Power of Penn Women Podcast: “Try, try again”


Thank you to Power of Penn Women, University of Pennsylvania and Momentum 2020 for interviewing me for their podcast. Thank you to Erica Firpo for interviewing me and Meesh Pierce for editing. I am honored to be invited to participate!

LISTEN HERE: TRY TRY AGAIN or read the transcript below!

This podcast went live on April 27, 2020 and was recorded Nov 15, 2019 before COVID-19.

Welcome to the University of Pennsylvania’s Momentum Podcast, where we sit down with Penn alumni from around the world to talk about Penn and life after Penn. Thanks for listening. 

Erica Firpo (EF): Welcome back to the Momentum 2020 podcast. This is Erica Firpo, Class of 1994. Today, I am with Lisa Niver, like Diver Class of 1989. Hey Lisa How are you?

Lisa Niver (LN): I’m doing great. It is so much fun to talk to you again after we met in Ireland.

EF: I know a few years back, but today where do I find you?

LN: Today, you’re finding me in Los Angeles. I am a journalist based in Los Angeles, and I run the website We Said Go Travel. I’ve been making videos and sharing travel segments on television in Los Angeles at KTLA TV. 

EF: Most of the time, since we’ve been Facebook friends, it seems like you’re not ever in Los Angeles. I see you travel quite a bit. 

LN: It is true. I am generally on the road a lot right now and I’ve actually been really excited to be back at Penn, quite a few times recently,

Barbara Yorke (1989), Lisa Niver (1989), Abe, Carl Law (1987)
at LBBC Butterfly Ball Nov 2019 at Loews Philadelphia

EF: Where you back for homecoming?

LN: Yes, I was and I had such a good time. I was back at homecoming and it was really amazing. One of my best friends from Ware College House is now a doctor and his son is a freshman at Penn. His son, Masaki, came to dinner with us and Carl looked at Masaki and said, “The biggest hope I have for you, here, during your years at Penn, is that you make friends as amazing as Barb and Lisa who I have been friends with since freshman year.” I met him when I was 17yo. I turned 18yo my freshman year. I was a very young freshmen. So, I literally feel like I’ve known him my whole life. He refers to me as his sister.

EF: That’s pretty cool. That must be awesome to have that experience of Penn generations.

Lisa Niver (1989), Paul Villa, Barbara Yorke (1989), Carl Law (1987), Masaki Law (2023) at Vernick for dinner during Homecoming 2019

LN: I only went to Penn because my dad went to Penn dental. So we have a lot of generations. When my dad went to Penn dental, Penn was really a city school. This was before Locust walk was closed off to traffic.

Initially he hadn’t suggested it to me because I grew up in LA and he said, “Why do you want to go to the snow? You don’t want to go to Penn.”

His college friends from Rutgers told him that Penn had changed so much and you absolutely have to visit. My dad and mom walked around Penn with the Skriloffs. My dad and I had gone on a college tour on the East Coast together. When he came home from the trip back East with my mom, he said to me, “For all the reasons, you hated everywhere I took you to look at colleges, you will love Penn. And that’s why I went to Penn. 

Lisa Niver and Barbara Yorke, Class of 1989 at their 25th year reunion in 2014

EF:Now, I know you said that you were back for Homecoming and you do come back quite a bit. Could you tell our listeners a little bit more about what you do with Penn?

LN:Oh, absolutely. I loved going to Penn. I really, really loved Philadelphia. One of the things I did while I was traveling, I worked for almost seven full years on cruise ships, and when I was out at sea I’d be gone four to six months and then come back. 

Lisa Niver working for Princess Cruises
Lisa Niver working for Princess Cruises

EF:Wait! What were you doing what were you doing on cruise ships?

LN: I was a Women’s Studies major at Penn, and I had a double minor in Jewish Studies and Natural Science. I did a semester abroad in Israel. And I love love loved living abroad. 

And after Penn, I actually went to Medical School. I went to UCSF Medical School in San Francisco. And, one of the things, I realized is that careers don’t go in straight lines.

Mine is very much like a spiral. 

I went to medical school. It became clear, it wasn’t my best choice so I took a year leave from UCSF. 

