Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Lisa Even a Joy Connoisseur

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Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Lisa Even a Joy Connoisseur

Lisa Even wears lots of hats: She’s a speaker. A facilitator. A coach. And, most fondly, a “joy connoisseur.” 

She does SO much, so you should check her out. 

Des Moines Parent connected with Lisa to learn more about her and her journey.  

Give us a little background on yourself. 

I grew up in a small farming town in eastern Iowa called Independence, and then after college moved to the Des Moines area, specifically Ankeny, and lived there for about four years. That would have been back in 2008 to 2012. I worked and went to grad school on the weekends and evenings. My husband, who at the time was my boyfriend, went to school at Des Moines University. 

People often ask me, did you try to start a business? I’m like, no, I thought I was going to do city management, city planning, and then fell into healthcare. So that’s what I have done for most of my career. I started in project management and then moved into operational leadership. In 2012, we moved to Milwaukee, and we were gone for about eight years. I laugh because when we moved back, we were like, oh my goodness, this town has grown. By that point, we had two kiddos, so I currently have a sixth-grade boy and a fourth-grade girl. And it’s kind of funny — my daughter is a lot like me, and my son is a lot like my husband, which is even funnier to see in the sibling realm. 

Could you give us an overview of your business and what inspired it?

We moved back to Ankeny right before the pandemic, and that’s when I thought, okay, I think I want to start a business. I had success leading teams of people in healthcare. Behavioral health and neurosciences were the two spaces that I was in primarily. I thought, healthcare is somewhat unhappy — there’s a lot of burnout and just overworked people. In the teams that I was in charge of, we created our little ecosystem with culture and joy. And so that’s really where I thought, okay, we’re moving back to Iowa, and my husband’s like, start a business, and I’m like, start a business for what? He said, well, teach people in healthcare how to lead people and how to keep people happy and engaged. So that would have been the tail end of 2019. 

When we moved here, we moved here in September. In October and November, we got settled. Then in January, it was like, okay, New Year. Let’s kick it off. And of course, then COVID hit, and I was like, oh, no, I’m basically in a new city. I’m an unknown commodity and the industry that I was going to focus on is not available. So, I paused.

I was reading a book where the author said, to create a mission that people can raise their hands and sign up for, something they want to be part of. And so I decided to be on a mission to connect with a million people because I felt like the world was disconnected. We were all at home. No one could be in the same room. I thought, what if I make it my mission to do virtual coffee and learn about the people in my community without being able to meet them? 

That was the launching point of building my network. From there, I would have people say, hey, I’m not in health care, but I’m an insurance. Could you do a virtual Lunch and Learn with my team? And from there it was, can you speak at an online conference? It was a lot of online offerings. Then as COVID lifted, I was able to get into actual teams and do some team development and then conferences. That’s really how it got going. I think about the people that I connected with, and they’re the reason I was able to build a business, which is awesome. 

What are your favorite parts of your business?

I would say my favorite part of being a small business owner is that I finally have a place for all of my energy. I tend to be a go-getter. I also think the creativity component in the larger organizations that I worked for, they were awesome, but it just took a long time. It was hard to get out-of-the-box ideas approved, so that’s been exciting, too. 

I started Rising Tides, a connection conference, and that’s probably one of my favorite experiences. The idea spurred out of those one million connections where I said, okay, I’m meeting all of these amazing people. How do I put them in a room and get them paired up so that they can meet each other and start to leverage ideas energy and networks? 

I had a friend who said, put your money where your mouth is — do it. So that’s what I did, and now I host big connection conferences. 

I also love getting onstage and encouraging people to do a couple of things. The three things that I stand for stand are to, one, have a good ripple effect. Happy or crappy, your choice. 

The other one I often say is, you happen to the world, not the other way around … so get out there. I know that there are really hard circumstances or maybe you have something hard going on, but you can happen to it

The third thing I often say is, joy is my job. My husband and I were burnt out a few years back, and we realized we were chasing jobs and kids and all the life stuff. But we were forgetting to put joy on the calendar. 

