Welcome back to another episode of The Side Hustle Club Podcast (now Thought Leader Club Podcast).
What you just heard was a congratulatory message from the Asian American Podcasters Association, who is the host of the Golden Crane Awards. This year’s Golden Crane Awards is sponsored by Listen Notes and PodBean.
And this year, in 2023, The Side Hustle Club Podcast (now Thought Leader Club Podcast) has been nominated for an award! It is an absolute dream and an honor to be a nominee this year.
Here’s what’s happening in this episode, which is going to be Part 1 of a 2-part series.
First, I want to share my experiences with the nomination process, and my thought processes leading up to the event. Because trust me, I had a lot of mind drama before the event.
I’ll also share some fun behind the scenes as I was preparing for the actual awards ceremony event, which was hosted in New York on August 30.
Then, in the next episode, Episode 138: The 2023 Golden Crane Awards for Asian Podcasters (Part 2), I’ll share the entire experience of the night and what went down.
Finally, I’ll share some of my post-event musings, as well as some thoughts I’d like to offer anyone whose dream is to become known for their own podcast too.
From my understanding, there’s two ways you can be nominated.
First, is to have someone else nominate your show.
Second, is to nominate your own show.
I opted for the latter route.
The process was simple: There was an in-depth application form that you had to fill out, which includes typical questions like what is your show about as well as more specific ones such as what challenges you might have faced during your journey as a podcaster.
As I was preparing for this episode, I wanted to look back at the official nomination form so I can provide more accurate details about the self-nomination process, but it seems the Association has since then hidden that page until they run the awards again next year. So I will share what I remember anecdotally.
After you submit your application form, what happens then is that there’s a panel of judges from the Asian American Podcasters Association who will then review one specific podcast episode from your show. You get to indicate which specific episode you’d like to have reviewed during the application form.
The specific episode I submitted for review was Episode 109 of the Side Hustle Club Podcast: The Art and Science of Growing Your Coaching Business. I was actually deciding between this episode and also Episode 83: What My Non-Entrepreneur Parents Taught Me That Made Me a Better Entrepreneur.
I was considering these two because both episodes contained stories or experiences that are highly personal and meaningful to me. I felt like they were both a solid reflection of my perspectives and how I view building a business, notions of success, and my values as well.
But I ultimately chose Episode 109: The Art and Science of Growing Your Coaching Business simply because it was a more recent episode.
If your show is selected to be an official nominee for the Golden Crane Awards, what then happens, from my understanding, is that the panel of judges will review more episodes on your show. But this time the judges are the ones choosing which episodes to listen to.
After I submitted my self-nomination application around the second or third week of July, I honestly didn’t particularly have much thoughts or expectations.
Although I am undeniably proud of the work I do on this podcast, like most people, I didn’t necessarily see my show as an award-winning podcast.
Because, in my mind, only the top 1% of podcasters are worthy of being award-winning. Maybe I’m just, top 25% at best.
That’s why when I got an email on August 14 that informed me that The Side Hustle Club Podcast (now Thought Leader Club) has now been officially named as a Nominee for the 2023 Golden Crane Awards, I was genuinely shocked.
And you know you’re really shocked when you don’t even think you deserve to go to the in-person awards ceremony. It took me a good 5 days before deciding yes, I will be attending the event in person.
As many of you may know, I’m currently based in Singapore. In the month of August, I was actually visiting Vancouver as well as San Francisco. My original plan was to leave North America on August 25 and go back to Singapore by August 27.
Much to my dismay, my flight tickets would not permit for any refunds or changes, even if it’s for a fee. We tried calling the airline as well, but to no avail.
Initially, I was just like, okay, you know, maybe it’s best I just attend the event virtually (since there is a virtual attendance option) because it’s unlikely I’ll win anyway.
But when I took a deep breath and asked myself, “Do you want to go to the event, Cheryl?” My response was a resounding, “Yes, I do want to go.”
