From Quest to Impact: A storyteller’s journey of navigating business, marriage, and life.
After years of laying out her husband’s clothes, planning his day, and prepping his meals, housewife extraordinaire Lisa Bilyeu decided she was done.
Divorce, however, was the farthest thing from her mind.
Bilyeu, housewife turned billion dollar business owner, told Jay Shetty that she looked around at their “dream life” and realized they had lost themselves along the way.
At that moment, all she wanted was her husband back.
Lisa Bilyeu is known for her masterful use of story and connection to set listeners at ease and make them feel heard. Hers has been an unconventional rise to the top, but she has not taken a single second for granted.
Bilyeu is the co-founder and president of Impact Theory, a digital media production company, and billion-dollar brand Quest Nutrition.
Although unconventional, her career trajectory has been, in her own words, “An astonishing art form that’s still evolving.” She’s jumping in front of the camera as host of the show, Women of Impact that centers on all things from female empowerment.
She sat down recently with personal friend Jay Shetty on his podcast and opened up about relationships, life, success, and hard work.
Lisa Bilyeu and husband Tom Bilyeu, had long dreamed of making movies, and that took money. In order to free Tom up to work long hours, Lisa agreed to stay home and take care of everything else.
What was supposed to be a year long-blitz of Bilyeu at home handling everything – laundry, cooking, cleaning, laying out his clothes, meticulously planning food – turned into eight years.
Although she did not resent her husband for this stage of life, it became a struggle.
“I kept telling myself, you’re doing this for this purpose,” she explained to Jay Shetty. “You’re doing it for your husband. You’re doing it for your mission. You’re doing it because you guys agreed that you’re going to do it. At no point did I stop and go, But I don’t enjoy it anymore.’ And that was the hardest thing, because I would fill my days with mundane things, but just enough to get pleasure out of them.”
When she was honest with herself, the momentary pleasure of a clean house and a padded bank account wasn’t enough.
“It became an eight-year journey where looking back now, I was at my most miserable because I didn’t address how I felt,” she reflected to Jay Shetty. Not only was she missing fulfillment in her own life, but she missed her husband as well. Extremely driven, Tom had become consumed with work and making money. Something needed to change.
“I said, ‘I don’t care about money. I just want my husband.’” she told Jay Shetty. “And if that means that we have to give up everything, we’ve just spent the last eight years trying to build, then so be it. But I’m not willing to let my husband go over money or career.”
The Bilyeus sat down together and made the decision to go another direction. Leaving his job meant starting from the ground up, but they had an idea and decided to go all in.
Putting Quest on the Map
This leap found Lisa spending even more time in the kitchen, but this time it was different.
Bilyeu began to frantically develop recipes and make the protein bars that their company, Quest Nutrition, would become so famous for. She didn’t know anything about business or shipping products, but fear drove her to dive in head first and learn as she went.
“The fear of losing my house way outweighed the fear of not knowing what I was doing,” she explained. “I was just trying not to fail and not to look like a failure to my husband and his business partners.”
Her life was soon filled with learning the ins and outs of ingredients, researching methods of freight shipping, and creating recipes that would sell. As she became deeply immersed in the new venture, something unexpected happened.
Lisa Bilyeu found herself.
“I started to value the fact that I could learn,” she told Jay Shetty. “I could grow if I failed. I could pick myself up if I didn’t know something. I could teach myself. And that became like a drug to me and my purpose changed. That was when I realized I really like this. I really want to do more of this and now I don’t want to be a housewife.”
This realization also led to a moment of reckoning. Bilyeu was honest with her husband about her newfound passion for business and their company, and together they made an agreement to be partners in life and work.
Rules of Engagement … and Marriage
Bilyeu is quick to acknowledge that her husband is the most important thing in her life. Their relationship is not perfect, she is proud of what has come from years of pouring into it and learning to love each other well.
Bilyeu acknowledges that learning to juggle a love relationship and a work dynamic took time and effort. Honest communication and transparency are the bedrock for how they balance a healthy marriage and fulfilling careers.
Time working together and loving each other has taught them to take the covenant of their commitment to each other seriously. They operate out of a mutual respect for each other and a shared ownership of their business and life. Both are 50% owners of their company.
The dynamic duo makes “selfish time” a priority, penciling it into their schedules every week. An accomplished artist, Bilyeu spends much of her selfish time painting and creating, something she does only for her own health and creative expression. She won’t be doing any artwork for the graphic novels her company is producing.
Navigating when to talk about work and when to focus on life away from the office has been more of a challenge.
“Tom never stops working,” Bilyeu told Jay Shetty. Her health, however, means she must work fewer hours than him. They have a unique way of communicating when it’s time to talk about work and when it’s not.
