MSNBC: Lisa Sun Discusses Her Book, Gravitas
- Founder and CEO of game-changing retail brand and lifestyle company GRAVITAS — featured by Oprah magazine, TODAY show, People, Fast Company, Elle, Forbes, CNN, and more
- Former McKinsey Associate Principal who understands how to tap into inner strength and bet on innovative ideas to find success in even the most difficult business environments
- Seamlessly blends her personal story and the story of the launch of GRAVITAS to showcase the power of confidence, innovation, and a strong vision
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What would happen if you let go of fear, got off the sidelines, and jumped boldly into the game of life? Lisa Sun, founder and CEO of GRAVITAS, electrifies audiences as she unpacks this vital question in her moving, motivating, and empowering talks. Catalyzing confidence and inspiring innovation, Sun seamlessly blends stories from her personal journey with data and experience-driven insights from her 11 years at McKinsey & Company to offer talks that encourage audiences to choose self-confidence, work to harness their “superpower,” and use gravitas to advance personally and professionally.
Sun founded GRAVITAS in 2012, and its origin story dates to her first professional review. The feedback that changed her life? Being told that she “comes across as young and overly enthusiastic at times,” that she “lacked gravitas,” and “should go buy a new dress, big jewelry, and great shoes.” With those words in mind, an understanding of the transformative power of clothing, and a determination to create a game-changing company, Sun filed for a global patent to build shapewear directly into dresses. She launched GRAVITAS as a company with a mission to catalyze confidence. GRAVITAS offers innovative size-inclusive apparel, styling solutions, and content designed to makeover women from the inside-out. Two months after launch, her first collection was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, PEOPLE, and "TODAY" in the same month. Sun and GRAVITAS have not slowed down since; she has been featured on CNN and in Forbes, Fast Company, New York Magazine, Elle, Marie Claire, InStyle, and more. In her book, GRAVITAS: The 8 Strengths That Redefine Confidence, she shares her own journey, as well as the superpowers that anyone can call upon to be confident and successful.
Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Sun explores why it’s vital to push past your potential, how to transform an idea into a movement, and why you’ve got to bet on yourself every single day. Praised for her passion and warmth, she has spoken for groups including JPMorganChase, Mortgage Bankers Association Summit for Women in Real Estate Finance, HSN, Dress for Success Global Success Summit, The Nantucket Project, and more.
Prior to founding GRAVITAS, Sun spent 11 years at McKinsey & Company where she advised leading luxury, fashion and beauty brands and retailers in the US, Asia, Europe and Latin America on strategic and operational issues. At McKinsey, Sun was considered one of the firm’s top experts in the luxury and fashion space, Lisa published perspectives and gave keynote speeches at forums such as the American Express Luxury Summit. In many ways, Lisa “grew up” at McKinsey, being mentored by the firm’s best thinkers, learning from top executives, and having the privilege of leading teams of talented colleagues around the world.
Sun has always had a passion for style, for inclusivity, and for helping people look and feel their best, having been a size 22, a size 8, and now proudly a size 12. At every size and age, she has found creative ways to show off her style, having been named one of Washingtonian Magazine's Best Dressed Women. In addition to being a fashion industry disruptor, Sun is the author of the book Gravitas: The 8 Strengths That Redefine Confidence, in which she challenges traditional notions of confidence with a new approach to living with self-assurance. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University with distinction in Biology and Political Science.
Choosing Self-Confidence. Within us all exists a lifelong struggle between being self-conscious and self-confident. Open, honest, and funny, Lisa Sun shares the techniques she and her many clients have used to recognize, strengthen, and use their unique gifts to shut out doubt and fear and become more confident and successful. She touches on letting go of haunting insecurities, making our unconscious gifts conscious, and learning to share them with those around us.
Finding Your Superpower. As Lisa Sun explains, we can’t be confident until we fully understand what makes us uniquely strong—our “superpower.” But how do we discover it? In this interactive workshop, Sun explores different confidence personalities and how they connect to our superpowers. Packed with real takeaways for personal and professional advancement, this workshop will have attendees buzzing as they figure out their own confidence language and the superpowers they naturally channel, realize how their confidence language has been helping (and hurting) them, and how to ultimately use it to work through challenging situations and make positive situations even better.
