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CSS 11 | Entrepreneur Success Traits

Successful entrepreneurs all have traits in common that help drive them to success. Doug C. Brown talks to best-selling author and CEO Shriya Sekhsaria about her company, Lumhaa, and how it grew from its beginnings as a way to help parents deal with grief to today as a way to save and share memories. Learn what traits are needed for success and learn how to develop them so you can incorporate them into your own life, make better decisions, and get better outcomes.

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I have brought on a very young successful entrepreneur who’s doing great things. Her name is Shriya Sekhsaria. She is from India, studied in the United States and a very intelligent woman. She has built a company called Lumhaa. It is a company that comes from a place of doing good and what they create is memories for people. They do something called memory jars. You’ll read in this episode the story of how this company formed and the journey of this person. What we focus on in this particular episode are the success traits that she has, as well as what I’ve observed thousands of successful business owners and CEOs and leaderships of companies having the same success traits.

What I would recommend is you pick out the success traits that are within this and incorporate those into your own life. She’s a very smart girl. She’s an accomplished, published author of multiple books and has as a vast knowledge of formal education here in the United States. As you’ll find, she’s not always going to agree with me. From the moment we met, one of the things that I’ve appreciated about her is her view on things at her place in life, 25 years old. My place in life, 58 years old. We agree on a lot, but we healthily, respectfully disagree with one another. You’re going to find that through this episode. She’s a wonderful thing and that’s a success trait as well amongst business owners. Without further ado, let’s invite Shriya Sekhsaria of Lumhaa, introduce her and bring her on in.

Shriya, welcome to the show.

Thank you.

It’s awesome to have a young entrepreneur on here who’s doing great things, and you have a lot of success traits that I see in multibillion-dollar companies, people who are doing at least $50 million and up. For your company, it’s a growing company, but you have all these success traits and I wanted to speak about these and tell the audience about what you do on a daily basis. You had the largest day that you’ve ever had in your business, and a lot of people don’t think about celebrating wins enough. I know you well enough to know that you probably have some idea on how to celebrate wins. I found this to be a success trait throughout companies. How do you feel about celebrating success and how important do you think it is for companies to do so?

I only made an entire company around celebrating the little moments. We’re starting with the bias question. I think that celebrating wins is hugely important, but even more important is defining what the win means for you because in a lot of cases, you’ve got people who define the traditional wins as, “I made my first million and I hired a certain number of people.” In some cases, a win is also not losing $5 million and not having to fire someone else.

First of all, defining what a win means for you and understanding that that can be something as small, “I made it to my workout while walking my dog this morning,” to, “I landed the biggest MNC in the world.” Define your wins and to celebrate them, figure out what makes you happy. Whenever we think about celebration, there’s this cultural narrative almost which involves parties, friends and big, but there are some people who identify as introverts who get their energy from chilling in bed with Netflix and a tub of ice cream congratulating themselves.

First, define your wins, then figure out what celebration style you want to go with. More importantly, as a CEO, identify what celebration style your team wants. When it came to the initial wins, I would try to make everyone be celebrated by the company by sending a company-wide email, congratulating them, get obnoxious cakes or make little memory jars with their faces on them. It took me a while to realize that not everyone likes to celebrate like that.

CSS 11 | Entrepreneur Success Traits
Entrepreneur Success Traits: It doesn’t matter if you’re working out, reading a book, or watching cartoons with your kids; it’s you carving out some time in the day to prioritize yourself.

As a CEO, be respectful of the different ways that your teammates like to celebrate and give them opportunities to do that. If you know someone is an introvert, they want to celebrate at home by themselves, give them an early day instead of keeping them in the office for a party. If you someone who likes other people to congratulate them, throw them a party. Me, myself, I am more of the mixed breed where in most cases, I like to write notes to myself, congratulating myself on wins because then anytime I feel down, I revisit those notes and these notes are in a form of a memory jar for me. I have this memory jar of all of the different wins I’ve had and whenever I’m feeling down or dealing with something, I go back and look at those. Every month, I try to find one reason to throw a party and every Friday, I try to find one reason to have cake. Even if there isn’t a real win, to get a cake, I develop or create a win in my mind. That’s how I think about celebrating wins. I think it’s hugely important.

