It's Wise Women Wednesday, each week I interview a woman that I believe is inspiring, living abundantly and following her passions. These are all women who live a life of abundance and bring creativity into the world.
I'm excited to share Christie's interview with you for so many reasons! She's dynamite on every leve. Her passion for her business is contagious which is why she is who I'm trusting to put together our early spring Italy Trip. You can check more information here for "Cultivating your Creative Spirit In Sorento"
Q. Who are you? What is your background?
A. I am Christie Soper. Soper is pronounced like “so perfect.” Since no one is so perfect, and you got the joke and giggled or even smiled at that, we’re going to get along famously.
The surface answer to “my background” is mom and stepmom to four fabulous children, my soulmate’s wife, and from a career standpoint, MBA, 20 years in a Fortune 200 financial services company with various leadership roles in Marketing and Communications, Digital Business and Marketing, IT Project Management Office and Diversity and Employee Engagement Strategy in HR.
The deeper answer to “my background” is that I’m wearing the survivor badge from the school of hard knocks, from being a child of an unpleasant divorce, to being bullied for how I looked, to working 3-4 jobs to self-fund my college education while graduating #6 in my college class, to my own divorce, to still optimistically seeing life’s brass rings as something that can be obtained via guts, grit and grace. In my career and life, I’ve heard I was too driven, too Asian, too female, too young to be an officer, too emotional, too fat, whatever. I’m just me and I am undaunted when chasing my passions. Who’s with me?
Q. What is your work?
A. I’m the founder and CEO of Suncierge, which is a travel services company that provides comprehensive travel design and innovative concierge services to help travelers who aspire to new experiences. Our clients seek to delegate the planning details to a full-service expert who anticipates all their needs before, during and after the adventure.
Suncierge acts as a traveler advocate that leverages a network of travel partners in over 100+ countries and $21 billion in annual purchasing power to delivery its value proposition, which is rooted in creating immersive, unique, and safety-minded experiences for lifelong memories. Given Suncierge works primarily with women clients, enhanced safety and user-friendly tech during travel are among the highest priorities during planning. I turn into an absolute Joan of Arc-style warrior when it comes to making sure my clients get the best, especially if something is hitting the fan during their trip.
I think the more important question is “Why do I work?” Over the last 18 months, I have been on a mission to expand diversity awareness, empower women and their loved ones, and create global citizens through unforgettable life experiences. I founded Suncierge as the vehicle to achieve this mission and marry my passion with a purpose. It’s been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience of my career. I still get chills from some of the amazing travel we plan, which I’m finding way more fun than these new hot flashes.
Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. [She said, squealing] I’m downright giddy about “South Africa - Wildlife, Women and Wine,” the first Suncierge-hosted women's travel experience exclusively designed for 7 bucket list-breaking days of culture + safari exploration in a private, safe, small-group setting that includes:
• Captivating Cape Town’s cultural roots and breathtaking natural beauty
• A day well-spent in South African gardens and the Cape Winelands
• “Big Five” game drives through private, malaria-free safari reserves
• The site of Nelson Mandela’s first speech after being released from prison
• Penguin and seal colonies and other wildlife by boat and kayak
• A visit with a local foundation empowering youth through education
• Animal conservation education and so much more!
We were inspired by bold and brave women around us who yearn for opportunities to explore diverse cultures, lands, and people, yet may not have the knowledge, time or relationships to organize a full-scale African adventure. So we spent almost three months hand-crafting every minute of this inclusive journey with our preferred partners in South Africa to ensure a gorgeously planned, value-based and safety-minded experience.
Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. When Suncierge turned one year-old, I proactively decided it was time to transition from a startup to a growth mentality. This meant heavily investing in the business to create more infrastructure for expansion and strengthening our operational and technological backbones. It also meant setting new revenue goals that are double from year one in order to generate the return on the investment. When making the financial commitment, I was a little sleepless admittedly. Now I’m glad I made the commitment, as I needed the new goals to push the business and myself to the next level. No guts, no glory.
Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it? If not why not what's stopping you?
A. I am absolutely doing the work that is my calling! I make dreams come true for a living. Disney has nothing on me.
Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. I have three pieces of advice:
Don’t commit your life to someone until you’re at least age 25 or 30. You need time to figure out who you are before you can pick your perfect match. If you start thinking you’ve found the one, go shoe shopping until it passes.
Don’t settle, whether it’s your career, your life or your mate. Settling is not living authentically, and sooner or later it will manifest unpleasantly and inconveniently, like too much Mexican on date night.
Find your tribe. There are bad apples out there certainly, but they aren’t all bad. Keep looking, be open to trusting new people in your life and be brave enough to cut loose of the ones who deserve it.
Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. My one piece of advice is the concept of Minimum Viable Product or MVP. Creating the MVP for an idea, business, project or even a new strategy to tackle all your errands means you create/build/establish just the minimum viable amount you need to accomplish the first goal (not all the goals), then test and validate it’s working or not, and then add the next level and repeat.
With Suncierge, this happens constantly as we try out offering various services in really basic forms and letting the market demand lead us. The MVP approach forces us to fail fast with ideas, which keeps us from investing too much of our precious resources on services that no one wants. Now every time I want to try out a new idea, I ask what do I need to create or invest in at the most basic level in order to pilot or test so I can figure out if there’s even a market for it. This approach has helped save my sanity by keeping me focused and not going down rabbit holes unproductively or spending unnecessarily.
Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. Having a new business is a lot like having a new baby – you lack sleep and showers some of the time, there are uncontrollable situations that you just have to power through, and most days are joyous but a few are more like post-partum depression. Then you get a glimpse of that smile or delighted laugh that makes it all worth it. For Suncierge, that smile or delight comes from our clients. Their excitement, enthusiasm, and openness to wonder and wander is our inspiration and reward.
Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. Yes! My thanks to Alisha for offering this wonderful resource to hopefully inspire other women. With age comes wisdom, and my best revelations have come mostly from the company of beautiful, brilliant and brave women. I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunities to collaborate with amazing women Like Alisha.
Q. What's your favorite yoga pose?
A. The one where I’m holding a wine glass, preferably in yoga pants.
Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. Through authenticity. There are days I screw up momhood, neglect my sister or a friend when I’m stressed, and simply skip the workout repeatedly. I’m working on letting go of the guilt, owning my mistakes and trying to learn from them, and giving more to the world than I take. In turn, the universe is blessing me in untold ways with what I need and sometimes even with what I want.