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June 16, 2022 38 mins

Joanne Lee Molinaro is known as the Korean Vegan. She is a lawyer turned Tiktok superstar and New York Times Bestselling author. In June 2022, Joanne's "Korean Vegan Cookbook" was honored with the James Beard Media Award for Vegetable-Focused Cooking. 

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
I'm Sam Edis and I'm Amy Nelson. Welcome to What's
Her Story? With Sam and Amy. This is a show
about the world's most remarkable women, their professional and personal journeys. Together,
we'll hear from gold medalists, best selling authors, and leaders
of the world's most iconic brands. Listen every Thursday or
join the conversation anytime on Instagram at What's Her Story Podcast.

Joanne Lee Mulinaro is known as a Korean Vegan. She
is a lawyer turned TikTok superstar in New York Times
bestselling author The Korean Vegan. Why the name, Well, I
think the Korean Vegan was actually given to me by
my then boyfriend, now has been I think we were

like getting up in the morning, and this was before
I was fully one thousand percent committed to being vegan,
and I think he was trying to encourage me, and
so was like, man, that risotto you made yesterday was
so good. You should start a YouTube channel. You can
call yourself the Korean Vegan. And that was like I
was like, actually, that's that's that's not bad idea. And

I started a YouTube channel that night called The Korean
Vegan and it just stuck, So Joanne, at that time,
you were a practicing, full time attorney, and what with
that journey like to go from being an attorney to
then suddenly saying, Okay, I'm gonna start a YouTube channel.
When I started the Korean Vegan in two thousand and sixteen,

I was, let's say, I had just made partner, actually,
um when I decided to adopt a plant based diet.
And I was just talking about this to my husband
the other day, And I'm sure both of you can relate,
because I know you have had incredible milestones in your
own life. But one of the nice things about being
a lawyer and going to law school was all of

the finish lines are set for you. They're they're all there.
You know, really need to set them for yourselves. You
don't need to create any of your own goals because oh,
graduate from law school, past the bar, example, get into
a big law firm you know, makes it your counsel,
make partner. It's all there for you. But when I
made partner, all of a sudden, I was like, I
have no goals. I've made all of the goals, I've

checked all of the boxes on this list, and now
I have to come up with my own. It was
incredibly intimidating. It was a little frightening, and for a
couple of years I felt very lost. And I'm really
glad that I had something like the Korean Vegan, which
was sort of my side hobby. I don't even call
it a hustle because it didn't make any money. I
lost lots and lots and lots of money with this hustle,

if you will, But it was something nice to have
that made me feel a little grounded. But it also
made me feel very human, like I was like, all right,
I'm not just this robot inside of this machine. I
have a human hobby and I really like doing it.
How soon after that did you set goals are around
the hobby. I had no goals around the hobby for

many years. Again, a goal was delivered to me in
two thousand eighteen. Somebody saw my Instagram accounts put me
in touch with a lit agent, who then put me
in touch with a big time publisher and they're like, okay,
we would like for you to write a cookbook. You
have this many months to do it. So again, you know,
the goal was placed in front of me. It wasn't

one that I created on my own, and part of
that was because I didn't need the pressure. I just
was like, hey, I'm a partner, I'm a new partner,
and that's a lot of work in and of itself.
I want to develop a practice, I want to have
my own book of clients. I want to be successful
at what I'm doing in this career. I don't need
more pressure to create more goals in a side hobby

to the extent that one was created for me with
the book deal. How exciting was that it was really
really fun and exciting, But again I had very little
ambition with regard to the book. I was like, I
will be happy to see it in print, and if
you know, seven people buy it, that will make me
very happy. At what point did this not become a
hobby and there become goals an ambition shifted over to

this the current life that I have, this reality. It
was not something that I dreamed like. I could not
have even imagined this when I signed my book deal
in two thousand eighteen. I think that this shift occurred
probably in when I started posting on TikTok. I started

posting on TikTok for the same reason that everybody else
either joined TikTok or started posting themselves. It was because
of the pandemic, quarantine, everything that was happening in the
world with George Floyd, it was just like too overwhelming,
and so I went on to TikTok because I needed
a little bit of distraction and something to take my
mind off of an immense amount of anxiety surrounding everything

that was happening in the world and in my own
life personally and professionally. And then, you know, it's hard
not to be inspired by the you know jen z
z z z z that you call them. They're very inspiring.
And I was like, you know what, I do have
a cookbook coming out and you know, less than a year.
I'll bet my editor and publisher would really appreciate it.