It’s an important point for people who are in business because a lot of times, people get involved in business and they’re so mired down into the actual business of being in business versus the business of being in life. A lot of people I have found working with clients or even in my own companies, I’ve been guilty of this where we get myopically focused on the business mission, the business that has to be everything. Before you know it, we’re not celebrating the wins on a personal level. There are two sides to the business. There’s the corporate agenda then there’s the personal agenda of the people who were working there. Both of them I have found the need to be synonymous for business growth. Do you find the same?

I think it’s more than two even. There’s also a social agenda on top of that or a societal one where you want personal alignment with what the business is doing, but you also want the business to align with what society needs and wants. It is best if there’s some synonymity, but it doesn’t stop just for the business, you think more about the world. If you’re out then you also think not only about your personal, corporate and society. You also think about the future agenda and what the generations ahead if you accelerated evolution. Ideally, you have alignment in all four of those.

You can keep adding layers and going nuts. The more synonymous it is, the easier decisions become because whichever layer, there’s conflict. It magnifies in different ways. If your personal agenda doesn’t match the corporate one, there’s burnout. There are a lot of cases in which I’ve made business leaders who don’t like to look in the mirror and feel like they can’t stand in the sunshine because of decisions they’ve made. It leads to a lot of issues that are problematic at a person and a company level. Same way if you look at the disconnect between a company and a society or you look at a disconnect between company and what future generations are expecting. I’m sure you can pick up any headline and boil it down to a choice like this. I think there are lots of agendas that need aligning when you’re doing that.

One of the greatest things that happen between our conversations when we’re conversing is you find an area and you’re able to spot that area. I bring up two things. You’re like, “I think there’s a third.” Here’s the thing, readers. For those of you who have partners in life, business partners or whatever, if you always agree, you have the wrong partners. You have no need for partners most of the time. Success trait number two is to find people who can broaden your own horizon. I know you’ve done that through your story.

I found it fascinating how the company started. It started from a story from what I read about everything. It appears that this story came to you because you were working with terminally ill children. You wanted to celebrate their lives in some capacity. You were working with terminally ill children, and you come up with this idea for the parents of these children. What was the genesis? How did it all come about?

The background of how Lumhaa started was that I grew up in high school writing a bunch of novels that we went on to become bestsellers. The deal I had with the publisher at the time was that for every novel that becomes a best seller, I would be allowed to write a non-fiction book and then the royalties from that non-fiction book would go towards a community in need. The publisher and I would both give our shares because the novels made the money they wanted.

During my freshman year of college, I was working on this book about terminally ill children who are below the poverty line in India. The idea was that I would spend a few days living with each child and their families, and trying to capture as authentically as possible their lives so that when we wrote this book and people bought the book, there would be an awareness of the cause that they were giving to and the amazing lives they were helping.

I spent time with each of these kids and they were the sweetest. They made me little drawings, showed me what their schools were like and shared stories with me. We had pages of recordings and hours of footage and things like that. We did this with quite a few kids across the country. What ended up happening was the publishing cycle for those who don’t know is terribly slow in some cases. It can take very many months to get your book to print. That’s what happened in this case, unfortunately, and a lot of the children passed away. I wanted a way to feel less helpless in this situation.

Celebrating wins is hugely important, but even more important is defining what the win means for you. Click To Tweet

When I was at home thinking about what I could do, I spotted these giant glass jars in my kitchen. If you know any Indian grandmas at the risk of stereotyping, there are almost always large glass jars in their kitchen. I took these jars and labeled each one with the child’s name and whatever we had from the child, like interview notes, journals they made, printouts of photos on pen drives, we put footage hoping that some of the parents will be able to see it. We filled it as much as we could and shipped it to their family. The parents appreciated having that.

After we did work with units and different groups like that, we saw that the memory jars were generally something that uplifted mood and it didn’t bring the people back, but for a second, it made them feel like they were still connected to the people they lost. That’s how the memory jar concept came about. I can talk more about my thesis and how it became a tech platform, the psychology research behind it, and why that became a company. The memory jar concept came from these kids.

It’s important for people because they get lost a lot of times. When I see companies, they’re stuck. They don’t have their story anymore. They had this old story. It’s stale. People have come in and they don’t realize what the original vision of the company was. It all comes from a story. As we’re children, we learn a lot of times through stories. As we get to be older adults, we tend to start to think that we’re no longer children, instead of the extension of the child in a larger older body because we carry our memories with us.

