Saving Wasted Human Potential: Teaching Confidence With Nada Lena Nasserdeen


Not everyone is raised the same way. The environment in which someone grew up greatly influences who they are. So what happens when people grow up not feeling great about themselves? Nada Lena Nasserdeen, the founder and CEO of Rise Up For You, saw this as the number one tragedy today: wasted human potential. In this episode, she joins Tony Martignetti to talk about the pivotal moments in her life that took her to this realization and how she made it a mission to educate small, medium, and large businesses around the world about success, teaching them the soft skills needed to confidently move in alignment with who they are. She then offers some great advice on how to build confidence, have that self-love, and become unstoppable. After all, in order to create great future leaders, we must first model and show our kids to show up as their best selves.


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Saving Wasted Human Potential: Teaching Confidence With Nada Lena Nasserdeen

It is my honor to introduce you to my guest, Nada Lena Nasserdeen. Nada is a Founder and CEO of Rise Up For You. She's a leadership and career confidence coach. She's been a TEDx motivational speaker. She's also a number one Amazon bestselling author of the book Rise Up For You. Another fun fact, Nada has climbed Mount Fuji in a typhoon, performed in Russia on the stage, and she’s a plant-based eater. Nada, I want to welcome you to the show.

Thank you so much, Tony, for having me. It's an honor to be here.

We're going to have a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to sharing your story and also seeing what it took to get you to this point in your life. You do great things for people. I want to know more about the work you do. What I want to do is uncover your story. The way we do that on the show is we use what's called flashpoints. These are points in your story that have ignited your gifts to the world. The way we do this is I'm going to give you the floor, but I want to make sure that you feel comfortable to share what you're called to share. Along the way, we'll pause and see what shows up. Let's do this. Take it away.

Let's see flashpoints. It started when I was eighteen years old. I started performing. I joined an organization that toured around the world. We did similar to Broadway, singing and dancing musical theater. That was a flashpoint in my life because I recognize that not everybody is raised the same way. You learn that when you're touring in a group of 40 people from around the world, all different singers and performers. You take those 40 people and then you travel for three months together around the world. You learn a lot about each other. You learn a lot about people, their behaviors, their thoughts and how they show up. That was a pivotal moment in my life.

I come from a confident background. My parents always pushed my brothers and me to be confident, put our best foot forward, always be our best selves. If we fall, it's fine. When I started performing, I realized that wasn't the case. I always say that I was the best performer in the room. For eight years, I held that title as the best performer in the organization but I was never the best singer, which is interesting. I never had the best voice. I never had the most technique but yet because of my confidence, I was always the best performer. That was a pivotal point that got me to where I am now, which we'll dive more into. That's the first flashpoint.

We have to be able to empower ourselves so that we can empower our kids or our youth.

How old were you again?

When I was eighteen, I started to pursue music. I got my Bachelor's in Vocal Performance.

It's a lot of pressure to be doing that and to be traveling at that age around the world. That's a big responsibility. It's something to shock your system to be able to go travel around and do that. I can see that puts you out of your comfort zone, but it is something that your family has prepared you for to put you out there.

The next flashpoint is I realized when I was performing that it wasn't singing so much that I enjoyed and performing, but it was empowering and educating people, making an impact. I realized that it's not so much about singing and being on stage but having a platform to make a change. After I got done performing, I came back to California and I pursued my Masters in Executive Leadership. I became an executive for five years for an education corporation. Ironically enough, I saw the same challenge happening. Professionals with PhDs and Masters degrees were struggling with the same challenges as older adults, getting in their own way, sabotaging their success, a lack of confidence, a lack of wellbeing and overall fulfillment in their life.

I had a big problem with this because we were in the education world. What happened is I had a staff of over 200 when I was 27. That's how old I was when I became an executive. I have a staff of 200 principals, administrators, educators that didn't feel great about themselves but they were walking into a classroom everyday, educating our future minds and future citizens. That doesn't work because we have to be able to empower ourselves so that we can empower our kids or our youth. That's where I started to see that this challenge is a large challenge that not only exists in North America, in Canada and America but globally. It's a global tragedy.

The number one tragedy today is wasted human potential.  

I always say that the number one tragedy is wasted human potential. That's what I was seeing in every career that I went into. From there, I could feel that there's something more that I'm meant to do beyond being an executive and the performing part. I built my own company. I built it from scratch. It's called the Rise Up For You. We are an education and motivational company that works with small, medium and large businesses around the world and individuals like yourself. We teach success skills and everything. We call them soft skills as well.

