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How a YC backed fertility startup changed how women approach their future with Lilia's Alyssa Atkins

On today’s show I’m joined by Alyssa Atkins, the founder of a fertility startup called Lilia.

Lilia is your egg fertility concierge; a company that helps women to understand their options when it comes to children and fertility by helping you create a personal fertility profile, matching you up to the right doctor and doing all the research for you when it comes to egg freezing and insurance. We’re chatting about personal experiences that shape the way you move forward in the world, and what it was like to successfully go through the Y Combinator program - the world’s most sought after accelerator, how to lean into our energy cycles and the most important piece of advice she lives by: "spend money on what will grow the business, and nothing on the things that won't."

Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!

Today on the show, we're speaking to Alyssa Atkins, the founder and CEO of a company called Lilia. Lilia is a company that helps women to understand their options when it comes to Children and fertility by helping you create a personal fertility profile, matching you up to the right doctor and doing all the research for you when it comes to egg freezing and insurance.

00:01:22Edit We're chatting about personal experiences that shape the way you move forward in the world and what it was like to successfully go through y Combinator, the world's most sought after accelerator program. This is Alyssa for female startup club. Mhm This is yeah. Usually this is the moment that we've jumped straight into the episode. But as the podcast is starting to grow, it's reached an exciting moment for me to bring on sponsors and sponsors equal ads. After pondering how I like to consume ads in podcasts, we decided to keep the best listening experience, we will play ads at the beginning of each episode so the rest of the show can be uninterrupted for your listening. Today's show is brought to us by the dairy, an Australian company that makes your phone case is pretty. I've been using the dairy for many years now and I love the idea behind the brand. They partner with incredible artists like jasmine dowling to bring some art to your phone and if you don't fancy any of the cases, you can bring your own designs to life through custom cases.

00:02:32Edit Check them out at the dairy dot com and use the code F. S. C. 10 to get 10% off. Okay now we're jumping in female stock up cuff precincts. Mhm. Would you like to start by telling us about lilia and why you wanted to start this company in the first place? Yes, I would love to start by telling you about lilia. Um So I'll tell you what lilia is, especially for those folks who don't know and then the impetus for the company. So lilia is an egg securing concierge. I say X securing instead of egg freezing because that's just really how it felt after I did it. Um and lilia provides research and guidance and we make it easy for women to explore their options and decide whether or not executing makes sense for them. And then we support those who move forward. So to kind of give you an idea instead of spending hours researching, sitting on the phone with clinics and insurance providers, we surfers all the science kind of what to expect. Get you a custom price quote based on your insurance.

00:03:36Edit And if you do want to do a consultation at the clinic, we book you in quickly and are your trusted point person along the way. So um article is really to give women the same career family and lifestyle options as men through reproductive equality. Does that make sense? Yes. Yes. Why did you want to start the company in the first place? I was reading that you went on a bit of a journey yourself. Tell us. Yeah. So Liliya is really the solution to my own problem. Um, so the background here is I had been in this long term, 10 year long term relationship with my high school sweetheart. And we split up when I was 27. And then I saw my step mom go through early menopause when she was 36. So something I didn't even realize could occur that early. Yeah. Oh my God. I didn't realize that I did not know either. So those were the two kind of things that put fertility I guess just on the map for me and I kind of sat dormant until just last year I was in a relationship with somebody new and he's younger than me about four years younger than me.

00:04:41Edit And we weren't aligned on when we would have kids. And so I started doing the dating math And it was like, Okay, if I need to have kids by the time I'm 35 was this number in my mind working back from that, I need to have met, you know, the right person yesterday. So I need to break with the guy right now and I need the year to date, you know, like two years to be in love. And so I started planning this whole scenario, which was frustrating like he didn't have to do any of this planning around a reproductive timeline. Um, but at that point I went out to try and figure out what are my options. So I spent hours on the internet trying to find the scientific journals, You know, like what, what's the data? What's the science here? How long do I actually have? And you know, I realized your options are basically google where it was very easy. It would have been very easy for me to get stopped by the scattered literature. There was no clear step. It seemed like a very cumbersome system. Um, or the other options to talk to your doctor if you have one, I was lucky to have a supportive doctor.

