a comment, acknowledge it or respond best you can… even if it’s weeks later. Just think about the time they’ve taken to craft a comment to your posts — time is money, and they’ve just deposited conversational currency into your brand’s store. The least you can do is thank them and acknowledge their contribution to the community!

Also, please know that when I say “don’t try so hard, what I mean is to remain true to yourself. The moment you start “trying” inauthentic things for the sake of building an audience is the moment you will lose sight of the most important part of your brand: YOU. Trying will take what you naturally enjoy doing, and automatically make it feel like work because it’s going against who you are.

When you sacrifice authenticity in the name of followers, you’ll be causing yourself more stress and anxiety, while denying your audience the best parts of who you are: your gifts, your message, your story, and ultimately your why. These are the things that help you stand out from the crowd, so these are the things that need to be celebrated — even the most uncomfortable parts. Incorporate what innately comes to you as much as possible, and get clear on who you’re serving in your community. By considering these points, you will stay connected and grounded to your community.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart.

You are a busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self-care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.)

Sure! Two self-care practices I do to help my body thrive are: Listen to music (Dance), and chase my kids. Both practices are so good for both [the heart and the body] because they promote joy! The connection between the physical and mental is so important. How good can a workout be for you if you’re dreading it and frowning the entire time? Okay, so it’s probably still very good for your physical health, but how likely is it you’ll want to do it again the next day? 🙂 Consistency is key! My approach to fitness is to do things that make me smile, and dancing always does just that!

  1. Listen to music /Dance — Scientifically, listening to music and dancing helps a slew of things, but one of the biggest draws is that it has the power to improve moods instantly. Dancing makes GREAT cardio because you can do it for hours and barely feel tired! Why? Because it’s an enjoyable experience! Need another benefit? It’s easy on the joints so you can do as much (or as little) of it as you like without fear of injury!
  2. Chase my kids — Another thing I do to help my body thrive is run… after my kids! I occasionally do outdoor runs. When I can muster up the mental energy to do it, it’s great! But let’s be real, it’s a mental marathon just getting to that point! To motivate myself to stay active and heart-healthy, I chase after my young children. Kids are constantly moving around and burning energy; it would surprise you how many calories you can burn after 30 minutes of tag!
  3. While the exercise is great, the best part about getting my “steps in” this way, is the joy that it fosters for us as a family! The kids get quality family playtime, I get a workout, they get tired before bed, and there’s laughter all-around. Talk about a win-win! I usually chase my kids by foot, but recently they got scooters — and I bought a pair of skates, so tag is about to get interesting!

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

In my experience, true self-care starts with the mind. For where the mind goes, everything else will follow. If your mind is set well, your Spirit is prone to lead the other parts of your life in a positive direction. The two things I do to get my mind right and help my mind and heart thrive throughout the day are: 1) prayers and devotions and 2) leaving dishes in the sink. I know the second one sounds weird, but hear me out!

1) Devotions/Prayer

Devotions and prayer are essential to starting my day. I feel lost without them. Devotions are my opportunity to get grounded and get guidance for each day. This time of Spiritual meditation is when God speaks to me each day. Sometimes He’ll drop a message in the devotional reading, and then I’ll get signs and confirmations about it throughout the day. It’s for this reason that I try to stick to doing them at the beginning of the day. It also helps the day go smoother if I’ve spoken to God requesting that He open my mind, eyes, and Spirit to the things that He would like me to encounter in the day ahead — and he does! I can’t being to count how many times my day has taken a weird twist, but as a result my soul has been so blessed! The days when I give my time in this act of spiritual surrender, the days seem more magical, inspired, and easy; as opposed to the days when I just hop into my day. Those days feel like a struggle, and like I’m trying to do everything in my power, but failing.