It's not the technical skill that you would go to school for. It's the opposite. It's confidence, emotional intelligence, effective communication, internal motivation, finding meaning in your life and having wellbeing. It's all the things that we don't spend a lot of time building, which they can be learned and built, but yet it's the number one thing that we want in our life. When we ask people what they want, they say, "I want happiness. I want to feel good. I want confidence." We spend 90% of our time hustling in a career that maybe we don't resonate with. Most of us are not in alignment with what we say and what we do. That's what I do now.

I said in the intro that you climbed Mount Fuji. I want to make a correlation between the fact that the things people climb towards in terms of looking for success and happiness. It's about climbing this mountain and realizing that maybe this is not the path that I should be on striving for all these things. In reality, maybe the goal is not what the goal is. I'm hearing that correlation even in what you're saying, which is to say we need to enable people with the right skills and mindset to strive for the right things in their path to creating what they want to create.

Also, making the right decisions for themselves. I always say that if you don't know what your values are and you don't know what you want, then the next sheep herders is going to come along, grab you and you're going to follow them. You have to know what you want, where you want to be and how you're going to get there. The only way that you're going to do that is if you sit with yourself and you keep your peace with yourself. That's not common now. People are scared to do that. They're scared to sit alone with themselves in a room and talk to themselves, listen to their thoughts, reflect or have a conversation with themselves of, "Why am I here? What's working for me and what's not? How do I shift it? What are some things that have affected me in the past that are still affecting me now?" Most individuals are scared to do that deep inner work. In order to get the answers to move forward today, you need to have conversations with yourself about things that have happened in the past. That's important.

That's something that I'm always saying around this. Having conversations with yourself, which is often something that when you say that, they're like, "What are you talking about?” Having a conversation with yourself sounds crazy. In reality, it's the most important thing you can do. It’s to truly say, "What do I believe? Who am I? What do I want to be?" Those are the questions that we often ask and never answer. What I want to reflect on is what were the challenges along in your path that truly helped you to see, "This is what I'm meant to be doing in my life?" I know that you've already talked about a lot of flashpoints. At this point, here you are doing something amazing. You started this company, but I can see that there might have been some points that you still had some struggles.

VCP 75 | Wasted Human Potential

Everyone does. That's something that we forget. A lot of times it's when things happen to us. I always say that people go into two phases. It either breaks you into awakening or it just breaks you. We forget that every single person goes through life and life is not discriminatory. Every single person goes through heartbreak, death, financial challenges. That's inevitable. That's part of life. You asked me what my challenges are. Sometimes people look at me and they think, "She's confident. She had the path pave," but that doesn't prevent life from hitting anybody. When I was an executive, I resigned after five years because I got married and I moved to Canada. I decided to resign from the company. I sold my house. I was making six figures. I sold my car, everything. I moved with two luggage.

After two weeks, my husband decided he didn't want to be married anymore. Imagine that and having all this stuff as a professional, working hard on my education, growing as an executive, and then I take the leap because I know that you can build your career anywhere. Remember that you make the career, it doesn't make you. For me, I'm like, "I'll rebuild." After two weeks, this shocker came to me. I ended up getting back on a plane and I only had $100 because I got rid of everything. I didn't even tell my mom that I was coming back home because I felt embarrassed. I know that parents take tragedy harder when it comes to their kids and the kid itself. I knew that it would totally devastate her.

When I came back, I had two choices. I could either be bitter, upset and all these things, which I still feel my emotions, but the question is how long am I going to let it cripple me from doing anything? I had that realization that maybe this is a sign from God. Maybe this is an opportunity to do the things that I think I want to do, which is to empower people with these skills that are so important for success. I use the skills on myself. When I came back, I'm like, "I lost everything that we think is important in society. I lost all my money. I lost my house. I lost my car. I have two luggage. My health is suffering because of the stress of what just happened. What do I have?"

What are the skills that I have now? Thank God I have a good mind. My mind is still working. Thank God I have my family. I have the ability to do, which I say is confidence. I have confidence in my ability to do and learn. I said, "Rise Up For You. Let's go." I started building my company, which is the title of my book, two weeks after I came back from Canada. Most people don't know that when I first started building my company, three months later my mom was diagnosed with cancer out of nowhere. I had already lost my father. My father died when I was 27 years old. He had six heart attacks. We could talk about that because that has to do with wellbeing. He wasn't a heavy guy. He was a stressed guy. He came to this country with $22 in his pocket from the Middle East. He tried to provide for his family. He had his first heart attack when he was 30. His sixth heart attack when he was 63 took his life.