During that time when I was on leave, I learned to do ceramics, and to scuba dive. And I was teaching. 

So in the end, somehow I ended up with a Master’s in Education, and a scuba diving license, and I couldn’t afford to go scuba diving. 

I made the choice to go to work at Club Med. It’s a long story but somehow I ended up at Club Med in the mountains in Colorado. And eventually, I went to the Bahamas. 

And that’s a really short version of how I worked on cruise ships.

My whole college career I lived in Ware college house, which is a health and sciences house. I thought I am going to be a doctor.

I volunteered, I thought about it, I took all the classes. I did research at the medical school, and I got into UCSF which is really amazing. It’s a great school. I studied with this woman, I actually just contacted her and the letter I wrote to her was, “You are the most intelligent person I ever met in my life,” and she was incredible. She kept trying to help me study and I thought, “You know what, I’m just in the wrong place. I am just in the wrong place. And in face, I was so much in the wrong place that I left San Francisco and I literally sailed the seven seas for seven years. 

EF:Wow. So then you find yourself. You were at UCSF studying medicine and the next thing you know you’re sailing around. And then you find yourself, seven years have passed, and you thought, Hey, I want to go back to LA? Is that what you wanted to do?

LN:Well, to be perfectly honest, what happened was September 11. So, after September 11 about eight days after September 11, my company Renaissance cruises went bankrupt. And I had no job. I managed to stay on ships maybe another 12 months.  I switched companies twice. And it just wasn’t right anymore, the industry shifted a lot. 

EF:What were you actually doing on the cruise ships?

LN:In the beginning I worked on the cruise ship in the children’s program, because I had a Master’s in Education and I was a teacher. I was a Youth Activities Counselor and then I was the Youth Activities Manager. But then, I found out the Cruise Staff made more money and worked less hours and had better cabins. So I decided I would like that job!

I switched to Cruise Staff. I was Assistant Cruise Director, then Senior Assistant Cruise Director. I did Onboard Sales, which they call Future sales now. I was Loyalty Ambassador. Basically I figured out which job meant I could I have dthe most amount of time to go scuba diving.

I went to my boss once on the ship to the hotel manager and I walked in his office and I said, “Are you in a good mood or a bad mood?” 

He looked at me and said: “Lisa, What do you want?”

I said: “I have something that I only want to ask you if you’re in a good mood!” 

He said:”Sit down and ask me!”
I received permission to leave the ship for three days and go to Machu Picchu. 

I said, “I guess you’re in a good mood!”

He said, “I just want you out of my office!”
I said, “Okay. and THANKS!”

My last name is Niver like diver but sometimes on the ship they called me Con-Niver. They said, You are hustling us. And I said, “I’m here for the travel!” It was amazing travel. I saw so many things and I met so many people. I’m still in touch with a lot of people around the world that I worked with on ships. 

EF:So, basically you came back to LA and as you were saying September 11 happens and that drastically changes the cruise community and the cruise industry.

LN:I came back to LA. I already had a Master’s in Education. I was thinking about going back to teaching. I had never gotten a teaching credential so I got a double credential, an elementary school multiple subject credential and a single subject science credential. I started teaching public school in Culver City. I taught eighth grade physics and chemistry, and the misnomer of family life. That’s what we call sex education in California right now. 

EF:The misnomer of family life?

LN:They call it family life. It’s an abstinence program. A full third of the kids I taught were being raised by teen parents. I think to look at children who are being raised by children and tell them that you can’t have sex until you’re married is horrible. 

When I dropped out of medical school, I was teaching and I worked at Planned Parenthood. On campus at Penn, I had volunteered in a peer to peer sex-ed program. 

And so to be forced to look at these eighth graders, some of whom are sexually active and not be able to offer them real substantive suggestions, I felt like I’d rather not teach it. So, my theory about teaching family life was that choices have consequences. 

So we used to talk about, it’s far back on the decision tree where you can really make an impact. If you’re already been drinking and you are in the car with someone who’s drinking, and you haven’t talked about contraception, it is late in the pathway to make a real concrete change for teenagers. 

