Thank you to Tiffany Soukup for interviewing me:
Every so often, if we are really lucky, we get a chance to meet and interact with our real life superheroes and positive influences. As kids we might not too actively think about our role models. But as adults we get to consciously choose who we are going to follow and include in our lives.
For years I have been following a woman I admire so much. I have watched her grow her site to a top ranking site on the web, put out a book, face her fears of scuba diving and sky diving, go through a divorce, turn 50 and just do incredible things traveling all over the world.
Today I am so pleased to introduce you to Lisa Niver of We Said Go Travel. From my perspective, no matter what is going on in Lisa’s life, she always presents herself in a professional and positive manner. I wanted to know more about her. How does she accomplish all she does? How does she keep pushing forward, growing herself and achieving tangible outcomes? She was so kind and generous to talk to me at length. I was genuinely curious to learn more about this wonder woman, social media ninja and wanted to do an interview to share with all of you.
It is with great pleasure I introduce you to Lisa Niver.
Tiff: In your own words, can you please describe what you do
Lisa: Well it has evolved over the years. What I call myself now is a travel journalist. I am also a content creator as I write, do social media and share stories with The Jet Set TV and KTLA. I am now a registered luxury travel adviser while I help people book and plan where to wander.
Tiff: On top of all that you have other creative passions and are also a ceramic artist too, yes?
Lisa: Yes! (sidenote: this newspaper article talks about the clay studio.)
Tiff: Any of us trying to put our best selves out into the world takes a lot of energy. How do you consistently keep your motivation going?
Lisa: Very good question! One thing is I taught school for a very long time. I am a science teacher by training. I sometimes think I just give myself homework and then I do it. I have goals and to reach those goals I sit at my desk and work at them.
Tiff: Well there you go.
Lisa: Yes, usually I publish twice a week on the site. I look at the site and if there has to be an article I write it.
Someone will say to me I’m gonna start a website and this is my plan and this is all the money I spent. I always tell people don’t spend money. When you start, start as cheap as you can.
When I first started, I only wrote once a week. People told me, oh if you only write once a week you will never get anywhere. I said, that’s ok, I’m already nowhere.
There are two sides where I see people get stuck. They either bite off so much they get overwhelmed and give up or they don’t know how to get started. My best recommendation is to start small. Make a commitment to write once a month or once a week and just keep going!
For me, I am a really good executer. I just sit at my desk and I do it.
Tiff: Great advice. My analogy is to keep my butt in the chair. I might allow myself to stare out the window, but must keep butt in chair and do the work.
Lisa: I am a much better writer in the morning. So I try to do the things that are the hardest in the morning. Then in the afternoon I might do easier or more routine stuff.
Tiff: Do you have a ritual or routine? As a follower, you always seem to be going all over on trips and that can make it hard to keep a schedule. What are some things you do almost everyday or covet no matter what?
Lisa: That’s a good question. I write a lot of stuff down. I have a lot of lists. I might make a social media plan for the week so if on Tuesday I don’t feel very inspired I can look at my list and say this is what is happening next.
I use an editorial calendar.
I know I am going to do social media content everyday.
I just got back from VidCon YouTube conference. I am trying to commit to publishing videos on a more regular schedule because editing videos is a process.
I try to exercise everyday, in the morning. I try to get up early.
I will scribble all the things in my head. I have a million things I want to accomplish. Then I will order them 1-5 for order of most importance.
Sometimes something is exciting or easier, but that isn’t the best thing to do first.
Tiff: This is one of my burning questions. Tim Ferris makes a mention at one point that he makes lists and does not get everything on his lists done. He said something to the effect of he could never get done all the things he thinks of. When I heard that it was such a relief to think that Tim Ferris doesn’t get all his lists done. Would you say you have items on your lists that you have to let go and not accomplish?
Lisa: All the time!!! I sometimes look at all my lists and I think what can I realistically do in the time that I have? Recently there was a Journalism Mega Mixer for several press clubs in Los Angeles and I really wanted to be there. And I really needed to finish the news and I really needed to put something on social media. So everything else on the list, if it wasn’t one of those things, it didn’t happen.
If I commit that the news has to be the last Thursday of the month – then that’s when it is.
I think one thing people get stuck on is what’s a real deadline? I decide what is most important and then I have to figure out how to get it all done.
But then again, you have to be kind to yourself. So you have to go with is this a realistic expectation or an unrealistic expectation?
Tiff: Through your site you’ve allowed people from all over the world a platform and opportunity to publish their work. You are a top 100 travel rated blog and to date you’ve published over 2000 writers from over 75 countries. What advice to you give to people starting out?
Lisa: Don’t spend money! At least know that at the start you don’t have to spend a bunch of money. You simply need to write.
Tiff: How do you stay on top of things and be productive?
Lisa: Lists. Lots of lists. I’ve always been a big list maker. And I try to do the thing I’m not the best at first.
I went to Canada for three weeks in May. I went on a cruise and met Wyland the artist and I haven’t gotten to that footage yet. I really thought I was going to get to it the day after. I am so inspired by his work and I really wanted it done. It just has not been realistic that I could get it done.
I would love to get everything done every day. But I have too many things. I have so many ideas.
Tiff: Do you have helpers?
Lisa: Someone helps me with the tech side of the website. It depends. I’ve had a few different people who have done a few different things. There was a woman named Caitlin working for me for a while and now she has moved onto her own projects. Mostly it’s me.
Tiff: How did the idea of the photography contest come about?
Lisa: I was in Ireland meeting my tech guy. I was there for a magazine conference called Travel Classics. We were talking about goals for We Said Go Travel and he said what about if we had a photo award? I think we should try it and I said ok!
Then once we did it we were each like why didn’t we do that sooner?