When I came back from Canada after two weeks, three months later, my second parent is diagnosed with terminal cancer out of nowhere. Most people don't know that the company that I founded was built out of a hospital. I was taking showers at the gym across the street. I was sleeping in the hospital. I didn't want to miss anything that the doctors would say. They said that it would look positive, but nine months later, she passed away. By the time I was 31 years old, I had lost everything from a divorce and both of my parents had died. I was still right in the middle. I was only in year one of building the company.

You make the career; it doesn't make you.

That leads me to now where I say that these skills that I talk about, that's why they're so important because if I didn't practice these skills, I would still be sitting at home somewhere maybe doing whatever I can get my hands on and feeling sorry for myself or maybe blaming God or the universe. It doesn't work that way. You have to look at the gratitude. You have to look at the things that you're grateful for. You have to learn, “What can I learn from this? How do I use my pain as fuel for growth?” That's what I continue to do.

I love the way you turn that around because it's such a powerful way to look at it. Things can be so super dark. When you shared that story, it's amazing how you constantly are able to come from a place of, "This is happening to me. I've turned it around and seen that this is my calling to move this forward and then share the gift to other people." The big takeaway from a lot of this is that your confidence comes from a place of, "What I've learned for me is this thing that I can then pass on and share to others." The gift comes from your experience. That's beautiful.

My philosophy is that I'm not better than anybody else. I approach people with, "If I can do it, why can't you do it?" There's no difference. If I can get through a divorce, only have $100 in my pocket, and lose both of my parents, who were the love of my life before 31, why can't you overcome your circumstance? The answer is you can. You have the power. You're the one who has to make that shift. There are people that are born into traumatic circumstances, which are harder to get through. Individuals that are born in third world countries and they're born in the middle of a war. They have more to break through, but you can still break through. My whole philosophy is that you have to rise up for you, which is the company that I created, so that you can build the past that you want and so that you can help others rise. A lot of people always say, "I want to make an impact." I say, "Make an impact on yourself first and then let's talk about how you can make an impact on others."

The power is in creating your self-leadership so you can lead others. The impact in yourself is what holds you back from being able to be that person you need to be for the outside. It's a great lesson. I love that you brought that here. Tell me more about the journey. Are there any other flashpoints that we haven't talked about? We're making sure we're not leaving anything out.

Those are pivotal flashpoints. There's a lot there. That was it. I would say that another flashpoint is if anyone's building a business out there or maybe starting something new, it's not easy. There's a bunch of little flashpoints like that happened when you start to build something. There's a guy named Steven Furtick who you may or may not be familiar with. He said something that it's not about starting, it's about staying. I believe that. It's easy to start something but it's the individuals that stay that achieve the success. It's about having staying power.

VCP 75 | Wasted Human Potential

There were times when I was building the company and I was losing money. I'm building a company that's supposed to be profitable and I'm losing it. I'm like, "No, I got to stay. I got to keep working. I believe in it. I want it. I'm going to keep going.” You then shift and you move past it. In the next year, you're profitable. In the third year, you're three times that profit. The next year, you're five and then you're a full company that's still scaling, growing, making profit and bringing on team members. It's doing what it needs to do. One thing is having that staying power. Starting power is easy. Staying power is hard.

That's exactly what I was thinking about when I asked about flashpoints. I knew that there was an element of when you start a company, it's not all peaches and roses. There's a lot more to it. It's not the starting, it's the staying. I love the way you described that. The first few years can be trying but you have to come back to that base of, why did I start in the first place? What are the things that make me who I am? It's so amazing that things have turned out the way they are and continue to be a challenge. I know that this is not an easy road for many people.

It's not. Even for myself, I always remind myself to stay grounded, have gratitude because I still have a lot of life to live. A lot of life has pros and cons. There are ups to downs. It's understanding that.

At this point in your life, when you look back, what are the key lessons that you feel like people need to hear beyond what you've already shared? What are the things that you want to make sure that people learn about your journey?

