We’re heading to San Francisco this September and we wanted to profile five women doing incredible things in the San Francisco/Oakland community. This series, SF LEADERS, will celebrate the work of trailblazing women and showcase how they’ve inspired others in their community and ours. The second woman in this series is Lisa Bühler, Founder of Lisa Says Gah.
What does being a good leader means to you?
A good leader has high, yet reasonable standards for oneself and those around them. A good leader is passionate, flexible, eager to learn, is not perfect, is happy to give others credit and above all, does what’s right beyond self-interest.
For you personally, have you found that leadership is innate, learned, or both?
Leadership is a big word, but you can be a leader in small ways. To me, it’s both innate and learned. Anyone can be a leader but it takes guts and hard work to want that role. A reasonable person that’s all-in passionate about making something work is a leader. Extroverted or introverted, wicked smart or not, if you believe in yourself, and in something beyond yourself, you’re already a leader at heart—if you’re willing to share that.
What is some advice that has helped you get to where you are?
‘You can always make more money,’ said my husband. And, ‘Sometimes it’s not the decision you make, just that you make one,’ which my mom said.
Who doesn’t love validation and stability in life? Life is ever changing, so let your instincts guide you and try not to overthink it. Things will work out if you let it.
Job-changing risks can affect your cash flow, but money can be earned again, and once you let that fear go, you’ll undoubtedly figure it out because you’ll have to. You can always begin again. Fear is false preparation.
What do you admire most in others?
Bold kindness. People that go out of their way to lift up someone else. Support people above you, and lift up those below you. My favorite people are those who are eager to share compliments about others and are willing to share information that they found helpful to them. I love when business owners share their insights with each other and are not competitive. That kindness and unguarded approach is truly inspiring and contagious.
How do you balance drive and ambition with gratitude and being happy with where you’re at?
I love my job, but I try not to make it my everything. It’s easy to align your life with the ups and downs of your business, but more recently, I don’t. Now, I think, ‘This week is not our best, but I know what to do now to make the next week better.’ I’ve found there must be a separation in my work and life, if only to rejuvenate my work. Often when I’m doing things outside of work, it inspires my work, so I value non-work so much more now and let good weeks be good and bad weeks be bad.
How do you measure success?
If I’m happy with my average days, I feel successful.
What are you still working on that you haven’t quite nailed yet?
A streamlined morning routine. But maybe that’s overrated.
What are three things in life you need in order to thrive?
An open mind, continuous learning and my instincts.
Words you live by?
A quote from John Wooden, ‘Things work out best for people that make the best of how things turn out.’ Work with what you’ve got to get to where you’re going. You’ll surprise yourself.
Wisdom for other women striving to be leaders in life?
Discomfort is necessary for growth.
Founder, Lisa Says Gah
Photography by Anna Alexia Basile, 2017