00:05:46Edit But I've heard horror stories of women who have told me that they go to their doctor to either get hormone testing or consider egg freezing. And some of them have had their doctor tell them like, oh you should just go find a husband and have a baby now. Yeah. So you know that that's those options aren't good enough I think for women. And so anyway, through this research, I learned that you could take this fertility hormone tests that would inform me of my ovarian reserve. So about how many eggs you have for your age. And it took me so long to get this information. And from that is how I discovered the world of egg freezing or that that was an option available to me. And when I learned that egg freezing or executing where it's the best the sooner you do it, I wanted to do it right away. You know? And I I learned that we have all the eggs will ever have they decrease over in quality and quantity over time. And so the best time to secure your eggs is in your late 20s, early 30s. I was like, why isn't anybody told me that? You know? And I was like, all right, doc let's do it. I don't want to wait a month to like relax elissa, you know, you can wait a month was like, let's go, you know.

00:06:52Edit So Then I secured my eggs at 29 and I had a result I'm really happy about and I just felt so powerful and free after, you know, like this burden had been released and I know it's not 100% guarantee, but because I did it so early in my in my twenties, it gives me a really good chance of having those having a baby with those eggs. So then I wanted to celebrate. I was like, I'm throwing a party. So I threw the world's first egg freezing celebration, invited all of my friends and it was kind of run them. I just realized, I think this is the future, like The way I felt the freedom I felt, I thought, is this how, you know, men just walk around living their lives being able to do whatever they want now, 65 can have a baby, whatever, right? And so that's when I I gained conviction in believing this is the future. I think women are going to secure their eggs upon college graduation. We'll celebrate with a party. You know, it'll be the de facto graduation gift.

00:07:53Edit It'll be this symbolic moment of entering womanhood and that women can then go on and do whatever the hell they want and that the world could use more women doing whatever the hell they want. And so um that's kind of kind of the impetus for for where we've gotten with Julia and is part of it also, usually I imagine women are waiting until it's too late or until they've got to go to the doctor who then has to be like, oh, you know, too bad. And is part of it creating a business that's like, yeah, let's get women doing this in their twenties, instead of waiting until their mid thirties essentially to be thinking about this kind of thing. A huge part of this is making sure that women have all of the information early so they can make whatever decision makes sense for them, right? If you get if you, you know, you get all the information on the science and the costs and how it works and you decide you don't want to look at this next year, maybe that's something for, you know, Alyssa in two and three years. That's cool. But right now we have not um it's not been a priority to educate women in our twenties and early 30s, that this is an option, that it works better the sooner we do it and that's what I think is important.

00:09:01Edit Um and for me it was like as soon as I saw the data, it made total sense, you know, but no one had told me and so that's what we're really focused on is like you should know about this and you should know how it works and what the odds are at different ages. so you can decide when and if this makes sense for you. Yeah. And it shouldn't be reactive marketing, like hand foot at the doctor. It should be hey, we educate girls about this in school or hey, we're out there speaking to women in university. Yeah, it's as important as talking about our birth control, you know, when we're in high school and I think what needs to change is right now, people see executing as something very reactive, you know, something for women in their late thirties, if, you know, if they haven't quite found the partner and and well that that is an option. What we know is that this works much better when we do it sooner and the impetus for us to give women all kinds of options in their relationships and in their careers and in their ability to travel and to just do whatever they want to do, right?

00:10:04Edit And so um and so yeah, you're right. I don't think it should be seen as this last resort. Something reactive we do later on, but something we're taking us seriously as birth control and education about other areas of women's health early in our lives, so that we just know what our options are. Yeah, and especially as more and more women are wanting to prolong their careers before having babies wanting to start their businesses having babies later. Um Yeah, it's a really crazy thing, isn't it? It reminds of me of that scene in friends where Rachel's like, she does the count back thing, but you're explaining it. Yeah, and how many of us do that, right? And you know, for the most part, while I'm here are in a heterosexual relationship anyway, when our male partners aren't doing that math, they probably are on the other end of it, you know, with someone being like, I was I was about not actually, but you know, I'm forcing my partner to find sign this contract. You know, are you going to have kids with me by the time I'm 34, meanwhile, it's like five years away. I had to either of us know what we want and um, you know, I just don't want to be making really important decisions in my life based on this timeline, I'm tired too.

