The Secret to Success is You: A Conversation with Liz Tran

cheerful woman with laptop surrounded by tropical leaves

Photo credit: (rikkyal)

When Liz Tran began working in venture capital, she was asked to answer the following question: What qualities make someone a successful founder, CEO, or executive? 

What she discovered surprised her. It led her to write The Karma of Success: Spiritual Strategies to Free Your Inner Genius and create Reset, an executive coaching company for CEOs and founders of some of the fastest-growing companies in the world.

Tran recently spoke with us about her work. Here are excerpts from the conversation, lightly edited for brevity and clarity. 

Q: I love that you discuss us being our wisest mentors. It speaks to the tension between our desire to learn from others and our need to trust ourselves. So, let’s start by talking about that. 

Years of studying leaders, particularly founders of tech companies, led us to realize that our internal wisdom is just as powerful as the best advice from the most accomplished person. After two years of in-depth research, we realized no correlation. What everyone said over and over again was that people of all backgrounds can succeed. The key is understanding yourself, your restrictions, your gifts, and your assets; no one can tell you who will be a better expert on that than you. It’s about trusting yourself. 

Q: Many people believe that women have no shortage of intuition but don’t always listen to it for various cultural reasons. Do you think that’s true? 

Yes, I do think that is true. Everyone has a ton of intuition. But it can feel harder for women to trust that intuition, particularly in rooms that are dominated by men. So, I think it is important for women to realize that their credentials and criteria are enough to say, “I know this because I know this.”

Q: When did you begin to take this in and trust your intuition?

I got into meditation and yoga purely for personal reasons and noticed these practices helped me show up better at work. I felt more confident, listened more to my intuition, and was clearer about my path and what I wanted to do. 

I do think of myself as deeply spiritual. But at the same time, I like to do things that are Type A. So, it’s not about one or the other for me. It’s about knowing when each is more valid. 

And the turning point came when I worked at the venture capital firm. There were no female mentors. It was sink or swim. I realized I had to trust myself.

Q: Your book The Karma of Success: Spiritual Strategies to Free Your Inner Genius addresses “the next frontier” of career advice for today’s world. Do you think people are more receptive to how spiritual insights can help in career advancement now? 

I think, particularly because of the pandemic, people are more receptive to it now. And when I use the word spiritual, it does not indicate any religious denomination. It’s just about different philosophies that have existed since the beginning of time. 

Today, we’re living in a time when things are changing constantly. And I think most of us feel we don’t know what’s around the corner anymore. But I think we’re all looking for something that feels like a steady and sensible foundation by which we can make sense of all the changes happening. That’s why the spiritual element has become so important. It’s a way to make sense of things.