The photo award is much easier to run and people are much more interested to be in it. I never expected it to be as successful as it was. It went over amazing and I’m getting ready to do the next one.
Tiff: In looking at all these evolving pieces, for anyone with an online presence it takes little effort to go down a rabbit hole of comparing ourselves to other people. Do you have to put active energy into not comparing yourself to other people in a negative way?
Lisa: I’ve had a couple business consultants actually recommend to compare to other people and see what they are doing. To look at how are they doing what they are doing? What are they doing differently? What can I learn from the way they do something? Nomadic Samuel had that Top 100 Travel Blogs list and I always loved that.
I try not to compare too much to others because…
Everybody’s on a different path.
It’s helpful to find people who can answer your questions. When I was brand new I got to meet Dave from Dave’s Travel Corner. I often say he is probably the nicest person in travel. When I was new and he was explaining things to me he said, ‘Why don’t you do this?’ I thought well in ten years when I even figure out what you are talking about maybe I can do that. I didn’t even understand the words he was using. And he just sent me this code. He was said put this in your website. And I did. It was just so nice of him and I never forgot that. Johnny Jet always helps me, Explore with Erin always helps me and others. People are so nice out there.
Tiff: From my perspective you do everything you say you’re afraid of. That’s one of the reasons I like following you so much.
In other ways you have also talked about really vulnerable and private things. Such as going through a divorce and the Prevention Magazine article on weight loss. You just attack life and keep going no matter what has come at you. Your online presence is always so positive and I just wanted to say thank you for that.
Lisa: Well thank you so much. I really appreciate that. I was just at the Los Angeles Press Club Awards again this year because I had three writing pieces nominated. There were about 600 people there and it was a beautiful evening. Dolly Parton spoke and she is amazing. Her foundation has donated over 100 million books to children.
Tiff: Your teaching seems to be an interwoven part of your work. How do you get over that feeling of putting yourself out there?
Lisa: With teaching, the lesson has to go on. If you make a mistake you have to apologize and move on. If you’re not ready it doesn’t matter. If it’s 9am the kids are coming in. Teaching helped me just have to get stuff done and also not to feel so self conscious. The kids are there and you have to captivate your audience. Adults will sit quietly even if they are bored. Kids will interrupt you, they’ll get up and walk around, they will talk to their neighbor. Teaching helped me with all the content creation.
But how to start when you don’t know if you can?
I tell people to start small. It doesn’t matter what you write when you first start. It’s hard. It is just hard. Here are three tangible steps:
- Give yourself permission to not do it perfectly.
- Take small steps.
- It might be beneficial to try with a buddy.
Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. If you take the first steps and try something new that’s where the magic happens. You can also check out my GenMaverick challenge.
Tiff: Do the work.
Lisa: Yes. I’ve read a lot of writing books. Basically Stephen King would write a book. It would come out. He’d say good job me. And he would start the next. He wrote every single day no matter what. If you wanna be a writer you have to write.
(Sidenote: This article won the prestigious second place in the Southern California Journalism Award.)
Tiff: Just for curiosity, do you read more physical stuff or electronically?
Lisa: I almost read 100% on kindle. I get a lot of books from the library, but because I travel so much I love to have a kindle full of books. I always read. I read on the plane, while waiting places, I read a lot.
Tiff: You often reference fortune cookies.
Lisa: Oh…I love fortune cookies.
Tiff: Is that something you just love? It seems to be your thing.
Lisa: I totally have a thing for fortune cookies. I really love them. I don’t eat them. I don’t think the cookies are good. I love, love, love Chinese food. I’ve always had a thing for fortune cookies. So I put them at the end of my news. I just like them. (Sidenote: if you want to see what the next fortune cookie will say, make sure you sign up for the newsletter!)
Tiff: Looking backwards five years what’s the best advice you could give yourself knowing what you know now?
Lisa: Well sometimes I think what if I had called myself on my 50th birthday when I was 49. If I had called myself within those 12 months and said this is what’s gonna happen I would have hung up on myself because I would have thought that is ridiculous. There is no way I am doing any of those things. So I think in even a longer time period I would say one of the things is, don’t worry.
They say don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s hard to know where the journey’s going to take you.But it’s been amazing. I’ve been so fortunate. I have an amazingly supportive family. Amazingly supportive friends. I’ve been given the opportunity to travel to amazing places and I feel very fortunate. So I say:
Enjoy the Journey.
Eat more fortune cookies.
Tiff: Anything else you want to throw out there?
Lisa: Well I am very close to having 2 million views. I have a channel on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and YouTube. I remember so well waiting to get to 100,000 and now I have nearly TWO MILLION views! I can barely believe it!
And I just want to say I am so appreciative of everyone who’s participated in the writing competitions, the photo awards, shared their stories and watched my videos. Thank you!!!
Lisa and I chatted a little more about this and that and some of her last words were her most helpful and encouraging:
Everybody has to figure out how to make it work.
Yes we each do Lisa Niver. Thank you so much for your generous time. Lisa is such an inspiration to me. I think her words are so helpful because we are all on a different path. We each have to figure out a way to make it work. As a creator sometimes I find it daunting to try to identify myself. What am I and what is it that I do? Lisa’s perspective and drive reiterates to me that we are always evolving ourselves and that is how we can achieve creating the best version of ourselves in this world.
If you want to know more about Lisa you can follow her at wesaidgotravel.com, youtube, facebook WSGT, facebook LisaNiver, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or sign up for the newsletter. Make sure you also check out her One Page which has a huge list of impressive work and awards.
And be sure to enter the 2nd photo contest which started on August 1st and is now open. No matter what is going on you can be sure if Lisa isn’t sitting at her desk doing the work, she if off somewhere helping someone else, doing something amazing, creating art and living this life to the fullest.
Thank you so much Lisa for all you do. See you out there!