We used to talk in class about choices of consequences. We were trained to talk about drugs and HIV and drinking. So I focused more on that side.If you don’t get in the car with someone who’s drunk, you’re a lot less likely to get in the accident or be in a situation where someone who’s drunk is getting violent and then you’re stuck in a situation thinking how did I get here. 

That was the way I approached it. I wanted to be realistic. The woman who was teaching next door to me was very fundamentalist Christian. One of my students was kissing her boyfriend in the hallway and we were having a problem in some of the hallways that kids were huffing markers and kids were giving blowjobs. 

My student came in crying. I said, “What’s the matter?” 

She said, “Mrs. XX yelled at me. I was kissing my boyfriend.

I said, “You were kissing your boyfriend?”

She said, “I was just kissing him on the mouth!”
And I thought that is not bad relatively. 

It’s hard when you’re trying to support kids. In California and Los Angeles, we have a problem that only about 50% of the kids even graduate from high school. 

I felt that every day I kept those kids in school and closer to high school graduation that you’re keeping kids out of the system, off the streets and they have more job opportunities. I said, “Could we be supportive of these kids. This is a good student!” 

It was hard to leave. I really loved teaching eighth grade. A lot of people don’t want to teach middle school, but I love those kids. I thought they were funny. 

We actually had a funny thing. The first month, the Jewish holidays were quite early and I left school, and I wasn’t there. And so, for some reason, I became like a little bit more cool. That I wasn’t just another white teacher, I was Jewish. I figured I’ll take whatever I can get. 

I love teaching, and I actually miss teaching right now. I love being a journalist. I met with a bunch of Penn students in October.

In November, I was at Penn for homecoming but I went in October, to meet with my book editor, and I met with several media studies students. I have three of them now that I’m trying to help with their plans and what are they going to do next. 

They’re juniors and seniors and they want to be writers. It’s very exciting to be able to have something to offer them. They have ideas and I know people to introduce them to. 

Lisa Niver at lunch with current PENN students, Sophie, Anjali, Urwa Nov 2019

EF:Have you always been active with PENN?

LN:Since I graduated, as much as I’ve been in town like when I moved back to Los Angeles, I think this is how we got started this question. I was away at sea, and when I got off the ships and I moved back to Los Angeles, I was trying to figure out how do you make friends in a city as an adult. I grew up here but I had been gone for so long between Penn, living in San Francisco and being on a cruise ship. 

So I went to a Penn Club LA event and Melissa W, and Kevin Kassover who are very very active in the Penn community were running Penn Club LA. They basically just took me under their wing, and they were my new best friends. 

There were a lot of Penn events, and we started making our own events. Kevin and I would do stuff and we’d invite other people. Kiera Reilly was running the West Coast office. Between Kiera, Melissa and Kevin, I had kind of like a little hub. 

I was very involved and Melissa rightly so, after being Assistant Cruise Director for years would ask me: “Could you run this event, please?” They would ask me to stand at the door and greet the people. I said, “This is just like my old job!”

Susan Niver Bernstein (1991) Kevin Kassover (1991) and Lisa Niver (1989) at Susan’s 50th birthday at Home Base, New York, NY in 2019

They said, “We know! You’re really good at it! Keep standing there!” But that way, I met lots of people and it was really fun. 

Another time after I had been traveling in Asia for about two years and I came back to California, my brother-in-law, who also went to Penn. I am class of 89, my sister is class of 1991 and my brother-in-law’s class of 1990. We had three graduations in three years. 

My brother-in-law said to me, “Now that you’re back in America, I think you should go to your 25th reunion.”

I said, “I don’t know, my life is a mess. I am getting divorced. I don’t want to walk around reunion and say, Here I am and I am getting divorced.”

He said, “So don’t say that!”
I thought that is good advice and I did go to my 25th reunion.

For your 25th reunion at Penn, you are invited to walk in graduation. I loved it. I recommend this to everybody. If you have the chance to go to your 25th or 50th reunion at Penn, make sure to stay and walk in graduation. It was amazing and John Legend was the speaker. 

EF:Since you do come back to campus regularly, what is it that surprises you? What is it that you like to do?

