In this episode of Actualize featuring Tina Luu, co-founder of Fable, we talked about the multifaceted life of being a tech leader, mother, partner, daughter, and sister. Tina's remarkable work ethic, independence, and vulnerability shine through as she kindly discusses her recent encounter with stage five of burnout, a profound state of physical and mental overwhelm. Tina's resilience and resourcefulness, reveal how she navigated and emerged from burnout, along with the proactive measures she's adopting to prevent its recurrence.

“My feelings and how I'm feeling right now is valid. but I'm not going to be a victim of this. I have power.” - On burnout, Tina Luu, co-founder of

[00:01:36] On burnout.

[00:06:25] Starting a dinnerware company.

[00:09:48] Drawing on ambition and motivation.

[00:14:30] Juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship.

[00:19:25] Burnout experiences and realization.

[00:26:31] Setting boundaries for work.

[00:39:17] Sharing and iterating projects.

[00:43:33] Relinquishing control and burnout.


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Episode 20 - Tina Luu

[00:00:00] ​

[00:00:00] [00:01:00] This episode is with Tina Liu. Tina is a longtime friend, and she's the co-founder of Fable, A lifestyle brand delivering products that transform how you eat at home, starting with better tableware. Tina is the head of technology at Fable, but she's also a mother of two, a partner, a daughter, and a sister.

[00:01:26] What you'll learn from this conversation is that Tina has an incredible work ethic. She's extremely independent and resourceful. She's also a vulnerable kind human. Tina shares a recent experience of what she calls stage five burnout, in which she completely was overwhelmed, both physically and mentally.

[00:01:46] She shares about how she pulled herself out of the burnout and what she's doing to lessen the chances of it happening again. I hope you enjoy this episode with Tino Lou.

[00:01:56] Rob Pintwala: Hi, Tina. Thank you so much for being here today.

[00:01:58] Tina Luu: Hey Rob, thanks for [00:02:00] inviting me. Great to catch up in person. Well virtually

[00:02:04] Tina Luu: Son a podcast.

[00:02:05] Rob Pintwala: Oh yeah. I'm super excited to chat with you. I just jumped right in. You are a founder, a mother of two, and a partner daughter . How do you juggle it all?

[00:02:18] Tina Luu: It's been challenging. I think I've been learning as I go through these different roles. I think I first started this entrepreneur journey, I actually already had Zeq and I was then pregnant with my second. So I was juggling two things at once and wasn't very good at it back then.

[00:02:40] Tina Luu: I'm a little bit better now. but it's definitely challenging. There are definitely moments where I'm like, why did I have children? Or like, why did I choose this path when I could just work at another company where I don't have to worry about employees or if the company's gonna succeed [00:03:00] or not? I always grapple with these questions all the time, but I remind myself that this is probably more fun this way. So. It's definitely a challenge.

[00:03:11] Rob Pintwala: And this is your, is this your first? I mean, this business is, from my perspective, huge. Already.

[00:03:19] Rob Pintwala: And had you ever done anything more entrepreneurial in the past before this?

[00:03:24] Tina Luu: no, definitely not. I think before Fable I was kind of lost, like I was working as a web developer at another company, but I wasn't, I. Being pushed or didn't strive. I didn't have confidence. I didn't really try to push myself. And it wasn't until I had children that I was like, oh, time is scarce. I Need to like, use the time that I have when they're napping or when they're sleeping or when I have my free time to do things. I really want to do it, and I [00:04:00] think before having kids, I was just like, free time. I'll just do it later. And with children and so there's no later. You just have to do it now.

[00:04:07] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:04:09] Tina Luu: Yeah.

[00:04:09] Rob Pintwala: and so you're the technology sort of lead at Fable

[00:04:13] Rob Pintwala: And I remember, I mean, probably met you. Around 2013 when I moved to Vancouver originally.

[00:04:21] Tina Luu: Yes.

[00:04:22] Tina Luu: Yeah,

[00:04:22] Rob Pintwala: I remember

[00:04:23] Rob Pintwala: you weren't a developer and you like, made a full career transition, became a developer, and then you started a company. Were you before you were a developer and how did you make the transition?

[00:04:38] Tina Luu: I was thinking back so long ago I was just working in the restaurant industry. I graduated with a science degree and I didn't wanna do anything with a science degree. So I worked in the restaurant industry for a few years and taught myself how to code. Did a, like a bootcamp class. And then from there kind of tried to figure [00:05:00] my way. Through a web developer-like career. But like back then I definitely had strong imposter syndrome. You know, coming from a background where I'm self-taught, I did bootcamp in a male-dominated industry. I was like, I don't know what? Like me, it was hard. So I think that definitely contributed to me feeling lost back then.

[00:05:27] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. And. How did this company start? I've never actually heard the story from you.