00:11:13Edit Yeah, yeah, agreed, totally agreed. I feel like every woman who's reaching the kind of late twenties vibe has that same feeling. Um so what happens next? You have this party, you have the light bulb moment where you're going to start this business or or where you have this desire to pursue this saying what happens now? What's the next moment? Yeah, so it was a lilia and I kind of evolved together as I was on this journey. And so at the beginning of the journey, it was more focused on how do I get this information about my body, you know, to make this hormone test easier. And as I went through the journey, I realized there really was nobody servicing women who wanted to take action on this information and I just started talking to other women. So you know, I had this problem and I thought, okay, if I have this problem, maybe other people do too. And I've done, I've talked to over 200 women at this point and I just asked them about this part of their lives, how they thought about it, what blocked them? The preconceptions they had about it.

00:12:14Edit And as I would do these user interviews, I would start looking for patterns. And when I got to the point that I'd ask somebody a question and I knew what she was going to say, I realized we were onto something, you know, like I kind of started narrowing down what the problem was and then we would just start building product and services and asking women like does this solve your problem? And if it did, how much would you pay for it? And so that is really how we've gotten to the iteration right now, it's just constantly talking to users and other women to see one, what is the blocker for them? And then to are we actually solving the problem for them? And what was the main problem in the main blocker? Yes. So what I consistently heard was, women have, most of the people have talked to have thought about securing for years. I've seen it on tv, you know, they've heard about it on the radio and the radio, how old are my podcast, you know, But the point is that, you know, they they're aware of it and they just get blocked by taking action.

00:13:19Edit They don't know what to do, where to go, how to start what the process looks like and the cognitive and emotional block bounces them out right? Like I said, you go to google or you go to your doctor and you're either bounced out by uh administrative hurdles or you close your tab because the literature is just scattered and so it was just really hard to take action and again, nobody was treating this as this, you know, powerful smart thing that people do because they want all of the options. And that's what we tried to kind of roll up the carpet for and making it easier for women to take those first steps. And it's also expensive, right? Like it's an investment to do it. And so it's also something that you're like, oh, I don't want to make the wrong decision. And it's also what I imagine if I think about it not knowing too much about the actual procedure. I imagine all this feels a bit scary. I've got to put needles in my body. You don't want to be like cutting corners on the research. But then you're researching after hours, you're tired. I just need someone to tell me the option that I need.

00:14:21Edit You totally nailed it and that's it. Right? So it's definitely not a cheap thing. It's about $10-$15,000 depending on where you go. And um, you know, when I thought about that investment, I secured my eggs around the same time it became a founder, right? So like the worst possible time to everything that kind of investment. I cut my salary to zero and was eating up my savings. And so I think what a lot of folks don't know, there's different options. Sometimes there are financing options, sometimes clinics have financing. Um, I had a low interest line of credit that I could use. And so that was one arm, the other part of it was just thinking about, okay, where else would I put this money? So maybe instead you would put this money towards a trip or some other kind of investment in your body. Um but I thought what it came down to for me was investing in both future me and present me. So I would say that was something that surprised me was the impact that secured my eggs had on present me.

00:15:24Edit So it wasn't just like I'm gonna spend his money and it's not gonna affect me until, you know, 10 years from now, presently actually felt the impact in relieving the relief of my relationship and the confidence to go and pursue this business without a timeline constraint. So I would say that should be factored in the investment for anybody who's thinking about it. Does that make sense? Yeah, definitely, definitely. I think the present stress relief is a key, a key factor and what needs to be shared and like I guess the marketing message, what people need to understand because maybe you don't think about that initially. You think about the future you kind of thing. Exactly. And that was, it was an unanticipated benefit That present me, felt this strength. You know what if my partner and I if we split up when I was 34, that's cool. You know, I've kind of got this, this backup and Um the other thing you mentioned was it being scary these needles and everybody reacts differently to the hormones and the procedure.