It's gratitude. That's the first thing. You always have to have gratitude. I encourage in everything that happens. Even when you feel like this is the worst situation you can be in, flip the switch to gratitude. That's exactly what I did with myself when I came back from Canada. I was like, "What do I have? Let's talk about the things that I have that I'm thankful for. I have my mind. I have my health. I have my brothers and my mom. I have my confidence." That's a lot. You can work with a lot. It's always remembering to be thankful. When I wake up in the morning, I thank God I get to see another day. When I go to bed at night, I thank God that I made it through another day. Those kinds of things can keep you grounded and humble in alignment with life. That's the first thing.

You have to rise up for yourself so that you can build the past that you want and help others rise as well. 

The second thing that I would say is that you have to believe in yourself. There's no way around it. There are a lot of people that say, "I believe in myself," but their actions don't correlate. I see individuals say, "I believe in myself," but then they don't apply for the promotion they want. "I believe in myself," but they don't open the company or the passion project that they've been dreaming about for years. "I believe in myself but I stay in a relationship that's toxic and harmful for me. I believe in myself, but I put myself down." They are not in alignment. It's doing that work so that you can get to the point where you feel enough. When you feel enough, confident and you have that self-love, then you become unstoppable because everything that you do, even if you don't do it well, it doesn't matter because it's a learning lesson for you. You're able to see that.

That insight is powerful. Hearing you describe that build off of believing in yourself and seeing in yourself, I totally agree. Many people walk around and saying, "I think I believe in myself, but not really." Their actions are not congruent with what they say. That's what we need to have people wake up to is to see that you have to believe in yourself.

I don't think I know. It's the comparison consumption game that we have now. There are too many of us that are comparing ourselves to other people. We're taking in consumption from social media, the news, other people that we think we need to be. We think we should be this way. We think we should act this way. We think we should be at this level of success. That gets in the way of who we fundamentally are and who we want to be. It's being able to break down that consumption and that comparison mindset so that you can gain clarity with yourself. There's no way you're going to be able to gain clarity and love yourself when you're comparing yourself to other people, when you are consuming things that are telling you to be a certain way. Maybe you don't want to do that, but you do it anyway.

I talked with a lot of my clients that are influencers. They're in this game. They say, "I don't want to post a picture of myself in a bikini but when I do, I get 5,000 likes. When I post a motivational quote that's more me, I get 100." I say, "It doesn't matter. The challenge here is that you're obsessed with these 5,000 likes and so therefore, you're going to do something out of alignment so you can get the likes." Stay in alignment, continue to stay in integrity with your values and core, it will serve you. You have to be patient. Too many of us are doing the opposite. We're doing things that don't fit us so that we can get the likes or we can get the job promotion or we can get elevated in our career even if it means that we're not showing up at our best and we're losing our integrity.

I love what you're bringing here because this is an element of comparing yourself to your own self, “Am I better than I was yesterday” versus comparing yourself to others. When you first started getting into this field, it was about children. For children at a young age, it's hard because there's so much pressure to be like everyone else, “If I can't be the best, if I can't be like this one, then why bother?” I see this in my kids and in other people's kids. There's this element of wanting to be perfect. It becomes like that as adults. We have to start programming ourselves to see that it's all about comparing yourself to yourself, “Am I better than I was yesterday?” That's your message. You're right on point with that. I love that you're doing this work. 

VCP 75 | Wasted Human Potential

That's one of the core reasons why I built Rise Up For You. We work with adults. We work with companies. When we have kids that have certain behaviors, I always say, "Let's look at the household. Let's look at the parents. Let's look at what they're around, their school, kids, social media." Kids learn things from their surroundings. That's part of the reason why I built the company. One of my original intentions was we got to save these kids. The only way we're going to be able to save kids and our future generation is by starting at the top. Who's the one modeling and teaching? That's why when I was in education and I was seeing all these incredible teachers that were in classroom but were not showing up as their best for these 1st graders or these 12th graders, I'm like, "They're going to take that and they're going to carry that and we don't want that."

I've walked in jails. I've taught kids around the world that are in jail serving lifetime sentences in their 12, a 12-year-old committed murder, 13-year-old killed his mom, a 15-year-old killed another 15-year-old. You're not born with that. You learn to be that way. You're a product of your environment. That was one main reason why I started Rise Up For You and I wanted to start from the top. That's a deep reason that I don't share a lot because when I go in and I work with a company, I don't say, "I'm working with you so that we don't create more young adults that are incarcerated." That is what it comes down to. It’s that fundamental understanding that as adults, we make a huge impact on everybody that's around us, including the younger generation. As companies and corporations, we have a social responsibility to also foster that same culture, positivity, positive leadership, confidence and emotional intelligence because it all trickles down. That's a key component.