If I, you know, built out this TikTok, you know,
maybe I could have like another ten thousand followers to
add to my Instagram, which had seventy thousand followers at
the time. And so that's what I did, and before
I knew it, I had viral videos like a lot
of them, um and I had probably close to a
million followers in just a few months. And it was

then that I decided, all right, like I actually could
do something with this, not just like you know, at
the time, I wasn't thinking career, but at the very
least I was hoping that it would help with book sales.
And I think fast forward probably about six months after
the end of was when I decided, all right, I'm
gonna go for the New York Times bestseller list. It

was only then, like a few months before my book
came out, that we made it a real priority. And
what did that look like? Well, I think that it
looked ugly. I'll be very honest with you, Seam. I mean,
because and Sam, you you have experience with you know,
getting on best seller lists and stuff like that. So
much of it is you know, not transparent, and you know,

really really competitive. You've got to know what other books
are coming out at that time, you know, in your category,
and you know, there's no real formula to it. There's
some some formula like okay, make sure you sell a
lot of books, obviously, but honestly, from an internal and
personal perspective, it was ugly because I approached this goal

the same way I approached everything else that I had
in my legal career. Was like I've got to knock
it out of the park, and I've got to do it, like,
you know, months before it's due that that's my personality.
If somebody sets a goal for me, I want to
make sure that by the time the deadline arise, I'm like,
well passed, you know, whatever is expected of me, because
I hate being short on anything. But as you know,

there's no way to gauge whether you're going to make
it before the deadline, if you will, and so a
lot of it was just intense anxiety, um, doing everything
I possibly can to sell as many pre orders as
I could, you know, getting frustrated by the numbers I
was getting from my sales team like that's not enough.
We need to be double that right now, and things

like that. Um. But at the end, you know, when
my publisher they set up this like surprise zoom meeting
with my husband while I was in the middle of
like podcasts and things like that, and you know, they
broke the news to me and it was just it
was amazing. I mean I started bawling on the spot.
What his role as your husband played. It sounds like

he's been quite an inspiration for your career since since
he had the title boyfriend. My husband is an artist.
He's a concert pianist. So he has never had a job,
I think, other than a brief stint as a valet
for a hotel or something like that where he's worked
for Yeah, Like, he's never worked at anything other than

his craft and his passion, which is music. And so
his mindset is so different from mine. He's not opposed
to taking some pretty serious risks in his career. He
hates the idea of working for anyone other than himself.
And the other thing that I admire so much about

him is he doesn't need a bajillion dollars. He doesn't
need to be rich and famous. He just wants to
live a comfortable life that allows him to travel, eat
the food that he likes to eat, be with the
people he loves, while doing the kind of work that
makes him happy and fulfilled. And that mindset was so
different from the classic child of immigrants mindset that I had,

which is like, no, you like scarcity mentality, You must,
you know, hoard all the money's and like, you know,
do all the hard work and you know all that stuff,
and this idea of well why not just you know,
live comfortably and like not, you know, kill yourself and
do what you love. It was just really nice to
be with somebody who not only encouraged that in me,

but displayed that demonstrated that every single day of his
own life. And I think that more than any conversation
that we had or any you know, piece of advice
that he would give, just watching how he lived his
life so fulfilled every day was the biggest motivator for
me to finally take that risk and make the jump

from being a full time lawyer to being a full
time content creator and writer. Your first marriage wasn't like this,
It definitely was not like that. If you had stayed
in that marriage, would you have become the Korean vegan?
There's so many reasons why, I mean, the most obvious
of which is I don't think that I would have
ever gone vegan um or if I had, it would

have been much later in my life, and I'm not
sure if I would have had the energy at that
point to do aside hustle um. So definitely not. I also,
financially speaking, wouldn't have had the ability to fund a
hobby like the one that I had. I was like

the total breadwinner in in my original relationship, and so
it wasn't a situation where I would have had any
latitude or flexibility. I would have been incredibly focused on
continuing to maintain financial stability in our situation. And also
I wouldn't have had the emotional bandwidth to do it.