[00:05:38] Tina Luu: Oh, okay. From me. You can talk to Joe and Max about how they all started. Me, we. We bought a house and we were moving into a new home and I was unpacking my IKEA dishes that I've had for like 10 years. Moved across the country with them across new apartments. I thought I was like, you know, it's time to like [00:06:00] upgrade. You know, like what's the next step? And I've always loved it. The pottery was like artisan markets, but they were just way too expensive. It's ridiculous, like a lot of money for one plate. So then I was like, okay, well maybe let's try West Elm or Pottery Barn. And it's like, the style didn't really jive with me either.

[00:06:20] Tina Luu: And like I was feeling like there's an opportunity. Where we can find something in the middle that still kind of has a hand-finished artisanal feel, but without the price tag and with the price tag of a traditional retailer. So, that's kind of how it started. And, but the impetus for wanting to do this was because I was faced with ending my mat leave and I had to go back to my old job, and I was like, well. Like, I don't really, didn't really like the position and where I was then, and like, do I really wanna go back and spend my limited time away from my family [00:07:00] at a job that I didn't have any passion for? So then I was like, let's just do this and so it kind of just that kind of kick-started the exploration of. What a dinnerware company is. And then I, we connected with Joe and Max, and that's kind of how we 

[00:07:23] Rob Pintwala: That's incredible.

[00:07:26] Tina Luu: Yeah.

[00:07:27] Rob Pintwala: Unpacking. Unpacking after a move. That's incredible.

[00:07:31] Tina Luu: Un unpacking. Yeah. And bringing, like, I was bringing plates. I kept buying plates from me. Different stores bringing into my book club. Like what do you guys like, what guys don't like? That was a very fun few years.

[00:07:46] Rob Pintwala: And you mentioned that you had imposter syndrome even back when you started as a developer and you like to start at a company. How has that translated into just being at the helm of a startup that [00:08:00] has definitely grown fast?

[00:08:02] Tina Luu: Yeah. I still have it. But it's not as glaring. It's not like I don't wake up every day. I'm like, I'm in Apostle syndrome. I don't like the title of CTO though. like for me it's like I'm not ACTO 'cause I like, I. I guess I, I compare it to like a tech company, CTO, and I'm like, no way. Tech company, CTO. But besides that, I am way more confident. I don't know what changed in the last five years, but I am, I still have it, but it's I may be able to remind myself, no, like, you've done great things and you're continually learning and you're continually improving. So like Ignore.

[00:08:50] Rob Pintwala: Yeah,

[00:08:52] Rob Pintwala: ignore. That's a great reminder. That's a great

[00:08:55] Rob Pintala: reminder. 

[00:08:56] Tina Luu: I, but I think it's kind of nice to have that feeling. I [00:09:00] think a lot of people like to shy away from it and like, maybe in the past I used to like to dwell in it. Oh, I'm an imposter. Like me, I don't know anything. But I think now it's like I use it as fuel to be like, what don't I know? And what can I do to get myself to the next level? So it's nice to have that feeling personally for me. 'cause if I didn't have that feeling, I'd just like, okay, I retire. I will. I'm good.

[00:09:26] Rob Pintwala: where is your sort of ambition? Where do you think that comes from? Or do you not even think of it as that? Like when you were starting this business and you were putting the work in initially and kind of, I imagine you realized that whole, like, this is quite a bit of work, like what kind of kept you going and what, like what did you draw on?

[00:09:47] Tina Luu: You, I never thought starting Fable would lead me Like I, I didn't think the success would be so grand and so fast in the last, like three or four years. [00:10:00] Such a difficult question. 'cause like, I just love what I do. And it's also kind of nice to have Joe and Max 'cause they're always just pushing you and striving for the best.

[00:10:11] Tina Luu: So it's kind of like two folds, a little bit of me loving what I do. And then also like my co-founding team, just like always pushing to be the best.

[00:10:21] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. That's amazing. Yeah. Yeah, so I worked with Joe and Max 

[00:10:27] Tina Luu: Yeah. Yeah, 

[00:10:28] Rob Pintwala: I worked with the other two co-founders for about four years and they're incredible 

[00:10:33] Tina Luu: I'm, I'm the favorite, right? 

[00:10:36] Rob Pintwala: you're, you're the founding plate story. , you brought a thing, everything together. As far as your likes, I'd wonder if you can actually just talk about where the company's at roughly now, so people get a sense for like, you know, when you talk about the growth and the success like.

[00:10:54] Tina Luu: Yeah, so too, I always forget the years right now we [00:11:00] we're in three countries, so uk, us, Canada we have two retail locations one in Toronto, one in Vancouver. We actually just moved a retail location from Gastown to Granville about a month ago. and then we also operate our own fulfillment in Canada.

[00:11:17] Tina Luu: So we have two warehouses, one in Toronto, one in Abbotsford, and then we just recently partnered with the three pl, like a third party logistics in the US to handle our, like US fulfillment. So, and I think the numbers, oh, this, as of this year, we're in over a hundred thousand homes across the three countries.

