Resume Virtues Vs. Eulogy Virtues: How Do You Give Back? With Soon Hagerty

Brave Women at Work  | Eulogy Virtues

 

Here’s what I thought about my career in my twenties.

I need to get a job so I can leave on my own and prove to my mom and myself that I am an adult.

In my thirties, here’s what I was thinking about.

I need to hustle and work hard.

I’m not stopping until I get to the top.

And then I hit my forties, and something shifted. Yes, I am still ambitious, but my priorities are changing. I want to be more present for my kids when they are young. My older daughter, Charlotte, is already twelve years old, and it feels like yesterday that I gave birth to her. I don’t want to lose those moments. I’m sure you can relate.

I had a lovely, thought-provoking conversation with my guest, Soon Hagerty today. We were all over the page in our topics, but somehow it all made sense.

During my chat with Soon, we discussed:

  1. Her experience fleeing Saigon with her family when she was little and what long lasting impacts this made on her.
  2. Her role at Hagerty Insurance and the impact of personal and professional brand.
  3. What led to her decision to move away from a large role at Hagerty and focus more of her energy on her daughter.
  4. Moving beyond resume virtues and towards eulogy virtues.
  5. Her other business endeavors, including the charitable restaurant, The Good Bowl, and her non-profit, Boundless Ventures.

The underlying theme of today’s show is how we can give back to others and ourselves, how we can be truly present and not simply on the hamster wheel. I hope you take some time to reflect on your resume virtues vs. eulogy virtues after today’s conversation.

Listen to the podcast here

 

Resume Virtues Vs. Eulogy Virtues: How Do You Give Back? With Soon Hagerty

I’m glad you’re here. How are you doing out there? Here’s what I thought about my career in my twenties. Let’s start there. I need to get a job so I can live on my own and prove to my mom and, let’s be honest, to myself that I am an adult. How about our 30s? I need to hustle and work hard. I’m not going to stop until I get to the top. I am super ambitious, but then I hit my 40s and something shifted. Something shifted. Yes, I am still ambitious. In my 40s, I started this. I have written chapters and books, but admittedly, my priorities are changing. I want to be more present for my kids when they are young or young-ish.

My older daughter Charlotte is already eleven years old and it feels like yesterday that I gave birth to her. That is legit. I know the clichés that people say, “It moves so fast.” When they’re young it doesn’t feel like it moves fast and then all of a sudden you wake up and they’re in middle school or high school or they’re already in college. I don’t want to lose those precious moments. Whether it’s kids for you or your parents, family members, friends, whatever your life or work circumstances, I am sure that you can relate.

In this episode, I had a lovely thought-provoking conversation with my guest, Soon Hagerty. Hang with us. Hang tight because we covered a lot of great ground. We talked about Soon’s background and personal and professional brand, and then we moved into giving back and talking about the title of this show, Resume Virtues Versus Eulogy Virtues. Somehow all the topics wove beautifully together and make sense.

During my chat with Soon, we discussed her experience with Fleeing Saigon with her family when she was little, and what long-lasting impacts this made on her, I can only imagine. We discussed her role at Haggerty Insurance and the impact of personal and professional brands. Soon was also gracious enough to share what led her to decide to move away from a large role at Hagerty and to focus more of her energy on her daughter.

We chatted about moving beyond resume virtues and towards eulogy virtues. You’ll have to read that part of the show. It was just something I will never forget. Soon shared her work with her other business endeavors, including the charitable restaurant, The Good Bowl, and her nonprofit, Boundless Futures. The underlying theme of this show is how we can give back to others and ourselves, how we can be truly present and not simply on the hamster wheel. I hope you take some time to reflect on your resume virtues versus eulogy virtues after this show.

Here is more about Soon. When she was four, Soon’s family fled Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. After a perilous twelve days on a boat and another six months at a refugee camp, the family ultimately settled in Fresno, California, sponsored by an uncle who had fought for the South Vietnamese. Her parents’ determination to create a successful life in America by becoming entrepreneurs inspires and defines Soon to this day. Soon has co-owned several PR marketing firms, including, Centigrade and Luxe Communications.

Centigrade is a marketing communications and events company with several offices in North America and Europe. Her global brand communications experience includes developing a strategy for many of the world’s top brands, including Lamborghini, Ducati Motorcycles, eBay Motors, Black River caviar, Excellent vodka, and Breitling watches. Since 2016, Soon has overseen Hagerty’s brand strategy in support of the company’s stated purpose to save driving and fuel car culture for future generations.

In 2022, she was named one of the US top women in communications by Reagan Communications for her work in transforming the Hagerty brand, she played a lead role in transforming Hagerty from a local specialty insurance company, operating in a basement to a globally public traded lifestyle brand for car lovers that join the New York Stock Exchange as stock symbol HGTY, in case you’d like to check them out, in 2021 with the value of more than 3 billion.

