Shizu Okusa: From Wall Street to Wellness: How One Entrepreneur Built Empathy Into Her Success

I’ve often said that many entrepreneurs get their business ideas from practicing empathy. From either experiencing a pain point themselves or wanting to solve a pain or provide a benefit to an audience who needs it. Today, we talk to one such start-up entrepreneur, Shizu Okusa, the Founder and CEO of wellness company Apothékary.

Today, Shizu shares her entrepreneurial journey from Wall Street to wellness, and how many of  her leadership and product philosophies are inspired by her Japanese heritage. We discuss why self-awareness is key for founders to be successful for the long haul and specific examples of how Apothékary creates an empathetic culture devoted to her employees’ and customers’ well-being. We discuss the number one reason many leaders can’t embrace empathy – to their own detriment. And Shizu shares how they gather customer feedback as well as how they make remote work more personal and collaborative. Finally, Shizu offers her advice to other leaders and entrepreneurs looking to lead with empathy. 


To access the episode transcript, please click on the episode title at 

Key Takeaways:

  • Self-awareness is key to being an effective leader. You can’t have the space in your brain for empathy, creativity, and listening if you don’t know where you are at. 
  • Rather than having a maximum number of vacation days, consider setting a minimum number of vacation days to support your team and encourage them to take care of themselves. 
  • Empathy is consumer psychology in the business world. It is sometimes seen as a soft skill, but compassion and business success are not mutually exclusive.
  • Surveys are a great way to gather information from your customers, but if you don’t take action on that data, that data is wasted. 


“The CEO’s job is to provide the healthy oxygen for your team to breathe in.” —  Shizu Okusa

Episode References: 

The Empathy Edge podcast episodes referenced:

Brand Story Breakthrough course to help you craft a clear, compelling brand story  – includes weekly office hours with Maria!

About Shizu Okusa, Founder and CEO, Apothékary

Shizu Okusa is a Wall Street alum-turned-wellness entrepreneur. After leaving an intense finance career, she became inspired to live a more balanced lifestyle and revisit her Japanese roots and passion for herbal medicine. Shizu set out to help others regain their holistic health using traditions she grew up with and ones she learned along the way. Now, she proudly leads Apothékary in its mission to deliver natural herbal remedies that get to the root cause of health issues rather than masking the symptoms.

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