[00:11:41] Tina Luu: So 

[00:11:41] Rob Pintwala: a great number.

[00:11:42] Tina Luu: yeah, it's like I, yeah it's kind of baffling.

[00:11:46] Rob Pintwala: That's incredible. Well, congrats on that success, 

[00:11:49] Tina Luu: Thank you. Thank you.

[00:11:50] Rob Pintwala: to manage. you know, as far as what the, you know, the current state of your role and your team is like, are you managing several [00:12:00] people now? Like I heard for the longest time that you're doing it all yourself? How does that look?

[00:12:04] Tina Luu: I'm still doing it myself. I'm still doing it myself, so it's now that I don't have a team 'cause we try to keep It very lean. And it's, we've had, we have like more than three Shopify stores and an ERP system and all the apps. Mostly still it's on me it definitely has been a process. I think if you told me. Three or four years ago I would be doing what I'd like, the amount of work I'd be doing now, I'd be very surprised. But in that time I've been able to find efficiencies and certain things to like manage these three stores um, really well. So it's, but it's definitely overwhelming 'cause everything is on your shoulders and there's no backup.

[00:12:56] Rob Pintwala: My goodness.

[00:12:57] Tina Luu: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's kind of what contributed to like,[00:13:00] we'll get into it, but like my burnout in like the end of the summer this year, it was just like a lot of things on me to do and I'm the only one who really can do it, and so it just felt like a never-ending problem.

[00:13:17] Rob Pintwala: Yeah,

[00:13:19] Tina Luu: Yeah.

[00:13:20] Rob Pintwala: That's a lot.

[00:13:21] Tina Luu: So,

[00:13:22] Tina Luu: yeah. 

[00:13:22] Rob Pintwala: Well, we can either talk about that now or, I mean, before you mentioned your, you mentioned like your multiple roles

[00:13:32] Rob Pintwala: And that you're kind of, you've been sort of, I guess growing into, you know, how to coba co juggle rather these roles. What other roles do you even consider yourself like as a person?

[00:13:46] Tina Luu: Like in Fable or

[00:13:48] Tina Luu: like outside of 

[00:13:49] Rob Pintwala: your life. Yeah.

[00:13:51] Tina Luu: A mom, uh, Jordan's reminder person. What else?[00:14:00] A friend of mine, yeah. Oh, that's, those are the titles,

[00:14:08] Tina Luu: sister, 

[00:14:09] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.

[00:14:10] Tina Luu: daughter.

[00:14:11] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. And so as far as, yeah, maybe we can talk about being a mom. Like you started the company after, already having your first son,

[00:14:22] Tina Luu: Yep. Yep.

[00:14:23] Rob Pintwala: and the second one was on the way. And how do you like it? How do you do it? I have one son and another one on the way, which I mentioned before we hit record.

[00:14:34] Rob Pintwala: I have a partner with a full-time job with great benefits and maternity leave. How did you not leave? You know, how do you like, juggle all this?

[00:14:48] Tina Luu: It was tough. It was really tough. I think it was, trying to think back. I. You know, it was easy when it was one and when I was pregnant with Raffi. [00:15:00] 'cause you know, you just work when they napped um, or Jordan. And I would, I think he was working from home at that time. We would trade off. So he would do mornings.

[00:15:08] Tina Luu: I would do the afternoons. Definitely, he became more challenging when the second baby came. And I think we were also launching. the Fable site, like for the first time doing it like a trial, like a beta test. It was only a few weeks after I gave birth to Raffi, and I don't think this was a good idea, but within like a week of giving birth, I was back on my computer coding the website, and getting it all launched. And even Joe was like, are you? Should you be doing this? And I'm like, yeah, it's okay. He's snapping and I'm like, breastfeeding and I'm like, like this on the couch trying to get things out the door. But like it definitely was challenging as I think I did have postpartum [00:16:00] with my second because we were, I. I was working, it didn't take, give enough time to recover like two kids. Now we were doing popups. You know, Jordan would drive Raffi 'cause I was still breastfeeding to the popup. Bring him to me, I quickly breastfed and then he would disappear and then come back two hours later. So it was definitely challenging.

[00:16:26] Tina Luu: But you just have to like it. Push through it. That's not really good advice, but like, yeah.

[00:16:34] Rob Pintwala: Have you, like, what have you gotten back from the venture to date, you know, in these last few years? Like you said, you, I think you said you love what you do earlier, but 

[00:16:44] Tina Luu: Mm-Hmm. 

[00:16:45] Rob Pintwala: what do you get, what have you gotten out of it and has that been consistent or has it like, kept getting, do you kept getting, do you keep getting more out of your, you know, the company and who you work with and what you've created?

[00:16:58] Tina Luu: I do, I mean, there's definitely [00:17:00] moments where it's like, oh, why am I doing this? But I think the positive experiences definitely outweigh the negative. And it. It just makes me so motivated and happy to be working on something that I am creating with a bunch of fantastic and talented people and creating joy in people's lives through what we're doing.