GRAVITAS: The Mindset Transformation Workshop. Lisa Sun is about to break everything you know about confidence.
In an interactive and intimate session, she takes the powerful lessons on cultivating courage, channeling resilience, and choosing confidence that she shares in her keynotes and leads a more in-depth exploration into how each individual in your group can apply them to every aspect of their lives. The GRAVITAS Mindset Transformation Workshop is meant to get everyone reflecting internally and out loud, communicating with one another, sharing what makes them unique, and creating an action plan for how to harness their superpowers and show up as their most courageous and confident selves each day.
Group members will have the opportunity to learn more about Sun’s journey, as well as each other’s. Life stories will become leadership stories, and eyes will be opened to how our past experiences have equipped us with the qualities to be the leaders we know we can be.
As a result of the session, they will be armed with the following tips, tools, and tactics for the next time they come face-to-face with self-doubt:
- How to recognize and overcome the six forces that inhibit self-confidence
- Their unique confidence languages (results based on a pre-workshop assessment)
- Self-reflective exercises for drawing out the confidence that lies within
- Strategies for overpowering their inner-critic
- Understanding of what skills and mindsets they want to develop going forward
As Sun shares, self-love requires a lot of work and there’s no silver bullet to this. People can’t change their behaviors until they change their mindset, and this workshop is designed to set the wheels in motion for this process to begin. Confidence is a choice — one that everyone in your group will be ready to make by the end of this workshop.
Embracing Equity: 5 Pillars for Opportunity and Advancement. The brave who have come before us have cleared a path, and it is up to us to continue to the work, leaving it clearer and wider for the next generation.
In 2013, Lean In helped create a seismic shift in how we talk about women in the workplace. But in 2016, Lean In and McKinsey conducted a series “Women in the Workplace” studies to see how women were faring. The insight? While Lean In gave women permission to ask for more raises or credit, they were faced with being labeled as aggressive or pushy, didn’t have the skills to make the ask, or faced systemic and cultural biases: “They leaned in, and the world pushed back.” In fact, we have identified 6 forces that hold women back.
How do we use gravitas to reshape the cultures in which we operate to become more inclusive and empowering? In the words of Gloria Steinem, “We need to be long-distance runners to make a real social revolution. And you can’t be a long-distance runner unless you have some inner strength.” We can show up for ourselves, reframe the narrative around our distinctive strengths, and take credit for them. The more we show up for ourselves, the more we set the precedent for those around us and those who come behind us – and the more we recognize strengths in others.
We have to do this work individually and then support each other in doing this work collectively to combat systemic bias and embrace equity. There are 5 ways we can do this together: solidify our superpowers, call bias out, amplify the power of the pack, embrace role modeling, and embody allyship.
Braving Innovation from Our Strengths. As Lisa Sun explains, we can’t be confident until we fully understand what makes us uniquely strong—our “superpower.” But, once you know your superpower, what’s next? With this talk, Lisa blends research from her time at McKinsey & Company with her own personal story to impart a powerful message about drawing on specific gifts to make the world a better place. Whether it be launching a revolutionary company, bringing that new idea to management, or pushing past failure to chase a big goal, Lisa inspires audiences to draw on their strengths in pursuit of innovation and success.
Pivot With Purpose. When faced with the disruption of the pandemic, Lisa Sun channeled her mom’s advice to “act selflessly (not selfishly), do something (not nothing), and do the best she can for as long as she can.” Motivated by purpose and taking stock of her resources, she pivoted her lifestyle and fashion company GRAVITAS to create and distribute PPE to frontline workers – and aims to continue to shift the brand’s focus towards providing essential items that spark joy.
In this talk, Lisa acknowledges that during an upset or challenge, the natural reaction is to experience paralysis. But shares that when each person takes advantage of their personal strengths, capabilities, and individual “superpower” – they can identify the ways to uniquely contribute and open up an entire solution-set for change. Blending insights from her own experience pivoting GRAVITAS, Lisa demonstrates that when you rethink elements of your life, your business, and your industry around an authentic purpose (not profit), everyone else will come along for the ride – raising their own hands to help and creating a long-term impact on their lives. Audiences will walk away inspired and with actionable tactics to adapt to any situation in a way that has lasting purpose.
