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The Light Files - Lisa Vitali

Lisa Vitali

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Today’s guest found her work/life balance in a surprising place: yoga. Laura Max interviews Lisa Vitali, VP of crude oil markets at NEO Markets.

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Laura: Hi, everyone. I'm Laura Max, your host of The Light Files on thebusinessmakers.com, brought to you by Audi Central Houston. I am here today with Lisa Vitali. Lisa is the Vice President of Crude Oil Markets for Neo Markets, a technology company. And she also happens to have just gotten her yoga teaching certification, not exactly a pairing that you see very often, but I'm excited to talk to Lisa about what work-life balance means to her, since she seems to be someone who has somewhat of a handle on it, if any of us do. Welcome to the show, Lisa.

Lisa: Thank you. It's good to be here.

Laura: So first of all you are, as I mentioned the vice president of crude oil markets for Neo Markets, which is a technology company based in Portsmouth, but you also have offices here in Houston.

Lisa: Correct.

Laura: Tell us a little bit about what Neo Markets is and what you do for the company.

Lisa: So Neo Markets has created a trading platform used mainly by crude oil traders. We are soon going to introduce products which are derivatives of crude oil, so jet fuel, etcetera. So it's a way for traders of both physical and financial crude oil to post their markets online and have a guaranteed marketplace where they can get trades done. 'Cause if someone's posting on our platform it's a firm number, and traditionally these markets are brokered through voice brokers, and I guess a lot of flaking can happen in the industry, so someone can say, "Yeah, I'll buy this" or "I'll sell that at this number" and then you go back and say, "Yeah, I'll do it" and they're gone. The advantage is that we are going to offer liquidity to the marketplace and firm pricing, so that's our goal.

So we've been in business for a while; we used to be called Houston Street, but we just upgraded our trading platform and renamed ourselves. Phoenix out of the ashes, I guess, sort of thing.

Laura: So you are part of a team of about five or six individuals?

Lisa: Yes.

Laura: And you obviously have to put in a lot of work each week. And what's so funny about that is when I met you you had just come back from yoga, you were on a juice cleanse, serenity was all around you. Not somebody who I would imagine is putting in the big hours at work. So how do you do it all?

Lisa: I'm a morning person, so I generally get up around 4:00 AM, which is-

Laura: 4:00 A - I haven't seen 4:00 AM since I don't - I don't know if I've ever seen 4:00 AM actually. It was 'cause I was staying up too late.

Lisa: It's hard. It's hard. I always think of that song by Cake, you know, "I want a woman that gets up early. I want a woman that stays up late," and that's kind of me. I just don't - I just don't-

Laura: And that's kind of you; you stay up late too?

Lisa: Occasionally, but not every night.

Laura: You're not one of those who needs her solid eight hours?

Lisa: No, I can get by on six. But I've found that through meditation that I can get by on less, so.

Laura: So speaking of meditation, your latest venture; you've just received your yoga teaching certification from Joy Yoga Studio, which is right here in Houston; there's a location on Washington and one on Voss as well.

Lisa: That's correct.

Laura: What prompted you to get into something like that? I mean I know it takes so much time.

Lisa: I don't know. I saw it and when I originally thought about "Should I do this?" it was more about - I thought I just wanted to improve my yoga practice, and then when I got into the program I had no idea about all of the other seven limbs of yoga behind - or besides the asana practice. And as I found that going through the teacher training it was really the part of yoga that I like the most. And I'm so glad that I did it and I do think that I will teach. I haven't quite figured out where or when, since I still have my day job.

Laura: Oh, you'll find a way.

Lisa: But yeah, I've got kind of a plan. I also like to do Cross Fit, so I've been thinking about introducing yoga to the Cross Fit community. It's starting to become a little more popular. You know, I've seen a couple of Cross Fits gyms around the city offering yoga. I'm not necessarily on the cutting edge, but I like to think there's plenty of opportunity out there for Cross Fitters to learn how to stretch.

Laura: Absolutely. I think it's something that - not that I'm a Cross Fitter, but I can imagine that it's something that a Cross Fitter would need.

Lisa: Yes.

Laura: Speaking of Cross Fit and other athletic endeavors, you've certainly been an athlete; I believe all of your life you've done triathlons, iron mans, climbed up mountains. You've done it all.