[00:17:28] Tina Luu: And I think that's just so fascinating. And I think the one thing I do like is I am in control of my own destiny 'cause I am a founder to a certain extent. So it's, I can shape the company in the way that I want or like to influence. So it's definitely when there's, when it is very challenging, I know I have, I guess, the ability to like mold it too.

[00:17:59] Rob Pintwala: [00:18:00] Yeah.

[00:18:00] Tina Luu: I would want it to be if that makes sense.

[00:18:02] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. What might be some examples of some? Maybe like initiatives or directions that you've led the company in based on your passions and your what you care about.

[00:18:15] Tina Luu: Oh, it's mostly technical

[00:18:19] Tina Luu: Really? It's boring.Like, it's, yeah, my tech stack, like how am I managing four stores and all that stuff. It's, it's, it's not that exciting.

[00:18:32] Rob Pintwala: Well on that note. And you're still almost like, well, it sounds like you're still like a sole contributor leader at the same time. You don't have that many people that you can ask for help. How do you learn? Are you still self-taught as far as things that you need to, like are there mentors or consultants that you can call on?

[00:18:50] Rob Pintwala: Or how do you like to continuously learn new things?

[00:18:53] Tina Luu: I Google. Google, I probably should get myself a mentor and I need to look for them. If anyone's [00:19:00] listening, if you know a tech leader at an e-comm business, let me know. I'm still learning a lot of Googling, and a lot of things like combing through Shopify. So I dev, a knowledge base to see what I could and could not do. And so. it's, you know, sometimes you find the little nuggets, but then you then implement and you don't need to pay for an app 'cause it's free. yeah. Yeah.

[00:19:25] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Okay. Well, let's talk a little bit about your burnout, and burnout a pretty hot word in the last few years. Was that word always in your vocabulary before this happened? Or how did you walk into this mess?

[00:19:44] Tina Luu: no, I did not. I obviously knew that word, but I never experienced it. And there are definitely moments in the last like four years where like, you know, I was emotionally upset, but I, it's, but I never, to the extent [00:20:00] that. What I experienced like two months ago, I didn't even know that it was happening. I was away from a cottage and like we were launching things and there were so many things in flight. We're also testing a new app that kind of made it even worse. But I was away with cottage internet, you know, and I'm supposed to be on vacation with my family, and things kept going wrong and I didn't realize it until like a week or two later that I was like, oh. This is burnout. Like I was physical like my legs were tingly. I had stomach pains and anxiety just the whole time. 'cause like I can't really fix it or I can fix it, but it's delayed and I'm not there to fully do it. And it was, yeah. And I kept waking up and crying. It was a lot.

[00:20:58] Tina Luu: And I was like, am I [00:21:00] going crazy or is it like, what's going on? And then I realized it was. I was probably burnt out. Yeah.

[00:21:07] Rob Pintwala: My goodness.

[00:21:08] Tina Luu: Not I, not fun.

[00:21:10] Tina Luu: I thought I was sick. 

[00:21:11] Rob Pintwala: you realize like on your own or like Googling again more or what did, like how did you

[00:21:17] Tina Luu: uh

[00:21:17] Rob Pintwala: out?

[00:21:18] Tina Luu: I can't. I think I was just Googling and I was just like, physical, I'm crying. It's work-related. And I was like, they were like, maybe it's burnout. And I was like, oh, this sounds like it. Like me, I can even be diagnosed with burnout. It's,

[00:21:37] Rob Pintwala: I mean, it's not in the DSMI, don't think. I might be wrong, but I mean, I think a lot of therapists are familiar with it. Now, how did you work to, so you did it click with you like, okay, this is what it is, or were you in 

[00:21:52] Tina Luu: I, yeah I wasn't into Napa. I was more like, is it? 'cause I know, like I started reading more about the different stages of burnout.[00:22:00] I can't remember what they're now. And then I'm like, oh, wait, was I in four for a long time? And I just kept it cool. And then now I'm stage five, which is like the worst and this is what's resulted in.

[00:22:13] Tina Luu: And I was like, oh, like, it's, it's interesting, like when you look back at the, like, and you look at the stages, you're like, oh, this.

[00:22:24] Tina Luu: What I've been feeling in the past when I was feeling like kind of shitty is like one of these stages,

[00:22:29] Rob Pintwala: Okay.

[00:22:29] Tina Luu: but I was able to like bring myself back and then it was only the LA last time where it just manifested into whatever the highest level of burnout is.

[00:22:39] Rob Pintwala: And, how did you start to work your way outta that?

[00:22:44] Tina Luu: Oh, it was really hard.

[00:22:47] Rob Pintwala: Like you're a one 

[00:22:48] Tina Luu: It was. 