One night on the couch, I was like, I think we’re just chasing the wrong things. What if we looked at our life and chased a little bit of fun and made joy our job? So, I bought a whiteboard and hung it in our bedroom. And, you know, he’s like, people don’t have whiteboards in their bedroom, and I’m like, we do. I just want to dream about fun things that we could put back on our list … we used to be so fun! And now we’re prioritizing dishes and laundry and kids’ stuff. So what if we created a list of things that we liked to do? Put it on this whiteboard, and then before we fall asleep at night, we can add to it. Then in the morning when we wake up, it’s the first thing we see. 

I just launched a book on Amazon called “Joy is My Job” and it’s all about the idea that if you wait for joy to find you, you’re going to be waiting forever. You’ve got to curate it and think about it and just add little doses of it into your day and your life. It doesn’t have to cost money or be additional like work or stress. 

So those are all the things that I stand for in my business. 

How do you juggle your parenting responsibilities with your business responsibilities? 

I laugh because just today both of my kids came home from school at different times feeling sick. No one was sick before they left this morning. I just laugh.

I have realized that the juggle means one thing has to win. And sometimes it’s family and sometimes it’s work, and I’m okay with that. I know that a lot of people get stressed that they’re not making it all happen at once, but I’ve realized it’s like a soundboard for a song. You turn up the bass. You turn down the bass. You turn up the treble. You turn down the treble. That’s just how I’ve realized that it needs to happen.

Some days I’m up at 6 a.m. on my computer because I can get an hour of work in so that by 7 a.m. when I wake the kids up, I’m mom again. Then they go to school and I’m back to doing my job responsibilities. And then they’re back at 3 p.m. 

I’ve just realized that I oftentimes have to put one hat on and take the other one off. And that’s okay. And even sometimes I say no to something because I need to be a mom instead. I used to feel guilty, and now I’m just like, nope, I need to be a mom. Or if there’s something that my kids have going on that I need to miss because of an event, I just try to make sure that I’ve got a smattering of both things. And that’s all I can do.

What are some of your favorite things to do with your family around the metro? 

One of the things that I put in my book “Joy is My Job” that we often like to do is play tourist in our town. We’re always trying to find new fun restaurants or places to visit or even just try to experience whatever the little suburb or part of town has to offer. 

We also love to be what I call “halfway outdoors.” We’re not super hikers, and we’re not super bikers, but we like doing it. And we love food, so that’s always a win for our kids. 

What’s your ideal parent day or night out? 

My ideal parent day is probably a mix of outdoors and a yummy meal. A lot of times we end the night with a movie in our basement. That’s one of our favorite things just because it’s fun to curl up on the couch, and our kids always say the funniest things when we’re watching movies.

My husband and I like to try new coffee shops, too. We often try and do date afternoons because we’ve realized that our kids have a lot of sports in the evenings. 

What’s your number one parenting tip?

I would say that it’s messy but don’t forget to see the joy. 

I talk in my book about how we were going to the movies as a family, and the kids were being super naughty, rolling around on the floor and tossing popcorn and candy at each other. We decided to leave because we were being disruptive. We got to the parking lot where there was a grassy area, and my husband and I were kind of looking at each other like okay, that was supposed to be fun, and it wasn’t. Now what? And then we turn, and our kids are chasing each other around in the grass and belly laughing. We both start bursting out laughing. We’re like, you know, I guess we came to create joy. And here it is. 

Sometimes the joy or the experience that you had perfectly planned and curated is going to be different than you think. It’s going to be a little bit messy. And we’re okay with that. If our kids are being loud and singing loudly in the car, instead of fully being like, stop it, sometimes we’re like, let’s just join in. 

So that’s my parenting tip: find joy and know that you’re not going to be 100% on the dishes or the laundry or on a lot of things, but carving out a little bit of time to be present is huge.

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Lindsey Giardino

Lindsey Giardino

Lindsey Giardino is a freelance writer based in the Des Moines metro. She's also a new mom and learning as she goes. When she's not working on her business or watching her little guy explore this big new world, she loves to cook, read and enjoy the outdoors.

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