00:16:26Edit But people are consistently shocked when I told them the entire egg securing process. You know from the first hormone injection you give yourself to the egg retrieval is less than 14 days. So well there is discomfort and inconvenience. It's a relatively short period of time. So when I look at, you know, 10 grand, 14 days and I secure the optionality of my future. To me it was a worthwhile investment. Yeah, You can weigh it up pretty easily. You're like, yeah, I can do 14 days. I was reading about you online and I read that you secured a seed round of 1.4 million in VC funding and then you've also been through y Combinator. At what point were you like? Yeah, okay, this is the path that I have to pursue. I can't kind of like boot strap this business. It's a really big idea. It needs, you know, medical professionals involved, I assume. What was the next process to get it up and running and alive? Yeah. So you're right, bringing on the medical advisors happened pretty early where I know where my strengths lie.

00:17:37Edit I'm not a doctor, right? I'm not a fertility specialist. And so I went and sought some of the most around fertility specialists out there folks from who had studied at Columbia and Cornell and you know, one of the best, so recruited those folks and then when it comes to life, see, you know guys, I actually wasn't in the plan. I didn't intend to really apply to YC. But one of my friends and investors heather Payne, who is the Ceo and founder of Juno College of Technology, who you should totally bring on this podcast by the way. Oh definitely swing him my way. Heather had just gone through the summer batch and she came out and implored me to apply. And so I thought about it then. And then one of the partners from Y. C. Had done these, um, he called them office hours, which were ostensibly to give founders advice about their businesses, but I think we're actually, you know, their attempt at going out and trying to get founders from different regions to apply. So I got a message from him after that I should consider applying.

00:18:41Edit So I thought, you know what? No downside. I'll give it a shot. And we got in, you know, if I think back to what has been the value of Y. C. I knew it was a strong network. I knew it was some of the smartest people in the world who were partners and who had gone through the program that produced a lot of really successful businesses. But looking back, I would say that the value I found from it is um it's forced clarity of thought. You know, you've got some of the smartest people ripping into your business every week, which actually just made us stronger. It was Y. C. That got us to talk to customers nonstop, which led to us really deeply understanding the problem. And you know, I've made some incredible friends, this is kind of trite to say, but it really is an unmatched network. And I would say YC has also added fodder to our ambition. You know, we're not some cute little hormone testing company. We really see lilia as having the ability to galvanize an entire generation of women. Just hear their optionality and create reproductive equality.

00:19:47Edit Um So those are some of the impact that it's had on us. Did your idea? Well, did your business at the start of Y C look the same as when you came out, or did it have to evolve? It's such a good question? It had to evolve, you know, when we went into I c I was still figuring out the business model, the most valuable part of our product. I was giving away for free, because I didn't realize how valuable it was, and it was Yc who said Alyssa, you know, people are asking you for this, they're literally pulling it out of your hands and you're giving it to them for free. And so, um, they also had me be more disciplined about the ways I was talking to customers and forced me to listen. When I first started talking to customers and to anybody listening, I would recommend reading the mom test, it's a really quick book about doing customer discovery, and I would ask these questions, but then I would look for what I wanted to hear, you know, and I would, I would, I would I would twist their answer to like prove or disprove the hypothesis in the way I wanted it to, whereas YC forced me to really listen to what the customers were saying and adapt and evolve our product based on what they said, the problem was and what they wanted, and I certainly wouldn't have gotten there as quickly with, oh, I see, but maybe not at all, wow, it's really cool and now that you've been through it, and you've seen the other kind of founders that were in the same batch, I guess you would call it as you, were there any common threads between the founders that you could pick out?

00:21:20Edit Was there any obvious kind of, like traits or style of businesses that we're evolving? You know, there's, there's no trend, I would say between style of business, you know, there was anything from women selling renting out indian clothing to the new superhuman for your calendar to lilia, which is an egg security concierge. But what's consistent around among YC founders is we're all crazy. I honestly, I think like founders have a certain type of delusion, which is so important, you know, the future I paint where, you know, executing is the next Liberator in the way birth control was, you know, to have these grand visions, people need to be a bit disconnected from reality or at least be so convicted that these futures are going to happen that they can see and pierce through current reality. So I would say what I noticed among these founders, they had, they had these kind of grand visions for what the future could look like, and they worked so hard, you know, I worked in her own stop and it still felt like I wanted working hard enough compared to some of them.