Why? Because it was the first time where I created something purely of my own, versus back when I was younger, I got awards for checking boxes. To be recognized for something I created, purely by myself, I was really, really proud to be nominated.
I can only imagine that this award will only get bigger and bigger and more recognized with each iteration. So, it is 100% an honor to be nominated.
Then my brain, naturally, was giving me a lot of resistance towards the lost costs and how much money I was already spending in the month of August because I was traveling.
For example, my brain definitely was not pleased that if I do choose to go to New York, that means I’d have to entirely forgo my original plane ticket from Vancouver to Singapore, and book a brand new flight from Vancouver to New York, and New York to Singapore. That in itself was already a bit of resistance for me.
To top it off, what about the other smaller costs involved with going to New York? For instance, I would need accommodation in New York. I’d need an outfit because it’s a black tie event and I sure as heck didn’t bring anything appropriate for the event for my August vacation. I didn’t have anything appropriate either even back in Singapore, so I would need to buy a new outfit. Also, if I were to go, I had to redo my lashes and hair as well.
My brain was really pushing back by telling me, “Cheryl, you’re nowhere even close to your income goal for the year. How dare you even think about spending more money, on top of the money you’ve spent this month for your 3 week vacation to see family and friends overseas?”
Given the direction of the conversations I was having with myself, it was safe to say that if I had continued to wallow in my own thoughts, I 99% would not have gone to New York.
Luckily, I was chatting with my close friend Ruby about my thought processes and hesitations. She offered me a highly profound perspective which shifted everything for me.
She said, “I invite you to future cast to Cheryl 3 years from now. You legit manifested this opportunity. You were telling me you wanted to go on stage, you wanted awards, you wanted the recognition for what you created. The universe is giving you exactly what you asked for. Are you going to meet it halfway? You, 3 years from now, are not going to care about the extra money you spent for this trip.”
And oh my goodness. I wanted to cry when I read her messages. This opportunity was exactly everything I had only dreamed of, and now I’m so, SO close to it. Am I going to meet this opportunity halfway?
With that, I made my decision and told my husband I won’t be returning back to Singapore with him.
That said, I want to unpack a bit more about what was going through my mind before I decided that I will go to the awards ceremony.
Quickly looping back to the money conversation, here’s what I realized.
Even if my brain isn’t happy with my current money situation and it’s trying really really hard to convince me to be rational and practical, I had to:
1) be objective about whether I CAN afford to go on this trip, which means actually calmly looking at my bank account and assessing that yes, I CAN go on this trip and pay for the relevant costs should I decide to move forward with going to New York.
2) I then also opened myself to the possibilities of what I CAN create.
And, I want to expand particularly on the second bit.
First, when it comes to expanding into the version of myself who creates opportunities and resources for myself, I first had to acknowledge that by stepping into the version of myself who gets on stage, who creates worldwide recognition for my work, that decision in itself is undeniably shaking something within me.
Simply put, this is an identity that I was stepping into by deciding to go to New York.
Second, I’m committed to making the money back. Whether it be through the vehicle of my business, through a more traditional job, or all the other possible ways of making money.
I’m willing to embrace my entrepreneurial spirit and go into problem solving mode so I can not only make back the immediate costs involved, but also, build my overall wealth.
Also, I know exactly why I haven’t been hitting my business income goals this year. I may share more about this in a future episode sometime down the line. But for now, I actually already am aware of my own gaps when it comes to my business and my identity as an entrepreneur.
Now the question no longer is, “How on earth will I continue growing my business?”
Rather, the question is, “Cheryl, are you committed to growing yourself as an entrepreneur and stop avoiding what you know needs to be worked on in your business?”
Third, making friends at the event is such a wonderful reason to go to the event. Not only that, some of these connections may potentially lead to future collaborations or even being invited as a guest on awesome podcasts.
Seriously. The people I’ve met along the way since starting my business and brand in 2019 is truly what makes this journey worth it. When I think about the potential relationships and networks I’d create from this experience, even if it’s just one human, that in itself was a huge selling point for me.