2) Leave dishes in the sink during the day

This probably seems so petty and I know it’s probably not holistic and fancy… but it’s REAL. Let me lead with this disclaimer, Having a dirty kitchen and dirty bathroom is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, but this practice does let my heart and mind thrive. Why? Because it is an act that grants me permission to give myself grace and compassion. Any working stay-at-home parent (or these days anyone working from home while quarantined with family 24/7) can understand. It’s hard!

When I became a full-time stay-at-home-parent I thought life would be easier. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening! Trying to juggle my creative endeavors and deadlines with the constant demands of my toddler left me exhausted and uninspired at the end of each day. Once she was finally in bed, (at the times when I would usually feel most creative) all I would want to do is sit on the couch and binge on Netflix… then 16 months later I learned that I was pregnant again. I cried.

I’d been thinking about having more children; but the idea instantly left me with the fear of having less time for myself and doing less of the things I enjoyed. Once I identified that this was what bothered me most, I found freedom. The exhaustion I’d been experiencing throughout the day wasn’t because of my daughter — she was constantly asking for snacks — but the exhaustion I was feeling was from the constant housework!

I felt a constant need to keep the house “tidy” during the day. Attending to chores, chasing after a toddler and an infant, while trying to juggle emails, blog posts, shoots, editing, and everything else on the schedule was running me ragged. So, I started leaving the dishes during the day and would only wash them once (at the end of the day). Talk about a game changer! Taking that pressure off of myself gave me instant peace and mental freedom. By reclaiming that mental space and energy I was more creative, and it even helped me shift my energy so I could be present with my children during the day. This has ultimately created more joy as well!

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Stay hydrated and moisturized.

This may sound petty, but it makes all the difference. Moisturize your skin, moisturize your hair, and hydrate your insides. Being ashy on the outside is the quickest and easiest way to feel crusty on the inside!

When in doubt take a nice warm shower and make it a priority to slowly love-up on your skin and appreciate all that it does. You’ll feel like a whole new person!

Accessorize your life!

I explained earlier that I am a jewelry designer, but what I didn’t mention was that before working with Ms. Bonnie I HATED wearing jewelry — I didn’t even like wearing earrings. Making my jewelry completely changed my life and my outlook on accessories! I only started wearing jewelry to advertise my products, but now I feel naked without them! A good accessory is the easiest way to go from drab to fab: a good pair of earrings, or a lovely statement necklace makes all the difference; but for me, body jewelry is my favorite to wear!

Recently, of all the jewelry I make, waist beads have been my favorite. These colorful beaded adornments are a beautiful way to practice self-love and body positivity. With these pieces you can experiment with colors, materials, lengths, layer them, and they can also serve as a wonderful tool for weight management (without requiring a scale!). After having 2 pregnancies I wore my handmade waist beads again to help me in my journey of loving my body back to my version of “happy healthy.” The more I grew to love my postpartum body (thanks to these accessories) the more I wanted to share them with others — so I started selling them on my site!

Ditch the Sweats.

Purge your closet of clothes that make you feel bummy. If they’re not around, you can’t wear them.

Know that there’s a difference between being comfortable, and feeling like you have to look comfortable. There are cute alternatives to sweatpants — psst: try a pair of stylish harem pants instead! Get rid of the old underwear you’ve been using since college and invest in some quality cute pajamas! After having my second child I dumped underwear, pajamas, and old gym clothes that I’d been keeping around just because they “worked.” I kept telling myself that I didn’t need new clothes. The truth: I did need new clothes! My body had changed, I’d matured as an adult; and based on my new role as a human milk-faucet, I needed comfortable clothes that made breastfeeding more convenient and less cumbersome.

Once I ditched the baggage of my old ratty wardrobe, I felt like a new woman! Yes, I was a mom, but it wasn’t until that moment that I felt like I’d graduated into adulthood. I slowly started rebuilding my wardrobe with quality pieces made from fabrics that felt good against my skin and would stand the test of time. I even replaced sweatpants with athleisure! I felt lighter, cuter, and more put together, and it reflected in how I carried myself. I had more confidence! Some of that new confidence even trickled its way into my relationship! The first time I went to sleep in satin for the sake of integrating it into my lifestyle (and not a “special occasion”), I felt like a whole wife and not a frumpy college girlfriend to my husband of 13 years!