It’s amazing the ripple effect of impact that you have when you start to impact people from the top. When I say top, it's leadership. It's not just about, "How can I impact the people around my company?" It goes right down to the children in these families and seeing how they see their parents bring themselves to work, bring themselves to life. I can see that's where this comes from. It's not poisoning the well. It's about making it a healthy, vibrant fountain that feeds everyone with the right attitude towards life.

It's going to take a long time, but it is circular. That's where we need to start. If we all do our work now as adults, as professionals, as individuals and we work hard, then in 30 years, we might have a more positive impact. We might have a more positive world because those years we cultivated that kindness, humanity and confidence with the younger generation, now they're the ones that are leading.

Is there anything else that you want to share before that you're dying to get out into the world? I know there are so many things that you've already shared, but I want to give you a chance to share any last thoughts.

Everything that you do, even if you don't do it well, doesn't matter because it's a learning lesson for you.

I like to reiterate what I said about tragedy. For me, the greatest tragedy is wasted human potential. That doesn't need to be your story. Don't let that be your story. Use everything you have, use it well and use it with kindness.

I have one last question for you. It has to do with something unrelated to what we've been talking about, but I always ask it on the show. What is one book or books that have had impacted on you in your life?

There are two books that are top of mind for me. The first one is A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It's an amazing book. If you haven't read it, I highly encouraged it. It talks about the ego and detaching yourself from the external things. It's served me well. The second thing that's made a huge impact honestly is my book, the one that I wrote. The reason why it's made the most impact is because I had to get deep in order to write it. I had to have self-therapy. That's what it is. It's a therapeutic experience. It took me two years to write. There are many times where I sat and wrote it, floods of tears and crying. I moved through the chapter. I get through the next chapter. I go back and I cry. It's a big process. The book that I launched that came out on February of 2021, I would say that along with A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle have made the most impact on me.

It is a therapeutic process of writing a book. It's an opening of a dialogue with other people. People read it. Your books were written and printed but it starts to open up a dialogue where people read it and then they reach out to you. You start talking to them. You start to think about new things. It starts to come out of you. As a process, it's beautiful that you have that. Thank you for sharing that.

Thank you.

I have to thank you so much for coming on the show. It was so beautiful. What you've shared has been amazing, so many great insights. I know people are going to want to find out more about the work you do. I'd love to be able to share how they can find you.

Thank you so much. I always say Rise Up For You, completely spelled out. We’re everywhere. You can go to You can go to Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook @RiseUpForYou. You can personally reach out to me on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook as well, @Nada Lena. I always love to offer value and a free gift. If you're okay, Tony, I have a free gift that's all about confidence and taking yourself to the next level by doing these practices that can help you. I'm about strategy and tangibility. I'd love to offer everybody a free confidence kit. It's called Let's Go Confidence. It's fifteen pages of strategy that they can start to implement that can help them be their best.

People are going to get so much out of this. It's so generous of you.

Thank you.

I want to thank you so much for coming on. I want to thank the readers for coming on the journey with us. This has been a great time together with you.

Thank you, Tony.

Thank you.

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About Nada Lena Nasserdeen

VCP 75 | Wasted Human PotentialNada Lena is the founder and CEO of Rise Up For You, Leadership and Career Confidence Coach, and TEDx Motivational Speaker.

With over 10 years of experience as a college professor and former top executive for an education corporation, Nada understands the importance of fusing education, empowerment, and leadership together as she works with her clients and speaks to audiences worldwide. She has toured the world as a singer, has a Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership, and has coached and mentored close to 50,000 individuals around the world on self-empowerment, career strategy, and soft skills.

Nada has been featured on hundreds of podcasts and radio shows and has also been a motivational and educational speaker on platforms such as TEDx Talks, The Female Quotient, The California Human Resources Conference, Wonder Women Tech, The Human Gathering and more. Her company, Rise Up For You has been featured and worked with brands such as CBS, LA Fitness, Google Next 19, and more.

Nada is a proud TEDx Women speaker, Best Selling Author on Amazon, has been awarded the Chief's Award from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, is a three-time finalist for The Emerging Woman-Owned Business Award, and was most recently awarded the 40 Under 40 Award for Orange County Professionals in 2020.

Nada believes that in order to create change within our communities, companies, and households, we must first create change within ourselves. It’s a collective effort needed from all parties; no company, adult, or young adult can be left behind. The world needs us at our best!

For your convenience, you can contact Nada at


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