Libby Rapin and Lisa Thompson of BluWave Wellbeing: “We have learned it requires lots of discipline to stay focused!”

Optimal focus is what many of us strive to achieve, and we realize this can be tough given all the distractions we have in this modern world, our conditioning to multitask and being inundated with information. We have learned it requires lots of discipline to stay focused! As a part of our series about “How Anyone […]

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Optimal focus is what many of us strive to achieve, and we realize this can be tough given all the distractions we have in this modern world, our conditioning to multitask and being inundated with information. We have learned it requires lots of discipline to stay focused!

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Libby Rapin and Lisa Thompson.

Libby Rapin and Lisa Thompson are the co-founders of BluWave Wellbeing and together have a combined 18+ years of experience leading human resources and communication teams in both start-up and enterprise level organizations. Their journeys to wellbeing, after reaching the point of burnout and exhaustion, led them to rediscover the childlike wonder of playfulness to help them heal. As they began to live with a more playful spirit, they both began to thrive, and so BluWave’s mission was born; to help people experience wellbeing by embodying a playful mindset.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

LT: I was born and raised in a small town in Michigan, was the middle child with an older sister and younger brother and had the most supportive parents around (I am so lucky!). Looking back, I was definitely the goofy child, wearing mixed matched clothes, playing in puddles, playing sports and having an imagination like no other. I also always wanted to give to those who had less than me but I think I learned this from having my parents model that act my whole life. I literally used to sell homemade candy cane ornaments at school and give the money to Toys For Tots. Throughout my child, I definitely went through my phases of having a tom-boy look, then the ‘trying to fit in look’ back to tom-boy look and it wasn’t until I was grown up, that I was finally confident in who I was. I think back to multiple times when I was shy to say what I thought because I wanted to fit in, habits I created were motivated by an external audience and not my own, and the list continues.

LR: I was born and raised in Michigan and grew up the oldest of four, so I remember always trying to be very responsible and set a good example for the younger siblings. My siblings and I loved to dress up in old dance costumes and host dance routine shows for our parents. I was also a crafty kid and loved doing all sorts of art projects (my mom always had the ultimate craft ideas!). I was really into sports when I was younger, but soccer was my ultimate jam! I remember being a kid who was a rule follower, a bit of a perfectionist, if I’m being honest, and I was always rushing around multitasking and trying to get things done quickly. I share that because those tendencies came with me into adulthood, which ultimately led me to my current path.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

We were really inspired to pursue this career because of our own wellbeing journeys. We were both in a state of exhaustion, unhappiness and lacking confidence within ourselves. We came together for coffee one day after multiple people said we needed to meet and felt a deep connection — like we were soul sisters! During this coffee chat, we realized we both shared similar purposes — to bring healing to the world — and so we decided to bring our skills together by creating BluWave Wellbeing. After publicly opening up about our struggles, we became even more inspired to do this work because so many people were reaching out with similar stories and admitting they were suffering too. That continues to be the fire that fuels us — making sure individuals at organizations across the world receive the tools to help them advance their own wellbeing journey.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

For both of us, we owe a lot of our success to our parents for supporting our career changes and cheering us on along the way. We also have amazing friends and people in different expertise areas that have offered up their time to help us in different aspects such as budgeting, product marketing, messaging and connections. It has truly been empowering to meet so many individuals who are willing to lend a hand because as an entrepreneur you are so integrated into your work and some days you lack motivation to think outside of the box. Having so much support has helped us stay within our ‘why’ and we continue to say, we will be giving back as much as we can someday because so many people gave to us.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

We were recently looking back at our original business idea which was to buy an RV and drive it all around the US hosting wellbeing workshops to bring awareness to the mental health crisis. We realized that would require A LOT more work and coordination than we had intended (though we are still manifesting an RV since we can work remotely now!). We scrapped that idea to focus on being a professional development company that teaches adults in the workplace how to embody a playful mindset. Thank goodness we never pursued that idea given the ever evolving virtual and remote environment we currently live in. Divine intervention indeed!

