“To develop Grit, appreciate that you have to fall down to rise up” With Lisa Niver and Phil Laboon
There is an old Japanese saying: “Fall seven, rise eight.” You have to fall down to rise up. Duckworth tells us: “Grit rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. I have a feeling tomorrow will be better is different from I resolve to make tomorrow better. The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again.” When I first started my blog, We Said Go Travel, I had an editor at a site called Technorati who used to send back my articles 4 or 5 times. It never bothered me to try again because I knew I was learning a different style of writing. When someone suggested that I should learn to shoot video; I listened. I bought a used Cisco Flip video camera on Ebay for $50 and took it on my next trip to Taiwan. When I returned, I said to my 5th grade science class: “I shot all this video on my trip, but I do not know how to make a movie.” I have no idea what inspired me to say it but it changed my life. My student, Hannah, came up to me at the end of class and said, “Ms. Niver, I will stay in at recess and teach you iMovie.” That 8 minute lesson started me on my way to creating videos for YouTube, Smithsonian and KTLA TV.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Niver. Lisa is a travel journalist and the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in over 200 countries. She sailed for seven years working for three different cruise lines and has visited more than 100 countries on 6 continents. She shares her travel stories on TV for KTLA, on her YouTube channel with nearly 900,000 views and in stories for Ms. Magazine, AARP, American Airlines and others.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path:
When I was 11 years old and my sister was 9, my parents took us on a cruise in the Mediterranean. I saw the Parthenon in Greece and the pyramids in Egypt, and I felt like my history books had come to life. I was mesmerized by all of the incredible places. I have always wanted to see more and learn the stories of the people where I visit.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
After an eleven month adventure, I decided to give a talk at my temple called, “Uncovering Jewish Morocco,” to promote my first book. One of the Rabbis told me it was not a very good idea, he said, “how will you feel when no one shows up?” I responded “Well, I am by myself now, so I think it will be okay.” It turned out that over 40 people came to my talk and it was a great success.
I read marketing guru, Seth Godin’s books and emails, and at that time he was fond of saying: “Artists Ship.” He encouraged entrepreneurs and artists of all types to share what they were working on as soon as possible and not wait for perfection. I was not sure I was ready to give a talk or that I was the best person to speak on Jewish Morocco, but I had the idea and I went for it. While promoting that talk, other doors opened. I was introduced to the Editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal. He offered me a column which still runs today! (http://www.jewishjournal.com/wesaidgotravel) Writing for the Jewish Journal has been a great opportunity, in fact, I won an award for one of my articles from the Southern California Journalism Awards.
“A Journey to Freedom over three Passovers:” https://jewishjournal.com/culture/religion/passover/219472/journey-freedom-three-passovers/ (story that won the award from Los Angeles Press Club)
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
In my late 40s, I was diagnosed with an eye condition called left intermittent esotropia. I had it since I was little, but I never was diagnosed. What I did know was that other kids were much better at sports than me and just figured that I was clumsy. Little did I know, there was a medical reason why it was hard for me. As an adult my eye doctor explained: “You have always had to work harder to keep up with everyone else.” After a year of weekly vision therapy and daily homework, I noticed the difference of vision therapy. When I went skiing, I was amazed to see and experience the mountain with my eyes working together. It brought me fresh understanding about why I used to get so scared on the slopes and cry on the side of the mountain when I was a little girl. I have made great progress, and now challenge myself to see all the new things I can accomplish.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
After traveling in Asia for 18 months, I returned to Los Angeles and got two job offers. One was to be a set teacher for a Nickelodeon series, and the other was to be a freelancer for USA Today in the 10Best section. I was not sure if I should keep teaching but in a new way as a studio teacher or start to shift my focus from teaching to journalism. I chose to do both, it was a great choice for me and enabled me to slowly transition to focus more on writing and video. I learned as much as I could from the two very different paths, and it helped clarify what I wanted to do next.
Lisa Niver’s stories on USA Today 10best: https://www.10best.com/local-experts/lisa-niver/
So, how are things going today? ?
2018 has been a great year for me. I was a finalist in three categories for the Southern California Journalism Awards, I recently started to write for Ms. Magazine and I completed two travel segments on TV for KTLA. My YouTube channel is now nearly at 900,000 views and I am verified on both Facebook and Twitter. I was so excited to experience my first African safari, which allowed me to travel to my 100th country.