Do You Remember a Specific Time You Overcame Adversity?

With Christine Lieu

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
My name is Christine Lieu, the expert behind CL Designs, graphic designer and efficiency coach who’s traded in climbing the corporate ladder for climbing mountains around the world. Saying no to dull and clunky visuals and yes to consistency, creativity and efficiency forms the core of my approach. 
 
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Never regret anything because at one point, it made you happy. 
 
What would you say to 16 year old you?
It’s completely ok to not have it ALL figured out! That’s the beauty of life. 
 
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
I’ve definitely had a handful of people in my life as well as currently that still doubt me. It’s honestly not a great feeling but you can either take those emotions, fears and doubts to motivate or crush you. You get to choose. There’s no better feeling than defining what success means to you and going after that!
 
What message do you think every woman should hear?
You are enough. We live in a society where there’s a lot of internal and external pressure involved. It can be difficult to shut that out. I’d encourage you to really reflect on what YOU need and want in your life. Think about the reasons why.
 
What is it like to be a businesswoman?
It’s A LOT of work but it can also be the most rewarding journey. You get the opportunity to wear all the hats within your business and being able to learn and manage that is ever-changing. 
 
What is your favorite thing about where you live?
Getting to experience the life as a digital nomad for a few months had help me redefine what I consider as “home.” Home will always be Canada to me in the traditional sense but home really is not necessarily a place to me, but a feeling. I miss people, not things. I love being able to call the world home and my favourite part is the range of diversity, ethnicities, perspectives (and of course food) that I get to experience.
 
What do you love most about yourself?
My resilience.
 
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
Choosing to take this leap from corporate to working for yourself is no easy feat. That internal dialogue before you even choose to decide may be the hardest part beyond being vulnerable to share it with your network. Bet on yourself! It would be a shame to live in “what if’s.”
 
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
I keep coming back to this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: “For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” Just start! You can do it. Do what makes you happy and know that’s more than enough.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
I honestly do not believe in complete balance anymore. It’s a matter of integration. For me, I think about what my ideal looks like and turn that into every day.
 
What is your favorite meal?
I can not say no to a big bowl of delicious, homemade pasta! 
 
Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
I love how agile, intimate, and perseverant the start-up world is. Working as an assistant for a tech startup (MeU) was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. My boss, Robert, was an incredibly intelligent and humble mentor. He’s shown me what real leadership looks like through his perseverance, dedication, support, autonomy, and empathy. These traits are what I aspire to create with my team and with collaborators. Having worked on design, marketing, research and more, both in Toronto as well as in New York allowed me to improve my skills and grow personally and professionally while having the opportunity to travel.
 
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
When I was making a big transition in my life to start university in completely different city from where I grew up, I had 3 very dear people in my life pass away within that year. It was by far one of the most difficult times in my life but that resilience and the wonderful qualities of each of those individuals shines on in how I live my life.
 
Why did you start your company?
It was a very natural progression. My passion for live music and band merchandising exposed me to a world of expressive visuals growing up. I wanted to help create identities and designs that would inspire my local community and it lead me to create my first business, a streetwear apparel brand called In Lieu Of. I had learned a lot about the fashion and design world in those few years and then always found myself working with other freelance clients along the way. Having earned my stripes in the fast-paced media world, and learned first-hand the challenges faced by startups through my own journey (sometimes the hard way!) I wanted to provide lean and efficient design and branding services that would free businesses to push on with what they’re best at. Since then, I’ve traded in climbing the corporate ladder to climbing mountains around the world. Having started my business has allowed me the freedom to work with people to make an impact and to explore those different cultures and perspectives around the world.
 
Were you scared to start your business? 
Of course! If I’m honest with myself, I still am at times but I told myself I’d pursue aspects of my life beyond fear and doubt. 
 
What is the best thing about being a founder of a company?
It’s up to you to create your own success and impact people! It’s more risky in my opinion to have your success and work determined by someone else instead of having that in your own hands. If you’re able to support a great cause or to affect the people you work with, it’s a really beautiful thing to give back through what you love to do.
 
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
Every day I wake up excited to get to work with the clients that I do and the projects we’re working towards. Their success is my success too. But if I were to choose another path, I would likely be doing something with food or travel since it’s another creative outlet I’m truly passionate about. 
 
What is something on your bucket list?
The quote, “I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list” is pretty accurate. I was talking to a friend of mine after I had visited Machu Picchu in Peru recently and had realized I have had the opportunity to visit 3/7 of the world wonders so I’d also love to continue that!
 
Who is your biggest role model? Why?
I’m so grateful for the support and love that my parents have expressed over the years. They have shared their incredible work ethic, some tough love, and ultimate shared in supporting me with what will truly make me happy and for that, I can’t express my gratitude enough. Those are qualities that I truly value.

More About Christine

Christine Lieu is the expert behind CL Designs. She is a graphic designer and efficiency coach who’s traded in climbing the corporate ladder for climbing mountains around the world. Saying no to dull and clunky visuals and yes to consistency, creativity and efficiency forms the core of her approach. 

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