What you’ve done is created this amazing ability for somebody to remember people in the ways that they want to remember them, as well as to reconnect with people on a regular basis. My dad passed away. I go to his gravesite and I talk with him. Why? I still want that connection. Same with my grandparents. How important do you think it is for a company to evolve and continuously continue to evolve to work on the story of the company versus just working on sales alone? What I found in sales is stories sell.

There are two types of stories we’re talking about. One is the story of why. That is the North Star of the company as to why it was created. If that starts to change, that’s a little shady because that should be the truth of why the founder created the company they did. Over time, founders do get more clarity about their own personal why and that comes into the story. The incidents that led to the creation of the company stay the same or should stay the same.

The second piece, which you were mentioning is stories sell. Those have to evolve all the time because people learn through stories and when you’re selling them something, they’re effectively learning about you and your business. Different people learn from different stories. To understand the story and to learn from it, you have to have a certain baseline amount of experience. When things seem familiar, it’s easier to understand them. That’s why depending on the person you’re speaking with, the story that resonates with them is going to be different.

Let me put it in more concrete terms that might make more sense. I’m talking about Lumhaa specifically. We do memory jars for all kinds of occasions, events and people. One example is the memory jar which is what we were talking about, which is when a person passes away. The second type of example is a graduation jar where multiple people can post wishes for a graduating senior on a digital link and then get the physical version.

When I’m talking to a person who’s interested in the memorial type of jar, the story that I’m going to tell them is about how we’ve done this for kids or the senior citizen homes we’ve worked with. I’d pick one example and give them that. When I’m speaking to someone who’s interested in the graduation type of jar, I’m going to tell them the story of how during the pandemic, when my brother graduated, we did this cool thing for him because that story is going to resonate more. There is one story, which is you expressing yourself to the world as to why you did this and then there’s the other story which you’re using to explain the concept to a person and to sell a certain product and to explain your vision. The second type of story changes. The first one largely stays the same, at least for me it has.

You have your North Star story, which is the vision, and then have continuous evolutionary stories that are working through the time with us, that we could use to continue to promote and express who we are as a company, but also to connect with people on another level. This is important for everybody to know because when we start a company, we have this vision. We all do. We all think it’s going to be the greatest thing ever. We go out and start the business. We start putting it forth.

CSS 11 | Entrepreneur Success Traits
Entrepreneur Success Traits: If your personal agenda doesn’t match the corporate one, there’s burnout.

Our vision sometimes isn’t congruent with the market’s vision, even if we’d done the research. We think, “It’s an idea.” I know you ran into this because I remember reading that you started your company, you had two years’ worth of development under your belt. Anyone who’s had business experiences has had this happen to them. You began the process and then you put the idea out there. You found that people either A) Weren’t buying it or B) They were buying it, but they weren’t implementing their part of the transaction, which was now you’ve got to create the memory jar.

I call it the crickets phenomenon, which is you hear crickets. No activity whatsoever is going on your platform. It’s just crickets. That’s a sad place to be because then it gets hard until people blame each other. As a founder or a CEO specifically, you take responsibility and try to figure out what went wrong. More importantly, how do we fix it? I did have that situation happen where we spent years developing an app, launched it, and not a single person wanted to use it. The few that did download it to give it a try didn’t make a memory jar or add memory.

The way we dealt with that is to be humble and say that this is a product that we know and hope it’s going to be good for a lot of people. Instead of saying that, “We know what’s good for you,” let’s ask people what they want and what’s good for them. We ran a design sprint and had people join in virtually, in the office and tell us that, “This is the kind of app that I want. This is the kind of activity I want. This is how I want to share my memories. This is what I want the physical version to look like.” We sat back and cried a little bit about the paychecks we signed when our users were doing all of the work. The team was awesome, listened and let them not only design but also feel accountability in what they were designing.

That was important for two reasons. One, they told us what they wanted so we knew what to build. Two, because they were getting what they wanted, they wanted to show other people the awesome stuff they built. We created a Hall of Fame on our website where you can go and see each user’s name and which piece of the company they’ve designed. That became a great sales and marketing tool because our users that not only became our designers, they also became our salespeople.