Fourth and finally, what if I do win an award? If I do win, I’ll be honest. Future Cheryl would NOT be pleased with current day Cheryl if she was accepting the award virtually as opposed to accepting it in person.
The issue isn’t even whether or not I win. But it’s about why I didn’t try at all? Why did I give up on this dream without even trying? That is not a scenario I want to go through if I do end up winning an award on August 30.
Needless to say, I was able to generate some pretty compelling reasons why I should go to the awards ceremony, after I neutrally assessed the situation and my capacity to go.
This was still just the first layer to peel back.
Turns out, there was another deeply rooted layer I needed to look at as well.
Did I deserve this nomination? Do I deserve to even go to New York?
After I was able to take a step back and see that, of course I should go! There’s so many positive reasons to go and I was in a situation where I had the privilege as well as resources to make this trip work.
Even despite being able to objectively name the reasons why it’s completely feasible to attend the event, my brain still hesitated. The reason was clear as day to me. It was because there’s a fear deep inside me that was genuinely worried that I wasn’t deserving of the nomination, let alone potentially winning the award.
I secretly had a voice telling me that I didn’t deserve to go to New York.
If anyone were to ask me to explain why I felt that way, I don’t think I can exactly articulate it into words. But I’m sure many of you might be able to relate to why I was feeling.
It’s like, logically, you know you must have done good work to even be nominated, but you just feel unqualified. Undeserving. Not good enough. I suppose the term to describe what I was feeling is imposter syndrome. But the way I’d describe it is that I simply didn’t feel good enough.
To be honest, I’m someone who is able to feel the fear, or feel the anxiety, or feel the not-good enough-ness, and still take action and do the damn thing.
Normally, I’d also be relatively quick to coach myself out of thought spirals. However, in this particular scenario where I was deciding whether I should go to New York or not, it wasn’t my own self-coaching or specific action-taking that helped.
It was actually a conversation with my parents that helped me remember that even with all of the intense thoughts my brain was giving me, I still do deserve to at least go to New York and have an experience of a lifetime.
When I shared with my parents about my nomination and how there’s going to be a virtual attendance option open to the public, both of my parents said they wanted to attend.
That was honestly a surprise to me. I remember being immediately overwhelmed with emotions because this just clearly shows to me how much they want to support what I do today. Which stands in stark contrast to years ago, when I first quit law school.
Looking back, quitting law school wasn’t really that long ago. It’s only been 5 or 6 years at this point.
But when I compare how my parents support my career decisions from 2018 versus today, the differences are literally lightyears apart.
In 2018, they were undeniably disappointed in me. They were angry. Oh they were furious. Perhaps even confused and hurt as parents. Sometimes I wonder if they ever blamed themselves for my decision to quit law school. They were very, very, VERY unsupportive of my decision.
And since 2018, they’ve seen me take responsibility for my own career and life. They saw me work relentlessly in different things, such as research, running my own online coaching business, as well as several miscellaneous gigs that I tried out over the years. I never complained to them, and I think with time, they started to quietly support me.
That’s why when I first told them about the nomination and they expressed wanting to attend the livestream, I was just in amazement and feeling so much gratitude.
But oh my goodness, my silly ass brain had the audacity to follow up by saying .“But you know, of course, there’s a chance I won’t win.” To which my mother literally responded with, “You had already won in your parents hearts.”
Reading that message was a feeling like no other.
My parents were so proud of me despite not really having a clear understanding of what a podcast even is or *really* understanding what I do. In their minds, I’m still that super quiet kid who never talked.
My dad would always say, honestly I don’t know how you now talk for a living because you never talk.
My mom even asked me, so, this award, is it like an Oscars in your field? And I was like, I suppose you can look at it that way! Because to me, it truly was that big of a deal!
Knowing that my parents were so excited for me during the days leading up to the event, I was feeling a combination of nervousness and excitement.
On one hand, I didn’t want to disappoint my parents or even have them attend the virtual livestream in the event that I did not win. But on the other hand, having them back me, no matter what, reignited something in me.
