Answers to Thrving Interview with Lisa Bouari

Updated: Oct 18, 2019


Answers to Thriving with Lisa Bouari

Executive Director and Co-Founder at OutThought



The ‘Answers to Thriving' is an ongoing interview series that takes a look at the women who have created a life of success. We uncover key moments, lessons and habits that have influenced the life they lead today.




You can’t start the day without:

Coffee, closely followed by my pre-workout and some exercise!



A favourite quote is:

“A life lived in fear... is a life half-lived.” Baz Luhrmann



One wellness ritual you do regularly:

Power walks along the beach - I focus on the water, and just be present. Any thoughts aside from that are illegal.



An app you love:

I'm into 'Blinkist'. I'm time poor, it allows me to take powerful learnings from many texts, in a very short time.



A recommended read for personal growth:

A New Earth. (Eckhart Tolle)




How do you go about self development?

I seek it out uncomfortable challenges and commit to them. I have found this is the fastest way to develop and learn - it's a sort of forced learning, because once you've committed you often can't back out (or risk professional reputation damage usually!). If I didn't approach it this way my development would be slower, more conservative and safe. This is still a healthy approach, and was my approach some 3 years ago, however, life is short. I want to learn as much as I can. The more uncomfortable I have been going into a challenge, the more rewarded I have felt when I have accomplished it, or developed a new skill.


I seek it out uncomfortable challenges and commit to them. I have found this is the fastest way to develop and learn

There have also been occasions when I have received requests which in the past I would have turned down for fear of failure, and now I say 'yes' and trust I will work it out later. If I fail or it doesn't work it out, I still have my health, family and probably a few new learnings under my belt. I think I've finally worked out how to take win/win risks. Or at least view them that way.



Which business or person inspires you right now and why?

My latest inspiration is this amazing Australian entrepreneur Richard White. His company WiseTech has been rumoured as Australia's next Atlassian, with more than 7,000 customers in 125 countries - Richard is on Australia's rich list of course, but it isn't the scale of what he's achieved that it is inspiring or the fact he's a multi-billionaire (ok it is a bit, let's be honest) - it is actually his way of thinking and approaching business that I'm in inspired by. I've only spoken with him once (OMG he called me after I added him on LinkedIn, "hello Lisa, how are you, It's Richard White here...."), and he was so down to earth - he views his success down to 'thinking a lot, and working hard'.


Richard inspires me because he started out as one person, building a system and he's stuck to his vision for over 10 years - it's inspiring because anything is possible with consistent focus and work. The harder we work, the luckier we get.....right?


I'd love to follow him around for a week, or live in his head for a while and learn from such a skilled thinker and entrepreneur.



What has been the most defining moment in your career to date?

When I was awarded with the 2018 ARN Women in ICT Award for Innovation. It was career defining for so many reasons. The year prior I had taken a huge leap of faith and left my great income and career trajectory to start my own company in AI. We literally started with nothing. No clients, no idea how we'd get one, no runs on the board under our new name and no infrastructure in place to actually execute a business. The award made me realise that despite going 'backwards', I had gone forwards — and that by sticking to my goal and taking a risk, in the process I had become a thought leader and had achieved much more than I would have had I continued on the 'old' path.



Who has helped you progress in your career the most and what did they do to support you?

Three key people:

  1. My husband — he's more operationally minded than me, and he not only encouraged me to take a risk knowing we'd be financially worse off for a while, but he's been a great mentor and a constant source of calm when I'm not sure how to deal with a difficult challenge - he is skilled at asking questions that help me reach my own conclusions and always has my back. When going through a huge growth phase, this is invaluable.

  2. My business partner Paul - I've learned so much from him and he constantly provides another perspective or way around challenges. Paul is a calmer, and less dramatic personality than I am, and so I've learned a lot on trying to bring more balance to my approach in business.

  3. My parents. I have two amazing role models who no matter how far removed from my world of AI and software they are, they have years of corporate experience and always have the best advice on how to approach issues like politics, negotiation, reframing situations and encouragement. The confidence I gained from them to enter the world of tech as a young female (or fixing my own car engine thanks dad!) has been a huge influence.