What’s great about this is there are a lot of these nuggets that are coming up, but we’re not highlighting like, “Do this. Do that.” I’m going to unpack this. We all run into challenges in our company, all of us. It doesn’t matter. I’ve worked with tens of thousands of companies. Every one of them runs into a challenge. Where they make the mistake, where you did not was you go back to self-assessment. You get brutally honest and you say, “Here, we’re going to go back. We’re going to assess this situation. Now we’re going to take action on that, but we’re going to get humble. We know that it’s not working. We’re not going to get this arrogance play. We’re going to just say, ‘We’re going to crush this thing.’”

What we’re going to do is we’re going to go back to our market and we’re going to get the answers from the market because you know there was interest there. This is a very high success point for businesses to understand. Your market will tell you the answers. You don’t have to figure it out all internally. The other thing that happened out of this, which was great, was you helped your users and empowered your users to become part of the company in the strategy of helping them to help themselves to grow your company by allowing them to help design the app and have input on of these things.

As much as that is important, the second part, which a lot of companies forget is to reward their customers. You’re building up the human dynamic. I know that’s part of your company mission, but you’re doing it with your clients. Your clients are now becoming advocates for your product, services, and are now becoming essentially your salesforce. You have this large commission-only salesforce that were all these other companies are trying to figure out, “I got to hire and pay base salaries and all this other stuff,” and we do have to do it internally as well. When one can build an external army of advocates that promote their programs, products and services, their company will magically grow. Have you found this with your company magically growing through the power of people?

I think so. If you’re saying my company is magical, I’m going to take the compliment here. In terms of how the company grows was affected definitively because even if we’re not talking about external people. The way a lot of companies start off is by you telling the people in your life that, “This is the thing I’m doing.” You can hope that those people tell the people in their lives. It’s almost always network effects that grow it. Having many different people join the net of your network only means that exponential growth.

We were fortunate that people understood that we don’t want to grow it as my company or as mine and the team’s company. It very much is a community company. The people who make our products come from emerging communities and they get a cut of whatever products are so old. The schools we work with also receive a cut for the work they’re doing. The way we’ve built the whole business is with the idea that this is something we’ve built for the community and therefore, it belongs to everyone. In terms of both the reward and responsibility, I feel fortunate that that’s how it’s played out.

Instead of saying, “We know what's good for you,” let's ask people what they want and what's good for that. Click To Tweet

You’ve developed a worldwide company now doing 150 sales a day. This is cool. The whole theme of what I asked you to be onto this show was because you daily practice what I call psychological well-being in your life and your business. Let’s talk about psychological well-being as how it affects not only the person, but the business and how we should probably give higher consideration. In the United States, for example and most of North American, they don’t focus on this. They look at the business and they go, “Here’s the business mission. Here’s this. Here’s that.”

You practice psychological well-being. It’s part of what I’ve recognized that whether they’re a very large company doing multiple billions of dollars, the leaders especially practice psychological well-being. It’s an overlooked area of a successful business. Your routines, for example, what I recognized was you get up, you exercise and you learn something new. That’s your daily mantra of getting up and doing something like that. That one point, how much does that prepare you for your day and to go into the day with a better mind? What I’ve learned is 80% of business failure comes from leadership, and 80% of that comes from the lack of them conditioning their mind. How do you feel about this?

The fact that you’re blaming the leaders of companies failing. There’s a lot to be said about psychological well-being and extending that also to psychological safety. This is one of the things my thesis was about. I can go on for hours about it. To spare readers, to talk specifically about the workouts in the morning, it’s incredibly important to have me-time and whatever that me-time consists of is totally fine. Workouts have those endorphins and that makes you feel good and so you should work out before going to work. I work out because my team refuses to let me in the office if I don’t because I get super cranky in the morning. I train for Nationals in archery, and so I had a strenuous training schedule before I got into business. Because my body was used to that, if I didn’t get a fraction of that, then I’m biting everyone’s heads off and nobody wants to work with me. My team literally asks me, “Have you worked out now?” If I say no, they don’t let me in.