I just wouldn't. I couldn't even watch sad movies like
that was the thing. That's when I knew, like, something
is very strange in this relationship. I can't even watch
emotional movies because they were so draining and so exhausting
for me. I had like zero emotional bandwidth to to
do anything other than hold my marriage together, and that

was so taxing to me. I would never have had
anything left to share with anyone else. How did you leave?
I think sometimes the hardest part about leaving is knowing
that you have to do it. That was the hardest
part for me. I was like, I love my husband,
I love him, Why the heck would I leave him?
Like you don't leave somebody that you love, and I

really loved him. And it wasn't until I think that
I felt there was a line that was crossed in
my own head where I was like, all right, now, like,
I really can't deny that the situation is not healthy
for either of us, and I wish that that line
had been much closer. But it took a lot for

me to say, all right, like I can't, I can't
pretend anymore like this is this is really wrong for
both of us, but particularly for me. And once that
line was crossed in some ways, it became a little
bit easier for me to just say, all right, I
have to now start taking steps to exit this relationship.

It wasn't overnight. I wish that I could say that
it was. But even after that line was crossed, I
was like, no, maybe we can make it work, like
with counseling and things like that, and I think seeing
a therapist. I did start seeing a marriage therapist by myself.
She was the one who was like, I will tell
you right now that this relationship is irretrievably broken. There's
nothing you can do to fix it. You just need

to start taking steps to leave. I came up with
an Excel spreadsheet that had multiple tabs and timelines and
goals and like within yes was within three months, you
will do this. Within six months, you will have done this,
and you know so like that was really helpful to
me to like put it down on paper. It became
very real once I saw that. And then once it

became real, the goal, the goal oriented Joanne, you know,
kicked into overdrive. I was like, well, if this is
for three months and I'm going to do it in
two months, If this is scheduled for six months, I'm
gonna do it in four months. And I gave myself
a year to exit the relationship, but I think I
ultimately did it in like six to seven months. And
what did your parents think? So I remember, this is

like a painful but also powerful memory. The day that
the night actually was like three in the morning that
things sort of crossed into a point of no return.
I remember I picked up my dog, my Daisy Girl
at the time, and I ran out of my house.

I was barefoot, I was in my pajamas, and I
was horrified by everything that had happened. And you know,
my my intent was just to get to my parents house,
who luckily lived in the same town house complexes I did.
And I was so nervous, even in my own heart,

to show up at their doorstep at three in the
morning with you know, no shoes, on and just my dog,
because I didn't want them to be frightened or nervous
for me. But I also knew that I couldn't stay
in my house under the circumstances. So I ran there
and I show up and you know, of course my
parents were sleeping. But my mom opens the door. And
this is not a new thing for my mom. I

had done it so many times, so immediately she knew
what was going on, and so she said, come on in.
And I was crying and hysterical and and I kept
saying I need to get a divorce. I need to
get a divorce. I can't do this. And she asked
me what happened, and I told her and and she said, yeah,
you need to get a divorce. And I remember this

so clearly because my mother she doesn't get angry at him.
She often gets angry at me for staying and always
going back. But I remember what she said that time.
And she said in Korean later on that night, if
he shows his face in front of me, I'm going

to beat the ship out of him. And that was
very telling for me because it showed me that my
mom was in a lot of pain over what was happening,
but she was also very much in my side. She
really took my side, and that was so important because
Asian parents, they don't always take your side. If you're
talking about divorce, that is not a thing that they're

really cool with. And I was very lucky that my
mom and even my dad were very supportive of me
leaving that marriage and starting a new life. You're really
open in your videos. Have you always been this open?
I think my personality is definitely more open than not.
I like talking to people a one on one. I'm

not good in crowds, as I'm sure you saw Amy,
I'm not good in crowds. I'm not good in large groups.
I'm very intensely shy in those settings. But when you
sit me down with one person, I love listening to people.
I like hearing them tell their stories. I like hearing
them tell me about, well, what did you do today,
what do you think is interesting? What is the struggle

of your heart right now? And I think the best
way to elicit that kind of information from a person
is sharing your own story, disarming them by disarming yourself,
saying hey, you can be vulnerable with me, and I'll
show you how I'll be vulnerable with you first, So
that is sort of my personality only because I think