LN:One of the best things about coming back to campus is just the memories that I had such a great time at Penn. I learned so much at Penn. Definitely to see the people that I already love, and like I said earlier meeting with the Penn students. 

The other thing that’s happened for me is, I’ve been writing with Penn. I’ve written for Frankly Penn, the alumni blog. And I’ve been writing for Wharton Magazine. 

One of my Wharton stories is nominated for a journalism award and I find out December 1st if I win!

EF:What’s your story about?

LN:I did a story for Women’s History Month where I interviewed 12 female founders of PR firms who had their name on the door, and had been in business more than 20 years. 

EF: So all over the US?

Yes, all over the US. When I first started, one of the women said to me, “Don’t interview too many people. It’s going to get overwhelming.” I thought that won’t happen to me. So I started interviewing. Each time I interviewed someone, I would ask who else do you think I should include, and I met the most amazing women. I got to the end and I thought wow Jody was right! 12 is a lot. I wrote about all 12 of them for the Saturday Evening Post. One of the women is married to Wharton grad, so I wrote about her and three of the others for Wharton. The Wharton article is about the four female founders and their origin stories. I just loved working with Richard from Wharton Magazine. I just saw him we did a picture with the Penn Quaker and was really fun. 

At Wharton Magazine, with editor,Richard Rys, Penn Quaker and Lisa Niver

But the funny thing about writing for Wharton, now this is a great Penn story. So, I came back from my 25th reunion. And my friend, Walter, knew that I wrote for Frankly Penn. I was getting divorced and was trying to figure out what am I doing next with my life. 

He says, you should write for Wharton. I said, I cannot write for Wharton. I did not go to Wharton, but he would not let it go. 

So I finally pitched, the editor before Richard, I sent a pitch right after the reunion weekend. I think I said a couple pitches, but I felt like my undertone was like, I’m sure you really don’t want this, because I went to Penn and not to Wharton. 

The editor immediately writes me back and says, I’m very interested write this up. And in my first response, I was kind of mad because I really wanted to write to Walter and explain to him, See Walter, you’re dumb idea was not so great. I am not going to write for Wharton because and they don’t want me.

And then I had to write to Walter and say, “Well, that was a pretty good idea! thanks.”

For our 30th reunion. I saw Walter and I had to admit Walter that was really helpful. By the way, do you have any other ideas. 

So Walter says to me, Well, why don’t you come to South by Southwest in Austin. And I said, “Yeah, I’m never going to get a media credential for South by Southwest.” I thought that is a stupid idea. I’m not going to do it. But I did and of course I got a media credential for South by Southwest. I had to call Walter and say, “Hey, do you have any other good ideas that I should listen to right away this time?”

So, I think one of the best things about Penn for me was my, my group was very varied. Barb actually studied English but she ended up getting a job at Arthur Andersen which the Wharton students were all pissed that she stole the job. 

Carl was studying in Japan. I studied in Israel. I had friends that were all different religions from all different parts of the country. Penn really exposed me in a very different way. I went to private all girls school in LA and pretty much everybody was similar. 

And then I went to Penn and I remember this guy was from the South. We had a conversation once where he was talking about how we lost the war. As in the war between the the North versus the South. And it was just such a different perspective. 

So he used to always open the door for me when we got to the door. So one time, I opened the door for him. I said, “If it’s polite for you to open the door for me. Well, if I get there first, to be polite I can open the door for you. He looked at me and he said, “The only way I’m going through the door before you is if I’m dead. I said, just go through the door and he literally carried me through the door. He said, “I will never go through the door before a woman.”

I thought that’s okay, that’s so different, we were able to have a lot of interesting conversations about how people are different and people believe different things and what is courtesy and what is respect and what does it look like.

EF:Thinking about yourself in college as an undergraduate, what kind of advice would you give your 20 year old self?

LN:That’s a really good question. The advice that my dad gave me when I went to school, I still give, actually gave to Masaki when we were at in Philly last week. When I went to Penn, I was thinking that I was going to end  up at Med school and so I knew I would be taking many science classes.