The bigger point that I’m trying to make here is it doesn’t matter if what you’re doing in the morning is working out, reading a book or watching cartoons with your kids, it’s you carving out some time in the day to prioritize yourself. Whether that’s the first thing you do in the morning or the last thing you do before going to bed, making sure that you’re well taken care of. It’s the first step in making sure your team and business are well taken care of.

If you’re constantly waiting for that one day you’re going to go on vacation and relax, or that time when everything is going to be pristine and you can hang out with your team, it’s not going to work that way. People say this and it’s super cliche, but it is a marathon, not a sprint. In the marathon, you don’t have a lot of pit stops, you’ve got to keep going. Building in those pit stops while you’re running is important instead of stopping.

After the marathon, rest. If you run a marathon, you don’t wake up tomorrow morning, most people, and run another marathon. Two days later, wake up and run another marathon. From working out, one of the most important components of working out, especially if you’re doing strenuous weight exercises, a lot of those people who are the big, bulky, healthy-looking people, they rest. The fact that you condition your psychological well-being in the morning, and I know you also do it at night, you learn something new every day usually about the business or something else.

A lot of successful people that I have been able to have the fortune of interfacing with, do this. This is a success principle. They wake up in the morning, get their psychological well-being in order, do it at the evening as well and they’re usually practicing in between. There’s an old statement that people like Firestone tires, Harvey Firestone, Henry Ford, and all of those used to get together and they used to actually in the mornings practice psychological well-being.

How do you practice psychological well-being?

Even getting together and figuring out what is the most important valuable things that we can do now. Putting our mind in the frame of, “Let’s think proactive and let’s think growth,” because it’s easy.

CSS 11 | Entrepreneur Success Traits
Entrepreneur Success Traits: It’s not always about managing; it’s about managing up.

You’re talking about mental state. Psychological well-being is defined and the most commonly accepted definition is from Ryff, 1989. It’s defined as six different metrics that measure your psychological well-being. It’s different things like your environmental mastery, self-acceptance and growth. That’s why when you said you practice psychological well-being, I think, “That’s a scale.” I agree, it’s about being in a frame of mind that’s productive and happy. It’s telling that there’s no technical term for it, that we’re using substitute technical for it. That’s telling about how under looked it is.

When we’re in that frame, we make better decisions. Like you said, if you’re not in that frame, you come in a little bit cranky. Nobody wants the boss coming in cranky because then the day is like, “Oh, geez.” If you have team members and you have partnerships and things that are constantly agreeing with you, you have the wrong people. You have the right team because your team is helping you manage your state as well by making sure that you don’t come in unless you do what you do in the morning.

The best type of team to have is not necessarily one that disagrees with you, but one that knows when to agree and when not to disagree. I can tell you as a founder and CEO, maybe particularly because of the way we’ve been conditioned, there are a lot of cases in which you’re doubting ourselves and what you need in that moment isn’t a team member necessarily to disagree with you. In some cases, you need support or some space to do what it is that your gut tells you to. Sometimes the signal from your gut is so weak that if you get someone who’s consistently disagreeing, then you won’t trust your guts in that.

It’s important to have proactive, active communication, whether you disagree or support in your case.

Also, having people who have the ability to tell whether you need support on that day or you need their opinion is also important. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and you should encourage sharing it. There are scenarios, particularly as a CEO and you go to your team member and let’s say they’ve made a huge mistake. There are two ways to deal with that. The first is you tell them that, “We totally understand. It’s okay. We can deal with it later,” and you give them that supportive CEO. The second way to deal with it is, “Here’s everything you did wrong. Don’t do it again next time,” and that’s a little bit more of a constructive criticism CEO.

One of our biggest hallmarks is figuring out which mode to go into the person. Eventually, they’re going to have to meet both, but knowing which side to present is important. When we’re talking about the team too, I think it’s under-looked that sometimes CEOs need that treatment, too. It’s not always about managing. It’s also about managing up. The best types of employees are the ones who can manage up and disagree with you when needed, but also know when you have to let the CEO be. I think that’s under-looked this idea of managing up and knowing when to agree and when to disagree, or at least learn to stay silent.