00:22:35Edit Yeah, so yeah, and you don't have a co founder at this point, did most people have co founders going through the program overwhelmingly? Er, and did you have to kind of give your argument as to why you weren't going to go down that path, or was it fine? You know? It was fine. I've heard that YC prefers you to have a co founder. I understand why it's really, really, really hard to be a solo founder. And when I got into the program, people were like, oh, let's say your, your solo founder, you know, mad respect. That sounds really hard, and I was kind of like, whatever, you know, you have fish doesn't know that they're in water, and as I went through and I saw other people move forward with co founders, I realized, you know, okay, well when you're doing that one thing, I can do this other thing and we can move a whole lot faster. Um so it didn't, they didn't make a big deal about it for me. Yeah. Do you want to talk to us a little bit about the process of raising money? Um I always have to talk about what it's been like, what the journey was, um what you would do again, what you wouldn't do again?

00:23:43Edit Yeah, I would say lilia success in fundraising has been due to years spent building relationships, and I know that's maybe not the answer people want to hear, but it's, it's we raised our around in a few weeks, um but it wasn't actually a few weeks, it was half a decade of delivering and building relationships and um a lot of our funding came from people who I've known for years and so, you know, things I would do again is start building those relationships early nurturing them and it looks like delivering value to people, meeting with them for no reason. Just to deepen your friendship, getting winds wherever you are, if you're at a company right now and sharing them publicly. Um, that was a really important part of people seeing me as confident and capable and then, you know, I tried to make it, I tried to make investing in lilia as much of a no brainer as possible. You know, I'm solving my own problem. We know people want this because we have this killer traction.

00:24:46Edit It's a huge and growing market. There's a perfect founder market fit and then the last component to that is kind of flipping the typical investor founder relationship. Um, and I tried to be what we were in a place where we didn't need money, which is a better place to be when you're fundraising. And so after I'd make really a no brainer, the next context was, you know, we're selecting people to join our team who are convicted in this mission, who believe in what we're doing and can help add value and accelerate our success. And then you get the investor to pitch to you and I think that's an important dynamic to shift. Um, you know, it's really just a lesson in human psychology, like people want to be a part of something that's scarce and is, you know, taking off and is the best. And if you can kind of frame yourself that way with having traction and making it a no brainer and then having them pitch to you that did really good things for us on that kind of notes. Something that you touched on before that I wanted to ask you was, how did you go about getting the medical professionals on board as a new startup and to see what you were doing?

00:25:54Edit Yeah. I think a lot of points as you're asking me this, I'm reflecting on it and realizing a lot of fundraising and bringing on a team and recruiting medical advisors is having conviction in what the future looks like and making it a future. People want to be a part of, you know, so our future is one where women have reproductive equality and can do whatever the hell they want. Um, and that's something that people really got. You know, when, when I would say to people, the future is women do this. You know, they secure their eggs upon graduation, they help with the party. It's a symbolic moment. People were like, yeah, I see it. I want to be a part of it. It was the same with the medical advisors. Um, I did a lot of my research before I reached out. Right? So I would look up who's writing about these things. He was doing research. Who's showing up publicly, what are their stances because fertility doctors have different physicians, they take on this uh these different matters. And so I tried to narrow in beforehand who's the right person for us and then I would share with them the vision of the future that I thought they could be a part of.

00:26:59Edit Um the other thing that's helpful is you know, press is not a long term growth strategy, but it definitely does help build credibility. So we had a little bit of early press and um that just helps, you know, medical professionals who didn't know me because you know I was in the tech world for so long, have some conviction in our ability. Does that make sense? Yeah, I think like reading about women in places like Forbes is definitely where you know you get that credibility and definitely where I found you was hanging out in those kind of um publications. So yeah, definitely. I want to talk about your marketing and how you launched and how you found your first kind of customers and what that looks like now if you want to share a little bit about that. Yeah, well this is tactically why having founder market fit is important. And what would make it really hard for a dude to startup lilia right like or even someone who hasn't secured her eggs.

00:28:03Edit I can raise my hand and say, hey I've gone through this experience, who else wants to learn about it. And some of our earliest customers were actually user interviews that turned into to um, people wanting to be a customer without even really trying. You know, I'd ask them, tell me what's hard, tell me about your problems. I would share the experience I had and what I'd learned. I tell them about what really was doing and they'd be like, oh great. That solves all my problems, you know, and, and, and that evolves over time. The first very first conversations weren't necessarily as and efficient, but the learning curve I'm on that journey. Yeah. Well our customers were just people that I would share my journey with one on one and who would you want to take the next step? So you know, I would do things like I put out on twitter, I'm up to have anybody have a conversation with anybody or facebook or instagram. Um, and that's how our first folks came in. And then since then it's largely been word of mouth.

