Lissa Prudencio tells us she did everything by the book and was called “most likely to succeed” her entire life — but nobody told her how she’d have to work more than twice as hard for less recognition and less pay as a woman, let alone a woman of color. As the daughter of 2 Filipino-American immigrant parents who came to America with no money, her inheritance was in the form of work ethic. Lissa got straight A’s, attended 2 prestigious universities, got a master’s degree, and then a career at Google. On paper, Lissa tells us her resume sounds amazing, but in reality she was striving for “success” in a structure whose rules for success weren’t made for her. Lissa decided to start two businesses to trailblaze her own path. One is an SEO/web design agency and the other provides services as a Success Strategist, designed to help women and people of color succeed in life and in business. Lissa defines success as the trifecta of wealth, happiness, and fulfillment. Lissa creates content under the self-explanatory brand “Shit They Don’t Teach You in School” which has the same mission.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in business and how have you overcome them?
Before starting my own businesses, my experience as a woman in the corporate world was the challenge in itself. It’s everything you hear about, nothing new: getting spoken over, ideas not being taken seriously, expectations to do all the “admin” work, and of course, being paid less relative to male peers… while oftentimes doing more work. To overcome that, I decided to pivot my path towards working for myself. I currently straddle both worlds. I work for a big corporation during the day and I build my businesses on nights and weekends. As an entrepreneur, I find that many of my challenges stem from the positive characteristics that make me the woman I am. Some of these characteristics are historically seen as weak or not “business-like.” I’m constantly learning how to use them to my advantage by finding balance. For example, I am giving and I am nurturing. But I learned that if you bring that too much into your business, you can easily end up giving away too much value for free. Used to my advantage, I can build strong, trusting relationships and in turn provide high value services for higher return. Another example is that I extremely value building genuine and authentic relationships with people I meet. How is that a bad thing? Well, it sometimes hinders my ability to self-promote and make sales. To overcome this, I again try to find the balance between building those relationships but also being confident in the value I provide to people.
What can the public do to support equality in business leadership?
1) Spend money on women-owned businesses.
2) Don’t support businesses that don’t have representative leadership, especially businesses who capitalize on specific consumers who aren’t represented in their leadership.
3) Normalize, normalize, normalize. Normalize women in leadership positions. Normalize women as experts. Normalize women getting paid as much, or more than male counterparts. Normalize women-owned businesses as amazing places to purchase products and services.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life that has inspired you to see that women DO belong in leadership positions?
The biggest influences in my life have been all of the women bosses and women entrepreneurs around me who are unapologetic with who they are and what they want. This includes my sister, my best friend, and my growing circle of boss women building their own empires.
What sets you and your business apart?
On paper, I like to say that it’s because I have “success” in both the corporate world and the entrepreneurial world. In reality, I believe it’s because I have lived experiences as a woman of color navigating the bullshit but still somehow finding success. I’m relatable to people who have been playing the game according to rules that weren’t written for them to succeed.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with other female entrepreneurs? Be unapologetic.
What projects are you working on right now?
I’m building out my Success Services. One of these services is my 6-week mastermind group for women entrepreneurs called Brain Trust for Bosses, which is currently in session. As I continue to build the foundations of my business, I’m also creating content for my recently launched IG & YouTube channel, “Shit They Don’t Teach You in School.”
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Scaled to have impact on more people & bringing in revenue to enable me to pursue additional ventures.