You bring up a good point. It depends on the person who’s at the top. If they’re the dictator type, they’re not going to be accepting that type of feedback. If they’re not, like yourself or myself, I’m very open to feedback. This is one of the reasons why I asked you on this interview because I knew you were not going to agree with me throughout this whole conversation because we’ve had all the conversations, and it’s been fun doing this. Let me go back to the company, the name. I looked this up in Hindi. It’s something like a moment or momentous or in the moment.

How did the name come about? It’s a creative name and it’s something that people will remember. A lot of times the name of the company, especially if it’s catchy, becomes the brand. The name always is part of the brand. If you think of companies like Google, we don’t talk about, “Let’s go to the internet.” We go to our favorite browser and we go, “Let’s Google,” or Zoom. Zoom has now replaced video conferencing. It’s like, “Let’s Zoom.”

When is Lumhaa going to become a word?

The best type of team to have is not necessarily one that disagrees with you, but one that knows when to agree and when not to disagree. Click To Tweet

How did you come up with the name?

I can make up a nice fancy story. The truth is that when I saw the memory jars, I was like, “This company is going to be called Lumhaa.” There was no question of what else it’s going to be called. In fact, I wanted to call it Lumhaa because I’m very proud of my Indian roots. I wanted to make it an ode to the children that this started with. I knew I would probably end up making a word from there. When I first wrote my brief, the name was spelled differently and pronounced differently. I was okay about changing it but then people told me to change it because they said no one is going to be able to pronounce it and that’s true. We’ve got everything from Lumamum, Luminos to Lumhan.

Lumhaa is never the first thing people say. It gets mispronounced. It’s hard to spell. In most cases, our brand analysis team was like, “This is going to be hard for people to remember. You’re going to new sales because people aren’t going to remember the name of your company.” Because they told me all of these things, I was like, “No.” The only one demand I have is that the company name is never going to change.

All of the people telling me that this is never going to work strengthened my resolve to keep it. When the idea of doing something with memory jars came, the word Lumhaa came with it. It was never, “I have this concept. Let’s figure it out a name.” It was a joint package. It was probably some subconscious work going on. The kids that we worked with liked the word and it’s an ode to the country I’m from.

That is a great story. I remember when I was working with a company and they were called PaeTec Communications. Originally, the founder wanted to name the company Genesis. They went to look and try to buy the URL, and the people wanted $50,000 for the URL. They’re like, “We’re not going to do this.” How did they come up with the name PaeTec? It came up because the founder had a wife and that many children. He used the letters of each one of his children and his wife. His wife came first. I was part of the first 100 employees in that company. That company grew exponentially. We eventually sold it for $2 billion. I say we because I had a bunch of stock and I was very happy when we sold the company. Here’s the thing. We used to use that story in every single sales conversation that we would have.

People ask you about the name and how it came about or just generally?

They would generally ask or we would proactively bring it up. The reason that we would do that is because it was such a unique and wonderful story of a man bonding with his wife and children and bringing the human dynamic into a business play. It was a great way to promote the company and eventually, people started hearing the name over and over. They used to think, “Are you Paychecks, a payroll company that was in the United States?” Naming is paramount to a company’s brand. I don’t think it makes or breaks a brand. I want to know your thoughts on that, and I’m sure you’ll give me your thoughts on this. I do think the name is an important ingredient in the brand because it’s what people remember. Whether they can spell it or pronounce it or not, they still remember.

That’s partly true, and the reason I say that is because if people can’t remember the real name of the company or the full name, they nickname it. Like the Lumhaa very rarely goes by Lumhaa. Most people just call it Lum. When people are talking to each other about it, it’s Lum and that’s totally fine because it’s a derivative of Lumhaa and the Lum URL is expensive. Maybe one day we’ll own it. The name is important and that it’s the first step but I think before it becomes a verb, you go through this phase where people are making their own and they just give it its own name.

I’m sure you’ve nicknamed your daughters and different people have nicknamed your daughters different things. That’s the most endearing thing in the world when people think of your company as something that they care about to nickname. If you get completely insane and get Lumhaa spelled in a weird way and people nickname it, that’s totally fine. Your name is important, but people are giving it its own name.

CSS 11 | Entrepreneur Success Traits
Entrepreneur Success Traits: You don’t have to become a different person to acquire the trade to better the world; you can just be yourself.

