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  • Writer's pictureViva


Updated: Oct 21, 2023

Our co-founder Tansu Philip was interviewed by Voyage's Bold Journey. Read the full article here:

We recently connected with Tansu Philip and have shared our conversation below.

Tansu, so great to be with you and I think a lot of folks are going to benefit from hearing your story and lessons and wisdom. Imposter Syndrome is something that we know how words to describe, but it’s something that has held people back forever and so we’re really interested to hear about your story and how you overcame imposter syndrome. As an Indian-American actor, Mindy Kaling has always been on my radar as one of the few sources of representation in media. So, it comes as no surprise that I’ve followed her career and journey closely for my whole life! She made the following comment on imposter syndrome that has always stuck with me: I don’t feel imposter syndrome and the reason I don’t is that I work so hard. I feel imposter syndrome happens when people feel unqualified for their jobs.” I used to suffer from imposter syndrome myself until I read that quote, and realized I am extremely qualified for what I do! I may not have a background in business, but I’m intelligent, hard working, and resilient – 3 qualities any business owner needs, and far more important than a business degree.

Appreciate the insights and wisdom. Before we dig deeper and ask you about the skills that matter and more, maybe you can tell our readers about yourself? In the spring of 2017, one year post film school, I realized spending my lunch breaks crying in the bathroom stalls of CBS TV Studios was not the career I had envisioned for myself. After working in the television industry for several years, I realized I was unhappy. Desperate for more control over my career, I quit my office job and opened my own boba shop. Now I spent my time cleaning bathrooms that I owned instead of crying in ones that I didn’t – a much better deal, overall.

The “Why boba” and “Why San Bernardino” questions are important aspects of the Viva La Boba story. San Bernardino is a struggling city with a bad (but improving) reputation – what was once the jewel of the Inland Empire has fallen by the wayside due to corruption, greed, and financial strain. However, no matter how badly the city has deteriorated over the past 50 years, the resilience of the community has never wavered. I’ve been living in the Inland Empire since 2008, and no matter how often people made fun of San Bernardino, the people I would meet who were from there or lived there were always proud to be from their city. So, when I decided to open a small business, I knew I wanted to open in a city that actually needed a boba shop because they didn’t have a single one.

Although business would certainly be easier in one of the more “successful” neighboring towns, I intentionally chose the often forgotten San Bernardino – a community that deserves nice things! I also intentionally chose boba because there was no other boba spot in town – locals who wanted boba would have to drive 15 minutes or more out of the city just to get to the closest shop. Now people drive in from other towns just to try Viva!

Looking back, what do you think were the three qualities, skills, or areas of knowledge that were most impactful in your journey? What advice do you have for folks who are early in their journey in terms of how they can best develop or improve on these? Doing speech and debate in high school was the best career move I could have ever made for myself. And that was a decision I made at 14! Getting involved with speech and debate helped me become more organized, and most importantly, an incredible public speaker – an invaluable skill for anyone. There’s not a day that passes that I’m not grateful for what I’ve learned in that experience.

Being a community leader has also proven extremely relevant to the success of my boba shop, as was a willingness to get involved with local activities, events, and organizations, like the chamber of commerce.

Before we go, any advice you can share with people who are feeling overwhelmed? I struggle with mental health sometimes, and the ability to not feel guilty when I need to take a day off (or even a few hours off) has helped my journey so much. I advise you to get therapy if you need it and can afford it, and always prioritize your mental health over your work. No amount of success is worth trading in your peace of mind.

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