00:29:03Edit So you know, fertility and executing is something that actually comes up more often than people might think because it's usually in the context of a relationship or friends having kids. And so they end up talking about lily that way. Um, I would also say, you know, for us, we've put our investors to work. So we have investors who have driven sales and, and pointed people to lilia by sharing on their platforms. One good example is Michelle romano. She's a killer entrepreneur ceo of the company called Clear Bank billion dollar company. Um, awesome human. As an aside, if you can get her in your corner, she's the ultimate a player. Anyway. She and other investors, well, they'll just authentically share lilia news. Um, or you know, they're, they're kind of participation in it and it ends up driving interest. Um, and then lastly, you know, we've been lucky, I think because we're doing something really different, we're lucky to have some superlative journalists who have been excited about us and that helps spread the word and just as importantly present this path as a normal one and the one that anybody can consider in a way they may not have before with your things like performance marketing and you know, ads on instagram and facebook.

00:30:22Edit Are there any blockers there for the kind of space that you're talking in? Because I obviously know that there are other areas which struggle on, you know, to market on, on those platforms. Have you guys seen any issues with that? You know, we haven't had to do much of any paid marketing yet just because the organic stuff is working so well. But so for that reason I haven't run into blockers yet, maybe ask me again in six months. I'll circle back. I wanted to ask you if you've had any backlash like other people out there who don't like what you're doing. It's such a it's visionary, it's big. But I also imagine it attracts people who aren't into that idea. If there are people who do not like what we're doing, they haven't told me yet. I'm sure there are right when you take such a Yeah, it's a striking vision, right? It's it's a striking future that that we imagine. And so I can I wouldn't be surprised if there were some people who didn't like it. But um, I mean, my concern is with ensuring women have reproductive equality and the options to do whatever they want more than it is with anybody being in a fuss about giving women options.

00:31:36Edit Yeah, absolutely. And I don't mean you in particular, I just in general, yeah. You know, I haven't, not yet again, I'm sure there will be. I think it's crossed, it stays that way, building this kind of business. Again, it's a big idea. It's, you know, it just seems to be like there would be so many hills to climb as you could say, What are the other kind of challenges you face at the moment? I would say the challenge we face is just there's this major shift we are trying to catalyst and what we're really up against are these archaic narratives that are imprinted into the fabric of our expectations of ourselves. And I would say were also against this archaic perspective of what executing is for and why someone should consider it. Like we talked about and the future we're saying is you know executing is the best reproductive equalizer we have in the same way that birth control liberated women sexually.

00:32:41Edit We think executing will catalyze the reproductive liberation and eventually be as common as birth control. That's not something we've really been conditioned to internalize. And so shifting from fertility and even just life planning being something done reactive to something that women do proactively while planning out their lives is is new. Right? Like it's something different. So those are kind of some of the challenges is eating away the vestiges of what we believe fertility and X securing and a woman's role should be. Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting because you're really having to tap into that mindset and find a way to get that message to the right people at the right time and without being scary. You know, being scary. What I don't believe in is that fear should run the show. You know, you shouldn't secure your eggs because you're scared of some outcome or maybe you do. But like that's not going to be our ml we're not going to get to you that way. We're not going to prey on people's anxieties and their fear and so doing this in a way that makes women feel in control and powerful and like their ambition and happiness is running the show and not fear is something that's really important and takes a lot of consideration.

00:33:58Edit What is your kind of key general advice for anyone who has a big idea and wants to start their own business? Mm hmm. Well, one is no that if your idea is really big, a lot of people are going to tell you it's bad and sometimes I use that as um I guess a vital sign of whether the idea really is big enough, there was a time where too many people thought lily was a good idea and I was like, is this big enough if everybody agrees? You know, So I would just say, you know, protect it. And so if it's a really big idea, you're going to get criticism. Um but you mustn't listen. It's so important that you don't listen and maybe don't even share the idea with people who think small because there are so many good reasons not to pursue an idea, that's not the path that you really need reinforced. Another thing, I would say something that helps me a lot and I think this will be relevant for women in particular is just getting a getting control of my inner saboteur. So I don't know about you, but I have this voice in my head that tells me all the reasons I'm going to fail and all the things I'm terrible at and why I shouldn't even try and that is just my inner saboteur and it's the part of the brain called the Amygdala and it's an ancient part of our brain, it's the fear respond er and designed to protect us.