Cultivating Courage: Reframe Results to Compel Action. True courage is displayed when we are able to gather the mental and moral strength to face challenging endeavors head-on with the knowledge that we are supported in our actions. It begins with us truly understanding our strengths and organizational culture, while letting the experience and results from our actions — whether positive or negative — guide our continued pursuits. What steps can we take to transform courage from a fleeting moment or an event to a regular practice?
In this eye-opening conversation, Lisa Sun introduces a framework for organizations to redefine what it means to cultivate courage. She begins by illustrating the things that hold us back from being bold. This includes disappointing experiences and how organizations define and evaluate success, which can lead to and reinforce limiting beliefs, forcing most of us to default to what worked before — our comfort zones. Instead of thinking differently and embracing opportunities, we focus on our flaws and silence our potential to step out and create something truly remarkable. We may be focused on “hard” metrics as the primary indicators of success, but the organizations that are best positioned for successful innovation are the ones that integrate hard metrics with “soft” metrics to explore a more holistic view of what they have achieved. Soft metrics empower us to understand what went well, find opportunities to discover new approaches, and come away with lessons learned for the future, building strengths and capabilities we may not have even known we had.
Using examples from her own real-life experiences, Lisa provides practical tips on how organizations can implement soft and hard feedback loops as they look to operate with excellence and cultivate courage.
From an Idea to a Movement: Choosing Self-Confidence + Finding Our Strengths. As Lisa Sun, founder and CEO of the lifestyle and fashion company GRAVITAS, explains, people can’t be confident until they fully understand what makes them uniquely strong. Open, honest, and funny, Lisa shares the techniques she and her many clients have used to let go of haunting insecurities, making our unconscious gifts conscious, and learning to share them with those around us. Blending research from her time at McKinsey & Company and her personal story, Lisa will impart a powerful message about drawing on specific gifts to make the world a better place. You will feel inspired to draw upon your unique strength and superpower to push past your potential and transform an idea into a movement.
Moral Courage, “Reluctant Activism,” and Allyship (Presentation with Jane Park). A generational shift is happening amongst the AAPI community. In this talk, entrepreneurs Lisa Sun & Jane Park address the challenges facing the AAPI community from systemic bias and the model minority myth to rising anti-AAPI sentiment during the Covid-19 pandemic. Together, they blend their experiences in corporate America and as startup founders to celebrate what it means to be AAPI today and what that means for the future.
Through Lisa Sun’s personal story, she explores what it means to be second-generation Taiwanese American, wedged between her immigrant parents’ quest for high-achieving assimilation and her younger brother’s millennial protests for change, ultimately embracing what she calls “reluctant activism” as a call to action for the AAPI community. Jane Park, the first Korean American woman to take a company public on the NYSE, provides unique insights into how individuals and organizations can embrace concrete allyship actions that move beyond the performative and turn supporters into true champions for change.
Diversity: Representation & Access. It’s widely acknowledged that the most-diverse enterprises are the most innovative and highest-performing. As an Asian-American woman, Lisa Sun shares her personal journey climbing the corporate ladder and launching her own venture, GRAVITAS. Through her story, she shares how minorities can be seen and celebrated for their differences and ideas; and how everyone can create cultures where connection, equal access to senior jobs, and equal pay are the norm. Her unique insights provide concrete tactics to unlock the secret of making diversity work.
Make Your Mark: Growth and Market Dominance. Here, Sun draws on her McKinsey background to explore the shifts we’re seeing all around us in terms of changing consumer behavior, emerging markets, and technology. Sharing her inspiring story of creating a novel, successful brand and a rabid fanbase in a busy sector facing tremendous disruption, Sun showcases how to grow your business by paying attention to the right indicators, understanding your niche consumer, differentiating your brand, and doubling down on a positive vision. A great talk for incumbents and growing businesses alike, Lisa Sun helps audiences understand the changes that are remaking the business world around them while motivating them to remain resilient and use that knowledge to chase market dominance.
