Monday Motivation with Tina Gong, Founder of Labyrinthos Academy

#PEAlum, Advice, female founders, Monday Motivation

Mondays can be rough, and sometimes we can use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.

Helping to get us feeling motivated today is Tina Gong, Founder of Labyrinthos Academy, an online tarot school that aims to bring the ancient ritual of tarot for a modern practice. Tina discusses pushing through feelings of self-doubt, why you should say ‘yes’ to new opportunities, and why alpacas are so motivating.

What inspired you to start your business?

When I started working with tarot, I was in a dark part of my life. Although I had read the cards when I was much younger (I started in my pre-teens), I’d never really understood how they worked or the wealth of insight they could bring. When I came around to reading for myself again, I learned to use tarot in a way that was not about fortune telling, but rather as a tool to help me articulate narratives about my life that I couldn’t before. Tarot is like a mirror—it reflects back to us what we see in ourselves. Labyrinthos Academy was an experience where the process of creating something, of building something, helped me heal, and I hope that it helps others discover healing too.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

My biggest challenges have always been the internal ones—the inner dialogues that ask, “What happens when you fail?”, or “Is this the right choice? What happens if I’ve made the wrong one?”. They really make me second-guess my decisions and put me into a “paralysis.” I’m still struggling with it—occasionally, when great stuff happens, I still ask myself, “Do I really deserve this? Did I work as hard as everyone else worked? Will people know I’m not sure what I’m doing?” It’s a never-ending battle; a lot of the progress I’ve made is because I actively pushed through a period of deep discomfort. [Now] I definitely feel nothing is as scary, confusing or frustrating as the scenarios that I create in my mind.

What’s been the greatest reward?

I think as an artist foremost, it’s been surreal to see others work with and use the work that I’ve created. Every time I see someone use Instagram to share a beautiful photo of the decks I’ve made, I’m always stunned! The thoughtfulness that goes into all of those images, which are usually images of their readings, is something I never thought I would experience. Occasionally I get emails from users that are so touching, I could cry! And finally, I came from a family that looked down on artists and felt like art was never a way to make a living. A few years ago I never would have dared to do something so “brash.” It’s still a bit surreal to me that I am able to do this.

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?

I think the biggest thing that is harmful in the tarot / spirituality world is the belief in foretelling one’s future with the cards. I know this will sound a bit snobby to some other readers, but I think magic, witchcraft, tarot are all psychological tools that utilize very deep subconscious drives and symbols. For example, in rituals, we may “cast” on a photograph of a person, but what we’re really acting on is how our mind sees this person—our internal relationship to this person. It is through [these rituals] that I can learn to forgive [or]move on. I think it’s harmful to give readings or cast for others without letting them understand this. [Otherwise], it is to pull the wool over someone’s eyes and be dishonest. A lot of the lessons we cover in the Labyrinthos app are focused on self-understanding, and I think more and more, this is the direction that tarot and ritual are heading.

Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?

The knowledge [that my work is] all in the service of learning, so things are supposed to be tough! Also, a loving and supportive partner—the poor man has to hear about it every tiny stressful thing all the time and somehow still manages to be kind and patient. He’s a saint! Oh, and cute alpaca stuffed animals—is that weird?

Can you provide a few updates on what’s new with your business or what you’ve accomplished since you attended the PE Intensive in April 2017?

I’ve launched a new deck plus companion app, just completed the artwork for another [deck], I’ve hired an assistant, spoken at a design conference about tarot, magic, and ritual, and I was recently interviewed on CBS about my experience building this company from a side project. I had done an interview a long time ago about Labyrinthos Academy with author Chris Guillebeau, and CBS reached out to me after they did a piece on his work on side hustles. One thing I’ve learned while working on Labyrinthos and various other projects is that every opportunity that you say ‘yes’ to or pursue has a compounding effect—they always lead you to something else down the road. Things don’t always stick, but when they do, it’s powerful. There’s a snowball effect there.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?

I think I covered this before, but it’s super important, so I’ll say it again: nothing is as scary, confusing or frustrating as the scenarios that you create in your mind. The things you think you’ll be judged for, most people will likely not even notice.

What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?

Read the tarot! It’s a good way of checking in with myself—how I’m feeling, what I’m scared of, what I can be grateful for, and what can I focus on.


For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with InVibed co-founders Dani Pascarella, CEO, and Korrie Martinez, CCO. InVibed helps young professionals improve their financial situations through financial technology and media. Dani and Korrie discuss the challenges of receiving too much “good” advice, the importance of knowing when to pivot, and the Monday morning routine that motivates them to attack the week ahead.