My dad said, “Try to study a lot of different things. This is a great time to explore and look around. If you go to med school, you’re going to study science, all day long for four years and then do a residency. you’re going to science, science science! Try something else.” 

I remember, I took a music class, and it was not what I thought it was going to be. I remember going to the TA and saying, “I am really drowning here. I take the records out of the library and play them.” 

I remember the TA saying, “Can you switch to pass/fail?” I said, “I’m already pass/fail but I don’t think I’m going to make it.” She said, “I’m going to take care of you.” So that was a funny experience for me to really be not good at something at all. I was really drowning in music, but the best class possibly I ever took at Penn was a sculpture class. 

And I remember the professor, very specifically telling us to walk away from our piece and look at it from the other side of the room. He said, “You don’t know what something looks like. If you’re right up on it. Look from another direction” And, I do think that advice changed my life. 

EF:I like that. I like that advice. I think that’s something my mom used to say to me, she also used to tell me to hold things upside down to get a better perspective. Which if you think about it, you can’t hold everything upside down but if you can think about turning yourself upside down, it really flips your perspective on everything, or at least gets you out of the box that you are in.

LN:Your mom and my dad probably would have had a good conversation!

EF:They probably would have a great conversation. Now, you were a Women’s Studies major. After you graduated, you are involved in different areas with women in particular with women and kids. What strides, do you think Penn has made to support women’s since your graduation?

Joannie Parker and Lisa Niver Westlake School for Girls 1985
Joannie Parker and Lisa Niver at Westlake School for Girls 1985

LN:For me personally, I showed up at Penn pretty fired up about women I had the most amazing teacher in high school Joannie Parker, who unfortunately died last month, but she taught us English and Women’s studies. I showed up at Penn fired up about Women’s Studies. It was kind of an early time for colleges and Women’s Studies. 

Joannie Parker and Lisa Niver in 2009
Lisa Niver and Joannie Parker in 2009

Because Women’s Studies was interdisciplinary, it gave me a lot of access to searching. I had to find how are my classes going to fit together. What’s my undergrad thesis going to be? And I think that training of how do I fit in and where do the things fit together has been my lifelong search. Penn was very supportive for Women’s Studies and The Women’s Center on campus with Ellie DiLapi was very important to me. She was amazing. I know that they moved the Women’s Center, onto Locust Walk, which has been a great stride for Penn and supporting women.

Watching Amy Gutmann, she was here for one of the Power of Penn events here in LA. We have such a big crowd of Penn and just the way she talked about what is happening and the strides, the fact that she’s a female president, the fact that we have all these incredible professors like the Happiness Project with Angela Duckworth and I know, Carol Dweck with the mindsets is, I think she’s at Stanford, but she seems somehow involved in the happiness project which is so cool 

EF:What’s the Happiness Project? I don’t know that project. 

LN:Oh my gosh, my sister was telling me about it. It’s a really interesting project. They have a certificate in Authentic Happiness. https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/

Seligman has been a professor of psychology at Penn. I remember taking his class and he was teaching from his own book. He has a brand new book, The Hope Circuit. They’re doing this huge project. I think that Adam Grant, who wrote Give and Take and Option B, he worked a lot with the woman from Facebook Sheryl Sandberg. Angela Duckworth wrote Grit. I know Carol Duckworth’s book from education and they’re all talking about fixed versus growth mindset. How do you view yourself? What do you think about yourself as in Are you smart, Can you learn something? 

Because if you think you can’t learn it, if you think you don’t get it because you’re stupid instead of you haven’t been exposed to it, it’s very hard to keep going. 

So I think of all those pieces like when I was very fortunate and I was able to go in September to the United Nations as a representative of Ms. Magazine. 

And it was very impressive to be in the United Nations Women meeting and thinking about what does make strides for women and how do we bring a whole generation of women forward in equality. 

I think I learned a lot of that from being at Penn and seeing how these how things have shifted. It’s a lot to think about. I wrote recently about Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, I have written about Carol Dweck, I love Adam Grant’s writing. We just have the most amazing professors. 

EF:What kind of advice, because I know you do mentoring, would you give to women who are creating startups or are starting over or even are just about to graduate University. 