Lisa: I try.

Laura: How do you - I mean how do you really - a lot of people get involved in their 9:00 to 5:00 or their 9:00 to 9:00 at night and it's really hard to make time for those ventures. How do you answer to that?

Lisa: I think it's just something in me that drives me to just get off the couch. I mean I feel so much more alive and I feel like I can do more in my day job if I'm clear-headed and I feel fit and healthy. I see a lot of people, you know, that get very stressed at work and don't give themselves that outlet. So I guess that's why I do the things that I do, because it alleviates my stress in a certain way. And yoga has just kind of taken it to the next level, you know, through meditation. I thought just doing Cross Fit was enough to keep me less-stressed, but sometimes it just wasn't enough. Yeah, the yoga's been just incredible for that.

Laura: You know, I've talked to a lot of people, not only about yoga, but also about meditation, and everyone who does it says that it takes so much to just sit down for a half an hour, 20 minutes, 5 minutes even, but it seems to make so much more time in your day.

Lisa: It does.

Laura: Would you say that that's true?

Lisa: Yeah, I haven't perfected it to the point where I can get to 30 minutes yet, but I've found that even just doing 5 to 15 minutes is plenty. I just recently learned how to do standing meditation, and 5 minutes of standing meditation is just, it's amazing. You know, and who can't find 5 minutes in your day to just-

Laura: You would think it would be very easy. I constantly say I can't find 5 minutes, but when I say it only has to be 5, that's going to be what's going to get me to do it. Thirty minutes I'm out the door.

Lisa: Exactly.

Laura: Five minutes I can sit down and do that. And you said perfecting your practice. I think that, you know, the first thing that we all need to realize is that it doesn't need to be perfect. We take a small step in the right direction.

Lisa: Oh, absolutely. Well, it's funny that you say that, 'cause I remember there was a moment in my life where I was really down on myself and I allowed myself to, you know, lose sight of the athleticism and just let it all go. And the way I got back into it was convincing myself I have ten minutes in the day to do something active, and so I'm going to do that. And I thought about that movie, What About Bob? I don't know if you remember that movie.

Laura: I have seen that movie, yeah.

Lisa: It was like baby steps off of the couch, baby steps out of the house, Bob. Just, you know, baby steps. And force myself for a week to do 10 minutes a day, and I wouldn't let myself do anymore because I didn't want to get to the point where I would discourage myself. So I stuck with 10 minutes for one week, up to 15 minutes the next week, and then, you know, three years later I did an iron man, so.

Laura: So in inspiring coming from you, 'cause as I was saying, I mean you are - those of you listening can't see Lisa right now, but she is a very strong woman. So to know that you were at one point only doing ten minutes a day, I think it's inspiration for all of us.

So you recently got out of this yoga training, and we don't have too much longer left, but I do - I am still curious to know if you can say one thing that you got out of it that you could let others know one message that you got out of it, what would that be?

Lisa: Wow. I think it just really inspired me to learn so much more. I was like, oh god, 200 hours of yoga, that seems like a lot of teacher training, but it just scratched the surface. I mean if anything it made me realize how much I don't know and how much more I want to know.

Laura: It's only the beginning.

Lisa: It is. Which is kind of exciting. And it's opened me up to all kinds of different people around the city. I've met, you know, because my whole world prior to moving to Houston seemed to revolve around m y work, it's been awesome to get involved with people that are not in the energy industry. So maybe that's kind of helped me to stay a little sane too, to have some yoga friends, some people that are more, you know, artistic and less I guess right-brain versus left-brain people. So it's nice to have a mix.

Laura: Mixing it up is always very important.

Lisa: Exactly.

Laura: Having some people to associate with outside of work, having activities.

Lisa: Yes.

Laura: You seem to have a lot of it down.

Lisa: I think so. I'd like to think so.

Laura: Thank you so much for being on the show today, Lisa.

Lisa: Thank you. It's been fun.

Laura: It was great chatting with you. And I am your host, Laura Max. That was all for today on the Light Files, brought to you by Audi Central Houston. You can find us on thebusinessmakers.com on Saturdays and you can find us on News 92 FM noon on Sundays. And we'll see you next week. Bye, everyone.

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