Shira Lazar is the founder and CEO of the Emmy-nominated media company, What’s Trending. She also hosts “Let’s Go There” on the first national LGBTQ+ radio station, Channel Q. As an influential woman and team leader, Shira understands what it’s like to work in the corporate entertainment world while living with compassion. She sat down with Lu Parker and Be Kind & Co. to discuss her new project, Peace Inside Live, and what roles empathy, kindness, and mindfulness play in her life.
Hi Shira! So, you’re a busy person. You have a radio show and you have What’s Trending, which is an Emmy nominated digital media company. You also launched a project during quarantine that you’re going to talk about today. So essentially you’re a CEO, you’re the founder of this company. You’re hiring people, you’ve had to fire people, you have to make choices. How do you incorporate kindness into that on a daily basis?
Well, I think it’s changed over time as I’ve gotten older – I think I did a lot of things with ignorance when I was younger. I was going a mile a minute, I had my goals in mind, I had tunnel vision. And I think that sometimes I forgot people along the way, and now I like to truly drop into being present with those people – whether it be friends, family, colleagues, and check in with where they are at.
A lot of times, I think when you have a goal in mind, and you’re in hustle mode, including at the beginning of your career, you get so focused on your goal that you forget about enjoying the journey. And you can put aside people’s feelings and you put aside your lifestyle, and that could lead to you getting burnt out as the leader and the quote-unquote, boss.
This could lead to your team getting burnt out because you’re not approaching them and the workplace with compassion and empathy. And I definitely was guilty of that. Looking back, there are many moments where I feel like my team would reach out for a conversation and I would delay it because I felt it would be uncomfortable or hard. It just wasn’t a priority to me. It was like I wasn’t really listening. And so, I feel like after doing my own personal growth work and treating myself with kindness, compassion, and empathy, I can now lead by example and give that to others.
But I had to really understand what [incorporating kindness] meant for me. So I feel that especially now, it is so important to check in with yourself and to check in with the people around you. If you see that someone is having issues with their schedule, that they’re being flaky, that there’s some sort of change in behavior, don’t wait for it to get to a bad place. It’s important to have that conversation! And some people avoid it because either someone might not be happy – your employee, your team member, you might be the reason why they’re unhappy. And that could suck. But know that in being there and finding solutions and creating win-wins for people – that will lead to long-term and sustainable success, then you see the positivity of doing that in that moment. But you really need to be self-aware. That takes a lot of self-awareness.
Yeah. And I think you hit the nail on the head. Self-awareness and listening is key, right? Because if you’re not talking the whole time, you’re actually listening to your employee or to a boss or in your relationships.
Yes, listening is key. But don’t just listen to figure out what you want to say next. Once again, I’ve been guilty of that. It’s something that I’m constantly aware of! It’s a muscle. it’s not about perfection, it’s just about self-awareness. And always allowing yourself to make mistakes while also calling yourself out, taking accountability and elevating. I think that when your team members see that from you, it also forces them to step up. And you’re all kind of in it together and that way versus saying “only I’m allowed to make mistakes. I’m the boss, I’m paying you.” Creating that hierarchy does not create a loving, kind atmosphere. And life is too short to work in spaces that we don’t feel comfortable and safe.
I don’t want to talk the talk. I want to walk the walk. I want the things I talk about and value to be embedded in every part of my life, personally and professionally, and I do think of it as a 360 degree lifestyle in that way.
Yeah! So you host What’s Trending, which everyone should check out, but on top of that, you’re also on the radio, which I love. I think that’s so cool. People can find you at radio.com. Your show is called “Let’s Go There.” So you guys “go there,” meaning what?
We “go there” on topics ranging from, you know, the news and current events, social issues, sex, gender and race. It’s me and my co-host and we come from different backgrounds, but we are creating a safe space to have uncomfortable conversations. And that’s something a lot of us need right now. We launched this project two years or so ago, so we’re colleagues, but we’re also great friends. So how we approach these conversations is definitely different than you would hear anywhere else. You’re able to get your information and it’s entertaining, but it’s also like sitting around a table with friends, really getting into what’s happening in this world.
And then on top of all that, Shira, you started peaceinside.live during the quarantine. You and a friend decided to launch this beautiful website, which offers free Zoom classes for movement and mindfulness. I love that you made it free.
And we know that it’s important to make these tools more accessible, because they can impact and change people’s lives. Being donation-based or having scholarships can even help.
So when we launched “Peace Inside Live” we said we wanted to offer virtual Zoom sessions with facilitators from around the world, around the mindfulness and meditation movement. We also just want to build trust and credibility right now. We want people to get these tools because it’s needed right now. Mental health and suicide are huge issues.
We want people to know that there is hope- that they deserve everything that they want, and that they can get there. But it does require doing the work. And so we want to make these tools accessible. That’s why it’s donation based. And we have workshops daily, we have events. So you can find the classes, the schedule, and everything at peaceinside.live.
One thing you and I were laughing about before we even started the interview is that I asked “Why take on more?” But you just said that for some reason, you trusted it in your gut. And I’m a big believer in gut feelings – when something is pulling you forward and your gut says “go ahead,” you should take the leap, even if you’re afraid.
Yeah, there was certainly a lot of fear at different points and anxiety and feelings of “why am I doing this? It’s gonna fail. What’s the point.” But you have to let that go and take the wins as they come. And I also think it was one of those things where my friend Jordanna had this idea, and it felt like a no-brainer to me. Even though it took a lot of work even to launch it, it just felt right. Because even before quarantine, I was having a yoga class. And I remember thinking to myself, “wow, I feel so at peace. I feel like I’m at home in my body right now!”
So when this idea popped up, I said “let’s go after it!” Because when the universe presents opportunities to you, even if you are overwhelmed, and you say “I’m not sure this fits in my schedule,” you have to remind yourself, “did I ask for this?”
And if you did ask for it, then why would you pass it by?
The Universe answered you! And Yoga is a form of self-care. That’s something that I talk about a lot. I just think it’s so important to take care of yourself. How do you work with self-care?
Self-care is so important. It’s connected to self love. And I think recognizing when you feel “off,” and when things feel right you can move closer towards the things that feel right and feel good. I think that you need to recognize when you’re burnt out and when you’re overloaded.
That’s true self-care: to recognize that if you want to meditate in the morning, if you want to do yoga, if you want to wake up and journal; If these are the things that make you be you better, then you should do them. There are always going to be excuses, but self-care is saying “I deserve to do this today. Because it makes me feel better. And I deserve to feel better!”
Yeah, it’s just like exercise, there’s always an excuse, right? Because you can get overwhelmed and not find the time but it’s I also believe that if we don’t take care of ourselves first, then we’re not going to be able to care for others in business or relationships or friendships.
Yeah, you can’t pour from an empty cup. And I really believe that. I think that you can give, give, give, give, but if you yourself feel empty, and you feel like something is not right, you’re not going to be giving as much or as well as you think you are. So just be there for you. And it’s not selfish. It actually will allow you to be there for others even more and fulfill all your dreams even more.