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Lydia Lee is the Cubicle Crashing Ninja at Screw The Cubicle. She helps corporate prisoners escape the confines of the 9-5 life and awaken to their true purpose. Lydia left a well paying but unfulfilling cubicle job in Canada to launch small business startups. Now based in Bali, she enjoys location independency, self-expression, and a purposeful career coaching others to gain full freedom at its finest.
Utilizing her own unique The “Real You” Roadmap program, she guides people towards careers and lives of authenticity. She combines their passions with skills and talents they already have to live a life of meaning, play and service.
Lydia believes that the key to success is getting the head and heart in alignment. This means guiding clients to discover what their hearts truly desire, and identifying the practical steps that will convert their passion into a rewarding, lasting lifestyle. Enjoy her exclusive Business Heroine interview…
BH: What does “screwing the cubicle” mean to you? Is it just about quitting your job?
Lydia: Screw The Cubicle is definitely about being free from a soul sucking job that is draining the life out of you, but it’s also about the freedom of all aspects of your life. Not having these restrictive and traditional boundaries around things in your lifestyle like freedom of location, expression, passion, and play.
It’s about your true expression of the authentic you, in all areas of your life. Without conforming to what you’ve been told you are supposed to do by society, what other people think you’re good at, and what label you have on your degree or work experience. It’s diving deep into what you’re designed to do, and why.
In a nutshell, it’s really in the theme of pure freedom, particularly the freedom to live out your full potential and actually be living from the heart.
I like to call it “full freedom at its finest.”
BH: Tell us your story. How did you ditch the cubicle?
Lydia: My tipping point moment for me came when I had an mental (well, in hindsight it was probably an emotional one) breakdown on a corporate business trip in Moscow, Russia. At that time, I was working in a corporate job, and on paper everything looked perfect. I had a great salary, travelling opportunities all the time, and a life that looked great cosmetically. But I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t fulfilled. I still didn’t feel meaningful in my life.
I remembered thinking, “What is all this for? Who am I? What am I supposed to do with my time here in the world?” I knew that I couldn’t live another year suffering with this “identity crisis” and I knew I was meant for bigger things. Long story short, taking a sabbatical changed my life, and I committed to finding out what exactly I was passionate about and how I could escape my cubicle with a mobile business idea.
Most importantly, I didn’t want to be lying on my deathbed knowing I had regrets of not trying to do what I desired and take a risk. In my eyes, my life depended on it.
I then started my first business, which was a boutique agency that sent teachers from North America to Asia to teach English, as it was a great transition business from my previous career in international education. I was still an advocate for travel and freedom then.
From that experience, I saw that I was being asked a lot from other corporate prisoners on how they too, can run a small mobile business, and I ended up giving lots of advice and tips to startup small businesses. Because I was quite the “ninja” in getting things done quick and have clever ways to run my business within a small budget, I knew I had lots to share.
Then Screw The Cubicle was born. I combined what I knew about a mobile lifestyle, small business, and most importantly, coaching others on how to find out what their authentic purpose is and what they truly desire in their lifestyle.
BH: How did your path lead you to doing the work that you do today?
Lydia: When Screw The Cubicle first started, it was focused purely on small business coaching and strategies. But what dawned on me was that people were still not aligned with their business idea, and every strategy in the world couldn’t help them move ahead and get them fired up, if they haven’t yet understood the deeper “why” in their business.
In my own journey, I also discovered that both parts of me, my heart and my head, needed to have harmonious alignment. I wanted to inspire people to know what they really wanted in the deepest core of their heart, and then use their minds to manifest their desires in more of a strategic and logical place. It can then be more than just a “business idea,” and have more meaning for them to see it as a “calling.”
I then started to incorporate a lot of intuitive purpose coaching work right at the beginning stage of working with my clients, and then use my business brain to help them create a roadmap. I felt that this was a more organic and authentic way to do it.
Then they know the truth of who they are, what values they stood for, and what they really wanted without fear and the conditioning of what they only think they can achieve. The career or business idea then becomes something bigger than “work.” It’s something you would do even if you were to do it for free. Now that is going to get you up every day.
I’m on a mission to motivate and inspire others to see the possibilities, and that it is so do-able to live a great life that you want on all aspects now. Not later at retirement. I always say that, unless you were someone living in Africa where your biggest priority is to get to clean water, you don’t have any excuses to not take a risk.