that I really enjoy connecting on a deep level with people.
That said, I have also learned, particularly over the past year,
how taxing it can be on me emotionally and mentally
to always lay myself bare and also make myself susceptible
to criticism and gaslightinging and people who are just like, oh,

she's open, let's go attack her. I get that a
lot as well, So I think right now it's sort
of a lesson in trying to balance my vulnerability with
my own kind of mental health. And now a quick break,
What was your childhood? Like? Well, my childhood is really

safe and wonderful. I was just thinking about that today,
like how lucky I am um to have my parents
be such lovely and wonderful people. I know not all
parents are that, you know, like that I just lucked
out and had really wonderful, loving, safe environment. I was
just thinking today how much I missed my mom and
dad because I'm in California and they live in Chicago.

I was just there a couple of days ago for
an event and just sitting in my mother's sunlit dining
room and eating peeping pop with my mom and my
dad is just such an incredibly safe space for me.
And I was like, the only reason it's safe for
me today is because they made it safe for me
back when I was three, four or five, six, eight
years old, So it's a very safe environment. I had

both my grandmother's, my maternal and paternal grandmother in my
life very much. My paternal grandmother basically raised me between
the age of three and fourteen years old, and just
having her there and constantly guarding and protecting me was
really beautiful. But I think, like many immigrant children, because
my parents, you know, didn't speak English as well as

I did. My grandmother didn't speak any English at all.
Because of the adults in my life were not as
equipped to operate on the level that I saw on
television that I saw with my friends parents, I did
feel at times a little bit burdened to be an adult,
even when I was only eight or nine years old.

I had to do the things that other you know
kids parents did, like you know, read out loud the
permission slip and translated for them, or type up letters
from my father, or you know, get on the phone
with customer service and and handle things that I don't
know that many eight or nine year olds were doing,
um other than if their parents couldn't speak the language

as well. So there was a little bit of that,
and you know, but honestly, in retrospect, especially given what
children have to go through today, I had a wonderfully
safe and beautiful childhood. You have a video that kind
of talks a little bit about what you're talking about
right now and really goes into what's happening in the

A A p I community in America right now, where
we're seeing instances of hate crimes and violence, which I'm
sure we've always seen. You've become a voice in this community.
Did you do that intentionally? I think that I have
always been passionate about the eradication of racism. That's something
that has always been important to me. And somebody was

asking me, like, how do you find your passion? And
I'm like, well, for some of us, you just find
what makes really really mad and the opposite is your passion.
And that's how I, you know, that's how I became
passionate about abdicating on behalf of you know, UM, anti racism. Basically,
I just I just wish that there was no racism
in the world. That is my heart's desire, and so

on that side. It was just very natural for me
to tell stories with that in mind. I mean, that's
why I tell the stories about immigrant families. To the
extent that there are people out there who don't know
too much about what it's like being an immigrant family
in the United States, or may have less experience with it.
All I wanted to do was open them up to
thinking about, oh, well, things might be a little bit different.

Let me maybe explain to you how what I didn't
do on purpose and what I didn't expect was sort
of this avalanche of members of that community, um, you know,
children of immigrants or immigrants themselves reaching out to me
and saying, oh my god, I find only feel like

somebody's telling my story. I finally feel like somebody sees me,
and I'm so grateful for that. I didn't expect that.
That was not why I started doing what I did.
It's not why I started speaking out. It was very
new to me, and that was really important because they
think it helped me to focus a little bit more
about what my messaging needs to be. It helped me

to be more sensitive and careful about that new responsibility,
which is I want to make sure that everyone feels
included and safe in this space. And part of that
means that these people feel seen and heard. And so
it's not something that I did intentionally or by design,
but it's something that I take very very seriously. Now,

how is your life organized? I think that a lot
of our listeners who hear this, who might be in
more traditional careers, can't even fathom when it's like to
wake up every day without someone else creating that agenda.
And you have been on both sides, So how do
you organize your day, your week? I'm, you know, still
relatively new to this rather structuralist world, and it can

be daunting. Like at first, it's like, wow, this is
so great, I got to wake up and you know,
just do you do videos all day? How nice is that?
You know? But like when you don't have a strategy
and when you don't have a goal in mind, it
becomes a little bit um anxiety inducing, at least for me,