00:35:22Edit And so something I've done that's really helped in pursuing this idea is just I say hello to this inner saboteur. I thank it. You know, it's just trying to protect me, but on the other hand, I've created this more powerful kind of alter ego and it's kind of embarrassing, but I think it'll help people. So I want to share it, which is I call her colisee police Yeah from Game of Thrones and she is the woman I want to be. You know, she is unstoppable. She's ambitious, she gets it done. Like when I'm feeling like my inner saboteur is really getting to me. I try and channel my policy to go and just power through That is so cool. So we all need to create our alter ego for who our almost while this self can be. Yeah, exactly. The woman you want to be a woman you want to be. I really hate that in a self doubt voice. I know the saboteur is just trying to protect you. It's the West. She was, she was literally the worst, but it's like you to say hello, thank you.

00:36:23Edit I know you're going to protect me. Don't worry, we're not actually in danger here and then you go put on your wildest dreams. Hat. I really love that. Thank you so much for that advice. Um so we've reached the part of the podcast where I ask you six quick questions. Are you ready? I'm ready. Great. No one, What's your why reproductive equality to give women the same career family lifestyle options as men so they can do whatever the hell they want women doing whatever the heck they want. That's it for this podcast. I don't know. I did. Well, I just did it number two. What's the number one marketing moment that made your business pop? So this is gonna be disappointing. But there's not like one. It's truthfully just been talking to users every day every day. I call somebody and use their feedback to evolve our product marketing. There's just, there's just, there wasn't one moment. I think that answers it though. Like word of mouth is like really key for you. And I think like even after me talking to you now, I'm like, yeah, like I want to tell my girlfriends about this.

00:37:32Edit I want it for myself. I want to like, I wish that I was over where you are in the U. S. And Canada like being able to access that. It's yeah. And so it's just like, I guess it's when you talk to your users and listen to them and deliver what they want. That's the best market. Like then they'll go tell their friends about it. If you have this remarkable experience. Number three, where do you hang out to get smarter? I read books voraciously. So at one point I read 52 books in a year. I'm not quite at that vault that gate is now right now. I'm averaging 1 to 2 a month. But books books, books, mostly nonfiction, philosophy, biographies, poetry. I shared my booklist publicly. I'm happy to link it to you. Please do, please do. What do you think your top top book or top two books are what do we need to read? Principles by Ray Dalio for sure. And I just read this book. This is recency bias, but it's called Can't Hurt Me by this navy seal who just had a really difficult upbringing and then got into the seals. And to me it forced me to stop letting myself off easy.

00:38:37Edit You know, and there's a balance between self care and pushing yourself really hard. But the thrust of his argument is you have more to give than you have been. And I just really resonated as true for me. Nice. I'm gonna look it up and I'm gonna link it in the show notes for this episode. Number four is how do you win the day? And that's around your AM and PM rituals that set you up for success. Make you feel like you've accomplished everything you needed to Okay, my answer to this is not quick, but that's because I obsess about this like this has been a years long project that I've been Tell us the long version. Okay, like I'm so pathological about it, I have this tracker of every day. I tracked the thing like my habits and rituals. Anyway, so this is what I've learned about winning my day. So the T. L. D. R. In short is leaning into my natural energy cycles. So First thing in the morning I meditate for 15 minutes. If I don't, my mind is just scattered all day. Then I've learned I am the strongest in the morning. So I'm the strongest before actually 11 a.m.

00:39:43Edit No matter what time I wake up. So I do my most important thinking an individual contributor work between six am and 11 am. And in that time I write down what are the three most important things I need to do today. So I think about what are the business schools, What could we have 60? We work on 60 day plans sort of 60 day plans. What could I what three things could I do today that will move the needle forward in one of these dimensions. And those are the three things. If I only do three things today and those things get done, it would have been a successful day. So I try to do those things before 11 am. If I can boom, I've won the morning then I have, I have lunch and then I take a nap, naps are so undervalued. I know they really are. Yeah, it just totally replenishes me for the afternoon. Um and then so between one and five ish is mostly when I'm interacting with people. So whether it's having called team or uh podcast, you know, things like this At three p.m. is when my brain quits again so that I go exercise.