[00:22:49] Rob Pintwala: still has all these things to do. Like, what happened?

[00:22:53] Tina Luu: Uh, I don't know. A lot of crying really. I'd like, literally like, to finish a meeting off-camera. Cry [00:23:00] Wipe my tears. Go back on. I know this sounds so bad, whoever's listening at Fable. It's not you, it's me. And, you know, I would get triggered a lot by what certain people said, even though it meant nothing. It was a really hard process and I didn't know how to fix it because I felt like the triggers that were giving me burnout were what I loved to do. And how do I like to get myself out of it? Like I can't just go hire another person. Like we don't have the budget for it. It's not like an easy fix.

[00:23:32] Tina Luu: So it's like I, it's, I don't know. I kind of lived with it for like a month or two.

[00:23:39] Rob Pintwala: My goodness.

[00:23:41] Tina Luu: I know. I don't know if we're allowed, I'm allowed to say this, but I also microdose rooms And that helped me. Like, it gave me like, when I was feeling really down, like, like, when I can't get myself out of bed, microdose, like 50 mg, you can cut this out.

[00:23:58] Tina Luu: I don't care if[00:24:00] and it would bring me to a level where I was not great, but I was like. I can deal with this. Like I can get through the day. I'm not happy. I'm not great, but I'm not shit in bed and feeling sorry for myself. I'm

[00:24:18] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.

[00:24:19] Tina Luu: somewhat

[00:24:20] Tina Luu: functioning. And I did that for like, sorry.

[00:24:23] Rob Pintwala: this was the second time, at least a third time, that psychedelics have been discussed on this podcast. So it's all 

[00:24:28] Tina Luu: Oh yeah. Okay, great. Great. And I would, I did it for like a month or two, and like I was reading a lot of articles and podcasts on how to fix your burnout. Um, and then I found one podcast that was like, you know, self-care isn't the solution to burnout. Because your stressors are still there. You know, it's like Jordan was like, oh go to the spa. Why don't you take a day off? And I'm like, okay, I could do that. But like [00:25:00] I would just walk back into the fire that I was trying to escape. So it's like self-care and burnout don't really work in my situation. I'm sure it could work for others. So that was hard to try to like. Fix. Because if self-care isn't the issue, then it isn't to solve then what is, and then it wasn't until, oh, I was journaling a little bit to like to help me get my thoughts. 'cause I kept, it kept being in my brain and I kept cycling through. It's the same conversation, the same topics in my brain.

[00:25:38] Tina Luu: It wasn't until I wrote it out that I felt like, okay, it's on paper. It's like concrete. I acknowledge my feelings, um, that I was able to be like, what do I do now? And it didn't really click for me until like one day I woke up, I was just talking to Jordan about how I'm feeling and I was just like, you know what, like. [00:26:00] My feelings and how I'm feeling right now are valid, but I'm not gonna be a victim of this. And so like I have power, I don't know what I can do with it to fix it. Not even just as a founder or business owner, but like I have the power to change it. Either I leave, I quit, I find another job, or I start shaping my work environment. So that way it is a bit more balanced and I won't burn out. I'm not saying I probably, there's a chance I could, but like I trying to set more boundaries up for

[00:26:37] Tina Luu: myself and like Yeah.

[00:26:39] Rob Pintwala: Any quick examples of, you know, do you, you know, not turn, like only answer emails or slacks in a certain set of hours? 

[00:26:50] Rob Pintwala: What, what are some high-level changes that you made that the layperson might be able to understand?

[00:26:56] Rob Pintwala: Just a quick interruption to chat about my company. First session, [00:27:00] Have you had a less-than-ideal experience looking for a therapist? There are lots of options out there, but it's hard to know where to get started and who to trust. My company's first session focuses entirely on creating the best experience finding a therapist.

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[00:27:32] At First

[00:27:33] Tina Luu: I started saying, no,

[00:27:36] Rob Pintwala: Nice.

[00:27:36] Tina Luu: and it is so simple. But I started saying, no, I'm sorry. Like if I'm gonna do this, then what are we gonna drop? And like, I know it's so simple, but like I, I don't know. As a founder, I personally feel like I have to do everything and support anybody who needs support. Even if it's not in my domain.

[00:27:58] Tina Luu: So it's like I'm always trying to like, [00:28:00] do everything and it doesn't work out that well. I just started saying no

[00:28:06] Rob Pintwala: That's awesome.

[00:28:07] Tina Luu: And that was, yeah. And try to, I snooze a lot of things. I try not to like get anxiety, checking my phone and all that stuff, but I think the biggest one for me was just saying, no,

[00:28:24] Tina Luu: I. 

[00:28:25] Rob Pintwala: You hear that talked about a lot, but it's way easier said than done to say No. I understand. And. What was it like being a mother during this period of burnout? Like was there like guilt 

[00:28:40] Tina Luu: Oh, 

[00:28:41] Rob Pintwala: or shame or that sort of thing?