LN:One of the things that I told the students recently and I think is really important is to have your own portfolio page like I’ve LisaNiver.com that has all of my writing. 

It’s important when you’re trying to create something that people can find you. You need a LinkedIn profile, you need a portfolio page but mainly what you need to do is network. And one of the best things that happened for me is I don’t know if everyone knows about Quaker net.

On Quakernet when I was shifting, when I came back after I was living abroad and I was getting divorced, I went on Quakernet and I searched journalism. And this really lovely Penn grad named Dennis Drabelle was at the Washington Post, and he emailed with me many many times. He was helping me edit my pitches and he made a lot of suggestions for me about how I can focus what I was doing and maybe make some progress. 

So when I was on campus in October meeting with the media studies students, I actually emailed him and said, it felt like this nice round circle. He had really helped me and now I was on campus helping these young women and, I think, asking for help is probably the most important piece. 

You definitely have to network, but I also think you need mentors, and I was recently at a Women in Business event here in Los Angeles last week. And it was very fascinating. There were over 200 women there. The city of LA has a $10 billion budget and a billion dollars goes to contractors for city projects, and the percentage of women is very small. So over Mayor Eric Garcetti’s term, the business office have done these amazing events to help women learn more and gain more of the city contracts. 

Lisa Niver and Mayor Eric Garcetti at Getty House Nov 2019
Lisa Niver and Mayor Eric Garcetti at Getty House Nov 2019

There is now a Small Business Academy. I’ve been to their meetings about how they’re really helping women get these prime and sub-prime contracts. 

But the thing, he said that I haven’t heard anyone say from a podium, is that they did a workshop on mentoring and he said, “Don’t expect to have one mentor that solves all your problems. You might need a mentor that helps with pitching or mentor that helps you with networking or a mentor for this.”

That is my life. I have a million mentors. I really am always looking for people and asking how can I fix this. How can you support me with this, what can I do with this? But I’ve never heard anyone mention it and I think, Mayor Garcetti is fantastic. 

I love that he said that and I felt like it resonated in the room that even if someone is your mentor, they still might not be able to help you with everything. Maybe, they’re going to really help you with WordPress for your website for your small business but they don’t really know how to help you improve your ability to get the prime contract. You might need a different kind of mentor for that. 

EF:I think there are pieces of advice that are really valid for all stages of life. I think they’re really great. I love the, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I love the concept of many mentors. I think people look for one person, you’re absolutely right, to sort of answer all the questions or just help them through a lot of different areas. You’re right. You need a bunch of different kinds of people with different backgrounds. 

Now, you mentioned networking so I’m going to throw this out are you going to be attending Momentum 2020?

LN:I’m absolutely coming to Momentum 2020. I’m super excited. I can’t wait to be back on campus!

EF:Maybe you could do a mentoring session. That would be kind of fun. 

LN:I would love to do a mentoring session, I think that would be amazing. You know, it’s funny. I had written a story, one of my first stories for Ms. Magazine was actually about reverse mentoring. And I think one of the things that’s really important in this time of digital natives and digital immigrants is to remember, people of different age groups have a lot of different skill sets. 

I now have over one million views on my YouTube channel. But when I first started, I was in class and at that time I was teaching kindergarten through sixth grade science. For some weird reason in fifth grade science I said, “I just came back from Taiwan and I have all these videos and I don’t know how to make a movie.” I have no idea why I said it in that class on that day. And this little girl Hannah, who I know pretty well because her Uncle James is my friend from Penn, and we actually took sculpture together. 

Hannah says to me, “Ms. Niver I’m going to stay in at recess today. I’m going to teach you iMovie.” I said, Okay ,Hannah. So, I literally had a five and a half minute lesson on iMovie. I remember she showed me some stuff and I asked, “What about this button?” She said, “You don’t need that one, Ms. Niver, stay focused.” So she showed me how to do it and I started editing, and, I took some other classes. There’s some great classes at the Apple store. 

I would be on a press trip, and I remember when my friend, McCrae, said to me, “Lisa, we have to sit down and have a conversation about your transitions on your videos. They’re just awful.” He said, “Please let me help you. And I said, “I would love help.” So, now every time I see him, I ask if he has any more tips for my videos. He says, “No, you’re doing okay now.”