In 2023, Soon transitioned from Senior Vice President of Brand to Brand Advisor at Hagerty. During that same time, Soon became the Cofounder and President of the Boundless Futures Foundation, which supports mission-driven female entrepreneurs, a believer in doing good by doing well. Soon is the Founder and Co-Owner of The Good Bowl, a mission-based Vietnamese restaurant in Traverse City, Michigan that donates $1 per bowl to charity. She is the Creator of Help In Heels, a women’s volunteer group, and Running In Heels, a women’s entrepreneur group.

Soon is married to Mike Hagerty. Of everything she has done in her life, she is most proud of her daughter, Ava, and her stepdaughters, Olivia and Sophia. Before we get started, if you’re enjoying the show, please make sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. As I always say, if this show has left any impact on you, whether it’s personally or professionally, please share it with a friend, family member, or colleague via email or your social feeds. Your ratings and reviews help this show continue to gain traction and grow.

If you’ve already left a rating and review, I thank you so much, it means the absolute world to me. If you haven’t yet downloaded 1 or all 3 of the freebies on my website, check them out at BraveWomenAtWork.com. I’ve created three just for you: 24 Career & Leadership Affirmations, 5 Steps To Managing Your Imposter Syndrome, and Get Paid: 10 Negotiation Tips. In each of these freebies, you can hear that two deal with mindset and one is with negotiation and a mindset in negotiating. Those are all there for you completely free. They’re workbook style guides so you can complete them on your own time. Go to BraveWomenAtWork.com to learn more. Let’s welcome Soon to the show.

 

Brave Women at Work | Eulogy Virtues

 

Soon, welcome to the show. How are you?

I’m great. How are you?

A Story Of Resilience: From Saigon To California

I am so good. Thanks for joining me. Why don’t you jump in and tell us a little bit about your background story and how you’ve gotten to where you are?

It’s a complex question. My husband and I launched the Boundless Futures Foundation in September 2023. This foundation helps female entrepreneurs start their own businesses. The reason why I started there is it culminates from my background. I was one of the boat people in the ‘70s from Vietnam. I immigrated from Saigon. My dad fought in the Vietnam War on the South side along with the Americans. Once the North won, he was asked or required to join what would you call a reeducation camp, which as you can imagine, there’s not any education happening there.

Like many refugees and immigrants, we came to the United States with virtually nothing. We had 7 kids and $300 in our pocket. That was such an instrumental time for me and didn’t realize it until I was in my thirties, how much that shaped my life and continues to shape my life. Just watching my parents be entrepreneurs helped me think about where I want to go next. I started a PR agency when I was 30, a marketing events firm when I was 34, and then a restaurant just about a few years ago. Very early experience of starting from nothing and realizing that you can create this very focused life for yourself was important for me.

Were your parents also entrepreneurs?

Yes. We came to the United States. My dad drove the newspaper truck from 12:00 to 5:00 AM that dropped off the newspaper bundles for the kids, the newspaper route, and then he learned English at night. That was how we started in the United States. We lived in Central California. Over time we lived in Fresno, which was hot we realized that the climate is similar to Vietnam in terms of heat and humidity. We started to grow Vietnamese Asian fruits and vegetables in our backyard, then we started selling them door to door.

I remember selling at door to door with my parents as a kid and then we’d go to farmer’s markets. Over the course of several years, we bought some land and started farming bigger plots of land. We would drive three hours from Fresno to San Jose to sell fruits and vegetables and from the back of our, what I would call, Tiffany blue van for several years. Then as that business started to take off, my parents bought a warehouse in San Jose where there’s a huge population of Vietnamese and Asians. They moved my senior year of high school there to start their business. I grew up in a house of entrepreneurs and my mom raised seven kids and helped run the family business.

Talk about resilience. You probably learned a lot of resilience, sweat equity, hustling, and anything else you want to share that you learned from that experience.

It takes a while to see the fruits of your labor. What I learned was you don’t have to figure everything out when you start your own business. When people ask me, “Any advice in starting your own business?” what I say is, “What is the problem you’re trying to solve and what are your next 3 to 5 steps?” Every time you navigate the next three to five steps, you might go down a different path. If you spend time thinking about what are your next twenty steps, you might lose an opportunity, you might not see a bigger perspective, and not evolve your thinking.

For me, be clear on what you’re trying to solve. What are your next 3 to 5 steps? Everything else you can learn. That’s what my parents did. As I mentioned in a very brief manner, it’s, “Great climate, we can grow fruits and vegetables here. There’s a place in Northern California where people will buy this produce and then let’s get a plot of land.” They figured things out over time. They never came to the United States and said, “We’re going to do a wholesale produce warehouse.” They would’ve never thought of that. They always solved a problem along the way.

Overcoming Perfectionism

I have to ask though, this is selfishly for me, but it’s going to apply to my audience. A lot of the women that read are in corporate. They’re mid-career or female professionals and powerhouses. They may or may not have side hustles or be entrepreneurs, but maybe some of them have dreams. Me included. That’s why I started this show, the coaching business I have, and all the things. One of the things that I know is an undertone or an undercurrent of what women in my audience struggle with is perfectionism and people-pleasing and all those things. How have you pushed or managed those and put them to the side so that you weren’t like, “I don’t have to have everything perfect. I don’t have to have all of these steps figured out?” It sounds like that would kill any entrepreneurial idea based on what you said.