00:40:47Edit So I've been doing these, you know, just 20 minute workouts or there's um this app called Sore studio where I do a yoga class once a week. So exercising is at three p.m. Take a shower and then I'm like ready for Phase three. So and then from like four p.m. On, that's when I have conversations with customers either either on the phone or email. Um I also block time for emails. I'm not just checking all day. So I actually check my email maybe twice a week unless it's with lilia members or my team. Um so by the end of this day it's like I've leaned into my energy cycles. I've done the three most important things I need to do by 11 a.m. and I'm feeling like I've won, I love that. I love this little bit really early. You go to bed really early. Yeah, so I'll read for like, I don't know 30 minutes to an hour before bed and I'm in my bed at like 9:00. I love that I'm such a pro sleeper, I need like 8-9 hours minimum to be functioning. I never compromised my sleep. I would rather, you know have to reform in my day to get the things done, then not get eight hours of sleep.

00:41:55Edit And I would say like this schedule will work for everybody. If you're someone who works the best at night then lean into that, you know like wake up late, do whatever. But to me just leaning into when I'm most cognitively alert and knowing when I'm best able to talk with customers or other people has been huge because the energy for it all. Yeah. Yeah, I need to do more of that leaning in. Um question number five is if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? And it's kind of to highlight where your most important resources are, what's the most important thing to you. So my first thought is I wouldn't spend it, but if the question is like where to spend it um I, the way I think about spending money is spend money on whatever will grow the business and almost nothing on what won't. So usually before even before hiring for example, I will do something myself to test it and see if this is this going to work is going to make an impact on the business and if so only then do I put money toward it.

00:42:58Edit So a good example of this is our early, early product was being built by me and you know, I'm not, I'm not a technical founder precise. So only until we knew we had something that people wanted, that it worked did I hire an engineer. So especially right now I've been super, super frugal with our resources unless it's gonna directly grow the business. Yeah. The things that can keep you growing versus the nice to have. Yeah, exactly. And I've made all kinds of, you know, nice to have mistakes, but I've learned from those. Yeah, absolutely. I was reading a book recently, it's called sell like crazy by, I think his name's Supari and he's in Australia, but he talks about this like mindset a lot and making sure that you change your mindset to not be worried about the things that are beautiful and things that are just nice to have, but to make sure it's the things that are like generating money and focus on those things first, keep your business Alive. Exactly. And thinking about $1,000 constraint is actually really good.

00:44:01Edit I find that works for my time to write if you can only do three things because we're biased to thank you. I'll have all the time. I'll have all the money, whatever this forces you to actually think hard about what is going to grow the business, what evidence do you have that that thing is going to grow the business? Yeah. And question # six, last question is how do you deal with failure either by experience or your mindset and just general approach. Yeah, this is something I'm working really hard on. I'm honestly probably not a good person to take advice from here because I'm really hard on myself. Like I'm sure many of us are, but something that has helped is and I got this from the book Principles by Ray Dalio is keeping a learning log where I document my failures and so I write this, you know, what happened, How did I make that decision? You know, what inputs did they use? What did I learn? What would I do differently now that I know and by doing that it's made it a bit easier to move on from the failure because I've got something from it right? Like I got a learning from it and so I try to move on after that.

00:45:04Edit Most of the time it works for the big failures, they end up looming. Um, but that is something that that at least helps. Yeah, thank you so much for taking the time to record the podcast with me. Where can people find you? So, so fun on twitter at melissa Atkins, our site hallelujah dot com for my instagram. It's such an embarrassing handle. I don't like wearing it, but I'll share it. It's ali gaga Atkins A L L Y gaga G A G A at kids. Oh my God, it's absolutely not that I used to be, I used to love lady gaga and I still like her. What's changed? She's amazing. She's amazing. She's amazing, amazing visionary. You get a new handle. Yeah, maybe you could, maybe you could update. Yeah, we'll see. We'll see. I'll follow in track. Thank you so much. I really loved that. So much fun. Yeah, it's a blast.



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