because I was like, well, what is the purpose of
these things that I'm doing? Is it just to get
a million views? Like that can't be right, Like that
that's not the goal here, right, so we think that
earlier in the year, what I did is I sat
down and I put together a very rudimentary business plan
with a lot of milestones in it, like, hey, I

want to grow my YouTube account to this much, I
want to start a product line here. I want to
really work on you know, you know, videos in Korean
for the South Korean um, you know, folks, I want
to do a podcast like these are things that I
kind of wrote down and then, you know, just like
with the spreadsheet for divorcing my ex husband, it was
pretty similar, Like I had multiple tabs and timelines and

miniature sub goals and things like that. Every day waking
up in the beginning, like I said, was a little
direction list. But now what I do is I sit
down every week and it's a calendar appointment in my
calendar on Wednesday afternoon, and I map out the rest
of the week. What am I doing tomorrow, what am
I doing the day after, What are the videos that

I want to get posted, um, what are the times
that I'm doing interviews or pr and things like that.
I think that really helps me and putting them in
my calendar, not just like putting them on some you know,
notebooks somewhere. I need it in my calendar so that
when I'm scheduling sort of one off things like a
podcast or an interview or a trip, I know that

I have to build around some of these other things
that I'm doing. Otherwise like they won't get done and
it'll throw me off, and then once again I'm stuck
sitting there being like I feel totally directionless and unproductive.
Take us back, you decide to launch a TikTok channel.
I think for many of us it sounds like so idealistic, right,

You start a TikTok channel and then it goes viral
and you have millions of people watching you very quickly.
How did that happen? I mean, did you study the
algorithm or was it truly just fortune? In some way?
It was totally luck. I really wish that, I like,
because I know, like the you know, we all want
to reverse engineer these types of situations because that helps

to reduce some of the anxiety that attends trying something new.
But honestly, I had no intention of going viral. In fact,
my first viral video I deleted it because it scared
me so much. I deleted it because I was so
frightened I would can fire um. So like it was

like totally accidental. I mean, I had no idea how
to use TikTok. I was just like, all right, I'll
just throw my phone up on the wall and I'll
just do this and see what happens. And so there
isn't any rhyme or reason to it. I actually was
talking to somebody who hosts a really popular food podcast,

and he just invited all these viral TikTok ers to
give him pointers on creating a viral TikTok, and I
was like, there's just no formula for it. Like if
you try too hard, actually that will probably mean that
you're not going to go viral. Because these kids, they're
so smart they can tell when you're trying too hard.
And I feel like there's a little bit of that
to what's happening here. So it's it's by accident most

of the time. I will say, some people believe that
TikTok tries to reel you into creating content, so they
might reward you with an early viral video like your
first you know, ten videos or something like that to
make you addicted to posting because then you're like, oh,
I need to get another one, and I don't know
if that's true. It was true in my situation. I

had only been posting for like a week before I
had my first viral video. How is the production value
changed from that first video to now? It's completely different,
And you can go and look at some of my
earlier videos. Obviously I was just using my phone, which
wasn't even like a really good phone at that time,
and I was, you know, not really capitalizing on any

of the nice little tools that you have on TikTok
to make it really pretty and sound nice. Now you know,
I have a studio, I have three cameras going on
at the same time. I use Final Cut for my editing.
I use this really nice microphone for my voiceovers. I
spend quite a bit of time writing the stories that

go along with my videos. So it can be a process.
It can take anywhere from I would say, like six
to twelve hours to create one sixty second video. And
how many times a week do you post? So right
now I'm trying to get back into the groove of
posting about three to five times a week. For a while,
it was like I was lucky if I was posting
once a week, and that was because I you know,

it was relocating from Chicago to California and it was
a little bit hard to get everything like where it
needed to be. But right now I'm hopeful to get
back into that groove and you know, create predictability with
my community there so they know that they can count on,
you know, steady stream of content from the Korean beacon.
When you say three to five videos a week, is

it YouTube or TikTok or what are we talking about?
How does that divide itself? Well, I I post on
all of the platform so I'm pretty active on I
would say four social media platforms TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
I do customize my content it for each of those platforms,