That applies to whether you’re a corporate leader or you’re starting your own business. There’s this book that a girlfriend of mine gave me many years ago. It’s this tiny little novelty book. It’s called The Underachiever’s Manifesto. What it says in a nutshell, and it takes you maybe five minutes to read, “Don’t over-worry about what people think of you because they’re too busy thinking about themselves.” If you have a challenge in your life, whether your business fails, you have a divorce or you have something personal that’s negative in your life, it might be the talk for a week or two, but then the next fiasco happens that people are talking about. People who are too absorbed with their own problems to care much about yours. It sounds so funny, but that’s true.

When I think of a failure that I’ve had or I think of something I’m not super happy about, within two weeks it doesn’t matter. Focus on the things that are long-term that are going to build your life. The second piece is when you think about people pleasing, be clear on who those people are. If it’s my family and my 5 or 6 good friends, those things matter, but if it’s everybody else, they don’t matter. They’re not thinking about you. Those are the two things. People move on. They’re pretty self-absorbed with their own issues. The second piece is to be clear on who you trying to please.

Be clear on who you try to please. Click To Tweet

Building A Brand Strategy

Those are so good. Everybody, write those down. I come from a teaching family, and I’m always like, “What’s the key point here? Let’s write it down.” That’s so good. On your career, I mean you have given us a high level, but you’ve had amazing stops. I mean when I was doing research before our show along the way. One of your key successes was that you led brand strategy at Hagerty Insurance, I’d love to know whatever you want to share about that experience and how you have helped to change the face of the automotive industry, especially at Haggerty.

It’s a family business, very similar to my family. My husband started it. We were friends for twenty years before we got married. I worked as a PR consultant years ago. One of the things that we tapped into and we worked together on this, so it’s a team of people at Hagerty. It’s my team that runs brand and communications and events and his executive team. It’s not something that I’ve done by myself. What we tapped into is two core things. First of all, people take care of their choice. When they care about something like their classic vehicle, they take care and they want to spend time around their hobbies. We don’t think of cars at Hagerty as a commodity, something that you use to get from A to B. So we treat real special care in terms of this hobby.

The second piece is nobody wants to talk about insurance. We’ve tapped into that they want to talk about cars. We realize that this community needs real care and they need ways to enjoy their car. I think it’s key to know, when you’re selling a product, what are you selling? We’re not selling insurance at all. Insurance is how we make money, but that’s not why we’re successful. We’re successful because we realize this car means something to you. This might be the car that you wanted when you were in high school, but you couldn’t afford it. This might be the car that you learned how to drive when you were 16 and now you’re 40, you can buy it. This might be the car that you brought your kid home from the hospital. We know cars mean a lot more to people than getting from work and home.

Brave Women at Work | Eulogy Virtues
Eulogy Virtues: We’re not selling insurance at all. Insurance is how we make money, but that’s not why we’re successful. We’re successful because we realize this car means something to you.

 

That is interesting and there’s something underneath that I wanted to tease out a little bit. You’ve tapped into this and I’m in marketing, Soon, but I am not a brand specialist. Here I’m getting into my marketing groups a little bit. You’ve teased out the story of the brand. It’s not just about like, “I sell insurance. This goes back into my marketing books.” It’s like a Dell computer. Why did Dell not do as well as Apple? Apple was selling simplicity, a lifestyle, and all of that, whereas Dell was just selling computers at a reduced price. It sounds like you tapped into that at Hagerty.

First of all, I think you know the brand more than you think because I think that’s a very great insight. I think about Apple a lot. It’s one of those brands I admire. One of the things is when you think about buying an iPhone or a Mac, look at the way that it’s packaged. It’s packaged like a treasure. When you have your phone, it’s embedded and it’s formed perfectly and you open up this white beautiful box and you feel like you’re opening a treasure. There are no instructions. Their brand is built on this idea that it’s about individuality, simplicity, a statement of who you are and you’re innovative in this thinking and you’ve opened up this treasure that’s about you.

They’ve tapped into the emotional side. When anybody talks to me about brand strategy, what’s your one piece of advice? It’s like people buy things based on emotions. People buy things because it says something about them and your example is exactly right. Nobody’s sitting there in a café, super excited that they’ve got their Dell laptop, but Mac? There’s something about it. I think they get why people buy their brand.

I just talked to someone else that said, each of us is a business or a brand. In terms of your branding career, for anyone reading, they’re like, “You’re talking about like Mac and Dell, and all these Hagerty, but how does this relate to me?” What advice would you give to people who are looking to build their own brands, their personal or career brand?