I think that’s one really important thing about mentorship is to remember—It might be not an inadvertent mentor, but it might be surprising, who has the skill that you need especially for digital things. When I get a new phone, I think who has a fifth grade child who can help me with this because I don’t know how to make it work. 

EF:You seem like someone who’s got a lot going on and that momentum would be a great word to describe you. So, I’m going to throw that back at you and say, What does momentum mean to you?

LN:For me, having taught physics and thinking about momentum and inertia, one of the things I know for myself, is I have to have a goal and I have to move towards it. But, I also am really conscious of the fact that as I get close to it, it might become obvious that wasn’t exactly the most refined place or it’s not the right place. 

I really could have stayed at UCSF Medical School. It’s one of the top three medical schools in the world. And people were furious, they said, “You cannot leave! Sell your spot!” I for certain could not sell my spot. 

There was a lot of inertia and momentum to do that (go to graduate school) when I was at Penn. I imagine it’s the same or more so now that it was a very pre-professional and everybody was going to Law School, Med School, people had a plan. And I was on the track, and for a long time, I felt like I was a derailed train like my train fell off the track and I ruined my life. 

I thought what was I doing. The thing for me is the most important thing is not to be perfect, but to keep going. That has made all  the difference. 

On the red carpet at the National Association of Arts and Entertainment Journalist Awards 2019 with TEAM KTLA! And my segment WON an award!

EF:I think it’s made a lot of difference. I mean it’s amazing that you just casually throw out that you have a million views on YouTube and that you’re on KTLA TV.

I mean there’s so much behind the scenes and behind this conversation that I recommend everybody take a look on YouTube! What’s your YouTube channel?

Lisa Niver on KTLA with Lu Parker and Glen Walker
Lisa Niver on KTLA TV in Los Angeles with Lu Parker and Glen Walker

LN: My YouTube channel is We Said Go Travel, and all my social media is also We Said Go Travel, and my website which is read in 213 countries, is WeSaidGoTravel.com

EF:Allright, so everybody should be looking at We Said Go Travel! Lisa, it’s been wonderful speaking with you this afternoon. I’m really looking forward to seeing you at Momentum 2020 in October. Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

LN:I really appreciate you inviting me to be on your podcast. Thank you so much! I also have to say here’s a quick on-the-bus networking moment: I remember when we were in Ireland, you said to me, “Oh you do video, you should go to VidCon.” And so because you recommended it, I applied and I went to VidCon.

I really learned a lot at that conference and if I hadn’t sat next to on the bus at Travel Classics, I wouldn’t have known about it. I wouldn’t have gone so you just never know who is your angel of the day. 

EF:I remember distinctly, it was raining and I sat next to you. All of a sudden, we realized we both went to Penn. I know what it was you were said, “Let’s be Facebook friends!” and I found that we have friends in common. I thought, “How is this possible? I’ve just met you.” But because of Penn, we already had mutual friends. Then I said, “Go to VidCon!”

LN:You did and it was really helpful. And I think that is one of the things about me that I really take suggestion well. I think some people if someone had said to them, “Oh, your video your transitions are awful,” some people never speak to that person again. But I said,” Tell me why.” So you suggested I should go to VidCon, and I figured maybe I should. 

EF:That’s what I mean about you, for me, when I think of the word momentum, I think it describes you because you pick up something that someone says to you, you pick up on it and then you roll with it, and roll forward. Lisa, it was great talking to you! I’m really looking forward to seeing you and everybody check out: We Said Go Travel!

LN: Thank you.

Thanks for tuning in to the momentum podcast from Alumnae at the University of Pennsylvania. Episodes dropped weekly on Mondays and you can subscribe on iTunes. If want to contribute, we’d love for you to join the conversation. So reach out to us at momentum 2020@alumni.upenn.edu with comments, questions and suggestions. You can also follow us at Power of Penn Women on Instagram. 

Due to COVID-19, Momentum 2020 will be rescheduled in Fall 2021.

Find Lisa’s TV segments, videos, interviews, articles and awards on LisaNiver.com


Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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