I do want to emphasize one thing that you said that I think is important though about how you brought in the story for PaeTec and humanized the company. It reminded me of a saying that someone told me when I was just starting the business, which is, “People do business with people, not businesses.” Having all of these stories humanize the companies is so important, and then you end up with a nice nickname and ideally with the verb, but just making it a human is important.

One of the things that I’ve noticed with you and with other successful business owners is they have perseverance. They see it through no matter what. I remember when I used to work with Chet Holmes. Chet used to call this pig-headed discipline and determination. He wanted to name his book, Pig-headed Discipline and Determination, but the publisher said, “No. The Ultimate Sales Machine is what you’re naming this.” He would see it through. Tony Robbins sees everything through. Everybody, large companies, midsize companies, but successful people in general have perseverance. Where did you learn this? I’m curious. Was it part of your upbringing or did you learn it through life? Where did you learn the power of perseverance for yourself?

Perseverance came a lot from watching my family because I’ve seen my dad, for example, go from being hugely successful in the financial markets to then having to figure out where our next meal was going to come from, to then go back and rebuild his own empire. Being surrounded with people like that made that instinctive. I naturally didn’t have the same challenges as him, but growing up I had quite a few, which was moving into a neighborhood that was quite racist and having to grow up with children who didn’t understand what to do with an odd-ball like me. Just more life experiences like that that I think made me more persevere.

The skill that I value more over time and this is something that I learned in business is you have to choose what to be perseverant about. The pig-headedness that you mentioned is important to mention because you can’t be perseverant about everything. I don’t think human beings have that much. I think of it is a resource. I don’t think there’s enough perseverance to be perseverant about everything, but more importantly, you have to know when to quit.

I was running two different companies as CEO and I could have been a wack, continue to do that and continue to work 23.5 half hours a day and that would have ended up with me dying. I could have chosen which one I wanted to continue persevering on and which ones to let go off and choose my battles. It’s important to be perseverant but it’s also important to choose what to be perseverant about. That’s a lesson that I didn’t fully understand because it’s hard to give up on relationships, on business ideas. It’s hard to throw in the towel and one thing makes you stronger than the other.

A wise man once said to me, “When you have your glass so full of water and you want to now pour good water into that glass, you have two choices.” Either pour it in and watch it spill all over the glass, which is taking on 23.5 hours a day or pour some out and make some space for better water.

Also make space for soda or vodka or whatever it is you want to drink.

You bring up a good point which is about role models. You had your dad, watching role models. Readers, if you didn’t grow up with great role models, then go find them. There’s plenty of them out there or imagine them. I remember Napoleon Hill years ago saying he would do this imaginary mastermind in his head and would have people like Abraham Lincoln. He would ask a question of Lincoln, “If I had this problem or if you had this problem, Mr. Lincoln, how would you handle it?” then the words would come back. It’s important. Let’s say they want a memory jar. They want this. They want that from your company, which by the way, I highly recommend you all do this. How do they get a hold of you or how do they find you?

You’re welcome to find me if you want. You don’t have to. If you want to make a memory jar, you can just go to Lumhaa.com or go to the App Store or the Play Store and type in the word Lumhaa. Even if you search memory jar, you should see it. The app is free and it’s ad-free. You can create the digital versions on the app and the website. Within each digital jar, there’s a button to convert it into a physical product, which then connects you with one of our artists and that’s how you can get the physical version of the jar if you want. If you wanted to reach me, the app has a button called Chat with CEO or Chat with Lumhaa, and that’s a direct line to me. If you have any feedback or any thoughts or you want to find me, that’s the way to do it.

The best types of employees are the ones who can manage up and disagree with you when needed, but also know when to let the CEO be. Click To Tweet

You can get direct access to the CEO of the company, which is always fun, because most people, especially when they’re selling, speaking to you, salespeople, it’s hard to find the CEO sometimes or get direct access. I love the fact that you’re allowing people to get direct access to you, even in a growing company where you’re so busy and doing all the things you’re doing.

It’s always delightful like the kinds of calls we get. In some cases, they’re amazing. We had a person that used to call, and this is also taken from a movie as I found out later but I had a person who called me and they were like, “I really liked your photo,” and then I said, “Thanks.” They called back half an hour later and they’re like, “My husband also likes your photo,” and then I said, “Thanks.” They called back an hour later they’re like, “My kids also like your photo,” and so they just keep going.