This personal brand thing has become a thing over the last couple of years. Oddly for a branding person, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my personal brand. What I do spend time thinking about is, “What do I care about? What do people come to me about?” If my friends call, what do they call me about? It’s about this love I have for helping female entrepreneurs and helping female leaders. Growing up in an entrepreneurial household, my husband’s parents started their own business. My husband’s mother Louise helped build the Hagerty brand, then I started three businesses.

My personal brand is something that I authentically care about, and I’ve been blessed to be able to be where I am because I have this great network of people who support me and are able to believe in me and the things that I care about. That’s my way to contribute and “give back.” If I post anything, it’s about female entrepreneurism. If I give speeches or have long debates about something, it’s about helping female entrepreneurs. You build your personal brand by not thinking about it. It is just doing the things that you care about on a day-to-day basis that come naturally.

You build your personal brand by not thinking about it. It is just doing the things that you care about on a day to day basis that come naturally. Click To Tweet

There are some goodness in there. Take notes from Soon. What about this for your brand? Now we’re going to look at everybody we’re in a brand workshop. On one of your sites, you have something that says, “Doing good by doing well.” When I’ve been reading your sites and I’m amazed at all the businesses you have, we’ll get there in a minute, is I wanted to know what that means to you or maybe if that is also part of the fabric of your brand or represents what’s important to you.

The Good Bowl

You probably are referring to my restaurant, The Good Bowl. My partner, Tony Vu, and I, both of our families are from Vietnam and refugees. When I moved from LA to Traverse City Michigan, it was primarily a White community. I would start to make these big Vietnamese dinners for friends and then friends would say you should open a Vietnamese restaurant. I tell them they’re insane and stop drinking. After a certain amount of time, I thought, “Maybe this could be a thing. Maybe this community needs this.”

I started to build a business plan. I showed it to my lawyer and he said, “Do you have a chef?” I’m like, “I don’t have a chef.” He introduced me to my partner Tony, and we started sharing our story, and within minutes we said, “This restaurant should have an impact strategy.” I wouldn’t have started the restaurant without it. We donate $1 per bowl to charity as a way to thank the US for taking us in as immigrants. We’ll be six years in July 2024. We’ve given about $175,000 to charities. It’s roughly about 30,000 or so a year to dozens of charities.

That phrase to me is about business is important for the economy and society, but if every single business did a little bit of impact work, you can imagine if you have millions of businesses in the US if every single business just had a slight element of impact, you can imagine some of the problems that we can solve. You can imagine the type of people we would help. That’s what I think about when I think about that phrase.

Now I’m thinking about what you just said and I agree with you. If we each gave $1, it doesn’t have to be a lot. That’s a good example where people are like, “I’ve got to give 20%.” Not, that it’s just like a small fraction, but think about how it’s added up for The Good Bowl.

We donate $1 on behalf of our clients or guests each time they come in to order a rice bowl. What I love about it is it starts an amazing dialogue with our guests. They start to suggest which charities we should donate to. We have conversations around this. It’s about making sure that everybody can get involved. I have a simple concept of charity, which is if you make it easy for people to give, they will do so.

I don’t think you have to make this overly complex. When we started the restaurant. We looked at different business models and I said, “It should be a no-brainer.” I order a bowl that I love then we come to you Jen and say, “Do you want to give to Taralyn Humane Society, which is a local animal shelter or do you want to give to Make a Wish Foundation or Doctors Without Borders today?” Every quarter we change the charities and you get a chance to choose every time. Make it. It’s super simple and I think you can make an impact that way.

I don’t live in your community, but if you go in, you order a bowl, it feels good. It makes people want to return because every time I order a bowl I get the opportunity to choose. I thought you chose them.

The great thing is that every quarter we’ll do a call out on social media and say, “What do you want Q2 charities to be?” We’ll get dozens of posts of suggestions. We’ll get people coming to the restaurant. We have a little vase that says charity suggestions. We narrow it down to a couple of different, 2 or 3 different local, national, or global charities. I let my employees pick the finals. The community suggests the charities, the employees pick the final charities, and then the community when they come in, gets to pick every time they come in. We donate that money and every quarter we give away between $6,000 to $12,000 each quarter depending on how busy we are.

From Resume Virtues To Eulogy Virtues

If I’m in your area, I will be visiting The Good Bowl, and I will be helping promote it on social if I’m out there. Who knows? Going back to Hagerty, I wanted to ask you, because you’ve had a prolific career and you could have stayed at Hagerty and your title was SVP of Brand Strategy and now you’re a brand advisor. When did you know it was time to pivot and do something different?

I’m going to get a little personal here. About in late 2021, I read this alarming statistic that more than half of 6 to 12-year-olds have been hospitalized or sought care for suicidal thoughts. This shocked me. I think I saw it on The Today Show or maybe a CNBC story. I have an 11-year-old daughter, she was 10 at the time. It shook me. I’m working full-time at Hagerty and I have a restaurant and then my husband works full-time. My 10-year-old daughter at the time had 2 full-time working parents. I thought to myself like, “That’s not fair. She shouldn’t have to be subjected to this busy life.” We both have I’ve spent 20 years at Haggerty since I was in my 20s. I said, “I think it’s time to prioritize what’s important.”