“You know how you go to a Brazilian restaurant and they have like these little cards that say you want more meat or you don’t want them to bring meat around to your tables?” she asked Jay Shetty. Bilyeu knew they needed a plain and simple signal like that.
They settled on a lamp in the bedroom. If she was up for talking about work, she turned the lamp on. When the lamp was off, her husband knew the conversation needed to be put on hold.
Bilyeu believes parameters are one of the keys of their very healthy marriage in the midst of running a highly successful business.
“You actually have to implement things like that so that you don’t cross those lines,” she insisted to Jay Shetty. “My relationship is the most important thing to me, and stress in business is real. You have to actually come up with things to do to separate the two.”
With 17 years of marriage and two highly successful businesses under their belts, the Bilyeus must be doing something right.
Impact Theory Studio
Though the protein bar business continued to boom, Lisa Bilyeu couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t scratching the itch of her childhood dream. She longed to make movies and have a voice in the media.
“I love filmmaking,” she told Jay Shetty. “I love storytelling. I love how powerful storytelling can be. I hold on way more to people’s stories than I do to a class or a lesson. Storytelling for me in film was just always a way to escape, to always be inspired, to be impacted. I want really wanted to be in the film industry.”
As Bilyeu reflected on how much she had grown and how far she had come, she couldn’t help but want to empower other women to do the same. So, Impact Theory was born.
Impact Theory Studio focuses on non-fiction in their show Impact Theory and fiction with a series of graphic novels for female empowerment. Eventually Bilyeu plans for the graphic novels to become a gateway to television and movies.
Impact Theory is the culmination of her passions. The ability to use art and story to impact the lives of others through film brings it all full circle for her. Bilyeu can’t wait to further develop and grow all that Impact Theory has to offer.
In many ways, it feels like living her dream. Just as she did in the beginning, she now understands that a life lived for service and for others is what matters most. Jay Shetty feels the same about his work.
“I’m blessed every single day to get to wake up and do what I love in a way that serves people,” Jay Shetty said. “And that’s because of the people who allow me to serve them. So that’s what I live for. Then everything else that’s come around it, of course, I appreciate. I appreciate having a good life and taking care of my wife properly and all those things, but at the same time that’s not the reason we do it.”
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
One of the most unique things about Lisa Bilyeu is her ability to connect with others on a real level. Shetty applauds her for this transparency – it’s not often seen in people at her success level. Bilyeu doesn’t just paint a rosy picture.
The last few years have been extremely painful for the protein powerhouse. Health problems have repeatedly knocked her down. While past Bilyeu would have put on a brave face and tried to hold everything together, she knew that was not an option for her now.
Bilyeu chose to face those problems transparently head on by using what she learned while practicing growth mindset.
“I had to just imagine the impact I could make,” she told Jay Shetty. “I had to realize that to not speak out because I’m being tied up in my own insecurities and ego doesn’t serve the person I want to be and the person I want to be is to impact people. So that’s how I started to start talking about it publicly.”
The results astonished her.
“The more I was talking about it publicly, the more people were like, Oh my God, me too,” she continued. “I started to realize there was comfort in people saying, ‘Wow, even she, who owns a nutrition company, can have health issues.’ And so that just encouraged me even more to talk about it.”
Bilyeu’s honesty has helped create a ripple effect of transparency within her followers.
Mastering Her Story With Jay Shetty
At this stage of her journey, Lisa Bilyeu has been on a wild ride. Through the ups and downs, she has not stopped learning and growing. Jay Shetty believes that mentality played a large part in her success.
“One thing I noticed about you, which I really feel is your superpower, is that you feel that you can learn anything,” Jay Shetty told her. “It seems that you’ve just constantly taught yourself.”
Bilyeu agreed that learning to be better and further herself is what gets her through the rocky times.
“When we started Impact Theory, we’d just come from Quest Nutrition – a billion dollar company,” she told Jay Shetty. “We treated Impact Theory like a startup. I was camera operating. I was figuring out what live switching equipment I needed.”
While it wasn’t exactly her idea of living the dream, it didn’t stop her from digging in and doing the work.
“In those moments, I think about the future,” she told Jay Shetty, “because there are certain things I just don’t enjoy doing, right? And so to get me through those moments, I have to visualize where I’m going to be and where I’m going and actually believe it -, not just say it – but actually believe it.”
“I always said whenever things go wrong and always just like, this is going to make the story better,” agreed Jay Shetty. “Like I always say that to myself because they say if your journey just worked out, it’d be such a boring story to tell.”
Bilyeu is doing something right, and Jay Shetty knows young women around the world will be grateful for her tenacity and transparency.
On Purpose with Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode “The Importance Of Having A Growth Mindset & Keeping Agreements With Your Partner” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.