Embrace the mindset that rules are suggestions. The way something was done before is not how it needs to be done going forward.

Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Carly Bigi.

Carly Bigi, founder of Laws of Motion, a NYC-based AI fit tech startup, is revolutionizing the fashion industry with new technology that creates perfect-fitting apparel using data science and on-demand zero-waste production. Carly was born and raised in Texas with deep roots in the NASA community, and is bringing machine learning technologies and autonomous production capabilities to the forefront of fashion. With a B.S. from Vanderbilt University and an M.B.A from Columbia Business School, Carly learned the fundamentals of corporate strategy and applied those to launching Laws of Motion in 2019.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

I grew up in Houston, Texas with deep roots in the NASA community. Growing up surrounded by engineers empowered me to be curious and view the present as a springboard for what could be possible. As a young child I was inquisitive about how things worked in the world. I was passionate about math and science, quick to question the status quo, and even carried a backpack of tools in case I needed to fix something or build something. I credit this community with anchoring my perspective on success relative to existence and igniting an intrinsic need to relentlessly pursue my purpose in life.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

I used to believe that success was not only the opposite of failure, it was about achieving or being the best. The reality is that success is achieved by experiencing and persevering through failure — that is where true growth and innovation happens.

How has your definition of success changed?

Success is not binary — it’s multidimensional and relative to your reason for existing. All too often we define ourselves by academic and career accomplishments relative to the standards defined by others but only you can define what true success looks like because it’s about your own relentless pursuit of passion and your reason for being. The other aspect that’s changed in my definition of success is the choice we all have in how we view circumstances. We have the choice to see everything that happens as the best possible thing that could happen in that moment. A healthy perspective is foundational to maintaining an equilibrium in how you perceive success — it allows you to accept wins with humility and move past perceived losses with indifference.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

The pandemic provided a powerful perspective on what matters in life. Collectively, we became more aware and grateful, and leaned into optimizing our existence. We organized our homes, spent time on our passions, wore more comfortable clothes, appreciated precious time with loved ones, and even felt grateful to get to go outside. The pandemic opened our eyes to new ways of living and working, and showed us that we could adapt. Imagine if we played that perspective forward as we return to work. What if we chose to optimize our days based on hybrid locations and schedules that align with when we perform best as humans — which is unique to each of us — rather than an antiquated 9–5 requirement? That’s what we’re doing at Laws of Motion. The resulting state of flow is second to none and the sense of community from the days we spend together in-person is something we all look forward to. The concept of optimizing your day based on what you need to be your best self shouldn’t be a revolutionary idea but hey, equal pay shouldn’t be either.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

I think in many ways the pandemic reframed our view on life, brought us together, and made us grateful for things we had grown to take for granted. Businesses ingeniously pivoted their operating models and worked tirelessly to support emergency response efforts, New Yorkers cheered out of their windows daily at 7pm to celebrate healthcare workers changing shifts, and there was a renewed sense of appreciation for hobbies, balance, and wellness.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?”

  • You are your own competition — focus on being the best version of you, not someone else.
  • Tap into your purpose and what excites you, then do more of it.
  • Embrace the mindset that rules are suggestions. The way something was done before is not how it needs to be done going forward.
  • Be a force at whatever you choose to do. How you do anything is how you do everything, and anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • The construct of success is in its own way restrictive to our journey in life. We can choose to view everything that happens as the best possible thing that could occur.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

The background on my phone is a picture of the earth taken from the ISS. It’s a reminder that we’re on a rock in space. We can’t take any of this with us but legacy will live on forever. Changing the definition of success would allow us to zoom out from myopic tendencies and instead focus on leaving the planet — and each other — better than we found one another.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

The biggest obstacle in the way of redefining success is the way we’ve been conditioned to view the world. The mental models we develop at a young age, which are derived by how others define success, are the lens through which we experience life. Having self-awareness and true alignment with your purpose is critical to moving through that.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

Doesn’t everyone talk to themselves when they need expert advice? In all seriousness — I go inward. Intuition is a powerful thing and taking time to get to know and understand yourself is the basis for how you determine what success looks like in your life and why.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

Would love to discuss the future of space suits with Elon on the next pedestrian flight to space. Until that’s lined up, I’m always available to sync with early-stage founders who are on a mission to change the world.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.