One of the things I’ve thought a lot about is, “How to shift from resume virtues to eulogy virtues. What are people going to say in my eulogy? Are they going to say, ‘She was a great brand strategist. She was a great restaurateur?’” No, they’re going to say hopefully, “She was a great mother. She was a great friend. She was a great philanthropist. She cared about people.” I made a tough decision to transition out of day-to-day, in which I was working 50 hours a week running a team of 65 people.

My husband had a mixed reaction. He was happy that I was going to spend the time with our daughter, more time with our daughter and our two other daughters who are older, but he was also disappointed because he wanted me to be at the company. I love the name of your show. I got a lot of feedback from people who used the words courageous and brave. I didn’t think of it that way, but it came out that way. Everybody said, “That’s such a brave decision.” I think it’s been a couple of months and it’s like the best decision.

First of all, with what you just said, I want to highlight that. You said, was it resume virtues versus eulogy virtues? What was the word you used?

Resume virtues versus eulogy virtues. I’m 48. I’m going to turn 49 like, “What do I want the second half of my life to look like? Am I just going to continue to build this resume?”It starts at the top of this show, “Who am I trying to impress? Why am I trying to be perfect?” I’ve had a great career at Hagerty. I’ve spent twenty years helping to build the brand alongside many other people. “What is my priority? Is it building five businesses? What is it?” I had to take a look after I heard that shocking statistic and I said like, “What I want my eulogy to sound like?”

I don’t know if you’ve ever done this exercise because I know you’re an amazing coach. I’ve also done some research. One of the things when I first started with my business coach, she had me write my eulogy, “If you want to be in absolute tears, write your own eulogy.” It’s super powerful. What do you want people to say about you? That was super helpful for me to form what I want the second half of my life to be, which is why we started the foundation, which is why I’m transitioning to part-time at Hagerty so I can spend the time with the second half of my life and the things that matter, which is people and impact.

First off, I have to say unscripted here that I will never forget this part of our conversation in my life because I’ve never had anyone explain it so clearly and succinctly to me. When we’re in our 40s, you get to this point where we just had the Super Bowl and I’m thinking of a football analogy we’re at that 50-yard line. We don’t know if we’re going to get all the way to the other side to the other 50. Some of us are going to make it to 70 or 80. We know that we have a lot of years behind us and we don’t know how many years are ahead of us.

Thank you so much for sharing that because it puts things into perspective for me as a recovering people pleaser and perfectionist that like, “Screw it. Who cares what other people are thinking? How do I want to live my life?” The reason that people said your decision was so brave and courageous is because how many people would do it? Most people have been conditioned in the US. Maybe it’s a US thing, I don’t know, you’d have to tell me. I think in the US I can confidently say we’re so used to going to cocktail parties and saying, “What do you do?” versus, “Who are you? What impact do you want to leave?” I’m never going to forget this part of our conversation.

It’s important to think about why you do the things you do. When I come back and say, “Who am I trying to impress.” It is exactly what you said. David Brooks coined the term, the eulogy versus the resume values. At the end of the day, there are only 6 or 7 people in my life that I look to and say like, “Am I thinking about my life? Am I treating you well? Am I making an impact?” Those are the people that you have to connect with. I think giving up my full-time executive position at Hagerty was tough because I’ll be honest, there’s a huge ego attached to stuff like that. It’s like instead of having this great title and running this great team and a big team, it’s weird because you don’t get a lot of congrats in this circle for saying, “I’ve chosen to step back from corporate life to raise my daughter.”

Even though I’m doing other projects, it’s an odd thing. I mean there were some great people who said congratulations, but I never thought going into it that people would say that. It’s fascinating how much ego is involved in making those tough things. I’ll be honest, there were parts of me that felt like, “Am I going to lose my relevance? Am I going to not matter?” Honestly, that was very small in my thinking. My bigger thinking is that I have the second half of my life I’m excited to make an impact.

You can go back to that Underachiever’s Manifesto because most people aren’t going to care. How has your daughter benefited, if you don’t mind sharing, as a result of this decision?

I don’t know if she’s said it, but I think she’s enjoyed me picking her up from school every day. Part of it is I have more than half of my girlfriends are stay-at-home moms. Some of them are working moms who don’t pick up their kids. It’s incredible how many times they say to me that the first 30 minutes when a kid comes out of school is such a barometer of how they’re doing in life. It’s true. I pick her up and I just don’t say anything. I say, “How are you?” You get this whole insight. I’m sure that anybody who’s a mom who’s picked up their kid understands exactly what I’m talking about. I think she’s enjoyed it, but I think I’ve enjoyed it more

Everybody who’s reading that let’s say you don’t have that choice yet to be home, you have to be working or you’re a single mom and you have to be working two jobs. We’re not here to throw shade at you because we want you to do what’s right for you. The exercise of thinking about your eulogy still holds the same. If you’re a single mom and you show your daughter that it can be done, there are lessons there. Soon, for you, it was the decision of, “I want to spend more time with my daughter and I have the ability and the blessing to do that.” I want everyone to read loud and clear that you make the decision that’s right for you for the impact that you can and will make in your life.