Like I don't post a lot of video content on
Twitter mostly it's just like my personal thoughts are thinking.
You know how, Twitter is a little different from the
other three. The other three, though, are all very conducive
to short content, you know, short digital content which is
anything less than sixty seconds. So I'll often post on
TikTok first, and then I'll go to YouTube, and then

I'll go to Instagram, Instagram is its own little thing.
I feel like Instagram is my middle child. I always
liken these two my children, but I feel like Instagram
is very much like middle child. They need a little
bit more attention from me, and they're used to it
because I've been on that platform the longest. And you
get the caption where you can write pretty significantly, and
you get the Instagram stories. So it takes a little

bit more work on Instagram. But basically, I make one
sixty second video and I repurpose it for all those
three platforms, sometimes also Twitter and now a quick break.
What will your career look like in ten years? I
don't know. It could go one of two ways, I
would say, And and in this I'm being totally honest
and completely candid, Like there's like a part of me

that's like I want to be the CEO and mogul
of like a digital multimedia enterprise, you know, And I
feel like there's a part of me that could do that. Um.
You know, certainly we're growing our YouTube and our other
digital platforms, and that's certainly part of that strategy. On

the other hand, I go back to what I said
about my husband. One of the things that I found
so attractive about him is that he was like, Hey,
I just want to do something that I love. I
want to do it well every single day. I want
to challenge myself to be the best at it as
I possibly can. But that doesn't mean that I need
to be making a million dollars or becoming famous. I'm

okay if I make just enough money to go to
Rome every summer and eat the best pasta. And there's
something to that that's very alluring. I would not mind
if in ten years you found me in a small,
beautiful home in Sardinia, you know, eating chick peas and
fresh greens every day, running in the morning, and writing

my next book. I think that's also kind of lovely.
And do you want to go to the speed round now, Joanne?
Who leaves you star struck? Oh? God, Padma Lakshmi, for sure?
What are you reading right now? I literally just finished
We Were Dreamers, which is the memoir by cemu You,
which I enjoyed so thoroughly. I haven't picked up my
next book though. What is your morning routine? My morning

routine right now is I get out of bed, I
carry my dog downstairs because we sleep on the second floor,
and he's very arthritic and he can't go down the
stairs anymore. Take him outside, UM, give him his medication,
beg him to take his medication more like hey, um.
And then my husband and I go to our favorite
local restaurant here and we share breakfast. Usually we just

share a bagel sandwich together and then come home and
we start the day. I haven't been working out the
past month. I've got marathon this fall and training starts
in July, so I've been like taking it super easy
before I start training. What are you and your husband
eating for dinner tonight? Okay, So I made this amazing
cast role yesterday. I love cast roles. I think that

is directly a product of the fact that we ate
Korean food all the time growing up, and I always
was so fascinated by the American cast role. I love
cast role, and I made this cast role yesterday with
my vegan version of cream of mushroom with pasta and
potatoes and um bread crumbs, and it is just so delicious.

I added some artichokes to it too. It's so amazing.
It came out perfectly. So we're going to eat that.
I have some leftover green beans that I haven't cooked
up yet, so we'll just do a quick saute with
a little bit of vegan butter and extra vision olive
oil and some garlic. It's what we had for dinner
yesterday and it was so good it it deserves an encore.
So lu Burns has been listening to the interview and

he joins us with the male perspective. And I don't
want to call his final question a singer, but sometimes
it is to hear that you deleted your first viral,
Like I would go nuts if it was me, Like
I got something that everybody likes you, but you were
you were afraid to lose your job and that like, wow,

that was a lot. Huh. It was really scary. Yeah,
why so? So, contrary to what many people probably think,
my first viral video didn't have anything to do with food.
It was not a food video. It was me being
a lawyer. I had posted sort of a you know,
fun day in the life video of a lawyer in