Managing Through Adversity with Gravitas. After a professional review left Lisa devastated, she threw herself into reversing the comment from a superior of “lacking gravitas.” Decades later, Lisa has come to understand that discovering her gravitas pushed her to survive and thrive. In this webinar, Lisa gives a gravitas guidebook to persevere through tough times and come out the other side stronger – to not only survive, but thrive in adversity.
Entrepreneurial Resilience. Entrepreneurs fail, a lot. But what makes them succeed is their resilience. In the current era of disruption, CEOs, business leaders, and managers must adapt to new ways of business. Tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit needed to stay alive in uncertainty, Lisa highlights the shifts her retail business has made to survive and thrive in the past, how she’s adapting her businesses right now, and shares how organizations can embrace resilience to improve upon their own businesses during uncertain times.
Unlocking the Best You in a Virtual Setting. Is your Zoom fatigue real? Mustering up the energy to be emotionally and physically present in a virtual world is getting harder and harder – but what are we really feeling? Often times, this Zoom fatigue is really “me fatigue.” And when we don’t feel good about ourselves, it’s hard to want to interact with others… especially on a screen.
In this interactive experience, GRAVITAS founder and CEO Lisa Sun will provide insights about why we are feeling this way and how we can show up when the camera is turned on. Sharing her personal journey to finding confidence and founding GRAVITAS, and working with the audience along the way, she will demonstrate how to use gratitude and self-awareness to change the way we feel even before we turn on the camera, and then dive into specific tactics to set ourselves up for success on screen.
‘Fake it till you make it’ is bad advice. Here’s how to grow beyond performative confidence and establish real gravitas
Lisa, thank you so very much for your kind words and tremendous engagement. Our folks were hanging on your every word… we loved both your content and delivery. If your ears were burning, it was because of all the comments flying behind the scenes… “She amazing!” “This is awesome.” “She’s a rockstar!” “WOW.” All that to say… we simply can’t thank you enough. We know how busy you are and truly appreciate you making the time to genuinely lean in be present with our people. It showed.
In a time where our team members’ wellbeing is at the forefront of our success, Lisa’s Gravitas workshop was the perfect program to lift our team and help them focus on the things that will make them most productive both personally and professionally. Lisa delivers a program that is reflective, uplifting, and impactful in an authentic way that allowed for humor and a comfort level that is necessary as her content becomes customized and personal to all. It was a home run!
Lisa was a hit! She really set the tone for the day and people were still talking about her session at the cocktail hour. What a dynamic person! We enjoyed her so much and people kept asking me how we found her.
Lisa Sun is inspiring and authentic. She is relatable, warm, funny and insightful. Lisa has an immediate connection with the audience as she shares her personal story of how she found her passion and purpose. Lisa Sun is the speaker your attendees will talk about for years to come.
She was AMAZING!!!!!! Knocked it out of the park—everyone loved her. She was the perfect open. Sorry I was so excited I forgot to email!
I, myself, find Lisa to be a very inspired leader. I would highly recommend her to speak to any group of people—employees or organizational leaders—looking to find inspiration in their daily work. More than others, she is a speaker who offers substantive lessons, real guidance, on how to put lofty ideas into real action.
Lisa Sun exudes warmth and insight. At our Global Success Summit, not only did she inspire our audience with her unique story, she connected with each and every attendee on a personal level. Her take on vulnerability and her interactive exercises to embrace our superpowers engaged us to take action and make a difference.
Lisa Sun is an incredible guest speaker–her delivery is as authentic and funny as her story is inspiring. I would recommend her highly to any group reflecting on their own purpose, passion, and gravitas.
“Lisa made an incredible impact on our company. The people who have been to these events before said it was one of the best keynotes in our 18 years; Those who haven’t attended before said Lisa set the bar to the max for our future speakers. I have heard multiple conversations since Lisa’s keynote about people sharing superpowers, sending the Gravitas website to friends and family members, and just general glowing reviews.”
“Lisa was SUCH A HIT! Literally, made our night great and employees were raving about her!”
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