[00:28:44] Tina Luu: I was not very nice Even to Jordan as a partner. It was, there's just so many things happening that like I, I just wasn't very present. For the [00:29:00] kids or for Jordan. And so Jordan definitely did step up a lot during that time and like gave me space and was just there for like a sounding board of what I was going through.

[00:29:13] Tina Luu: But I definitely do feel bad at times. Like when I'm really stressed out around the kids, and it's so hard when you work from home. Like me, I don't have a commute time, so I don't like, I'm not able to decompress. I literally just walk down the stairs and and it's, I'm in the fray of things, but I don't like disconnected work. Switching it to being more patient with the kids. So that's something I'm trying to work on. But it's definitely challenging to do it.

[00:29:49] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:29:50] Tina Luu: it, yeah.

[00:29:51] Rob Pintwala: Do you think about the future much as far as what you might, you know, [00:30:00] assuming there's some sort of. or evolution of Fable and you kind of get the success that you're hoping for. Maybe you haven't even defined that, but like, do you think about a life that you would like to be kind of living or is it like in terms of like, you know, how busy you wanna be doing work?

[00:30:20] Rob Pintwala: Or do you just want to keep working on things you love and are passionate about?

[00:30:26] Tina Luu: So hard. It's so hard. 'cause I love working. That's what my dad's famous saying is, I love working. That's my hobby. He works all the time. That's where I get it from. I don't, I think I definitely wanna like, to spend more time with the kids. I know everyone says that, especially now it's such an age that is so fleeting. So

[00:30:52] Rob Pintwala: how old are they now?

[00:30:53] Tina Luu: six and four. So I wish there was more time like, I wish I didn't have to like, [00:31:00] work on my vacations.

[00:31:01] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, no kidding.

[00:31:03] Tina Luu: I need to practice my nose on that

[00:31:05] Tina Luu: too, but it's

[00:31:06] Rob Pintwala: Maybe one day you'll be able to hire someone that will be able to help you.

[00:31:10] Tina Luu: One day.

[00:31:12] Tina Luu: One day. Yeah.

[00:31:14] Rob Pintwala: And do you, like, have you experienced any unique challenges or maybe in the early days with being like a female founder? Or does that, did that even cross your mind, or is it, was it not really that relevant?

[00:31:29] Tina Luu: I know a lot of people ask me that, and I don't think so. I don't, I haven't experienced anything overtly like, too biased against me. You know, maybe sometimes there's comments like, oh are, are you the technical lead? No. But like, whereas if it was a dude who came in, it would be like, yeah, that's the technical lead.

[00:31:49] Tina Luu: But it is, it's things like that. But nothing too, too crazy in my opinion.

[00:31:58] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. And [00:32:00] do you ha, like, do you think having children by the time you started the company, helped shape the culture at your company as far as like, you know, how you ha how what you expect from others with children? Or is 

[00:32:14] Tina Luu: not many team members have children. Two recently just came back from mat leave. One was on mat leave, two were on mat leave. So we will see

[00:32:26] Rob Pintwala: But Matt, you know, Matt leaves and encourages that sort of thing.

[00:32:29] Tina Luu: mat leave. ISS encouraged. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Mat leaves are encouraged. Um, we actually just tried, um, summer hours this past summer. So it was a four-day workweek. Everyone loved it. I think that's also what contributed to my burnout.

[00:32:43] Tina Luu: 'cause it was five days condensed into four. Yeah. One extra day is gone.

[00:32:46] Tina Luu: And I was like, that's one extra day I could be coding. It was just condensed. So yeah.

[00:32:54] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. No, I just, it strikes even just how you explained, [00:33:00] coming back to. You know, almost like self-diagnosing yourself and like being like, it's like you're extremely resourceful. When you learn how to code yourself. You learned how to get outta burnout yourself. There are probably many other things you learned how to do yourself.

[00:33:14] Rob Pintwala: Like do you,

[00:33:16] Tina Luu: Yeah,

[00:33:16] Rob Pintwala: is I wonder where that kind of, you know, value

[00:33:20] Rob Pintwala: come comes from just being so self-reliant, 

[00:33:24] Tina Luu: I always tell Jordan that I'm very independent and my motto, my life motto is dependency is poison. very dark, but I don't like relying on others to solve problems. I'll just do it myself.

[00:33:45] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.

[00:33:46] Tina Luu: Because I'm the only one who could really know what I really want. And so I should be the one who is pushing myself to get what I want.

[00:33:57] Rob Pintwala: Do you think that was, like taught to you from your parents or [00:34:00] was that, that that stemmed from some, you know, many levels of disappointment and having others, others, others, others disappoint you? 