Chicago under quarantine, and it really was taking people through
the day, just like you guys were asking about like
what is your day, like you know, first part lawyer,
second part content creator. And that's really what I wanted
to show people that you could do both, and a
woman lawyer commented, it looks like you don't work very hard,
and it was so enraging. She was just very I

don't know why they had to say that to me,
and it was so disheartening to find out that she
was a fellow female lawyer. And I was like, you know,
like all the kids, I was like, I'm going to
clap back at this, and so that's what I did.
I clapped back, if you will, at this comment, and
that went viral. I basically said, here's you know, seventy

reasons why I think you're wrong. And oh, by the way, like,
why are you promoting this sort of toxic productivity? Like
do I need to be like killing myself like in
order to meet your approval? Is that what it takes
to be a successful woman at a large law firm
is to basically work myself out of existence and not
be happy and not have any side hustles, not have
any hobbies, just focus on work. Is that what I'm

supposed to do? I wanted to provide a balanced video
on my life, and I worked very hard. At the time.
I was working super hard. I was actually I think
I had just come off a trial or was preparing
for trial, so you know, like it was insane. And
so I put all of this in the video and
it went viral and the next day I got a
call from my UM CEO and he was like, what

is this TikTok that you're doing? You know, he was like,
I don't know what it is. And you know, I
just think that maybe it's a little condescending your tone
and blah blah blah. And I was like, all right,
you know what I'm I'm deleting it. Don't worry. I
will never do this again. Um. It really frightened me.
I remember I got on the phone with my mentor.

You know, everyone has a mentor. Even as a partner,
I still think of her as a mentor. And I
was like, Ellen, oh my god, I have thirty five
thousand followers on TikTok and and this. You know, there
was like all these news articles about the lawyer who
clapped back on TikTok and stuff like that. I was like,
I can't do this, and you know, CEO called me
and blah blah blah, and I was like, I'm gonna
lose my job and I almost started to cry. But

you know, lou, my husband was so mad that I
deleted it. He was like, why would you do this?
You should be so happy, like they should be happy.
You know, you're bringing so much attention and this is
a totally backwards way for you to deal with this.
And I was like, no, no, babe. I can't even
go to sleep at night. I don't really eat it.
But you know, like obviously, like you know, we all

got over it. My firm got over it, my firm's
management got over it. I got on the phone with
a firm PR team and we got to an understanding.
I create quite a bit of political content that sometimes
has nothing to do with food, and they're okay with
it as long as I'm very clear that this is
my opinion and mine alone. Joanne's story is so interesting

on so many different levels. Amy, I love her. She's awesome.
I'm really so into her. But here's the thing, Okay,
this is what stood out to me most about her story.
I don't know why. It's going to make me cry
again just talking about it. It made me because you know,
you're the one he usually cries in the interview. In
real life, I cry more than you, but under interviews
you cry more than I do. And for some reason

this is making me cry. Good. Look, I think the
part where she talked about how her now husband was
a role model because he chose something he loved to
do and the way he lives his life is so
beautiful to me, the way he lives his life to
eat the food he wants, to spend time with the
people he wants, and live in a place that's comfortable
for him, Like that should be the goal for everyone, right,

So how many people would be able to pick up
and just pursue their passion if they had that freedom,
And it seems like he was like a role model
for freedom more than even what he said, just the
way he lived his life lives. I mean, I agree
with you. I have the child not crying, but it
did give me the chills because it was this. Sometimes

we see what's with such simple clarity, what it is
meant to be, because it can get it life, all
of it can get so lost in the hustle. And
I need this, I need that. I want this right
when it can and should be so close to the
heart of what what do you need? And what do
you really need? And what makes you happy because you joy?

And I think that, like do I reoriented her life
around that idea, and I think it's so interesting that
like another person can open up your entire world to
how you view things. I mean, it's really beautiful what
she has found in her husband and their story together

and how he encourages her. When we think of a
spouse encouraging you, you don't typically think of encouraging you
because they represent freedom, right you. We think of it
as like someone who's your biggest cheerleader, or someone who
is financially sporting you, or someone who's you know, doing
some of the work at home so you can go
try vel or whatever it is. But this is almost

a new definition of a supportive spouse. Thanks for listening
to What's Her Story with Sam and Amy. We would
appreciate it if you leave a review wherever you get
your podcasts, and of course, connect with us on social
media at What's Her Story podcast. What's Her Story with
Sam and Amy is powered by my company, The Riveter

at The Riveter dot c O and Sam's company, park
Place Payments at park place payments dot com. Thanks to
our producer Stacy Parra and our male perspective, blue burns,
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