This taught us not to get stuck on an idea. Just because an idea won’t happen now, doesn’t mean the idea has to be scrapped forever. Trust the journey, stay focused on your purpose and the answers will come. And if anyone has an RV they want to sell, or donate, let us know!

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

These are such fantastic questions! Our advice is actually to not follow in our footsteps, but to follow your own journey. Everyone’s journey is completely unique to them, so trust your heart and the decisions you make for yourself knowing you are showing up everyday doing the best you can with the knowledge you have. Let your heart guide you and do what makes you happy — prosperity will follow!

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Between us, we have a few books that really standout. While we could name multiple ones, the two that stand out are ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer (Libby’s pick) and ‘Kisses from Kate’ by Katie Davis (Lisa’s picks). For Libby, The Untethered Soul was pivotal in transforming her relationship with herself and how she related to the world around her because the book helped her better understand how her habitual thoughts, emotions and behaviors limited her to reach her full potential. For Lisa, Kisses from Kate was a book she read in 2014 and the first book in a long time Lisa couldn’t put down (Lisa isn’t much of a reader!). This book inspired Lisa to continue to pursue her purpose, continue to help people and live authentically.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

We love quotes so it is hard to choose, but one of our favorites is by Steven Johnson. “You’ll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.” All of our programs are built around the science of play because our journeys to wellbeing forced us to find ways to be more playful in life. We were both people who would overload our plates, multitasking as much as we could and forget to take a minute to breath, laugh and find time to be creative. We realized we used to envy the people who looked like they were having fun and still succeeding so we changed our mindsets to make sure we were one of those people too. That is why we do what we do.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Well, we have had to pivot our entire business model due to COVID-19. We are having fun figuring out the most playful and effective way to deliver our workshops that teach our ‘Pillars of Play’ framework through a virtual, multichannel learning model to companies globally. Honestly, it has been so much fun and we learn something new every day! We are now delivering our programs virtually and using self-lead modules to help people integrate our play pillars into their lives to help them physically and mentally. Employees who have taken part in our programs are 78% happier leaving our workshops than when they came in (i.e. they are more energetic, and ready to conquer their workday), 60% more knowledgeable of what a playful mindset is and describe themselves as playful and are 252% more confident on ‘how’ to apply wellbeing techniques into their lives vs. other competitor’s programs they have attended. We are really enjoying this learning style and we can see, and feel, the energy rise within attendees in our corporate workshops. It fuels us to continue to find creative ways to partner with organizations because we see our efforts paying off!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Absolutely. Good habits set us up for success and help us feel good and function effectively. They are the basis for experiencing exceptional levels of wellbeing because when we have heightened levels of wellbeing, we strengthen relationships and cultivate trust with others in our lives, have stronger connections, feel confident to share opinions and ideas, are able to look at a process or idea and think of a new way to approach it and prioritize intentionally to enhance positive results. Consistently using good habits over time helps us guard our wellbeing for the long haul. Our goal shouldn’t be to never experience stress, but to better cope and respond in a way that builds resilience to manage it. Things like practicing mindfulness, engaging in activities that bring us joy, making time to play, self reflection and journaling and restful sleep are just a few examples of what good habits might look like.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

There are so many examples! We follow a ritual before every workshop or speaking engagement. We meditate together by visioning how we want the experience to unfold and feel for us and others involved (the emotions it will invoke). Depending on how we feel, we may also add a little dancing to pump us up a little more! We also intentionally make time for things we love and that are meaningful to us, like our morning workouts, getting out in nature to hike or taking a walk with a friend. Prioritizing restful sleep is also a must for us given our past cycles of being people who burned out from overextending ourselves in our work and personal lives. Even if that means we need an afternoon nap, we do it! Meditation has been a gamechanger for Libby, and practicing present moment awareness and not multitasking are some of Lisa’s non-negotiables.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

The key is to start small and focus on 1–2 key habits at a time. Too often we think we have to take massive action to achieve success, but that isn’t true. By starting small, we are more times than not more successful, so as our ability and motivation increases we are ready to tackle more challenging habits. Based on studies by Researcher, BJ Fogg, he states that behavior change happens when motivation, ability and a prompt converge at the same time. Motivation is your internal desire to do the behavior versus an external desire. Ability is your capacity (skills and knowledge) to do the behavior. Prompts are triggers that initiate us to take a specific action like checklists, walking in the house, or an alarm.