When you use that eulogy versus resume, it can have very different effects. It doesn’t have to be quitting your job or spending time with your daughter. It can or cannot be that. It could be as simple as “I work on my laptop every single day.” Maybe it’s, “I’m going to decide I do not work on Saturdays. That is family day.” That’s a great decision. I read that somewhere and I put it in my plan for this year, “on Saturdays, unless it’s a disaster, I’m not proactively working.” I think that’s a similar type of decision, which is like, “What am I going to prioritize? What are the things that are important?”

Boundless Futures Foundation

I have to talk about Boundless Futures Foundation, but I could talk to you about the eulogy thing all day. Maybe after or next time. With the Boundless Futures Foundation, you said that you have such a heart for female entrepreneurs. What do you hope to do with the foundation? What’s your goal?

We have three girls. I have my daughter that we’ve been talking about. I have two stepdaughters. One is 19 and one is 28. They’re amazing young ladies. My goal is to ensure that should they choose to start their own business, that there, I can break down some of those barriers. There are statistics that show women own 42% to 48% of businesses in the US, yet they only have access to 2% of venture capital. When you look at that discrepancy, 98% of venture capital goes to men, but women own half the businesses. That’s the problem. What happens to those women who start their own businesses is they don’t get to take large risks because they don’t have enough capital to sustain large risks. They generally would borrow from friends, family, and the bank so they’re not getting ahead in terms of their business.

They may not have the network and the resources to be able to grow their business at scale. My goal is to break that glass ceiling as much as I can. One of our taglines that we use when we think about this is, “Glass ceiling be damned,” which we joke about internally, but my goal with the Boundless Futures Foundation is to provide financial resources in terms of grants up to $25,000, no strings attached. You don’t have to pay it back. You just have to work through the process of showing us you have a solid business plan and we’ll do the interview process. We’ll get to know you and your business then it’s a grant. The other element of the Boundless Futures Foundation is we help nonprofits with a similar mission. We call those grants her village.

I think it does take a village. I think we help individuals and nonprofits, but I think the most important thing is we have something called an advisory circle of five women who have started their own businesses. Me, one of them where if you think about it, it’s almost like experts on speed dial where you can just call us and say, “Do I start an LLC, S corp, or an Inc?” When I start my own business, how do I think about this? I think the toughest part about starting your own business is not just the financial side, but it’s truly all the new questions you have to navigate. You can’t google your way through everything with great conciseness. Make sure that you have the money and the mentorship to build your own network of people and support.

Brave Women at Work | Eulogy Virtues
Eulogy Virtues: The toughest part about starting your own business is not just the financial side, but it’s truly all the new questions you have to navigate.

 

Talking about breaking the glass ceiling, I have to share that I wear every day a necklace that I got from Uncommon Goods. It’s an actual little round piece of glass. It’s all soft and everything like that that’s cracked. It’s a broken glass necklace. When my daughters see it, my five-year-old always asks, “Why is it broken?” I’m like, “It’s broken for a reason.” I always wear that as a reminder to myself and to my daughters of what’s possible. I have two daughters.

I’ve seen that before when we were thinking about what we should give some of the grantees, somebody texted me that and I thought, “That was a cool necklace.” I love it. That’s awesome.

Soon’s Secret Sauce

It is great. I have to ask you, even though we talked about you stepping away from Hagerty more full-time, you are a brand advisor, and you still have a lot going on, so let’s be real here. How do you keep all of these business ventures straight? Do you have a team? Are you good with boundaries? Give us the secret sauce behind all this.

I’m not great at boundaries, but I’m getting better. Do you know what I started to do over the past few months? I have started to journal. I know that sounds funny but if you’re a corporate person or you’re a leader and you’re somebody who believes in a growth mindset, journaling is not a new thing. I’m very strict about my morning routine. I wake up at 5:00. I work out. I meditate and then I journal. I’ve been meditating for the last few years it’s kept my mind straight and in a good place.

I’ve started to journal and literally every day I reaffirmed like, “What are my priorities? What did I do well? What didn’t I do well?” To me, it’s not about just boundaries. It’s about focus. You can have a lot of boundaries and no focus. I feel like I’ve learned to say like what are my priorities and what are my focus points? We all have a support network. I don’t have like a personal assistant or anything like that, but I do have a network of friends where I can call and say, “Don’t let me work today. Let’s go and have a glass of wine.” Nobody does anything great alone.

They say that with kids, but I think it’s like with everything, “It takes a village all the time.” It doesn’t have to be just raising children. It’s about everything. It’s about doing life that you all need a village. With that, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about meditation because you intrigued me. I’ve been doing variations of Transcendental Meditation, so TM. What kind of meditation do you do?

