HGTV Host Lisa Colalillo, Artsci'02, To Speak At Toronto Branch Event

Who wants to be a millionaire? If the answer is you, then attend the QUAA Toronto Branch talk with Queen’s alumna Lisa Colalillo, Artsci’02, on Feb. 4.

Lisa ColalilloThe Life Sciences grad is the host of HGTV’s Critical Listing. She is also launching a new web series The First Million that talks to successful business people on how they made their fortunes. 

Lisa, a real estate and investing expert, can offer a few tips of her own about how to lead a successful and happy life. She was a hard working businesswoman who was not happy despite her financial success. She decided to change and focus more and family and friends and is now much happier with the direction of her life.

Lisa took time out to answer some questions about her life at Queen’s, how she managed to find happiness, and dancing in the 2003 Jessica Alba movie Honey.

Q: How did your time at Queen’s prepare you for life in the world of real estate and investing?

A: You know, it seems to me like all our life's experiences prepare us in some way for what lies ahead, because when you look back, life often makes much more sense than when you're going through it. When I came to Queen’s, I was 18 years old and didn't know a single person. Most kids from my high school wouldn't have even thought to go away from home for university. So until then, what I was exposed to was pretty limited. What I got was a whole new world. New people and networks, new ways of thinking. What I remember most are the conversations and connections I made. For me, it was the first time I found people that were so interesting. They wanted to learn, grow, had multiple interests, and the conversations were always so rich. Queen’s gave me the spark to expand my thinking and leap into the unknown. That's something I took with me into my career and life. 

Q: Tell us your story – you were a hard-working businesswoman who had little time for friends and family and were not very happy. You decided to change your life around and take your career in a new direction. What happened and how did you do it?

A: I got into business because I wanted to build something that would provide a great life for me and my future family. But it got to the point where the business became not just everything but the only thing in my life. Work, sleep, repeat. I didn't make time for anything else. I even missed many family memories. One time I left a wedding after the first antipasto dish to do a deal. It was a very one dimensional, flat life. And even though I was making money, I was always frickin' miserable. So I pulled a U-turn on my life and started doing things much differently. I made relationships the priority and started learning about money. Deepening relationships made my life more fulfilling and learning about money helped me to create enough passive income to support my living expenses. Once the stress of paying bills was removed, a funny thing happened. My business grew. The desperation for money was gone, I became a better businesswoman, and I wasn't frickin' miserable. Understanding how to best use money was a game changer for me. And then I realized people aren't talking about it – not schools, not families. It's more taboo to ask people about money than sex. Crazy! I'm doing my part to change that, I started Lisa in the City TV which is free and has totally fun money tips, plus I offer an online course teaching people about money and how to set themselves up. I want to create a community and place at where people can learn and talk about money.

Q: You were part of the choir in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, performed as back up dancer to Canadian and American music artists, and danced in the 2003 movie Honey. Have you always been involved in dance and are you still dancing?

A:How did you know that?! Who've you been talking too? Truthfully, even while at Queen's I got involved with the dance club and a few other dance groups on campus. I just love it. Throw on a song right now and I'll probably start waving my hands in the air. I've always said, if you're at a party and want to find the fun people, go to the dance floor. They're always there! It's not just dance though, I love artistry. For me, artistry is about being passionate. Whether it’s your business, your relationships, a project, health, whatever. It's living life "all in" without reservations. My first experience of letting go was in performance and dance, which is why I love it so much. But now I recreate that same feeling in all areas of my life.

Q: How did you land your job as host of HGTV’s Critical Listing?

A:So, this is actually kind of serendipitous. But back in 2010, a friend and I created a few YouTube videos that have been floating around. Then in 2013 I got a call at my office from a casting director who'd seen those videos. She said she'd almost fell off her chair laughing and wondered if I wanted to audition for a pilot show for HGTV. I said "Hell ya.” Then after an audition process that made me feel like I was on American Idol, I finally got the job.

Q: You are launching a new web series The First Million that interviews millionaire entrepreneurs on how they made their money. Can you share some of the best tips you have learned so far?

A: Well you should come to the Spoke Club to find out all the best tips, but what I'll tell you is this...I interviewed Todd Herman who is not only a millionaire but a peak performance coach for many professional athletes (and a few billionaires). What he told me is that the difference between highly successful people and those who don't make it, is only a 1 percent difference. It's in the 1 percent. So it's not that millionaires or successful people have some sort of secret magic that prevails all....but they do the same things slightly different which over time creates exponential results. So it could be while most people get up in the morning and plan out what their tasks will be for the day. Highly successful people will plan the night before so that as soon as they wake up they have a jump start.

HGTV host Lisa Colalillo will talk about how to make money grow and work for you during her QUAA Toronto Branch talk on Feb. 4 at the Spoke Club on Kingston Street West. Please register online by Feb. 3.