By sticking to my goal and taking a risk, in the process I had become a thought leader and had achieved much more than I would have had I continued on the 'old' path.


A fear you've had to overcome to pursue your ambitions:

Most people are driven by three primal fears. A fear of being rejected. A fear of failure and a fear of not being loved. For me, it was a fear of failure. What if we couldn't get clients. What if we couldn't make enough to support the business. What if I have to go back to a 'job' with my tail between my legs. What if I made a mistake and ended up in a law-suit. Well guess what. The only way to remove fear is to face it. Fear of regret played out at the same time. What if I regretted not living life to the full, taking a risk, testing myself, learning from mistakes, playing it safe. I decided the fear of failure was easier to face than the fear of regret. Worst case I'd go back to a job, or just salsa dance the rest of my days away - who cares what, but I would never regret going on the adventure of the road less travelled.



I decided the fear of failure was easier to face than the fear of regret.


An achievement you're most proud of:

Definitely the business OutThought that I have build with my Co-Founder Paul van der Linden. We started from ground zero and have built out an amazing array of customers, stories, solutions and some ground breaking new approaches to solving real issues in business using AI approaches. We are being approached by international finance institutions and leading Australian organisations to solve some of their toughest challenges and we are becoming more known in the Industry as the go to for AI Assistants, Unstructured Data Analytics and Data Masking solutions.



Life/career advice you wish you had been given in your early 20s:

So. Much. Advice! I often think about this. Oh what I would have taught myself about my very real struggles with being a young female in a male dominated industry, and being a young graduate in general.

  1. Ignore the smutty comments, and ask them 'what exactly do you mean by that'.. they will never respond and be embarrassed.

  2. Create a short, succinct elevator pitch as your introduction. This way people will take you seriously as the technical person in meetings (and not the minute taker).

  3. People are generally self serving. Work out what it is they want and add value to it. They won't undermine or take your work that way - you'll become a valued member of their inner circle.

  4. If it sounds too good to be true - it probably is.

  5. Saying 'NO' can be difficult, practice different approaches. 'I'm sorry, I just can't prioritise that over my current revenue generating activities right now'.

  6. Don't second guess yourself. Humans are capable of amazing things in challenging situations. Your best is good enough and better than not trying.

  7. You are going to be in the same race as the boys/men/office politics but you need to learn how to run it differently to them.


Create a short, succinct elevator pitch as your introduction. This way people will take you seriously as the technical person in meetings (and not the minute taker).


For women who want to make a positive change in their life but don't know where to start, what advice would you give them?

Women who want to make a positive change do know deep down where to start (we are incapable of asking ourselves questions we don't already know the answer to), they are usually afraid to or it is all just all too overwhelming. Start small, but make sure you start. Take any action but take one and slowly build up the actions you can take. When you look back you'll realise you've been moving forward...I used to have a poster in my old place on the wall - 'if you're not taking action, you're going backwards...' (yes I'd feel terribly guilty most mornings!) listen to your gut. What is it telling you to do or start with. Your answer is already there. Going all in is not for the faint hearted — but it is going to be the ride of your life and it will be the best ride of your life!


Going all in is not for the faint hearted — but it is going to be the ride of your life and it will be the best ride of your life!


What does thriving mean to you?

Being in your element. Getting up more than you fall down. Enjoying the ride, even if it's a roller coaster (and I'm not a fan of those)... learning, growing and making the most of opportunities that present themselves. Close your laptop. Open the champagne and celebrate small wins. Thriving, to me, also means sometimes not thriving. Stepping back, switching-off, taking a break, a breather, asking for help when you need it or crying if things get that bad. Leaving time for you and carving your head space to manage your state. This is an absolute must to be able to truly thrive.


Thriving, to me, also means sometimes not thriving. Stepping back, switching-off, taking a break, a breather, asking for help when you need it or crying if things get that bad.


Anything else you would like to share with the Thrivhers community?

I'd love to connect with like minded women on LinkedIn - connect here and continue following my journey or ask a question! https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisabouari/


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