[00:34:08] Tina Luu: Yeah. Probably, Probably a little bit of a mix of both. My parents were refugees from the Vietnam War, so they were always working and they grew up in the war. So they also had their own, you know, trauma and issues that they had to work with that they chose to ignore. And so, um, I was, I think me and my brother were always mostly alone growing up. It was like just me and him. So we would, we were only there for each other and there for ourselves. Really? I love you, mom and dad. Not that

[00:34:42] Tina Luu: It's like a harp on them, but I think it's always been like that. Yeah.

[00:34:46] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Did you find that there is, I mean, I, so part of my job is or used to be more so I used to just interview all the therapists that we onboarded on my platform and.

[00:34:59] ​

[00:34:59] Rob Pintwala: Very key [00:35:00] theme that I found in terms of therapists, especially in the Toronto area where it's much more diverse than BC where I live now.

[00:35:06] Rob Pintwala: And culturally and folks that are like therapists that were, many of them, maybe second-generation immigrants or some maybe even first, and just talking about like the expectation of being the. Child of an immigrant, even regardless of where you're from originally, and just like how much expectation there can be on the children because the parents often fled or worked their absolute butts off to come to Canada and put it all on the line.

[00:35:39] Rob Pintwala: And then they kind of just like. Can view their children as like, you better take advantage of this because we did all of this to get here. , did you feel any of that?

[00:35:51] Tina Luu: No, interestingly, my parents were not like the tiger parents. They didn't like to put me in math class or extracurriculars and [00:36:00] like anything. Maybe that's why I was like, maybe they should have pushed me and maybe I am more independent that way 'cause I can't rely on other people to do things for me but luckily my parents are not like that. They're very chill. Maybe sometimes too chilly. But luckily I didn't have to, I didn't experience that. 

[00:36:24] Rob Pintwala: No that's, I mean, yeah, the, in the independence part is I mean, it seems like such a strength too. Yeah. Such a strength. But 

[00:36:31] Tina Luu: Yeah. I mean, luckily I am more introverted, so I guess it kind of works together.

[00:36:38] Rob Pintwala: How do you kind of recharge then, like if you are now that you're sort of hopefully past the worth stage, 

[00:36:45] Tina Luu: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:36:46] Rob Pintwala: of burnout. You know, like 

[00:36:48] Tina Luu: I'm like level one now.

[00:36:49] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. You have a watch back in the cycle. Uh. How do you or how have you successfully recharge when you do get a minute to yourself [00:37:00] or 10 minutes or an hour, 

[00:37:01] Tina Luu: Jordan. Yeah, Jordan actually takes the kids out. 'cause he knows, like, I like being home alone, so he likes being out of the house. So he'll take the kids out for a few hours and I'm like, great. What else do I do? I'm trying to go to the gym more.

[00:37:14] Rob Pintwala: And do you notice like mental

[00:37:17] Tina Luu: Oh,

[00:37:18] Tina Luu: insulate. Oh, yes. One of the burnout recovery plans that I did was like, I used to just sit in the chair, like this chair here from like nine till five, be back at it after the kids go to bed. And I just didn't move. And I was like, no, Tina, like you can give yourself permission to go for a walk for 30 minutes in the middle of the day. You can go to the gym, and not feel anxiety. So I'm trying to work out more, but it's hard to get into a routine, but that's fine. Trying to get more movement in. What else do I do? Smoke a little pot

[00:37:57] Rob Pintwala: It's legal.

[00:37:58] Tina Luu: I feel

[00:37:59] Tina Luu: like [00:38:00] that is true. And, but it's just, I recharge by being alone. And then, but also. more social as well. 'cause I default to being alone and like being an introvert, but I actually get so much happiness and joy hanging out with friends and stuff. So I also need to, like, when I'm feeling kind of lazy, I just need to push myself out the door because I come back feeling so much more fulfilled than if I stayed home and put on a movie and had my favorite snacks.

[00:38:34] Rob Pintwala: do you get a reach out or if you're out, I'm not sure if you're doing any kind of startups events in Toronto these days. Do you get younger? People asking you about, you know, advice or like, like what would you tell someone who's asking you about what it's like to start a company, how they might approach it, that sort of thing.

[00:38:53] Rob Pintwala: Like do you have any go-to sort of wisdom that you are passing down to [00:39:00] younger, younger folks? 

[00:39:01] Tina Luu: I think the one that comes to mind is like, don't be precious about it. Like precious about an idea. 'cause you can work on an idea for years or however long because you don't feel you get imposter syndrome or you don't feel like it's perfect enough to share. But I think sharing often and like just pushing out whatever project you're on frequently and iterating.

[00:39:26] Tina Luu: 'cause you know, you. You learn so much about yourself, and what you're working on as you are sharing it, versus I'm gonna spend a year working on this and then we're gonna launch it and then it turns out to be a flop. Whereas maybe you could have done a small test within the first three months, learned what you could, and then like evolved your. your project, um, based on feedback. So there's not only one.