With Fogg’s model, we can create what he calls Tiny Habits, a behavior you do at least once a day, that takes less than 30 seconds and requires little effort. An example of a tiny habit is, ‘when I start the coffee machine, I will do 3 stretches and then celebrate with an Americano’. Each person’s motivation, ability and prompt will be different in any given situation, so this really is a personal journey. What works for us, might not work for you — and that is the beauty of it. It means you have the opportunity to discover the right approach for you. And make the process fun!

We know stopping bad habits requires awareness and one way to do that is to stop and ask yourself, ‘how is this behavior, or habit, serving me?’ or ‘how does it make me feel?’. And if it isn’t bringing you positive emotions or results, consider a new action or behavior. It takes time to cultivate more nourishing habits and doesn’t happen overnight, but the more you embrace tiny habits in your life, the more you will see positive results.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Optimal wellness is actually how both of us started our overall wellbeing journey — this is probably the easiest one to speak about because it resonates with society the best, even though it is only a sliver of the big wellbeing pie. Some wellness habits we both utilize include making sure to drink a ton of water throughout the day, getting restful sleep (6–9 hrs), moving at least 30 minutes a day and eating lots of nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes instead of processed and sugary foods (we sweet potatoes, yummy healthy protein snacks and Lisa loves carrots).

What we just shared are examples that many people have heard before, but many times when things get tough, we are exhausted or feeling sad, we decide to load up on pop, eat out all the time and think we can survive on 4 hours of sleep every night instead of utilizing optimal health to pass through those stages. This is why using the Tiny Habits model can be so useful and beneficial for creating optimal wellness.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

The Tiny Habits model we mentioned above is a great tool to help you sprinkle wellbeing habits throughout your day. You can create a tiny habit by simply identifying an anchor behavior, tiny behavior and celebration. An anchor behavior is something that you consistently do during the day (i.e. getting out of bed, drinking coffee, opening the door). A tiny behavior is a behavior that will help you get your desired habit started (i.e. packing a bag of carrots for a snack, taking 5 deep breaths). Then you need to think of a moment to intentionally celebrate the progress because it is about the emotion, not repetition, that builds your habits. It could be as simple as repeating an affirmation or doing a little dance in your kitchen,

Let’s take the restful sleep example. Sometimes we have a tendency to get in bed, start scrolling through our social media feeds one final time for the day and then before we know it, 30 minutes have gone by. The tiny habit could be ‘when I climb into bed, I say three things I am grateful for (instead of scrolling) and I will celebrate by closing my eyes and getting a good night sleep’.

Most importantly, make the habit playful vs thinking of it as a chore or something you HAVE to do.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Brendan Burchard defines high performance as succeeding beyond standard norms consistently over the long-term. You can’t just eat one piece of broccoli and stay healthy the rest of your life! You have to consistently eat healthy over time. One of our favorite habits is to practice creative visualization and this is the process of putting together visual mental imagery of what you are wanting in life (manifesting) to become your reality. You use your imagination to visualize a potential outcome and feel into the emotions you want to experience (do it right now!).

Another habit is to take time to align to your purpose (we suggest daily, but for beginners weekly is a great starting point). What is your why? It is important to understand and align your life to your purpose so you are motivated to take action and choose healthy behaviors and thoughts.

