Hi everyone, I'm Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. Today, I am delighted to interview Yijen Liu, Founder of Human.
SPIFFY: Hi Yijen, nice to meet you! Love your organization's name btw! :) So, what challenge are you addressing?
YIJEN: Thanks Spiffy :) Human works on the desire and challenge we all have to become our best selves. Today the path to self-improvement is murky and unguided. How do we get over the imposter syndrome, find courage to follow our dreams, repair a relationship? There’s currently no obvious solution. I created Human so that anyone can become their best self in a lightweight, entertaining and free way.
SPIFFY: Love it! What motivated you to do it?
YIJEN: Seven years ago, I was struggling with anxiety. I was 29, a stress-ball managing 40 engineers, in a relationship I was too insecure to end. I began a self-discovery journey where I experienced a new level of happiness, courage and authentic connection with others that I never knew was possible. But it took a ton of research, several mentors and coaches, and dozens of books. That amount of work and money deters most people from the personal growth journey, and I was determined to solve that.
Image courtesy: Yijen Liu
SPIFFY: It's great how you converted a personal challenge into something so positive and helpful to others! So, how exactly is Human working towards a more equitable world?
YIJEN: Thank you for asking this question, Spiffy! We believe that Human levels the playing field by giving people of any background access to learn from the most amazing mentors who historically were available to only the most highly privileged people (e.g. tech execs). Our app lets anyone follow and listen to voice notes from executive coaches, therapists and successful entrepreneurs. There’s greatness in all people, and we’re regularly moved by what people are capable of with the right guidance.
SPIFFY: After all, we are all stardust! Tell me about a recent initiative by Human and what impact does that make?
YIJEN: I’m organizing a series of conversations around Black Lives Matter at tech companies. Empathy is fundamental to ending racism, and we’ll be interviewing people of color in a pretty in-depth way about their experiences with subtle and overt racism. These conversations are going to be eye-opening and uncomfortable. And that discomfort will probably come from previously held beliefs and ways of acting (or not acting) breaking down - a prerequisite to change.
SPIFFY: I will keep an eye out for your interviews and here's wishing you all success. On a separate note, please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from failure?
YIJEN: Thanks Spiffy. After I first quit my job, I started a business that failed. I questioned whether I was a talker with no walk, and whether I’d made a mistake quitting my job. Then I started another business. Lo and behold it also failed. It was a dark moment for me. I felt like an imposter. It was around that time that I came up with Human. And here’s the thing - had I quit at any of the (many) tough moments in my first 1.5 years of entrepreneurship, Human would never have existed. The lesson here? KEEP GOING.
SPIFFY: That's a powerful lesson that I'll surely share across the universe. (It also reminds me it's time for me to go to my next planet 😔) On a parting note,what is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
YIJEN: There’s a difference between disinfectant spray and all purpose cleaner.
SPIFFY: 😊 Bye Yijen!
YIJEN: Bye Spiffy!
Yijen Liu is the Founder of Human and executive coaching firm Moment. She previously was a product leader at Amazon, Rdio and Mezi. With a background in consumer technology and various personal development methods, she’s combining the two to empower people in living their most authentic and fully expressed lives. (Nominated for Spiffy's Blog by: Unshackled Ventures)
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse stories with the mission to inspire kids and youth around the world to become entrepreneurs with empathy. This series features interviews of inspiring founders by our very own Spiffy to introduce young readers to innovation, inclusion and entrepreneurship. Check out Spiffy's tales from Planet Earth and other planets HERE.