It’s evolved over the last couple of years. I used to do about twenty minutes of just silent meditation. I did that for several years and I felt like I needed a little bit more. Do you know that app Calm that everybody uses? I use something called the Daily Calm and it’s great. It’s 10 minutes where there’s always a topic of focus and it’s awesome. I don’t think I’ve missed a day of meditation in a few years.

I do ten minutes of meditation. I do the normal stuff. I do a steam shower where I have no music. I’m just thinking, “I take walks,” and things like that. Journalism is my other form of meditation. Every day I have a role. I get up immediately. I grab a cup of coffee, I sit in my room with candles in the dark. I stretch. I talk to my husband. we meditate and then we go down and I journal. I cannot look at a device. I cannot talk about work. I cannot talk about my due list until those things are done.

I learned that method by studying Stoicism. I don’t know if you know much about stoicism, but it’s not a religion, but it’s a philosophy. It’s about creating the distance between your environment and your reaction and being intentional. Going back to your previous question, I’ve been able to keep my business venture straight because I have an organized mind. Stoicism has been helpful. In the morning, I want to ensure that I am in charge of my day and not let an email or a text dictate what my day looks like or what my mood looks like.

I’ve had that happen to me where I pick up my phone first and then I get mentally or emotionally derailed. Do you have a separate alarm clock? Are you an old-school alarm clock? Tell me about that.

We upgraded it. We had this old iPod-ish or a tiny little phone. It feels like 5 or 6 inches. We have that as our alarm clock in the morning. We have an app that we meditate to, but it’s not our phone. About many years ago we started leaving our phones downstairs just because it’s too tempting when you can’t sleep to look at your phone. We get our morning started and try to be intentional about our day. Especially when I was younger in my 30s, I had my phone by my bed, looked at my phone minutes before I went to bed in the middle of the night, and then I got up in the morning and I literally had no control of my mind or my day. Everybody controlled what I needed to do, my priorities, and my mood. Stoicism changed my attitude about the ability to manage my environment a little bit stronger.

I completely agree with these tools. I haven’t done journaling in a long time. You’re saying, “You’re encouraging me and motivating me to get back in there.” I like the fact that you’re saying that you do them in bite-sized pieces so that you don’t have to because when people say morning routine, you know all the books, it’s like, “Two hours.” No, you don’t need that much time. You’re talking 10 minutes of meditation, journaling or what have you. Whatever you do for your workout. You probably could get all this done in one hour, which is very doable.

If you don’t invest an hour in yourself, you have no dividends. You have nothing that’s going to go your way. You have no foundation to stand on if you just get up and go. I can’t even imagine a day where I don’t invest in myself and say, “My mind is worth the time.” You have nothing without a clear mind. You have nothing without an organized mind. You have chaos internally and externally.

If you don't invest an hour on yourself, you have no dividends. Nothing is going to go your way. You have no foundation to stand on. Click To Tweet

You have this beautiful bookshelf behind you. It’s super organized. Has a clear mind translated to a clean environment for you? Does that also help in having a clean or clear environment?

I’ve been lecturing my daughter. It’s like, “The minute I get up, I make my bed.” It’s a small little annoying thing to her, but it’s like, “Organized room, organized mind, organized life. You cannot operate in a chaotic environment.” I went on vacation. I tried to take a New Year’s vacation with my family and we set goals for the year. I had this goal of reading 25 books. I’m on book 5 or so because I read 2 on vacation, so I cheated a little bit. Literally, there’s a book called The Organized Mind. It’s a fantastic book. It starts with your environment. You can’t have everything in here clear if the physical surrounding is chaos. Your physical, mental, and emotional minds all have to align. I don’t have to dust and polish every book every day, but I have to have a level of organization that I can navigate and not, and that can’t be something I think about. It has to just be in the background.

Wisdom To Pass On

We’ve talked a lot about our daughters. I know you have one on one of your sites. You have an Olivia. I have an Olivia. I don’t have an Ava or Sophia, but I have a Charlotte. There are some similarities. One of the reasons I do this show is not only for me, my own healing and my own journey and knowledge and building community online, but also for my daughters as a time capsule. When their mom isn’t there, they’ll see and read all these beautiful stories and hopefully be lifted by them. If your daughters were reading this many years later, what wisdom would you want to pass to them?

Every conversation I’ve had with all three of them is the insight, how is their self-esteem. What’s their confidence like when they’re looking at different perspectives when they’re talking about school or work? This tiny little problem that they’re talking to me about, whether it’s tiny or big probably won’t exist in 3 weeks, years, or months, but what’s their self-esteem and confidence like is what I hone in on because if I can build that, it doesn’t matter what problem they’re talking to me about. They’ll solve it. When you start a business, what problem are you trying to solve? When you’re talking to your friends, what is the real underlying problem here? If I can give them the tools to have self-confidence and great self-esteem, I feel like my job is done.

it’s evident to me when somebody has low self-esteem or lack of confidence they boast, they belittle, they speak ill of everyone. I think if I can create an environment where they can learn to be confident at a young age and they can tackle any hurdle, I feel like I’ve done my job. If there’s something that I want to pass on to our girls, it is, “Everything in life stems from your view of yourself.” Whether you beat yourself up or you have enough pride in yourself to be able to try new things and understand that you’re going to make mistakes along the way, that’s how you build confidence.