Lastly, commit to daily rituals. We mentioned above how we always spend time visualizing and praying before we speak or teach. It gives us confidence, fires us up and we personally feel it positively impacts the outcome of whatever we are working on. Your daily rituals might include meditation, journaling, writing out your to do list, finding ways to laugh, reflecting on how your day went before going to bed or expressing gratitude. Find what works for you and commit to it every day.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Libby loves using phone reminders. Libby’s phone goes off all the time, not because she is super popular (haha!), but because they are phone reminders reminding her to do things like take a deep breath, read her purpose statement or say something positive to herself. She even has positive affirmations that pop up. Lisa on the other hand, loves starting her day putting together her to-do list and then starting the top three things she needs to accomplish for the day. She has learned to focus on performing well at the must do’s first and then taking breaks as needed throughout the day like walks, breathing or reflection.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Optimal focus is what many of us strive to achieve, and we realize this can be tough given all the distractions we have in this modern world, our conditioning to multitask and being inundated with information. We have learned it requires lots of discipline to stay focused!

One of the things we have learned to do is carve out time on our calendars weekly for specific tasks — like actually schedule it on your calendar. Schedule 2–3 times per week in 1 hour increments for ‘get stuff done’ items, creative projects or maybe even just time to have fun and play. The second habit is relationship building in both our personal and professional lives. As two individuals who crave connection and learning from others, we have to be disciplined in making time for this by intentionally setting aside time every week for conversations to build relationships. The third habit we do to help us stay focused is to simply make time for self-care. We have to make time to care for ourselves, We can’t give to others or stay focused, when our cup isn’t full. Each day, we dedicate a minimum of 15–30 minutes to nourish ourselves. We might do something that gives us a jolt of joy (like dance!), movement, spend time savoring specific moments or meditate.

With each of these habits, it’s important to minimize all distractions. Yes this means turning off notifications on our electronic devices, we say bye bye to checking social media and we focus on being present in order to give our undivided attention to the tasks at hand, or the person we are spending time with. These three habits encompass our work, our family and friends and ourselves — which are all important for our overall wellbeing.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

In the question above, we shared practices that work best for us, however, this might not work for you. The important thing is to choose one thing you want to start doing — start small (remember, Tiny Habits!). Find one thing you know for sure you can do and that gets you excited, and then each week going forward put 15 minutes on your calendar dedicated to cultivating optimal focus.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

We love talking about the state of flow! One way we teach people to get into flow is by focusing on your strengths. We refer to this as our ‘superpowers’ pillar that is part of pillars of play framework. A strength is a ‘superpower’ because it represents the way your brain is wired to perform at its best. The more you use your strengths the more you build up thoughts, feelings and behaviors utilizing your strengths that creates enjoyment in which you hone into your state of flow.

One great way to intentionally achieve a state of flow is to first become aware of your strengths and have clarity on what you enjoy in your life (passions). Then close your eyes and think about moments in your life when these two were combined and what magic took place. Once you have visualized this, start paying attention to moments where you’re feeling really engaged and energized, then lean into these experiences more. The goal is really to draw from your strengths to help you continue to perform at your best.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

We want wellbeing to no longer be a buzzword or a ‘check off the box’ action item for companies. Instead, we want it to be a non-negotiable in their workplace culture and integrated into their business strategies. As two people who felt unwell for a period of time in our lives, we know people are fighting big fights right now, personally and professionally. Therefore, we want to inspire a movement in businesses and in society, where we no longer ‘talk the talk’, but ‘walk the walk’ through actionable steps for positive change in wellbeing. You can read all the books, have all the one-pagers and look up the research, but the greatest impact you can have is by making wellbeing a lifestyle for yourself, and then teaching others HOW to integrate wellbeing practices in their lives. This is the movement and conversation we want to have because the ripple effect of positive change will spiral in unmeasurable ways.

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, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

We have many people that inspire us. We basically geek out over amazing individuals who have built businesses from the ground up, have created a strong impact on society and have a playful mindset. Sara Blakely, SPANX founder, is a person whom we adore in many ways. We would love to have coffee and learn from her as she has built an empowering empire helping women and was her authentic through the process. Since we love both coffee and lunch, we would love to have lunch with Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS. Blake’s approach to business through the lens of social impact is truly inspiring and our hope with our business is to find a way to collaborate with him someday.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We would love readers to continue to follow our work! There are a few ways to do this, first through LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram (no we do not have a TikTok yet), visit our website at or email us at [email protected].

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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