Now every morning when I glimpse myself in the mirror, I give my reflection a little wink as I sip my coffee. It’s as though I’m saying to myself, “Yahhhhhss mama, you still got it!” A cute wardrobe will do that for you, even if it consists mainly of house dresses and luxe robes!

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

The Bible is a book that affects my daily living just because it is so full of faith-filled messages, relatable stories, and divine promises. These messages are a wonderful guide in how to cope with the difficulties of the darkness found in the world. Another great resource are devotionals! A great devotional can change the way you interact with the bible; making it tangible and applicable to your daily living. When I started my devotional journey almost two years ago, I started with Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. This devotional helped me access my Spiritual relationship entirely differently. The devotional themes were so easily digestible that I could recall and carry the message with me throughout the day.

Another thing that helps you thrive is getting a mentor. The moment I invested in myself and got a business coach, it changed the game! Since making the investment I have been able to refresh the direction of my business to better serve those in need of my offerings. This investment has revived my vision, watered my purpose, and reignited my inspiration — all while giving me access to a community of kind, supportive, entrepreneurial-minded people.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

Funny enough, I don’t have any stories of weird wellness treatments! The weirdest thing I’ve tried (and it’s not even that weird) has been cupping during a massage therapy treatment. I mostly try to keep my beauty regimens simple and natural. In keeping my regimen low-maintenance, I try to stay clear of strange beauty treatments.

I guess the weirdest thing that has happened to me during a beauty treatment, was the skin of my eyebrows being ripped off during a wax session… This was thee day before my senior prom. Let’s just say, that was the first of many things to go wrong during my Senior prom. It was definitely a night to remember — probably just not one of my favorites.

As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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.

I believe that we’re all people of significant influence. Anyone can influence, create change, and positively impact lives by just showing up in our purpose!

Luckily, God has put me in this position of being led to starting my movement years ago… The Live Rich Movement!

The message and mission behind LRM boils down to that same position of being Faith-Fueled and Purpose-Propelled… Knowing that a lot of times you can Live Rich and do MORE while having less. You don’t need to be a millionaire to be happy, make a difference, or touch lives — you just need Purpose, Passion, and FAITH! With those three primary ingredients (and a dash of creativity) you can change the world!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

I know so many people probably say this, but Oprah Winfrey! In my mind she’s like a member of my family, it’s like she’s my aunt. I’m just waiting to bump into her at a family cookout or something. She’s such an inspiration to me in her ability to converse with everyone about anything, while putting them at ease, and simultaneously affirming them. It is such a superpower! And while she’s a person of tremendous influence, she doesn’t take herself so seriously that she can’t dance or laugh at herself. She likes to have fun and help people. That’s my kind of person!

So I would love to share a meal with her, and Luvvie Ajayi. I just love her! I would probably leave the breakfast with six-pack abs from laughing so hard the ENTIRE TIME! I remember being less than a chapter into her book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual and laughing so hard that I was in literal tears. My eyes were red (and I’m pretty sure I may have peed my pants a little too). She’s hilarious!

Luvvie is also Nigerian and so am I, so it would probably feel like hanging out with one of my cousins! There are so many similarities in our backgrounds and life experiences. I love that Luvvie always drops words of wisdom alongside words that will make you smile. I really appreciate that about her delivery — it’s straightforward, but also done with love.

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

Site: www.EricaLasan.com

IG: @EricaLasan

Newsletter: http://EricaLasan.com/newsletter-subscribe

Youtube: http://Youtube.com/QuEricaTV

FB: Facebook.com/QuEricaByEricaLasan

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

Thank you so much!

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