Everything in life stems from your view of yourself. Click To Tweet

What a gift you’re giving to them. I know that they range in age, but your oldest you said was 28, I’m 46. I’m not too far behind. I’m still learning that now. I was learning that when I hit 40. I think it’s beautiful you’re sharing this with them at these precious ages now.

Nobody is perfect. One of the things that I’ve had to reign in as a mother especially, is trying to solve problems. Sometimes I have a tendency like if I had something I wanted to work on, I interrupt and say,
“You need to do this.” What I need to do is give them the bridge to figure out what they need to do. I think that goes again. You learn confidence, evidence of success. Every time you do something well, you build your confidence. If you solve somebody’s problem for them, they have the inability to build their confidence. Confidence and great listening are two things that I think can solve a lot of problems.

Dovetailing into that, I don’t know if it’ll be a similar answer for this, but what do you believe are 1 to 2 ways that women as a whole, how can be braver at work?

Maybe this is something you’ve heard a lot, but I think being brave is about having humility and understanding that growth and comfort don’t coexist. If you want to be brave at work, you need to understand that you’re going to be uncomfortable. Until you’re uncomfortable and you can try new things, you’ll never be able to move forward. I hear this a lot, and I love this phrase. It’s like, “If you continue to do what you’ve done, you’ll always get what you’ve got.” It’s such a funny full of words type of quote, but when you break it down, it makes so much sense. I equate that growth and comfort, “Do not coexist,” as the jumping point to being brave at work, at life, as a mother, and as an entrepreneur. Trying new things and not being afraid to make a mistake is going to set you on that path.

How can they connect with you and your work online?

I started to have a little bit of focus on my LinkedIn. It’s @SoonHagerty, then you can always email me Soon@BoundlessFutures.org. I’m hoping that you guys will give me a ring and let me know where we can help in terms of female entrepreneurs. We’d love to connect with a lot of your audience and stay in touch with you. You have an incredible voice. I feel like I can talk to you forever.

Thank you, Soon. You’ve been an amazing guest. You’ve taught me so much. I truly promise that the whole section on the eulogy and eulogy virtues is going to go down in my memory for a long time and be imprinted. Thank you so much for your insights.

Thank you so much. This has been such a blast.

That’s a wrap on my discussion with Soon. I hope you found our conversation both valuable and inspiring. Until next time, here are some questions to ponder. Are you living and working towards your resume virtues or your eulogy virtues? If so, how? Do you want to change anything here? What is one way you can give back to others? What is one way you can give back to yourself? Finally, how can you be more present for what matters most? As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The show is also available on any other platform you enjoy. Until next time, show up, leave an impact, and be brave.

 

Important Links

 

About Soon Hagerty

Brave Women at Work | Eulogy VirtuesWhen she was four, Soon’s family fled Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. After a perilous 12 days on a boat and another six months at a refugee camp, the family ultimately settled in Fresno, California, sponsored by an uncle who had fought for the South Vietnamese. Her parents’ determination to create a successful life in America by becoming entrepreneurs inspires and defines Soon to this day.

Soon has co-owned several PR/marketing firms including Luxe Communications, which she founded, and Centigrade a marketing, communications and events company with several offices in North America and Europe. Her global brand communications experience includes developing strategy for many of the world’s top brands, including Lamborghini, Ducati Motorcycles, eBay Motors, Black River Caviar, Xellent Vodka and Breitling watches.

Since 2016, Soon has overseen Hagerty’s brand strategy in support of the company’s stated purpose to save driving and fuel car culture for future generations. In 2022, she was named one of the U.S.’s “Top Women in Communications” by Ragan Communications for her work in transforming the Hagerty brand.

She played a lead role in transforming Hagerty from a local specialty insurance company operating in a basement to a global publicly traded lifestyle brand for car lovers that joined the New York Stock Exchange (HGTY) in 2021 with a value of more than $3 billion.

In 2023, Soon transitioned from Senior Vice President of Brand to Brand Adviser at Hagerty. During that same time, Soon because the Co-Founder and President of the Boundless Futures Foundation, which supports mission-driven women entrepreneurs.

A believer in “doing good by doing well,” Soon is founder and co-owner of The Good Bowl, a mission-based Vietnamese restaurant in Traverse City, Michigan, that donates $1 per bowl to charity. She is also the creator of “Help in Heels,” a women’s volunteer group, and “Running in Heels,” a women’s entrepreneur group.

Soon is married to McKeel Hagerty. Of everything she has done in her life, Soon is the most proud of her daughter Ava and her step-daughters, Olivia and Sophia.

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