We’ve had weird people also call and say, “Can you plan my proposal for my girlfriend?” We have people who prank call it. There are a lot of trolls and things like that too. When you get that one user who says that, “This memory jar means something to me because of this,” or in our cases, we hear a lot of, “You made my birthday. You made my wedding special. You made this graduation work. You have me reconnect with my family.” When you hear stories that, it more than makes up for the trolls. I can’t promise that it will be an immediate response, but just hearing from people who are interacting with it and understanding that we’re no longer in the cricket zone like we started off with saying it’s important and it’s motivating. I like having a direct line.

I like the fact that you do too. I do the same thing for my clients or people who want to talk with me. This has been a great episode for me because I’ve learned a lot. From the first time we started talking, you brought a different perspective and very different than some of the entrepreneurs that I speak with. I want to go back to role models. One last question for you. If you could go back in time or even in present and you could recreate yourself as someone, it could be someone living or passed, who would that person be and what would you do to better the world as that person, the new one you are? Let’s say that you want to go back in time and you could pick somebody back from the historical era or even present living now, and you could adapt those traits of that person, become that person, what would you do to better the world?

Why would I have to become a different person to acquire the trade to better the world? Why can’t I be just myself?

There’s the answer that I expected from you. This is good. Learning point for everybody. Be you. Too many people are looking at other people. Thank you, Shriya, for the wonderful gift.

For walking right into what you wanted, for giving you a glimmer of hope that I wouldn’t always disagree with your plan.

A lot of people in business or a lot of people in life, in general, are trying to be someone else. They’re not being themselves. That’s not the authentic true story that comes out. What I love about you and your story is it’s authentic. People can rely on this as a foundational point of trust in your company because I’ve talked with you enough to know you are who you are. We all want to have certainty in our life and part of having certainty is having those relationships that we can rely upon and trust. You just bring that forth. I love the answer to the question. Thank you.

This was delightful, Doug. I enjoyed the conversation and the questions, and as always learned a lot. Thank you for doing this.

People do business with people, not businesses. Click To Tweet

I appreciate you being on and I’m sure the readers as well, Shriya from Lumhaa. You don’t have to be perfect, people, to be successful, so that’s a beautiful thing. Thank you for being on the show. I appreciate you being here. I look forward to seeing more growth and having more conversations like this in the future.

Very much, likewise. Thank you all for reading.

Was that a great episode full of information and success traits? Whether it’s not just perseverance or having this right story and living in and feeding your emotional well-being throughout the day, it’s important that as owners and leaders of companies that we, as the leaders, are the people who are leading people into proactive, healthy habits throughout the day. Whether it’s a personal habit or business habit, there’s never been a business challenge or business problem that I’ve ever encountered, whether it’s in my own companies or whether someone else’s company that didn’t tie back to some type of personal challenge. I once heard Tony Robbins say that 80% of business problems are personal issues.

When we develop self-healthy success traits, we make way better decisions, far better decisions and those decisions lead us to better outcomes. Shriya is a very smart girl. I highly recommend you go to her website and start a memory jar for yourself. It’s something you’ll hold onto for your whole life and then pass on to other people. It’s said that we can’t take our money with us when we are no longer here on this Earth. We can only take our memories. Go out and make a memory today and put it into a jar, put a lot of these into jars and live your legacy.

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About Shriya Sekhsaria

CSS 11 | Entrepreneur Success TraitsShriya Sekhsaria is a bestselling author and CEO of Lumhaa: The Memory Jar Company. Her first novel ONE (2013) was sold out within hours. Her company Lumhaa helps people make “memory jars” — time capsules for relationships and experiences they care about. Shriya founded the company based on her award-winning psychology research at Princeton University; and her experiences with terminally ill children, army units around the world, and senior citizens with Alzheimer’s.

Previously, Shriya worked at Goldman Sachs and was co-founder and CEO of a family of cognitive testing companies. She is a recipient of the 2020 Women STEM Entrepreneurs of the year award, has been recognized by the New Jersey Press Foundation for her writing, and is also a 3x All East archer awarded by USA Archery. She grew up in India and graduated from Princeton University (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) with degrees in psychology, entrepreneurship, finance, and European cultural studies.

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