You are luckier than a lot of other people that are not in the first world, so all the more you can have the choices and possibilities in front of you.
BH: Why do you think it’s important for people to design a career and business that matches their lifestyle and not the other way around?
Lydia: Work and business is something that can take a lot of hours in our lives. So it’s super important to make sure that it is aligned with the way we want to live our lives. If not, you just become a glorified employee! If your lifestyle is healthy, then your business is healthy. I can’t tell you how many great ideas I get when I’m having fun in my life and actually living my life on my own terms of happiness.
To me, the idea of your work and life should be merged into one. It is your life. There shouldn’t be a discrepancy. If your work is as passionate as your life, you talk more about it. People recognize you for it. It’s almost second nature to you. I believe a great life is when you can’t tell the difference between work and play.
When your lifestyle comes first, you have less burnouts. You’re not wishing for work to end so you can disconnect and then start living your life. It can become a nice thriving marriage of live/work balance.
Your lifestyle is the priority as it is who you are. Your career and business is an extension of who you are as a human being. It is the message that you want to share with the world. It is your legacy.
If you start with designing your business based on what YOU perceived as your best life, there’s no need for business pornography. Gone are the days where you want to copy other people’s definition of success, as you’ll have your own. Then you are doing it your way. You sleep better at night.
BH: What is your biggest discovery or “a-ha” moment from your freedom lifestyle and business journey so far?
Lydia:This is a great question. I’m still learning and experiencing lots of amazing things with it, which is the exciting part! I would say that I have discovered that unplugging from my mind, and living more from the heart has been a good place to be. To trust my heart, and do things because it feels good, and it doesn’t have to be logical.
I find that if I am playing more, I am in such a better mood and place to be even better at my business. For example, I took up hula hooping not that long ago. At first I thought, “Man, I am really not good at this. I don’t think I want to keep doing this because I’m not good at this.”
And then I reflected on this and asked, “How else is this type of behaviour showing up in my life?” This was a great mirror on certain things I may want to work on like not being so hard on myself! As you experience new things and play, you can also learn so much about how you can grow personally.
I’ve also realized that the vehicles of how you deliver your authentic purpose can also change. It doesn’t have to be a permanent vehicle. You can write a book one day, or coach, or throw an event that may all seem unrelated. But the core of your message with your purpose usually remains the same. I stay less attached to an idea of something, and experiment and explore a lot more than I used to.
Being able to live that mobile, nomadic life has also revealed to me that this is all possible (hence why I coach others to do the same!). It’s actually more affordable for me to live in Bali. I can earn money in Dollars, live on Rupiahs, and outsource in Pesos. You can keep more of your money and experience more. Life is good!
BH: What is life like now that you are based in Bali?
Lydia: Life is an adventure for sure! Living out here is like a spontaneous experience where I don’t plan too much ahead. I am learning about myself as a human a lot more than I would in the first world. I’m always experiencing new things, and it keeps my creative mind alive, and my heart joyful. What more can you ask for, really?
I’ve been picking up new hobbies as well. Being based in Bali now, I am lucky enough to have lots of things like dance, yoga, wellness activities, and much more just at my fingertips. I explore a lot on how to play and keep fun in my life.
I also start my day with more mindfulness of how I really want to start my day. Instead of starting it getting caught up in other people’s agendas, I start it with doing things for myself first. I make a choice to set the tone for the day by making sure I feel good in the mornings, whether it’s yoga, going for a walk, or meditating.
Then I can get to work and start to time block to get priority stuff done for the day, so that the sweet reward is going out to do something fun like going to the beach. It’s been a great balance of keeping my heart and mind happy.
Life really is amazing for me to be able to run my business helping others create a life and career they want, and I am able to be walking the talk of what I teach at Screw The Cubicle. I am able to show people everything that is happening in my mobile life and business, and I am the example. Everything I know and learn further is shared with them truthfully.
BH: For those who want to find out more about you, how can they get more Lydia in their lives?
Lydia: Definitely visit www.ScrewTheCubicle.com! I have a great free course that you can sign up for called “WTF Am I Meant to Do With My Life,” and tons of great articles on my blog that will help you get your cubicle crashing journey started.
You can also read more about the core of what I do at The “Real You” Roadmap coaching program, where I help people get clarity on the direction of their lives, and know what they are designed to do and why. The bonus part is you also get to understand what a Full Freedom Lifestyle means to you and what to do to get there!