For the last few months, I’ve been writing for BuddhiBox, my dear friend Maxine’s company. I am grateful to have Maxine in my circle — as she finds her own success, she is focused on elevating the strengths of others. Each month, BuddhiBox donates a portion of their proceeds to a nonprofit — and it is my job to write an article about that organization and its’ founder(s).
A story I recently wrote really affected me. Through that experience, I was inspired to take some of that work to my own platform to share other women’s inspiring stories. I truly believe I find success because the people around me are finding success, too. Even though those in my circle have different end goals, we are all sharing the same resources and supporting one another as we find our growth.
The first person I thought to reach out to was Olivia Wong. I met Olivia this past March at the 6th Annual Live Well Project. I was introduced to the Live Well Project by Neeta Bhushan, Neeta is the Founder and CEO of Independent Awakening (IA) — Olivia is the President. Olivia and Neeta co-hosted the Live Well Project and I was asked to teach a short yoga class for the girls.
My interactions with Olivia the day-of the event were brief. I simply remember an aura of professionalism and positivity. What impressed me most about Olivia was her follow-up. A few days after the event, she requested a short phone call to seek feedback on my experience as a volunteer. I am always most impressed by those driven to grow and I have gravitated towards her ever since.
Last week, Olivia shared a powerful message with me, “come alive”.
She described how a simple phone call sparked a desire to live more fully. “I was on the phone with Neeta and she was pushing me -- she was like, ‘hey, I want you to be more edgy this year. You know, more matter of fact.” says Olivia.
Olivia was ready for the challenge. By day, she is the Program Officer at the Tarsadia Foundation and at work, Olivia is required to change her password every thirty days. “I began to set these intentions”, she said by using “sayYES2life” and “Lifelive2theFULLEST” as her secret code for day-to-day operations.
A few days after her conversation with Neeta, Olivia was invited to go skydiving. Despite having previously gone cliff jumping in Vietnam, she classifies herself as “deathly afraid of heights.”
Nevertheless, she said yes to skydiving because she knew it would push her limits to be more edgy, “Surprisingly, I wasn’t afraid and didn’t think twice. I looked out the tiny window and saw the sun setting on the horizon. Suddenly it clicked, I was about to jump out of a plane. And right as the hutch opened, I said ‘leap!’”
The experience of jumping out of the plane was exactly what Olivia needed to take the leap and “come alive.”
“It shattered any fear I held on to and reminded me that fear originates from our mind and the quality of our thoughts. Skydiving pushed me out of my comfort zone; it pushed me to be more edgy. I leaned into the fear so much that I actually passed through it. At first, everything seems so far removed from what we are capable of. But our limits are not created by reality. They are created by our own beliefs. Once your shatter your own limiting beliefs, there’s nothing that can stop you.”
In a few days, Olivia will be boarding a plane again. But this time, she won’t be jumping off.
Olivia will be traveling to India and Southeast Asia, where she will visit projects that the Tarsadia Foundation supports. “When I was young, my grandfather taught me to travel with purpose. He’d often say, ‘travel to see faces, not places’. I am not going for site seeing; every leg of my itinerary is centered around a purpose or a cause.”
Sprinkled through her travel plans is a visit to Shanti Bhavan, a school for slum children and a stop in Malaysia to meet with philanthropists over IA’s newest ventures. In between for leisure, Olivia is excited to enjoy herself at Sunburn, a large music festival in Goa.
When I last spoke with Olivia, she announced that both her and Neeta were “evolving IA” to scale their impact. “With our old model, we’re only able to reach women in the thousands. We need to drastically recalculate our approach if we want to affect change on a global scale within our lifetime,” says Olivia.
To come alive then, seems to be rooted in the idea that time is a scarce resource.
To best utilize their resources and scale their impact, Olivia and Neeta have decided to pivot IA from a nonprofit organization to a purpose-driven foundation, “the IA Foundation is investing in women to solve complex problems in the world. We’re looking for female entrepreneurs who can design innovative solutions to solve humanity’s greatest challenges.”
Just as we are about to hang up the phone, she concludes, “No one needs to wait until the end of their life or the end of their career to come alive.”
Indeed. Through her work, Olivia is encouraging others to “come alive” every day and she’s doing it at 24.
In the spirit of not waiting a moment longer, I leave you with her request, “Ask yourself, what does it mean for you to ‘come alive?’”