Monday, February 26, 2024

Interview with Lisa Honig Buksbaum, CEO & Founder of Soaringwords: Leveraging Passion and Resilience for Success

Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – Innovate & Elevate: Inside the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit
Today, we had the opportunity to interview Lisa Honig Buksbaum – CEO & Founder @ Soaringwords.

Lisa Honig Buksbaum is the CEO and Founder of Soaringwords, a not-for-profit organization with the mission of inspiring individuals to take active roles in self-healing to experience greater physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. With a lifetime of experiences helping others through trauma, grief, illness, and setbacks, Lisa has channeled her passion and resilience into a global movement that has inspired more than 500,000 individuals. In this interview, Lisa shares her backstory, the essential tools and technologies she relies on to manage her business effectively, the unconventional and creative approaches she has implemented to contribute to the growth and success of her business, and how she addresses the learning curve and potential resistance from her team when implementing new tools or technologies.

Interviewee Name: Lisa Honig Buksbaum

Company: Soaringwords

Lisa Honig Buksbaum’s favourite quote: “What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The Interview

Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?

Lisa Honig Buksbaum : Since I was a child, I wanted to help. Whether it was rescuing a blind duck at a park or defending my younger brother against bullying when he experienced severe asthma attacks—I always found myself in the role of a helper during times of crisis. As an adult, a phone call at four o’clock in the morning launched a trifecta of trauma that changed my life forever. Three experiences with death and illness occurred in my family in just 10 months. My beloved brother died suddenly of an asthma-induced heart attack, my father was battling lymphoma, and my son became catastrophically ill. When my family’s world imploded, I felt as if I had become irrevocably damaged. Instead, I discovered my calling during a sunrise walk along the beach at the height of my son’s illness. I heard the word “Soaringwords,” and suddenly knew why I was born. I channeled my passion and resilience into a global movement that would inspire millions of people to never give up. My lifetime of experiences helping others through trauma, grief, illness, and setbacks—combined with my own personal experiences —led me to found Soaringwords, a not-for-profit organization with the mission of inspiring children, families, adults, seniors, and health care professionals to take active roles in self healing to experience greater physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Soaringwords has inspired more than 500,000 individuals with workshops, hands-on empirically-sound positive interventions, and fun and meaningful events in Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, social service agencies, and schools around the world. Today, I am an internationally recognized Positive Psychology thought leader and the President of the Positive Health and Wellbeing division of the International Positive Psychology Association.

What are the essential tools and technologies you rely on to manage your business effectively??

Lisa Honig Buksbaum : Prior to an epiphany which led to me pivoting my career in order to create and lead a global nonprofit, I began my career working at international advertising agencies managing multinational accounts. At age 30, I took a three-month maternity leave when my first child was born. I decided to begin my own marketing agency six months later when I realized that I was always the person the clients looked to for an honest, authentic assessment of the situation. They trusted me and I believed that authenticity and vulnerability are our greatest assets. I combined my marketing acumen and integrity to convince many clients to give me strategic branding assignments that the international advertising agencies would give to a junior team. I staffed my company with independent contractors and became the primary source of income for dozens of highly creative, accomplished people. When I started Soaringwords, I relied on this personal/professional powerpack to build the organization. First was the power of personal narrative by sharing my origin story. Then I’d ask people to introduce me to the “best of the best” in medicine, business, and health care, exceptional leaders who also were empathetic and generous. I rapidly built a business advisory board of 70 leaders which gave us legitimacy as a start up.

This personal/professional tenant was the cornerstone to becoming an acknowledged leader in the employee-engagement space. My unconventional or creative approach was to appeal to employees by finding a shared common humanity first, then focusing on delivering empirically based Positive Psychology interventions and simple activities to bolster employees’ professional development. All of our immersive activities are based on a SOARING Into Positive Wellbeing Model which has been presented at 17 international scientific conferences.

All of our programs are highly immersive and we have historically invited inner-city students from the local community to participate alongside the employees. This strategy was effective in securing significant support from dozens of Fortune 100 companies who invited me to give inspirational talks and hands-on employee-engagement service learning experiences at on-sites and off-sites throughout North America and in many countries around the world.

Are there any unconventional or creative approaches you’ve implemented that significantly contributed to the growth and success of your business??

Lisa Honig Buksbaum : Because we had been doing global programs with Fortune 100 companies, we were able to pivot quickly during COVID when everything became virtual overnight. When we started collaborating with Johnson & Johnson in 2005, we led programs with a few hundred people in one or two locations. Word spread quickly and many more J&J divisions signed up for our employee-engagement workshops and programs. Using the Cisco Telepresence (these were the days long before Zoom) the clients had me present in the world headquarters in New Jersey or in Tampa and then connect to thousands of employees in three countries. This was so successful that the next year it was expanded to 5,000 people in seven countries. During COVID, we created 23 SOARING Into Strength workshops which were shared with social service agencies in Jersey City and Silicon Valley. In 2023, we realized that people are inundated with workflow and balancing the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of their families so 23 workshops is a daunting number. We pivoted again and synthesized our offerings into a streamlined SOARING Into Positive Wellbeing seven-part workshop series.

How do you address the learning curve and potential resistance from your team when implementing new tools or technologies? ?

Lisa Honig Buksbaum : In the end, the most innovative approach is to give people what they need to become the best possible versions of themselves, to make them feel part of something larger than themself, and to inspire them to infuse their personal and professional life with meaning, agency, and purpose.
Dr. Angela Duckworth defines resilience and grit as passion for long-term goals that are difficult. When there is resistance or difficulty in the learning curve among the team, I take the time to explain the pro-social benefits and the importance of the initiative, which in turn minimizes resistance and amplifies motivation to be part of a worthwhile program.

Leaders Perception would like to thank Lisa Honig Buksbaum and Soaringwords for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

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