[00:39:57] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. And what would you say about

[00:39:59] Rob Pintwala: [00:40:00] people asking about partners and like co-founders? Because it sounds like pretty early on you were. Open to partners. You know, once you discover this kind of idea, and I know a lot of people wanna keep it to themselves or they're trying to find the perfect partner or, 

[00:40:17] Rob Pintwala: they don't go into a partnership because they're afraid of like the risk or something like that, or 

[00:40:22] Tina Luu: Yeah, it's pretty, yeah, it's pretty, it's kind of tricky. I knew right away I couldn't do this myself because like, I never did retail, never done e-comm. I already know tech. Like I needed co-founders or partners who compliment my skills. I feel very fortunate that we met. I met Joe and Max and they were also interested in doing this. And Joe was actually on like the same, looking into the January industry at the same time. So it was, I feel very fortunate and like our relationship, the three of us have only just grown. So I do feel very [00:41:00] fortunate that like our synergy works, So, 'cause we didn't really do any like, vetting

[00:41:09] Rob Pintwala: Yeah.

[00:41:09] Tina Luu: It wasn't like, it wasn't like, oh, what are you what's, what is your work style? Like, what's, you know, who, how do you like to take feedback? It's like we have to figure it out through the years. And so it's, but it's a very natural relationship that we have now, and it's a great partnership between the three of us.

[00:41:29] Rob Pintwala: That's amazing.

[00:41:30] ​

[00:41:30] Rob Pintwala: Well, that's incredible. Well, yeah, no, this has been an amazing conversation and I appreciate you opening up about some of these. I think the burnout, you know, the portion here is so valuable for so many folks that are on different phases of these different stages of the 

[00:41:46] Rob Pintwala: cycle.

[00:41:47] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:41:48] Tina Luu: Yeah. 

[00:41:48] Rob Pintwala: What would you like, maybe as a final question to wrap up, like what would you, what would your advice be to someone who's. in that like fourth stage and like still doesn't really know what it is, like how do [00:42:00] you, how did you just kind of

[00:42:06] Rob Pintwala: manage to get outta it? And I know everyone's different, right? But like, I mean, you said you accepted your, you, you said something about accepting, validating what you were feeling, right? Like how important was that?

[00:42:17] Tina Luu: I think it was very. Very pivotal. I don't know why it just clicked in my brain. ' cause I think, yeah, maybe when I was going through the burnout, I was trying to justify reasons why I was feeling shitty. And it was just kind of like, no, you don't need to justify it. It is what it is. And you either fix it or like to do something to shift it or you can just. Leave. That actually was a thought that crossed my mind. I was like, I could just leave Abel. Like it's, it wouldn't be a great choice if I wouldn't do it now, but like I have the power to be like, okay, so, it's not like I was trapped. I'm [00:43:00] not trapped. And so I think that was like, oh, okay, like I wanna stay, let's work through this and figure it out.

[00:43:07] Tina Luu: But like, I don't know. If I could prevent myself from reaching that level again, like I, it's, I feel like it just sometimes sneaks up on you before you even realize it. And so I'm still kind of working on things like flags that come up and what to do. So maybe talk to me in a year,

[00:43:31] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, well check in. Yeah. Yeah. I think there's some power around kind of relinquishing the feeling that you can control it, right? Like if you think that you can control and prevent yourself from burning out, that's like an added layer of anxiety.

[00:43:45] Tina Luu: Yes, that is actually true. It's, yeah, it's like I, yeah, can't control it, but it's okay. And you know, sometimes you feel shitty sometimes and it's also okay. You know,

[00:43:57] Tina Luu: just, 

[00:43:57] Rob Pintwala: I hear that. Well, thank you [00:44:00] so much. This has been awesome, and I hope I get to see you in person sooner than later.

[00:44:04] Tina Luu: Yes. If you guys come back to Toronto, or I think we're coming to Vancouver Island this summer

[00:44:10] Tina Luu: to see family,

[00:44:12] Tina Luu: so we'll connect

[00:44:13] Rob Pintwala: Okay, Tina. So it's right now, right? And it used to be you got

[00:44:19] Tina Luu: Yeah. Com. Yeah, we got that. Com.

[00:44:21] Rob Pintwala: We're gonna be able to release this. It might be right after Black Friday, but um, uh, there'll be more sales, I'm sure. Right? And where else can people find you?

[00:44:32] Tina Luu: not very big on social media.

[00:44:34] Rob Pintwala: I'll find you working. I'll find you working behind,

[00:44:38] Tina Luu: I'll be working, lurking on Reddit is what I'll be doing.

[00:44:41] Rob Pintwala: Awesome.

[00:44:43] Tina Luu: yeah, just uh, or if you're ever in Toronto and wanna reach out for a drink or coffee, I am around.

[00:44:50] Rob Pintwala: That's great. Okay, Tina, well, thank you very much. Have a great evening and enjoy your weekend.

[00:44:55] Tina Luu: Okay. Bye, Rob.

[00:44:58] ​[00:45:00] 

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