The first thing that this whole experience with being nominated reignited for me was remembering that, “Hey Cheryl, you do good work in this world.”
Because the truth is, there are so many days when I wonder if I should still be a coach. Should I still be creating content? Is what I’m doing or saying even helping anyone? Do my clients even like working with me? Do they even like me?
I’ll admit that these are often the thoughts that come up for me.
For those of you who are also building a body of work, whether it be Instagram content or maybe you have your own podcast as well, you probably also experience a lot more invalidation than validation.
For example, how often do you get someone reaching out to you and thank you for your content? For me, at least, it’s not very often.
But whenever I do get a message or comment like this, it means the absolute world to me.
That’s precisely what this nomination feels like. It feels like the validation I was secretly yearning for, but didn’t dare to even think was possible.
I know that in most cases, we aren’t going to get nominated for awards for our content. We aren’t going to be validated by our audiences. We probably won’t even get the social media engagement or podcast analytics we secretly hope for.
The experience as a content creator can be very quiet. It can often feel like you’re creating so wholeheartedly, only to get silence in return.
Here’s what I want to say to anyone who might be feeling this way. If you want to build a body of work, a community, or just something that’s recognized, you have to BE a leader who creates something that others actually want to be a part of.
The more deeply you embody your message or vision, the more leadership you exude. Likewise, the more leadership you exude, the more your people trust you and hence choose to follow you and your message.
This is exactly what thought leadership requires. It requires you to be willing to go first. To be willing to say it first. To be willing to fail and fall first. To be willing to get up first.
To be willing to keep going even when there’s no external validation, simply because you believe in what you are doing or saying.
It requires being willing to keep figuring out how to share your message from different angles and provide different examples until it lands with your people.
Remember: You are doing good work. Your work has meaning not just to you, but also to your people.
You are doing something good in this world.
So please, keep going.
The second thing was that this experience reminded me of why I started The Side Hustle Club Podcast (now Thought Leader Club) in the first place, and why I’ve continued to do what I do for the past several years.
My mission with The Side Hustle Club Podcast (now Thought Leader Club) is to help more individuals create a business, career, and life that they are proud of.
Creating a successful side hustle is a lifelong SKILL that I believe all of us should have. It lets you create more options while being able to do work that you’re truly proud of and excited by. The way I phrased these sentences evolved over time, but the essence of it has always shined brightly and clearly.
For those who are familiar with my story, you’d likely know that building a business, building a brand and ultimately becoming known for something. It has helped shape me into who I am today.
For quick context: I quit law school in 2018 much to the disappointment of my Asian parents. But over the years, they saw me take ownership of my life and career by starting my own side hustle (a coaching business) and putting in the work to figure out what I truly want to do in this world.
Ultimately, I fell in love with entrepreneurship as well as research.
In 2020, I started my PhD and continued to grow my coaching business on the side. But during this time, my partner and I were separated for nearly two years as a long-distance couple.
In 2022, I decided to quit my PhD, move to Singapore and settle down with my now-husband, and become a full-time entrepreneur.
In a nutshell, building a profitable and impactful side hustle has not only given me career options when I needed them the most, but it also allowed me to build a business, career, and life that I’m deeply proud of. This is what I hope to help more people do through The Side Hustle Club Podcast (now Thought Leader Club).
All that to say, I hope that for anyone here who’s also building something of your own, my sincere wish is that what you’re doing holds meaning to you. I hope that whatever you’re doing, you’re proud of what you do and who you’re becoming during the process.
I’m sure that you’ve gone through your own experiences which led you to now do what you do. I know that you have a story that drives your commitment to what you do.
So, please, always constantly ground back to this and keep going.
Third and finally, being nominated also reminded me of the 3 core principles that The Side Hustle Club Podcast (now Thought Leader Club) is centered around:
1) Oftentimes, creating a life, career, or business that you’re proud of is not what others expect of or want from you. This means you have to stand firm when pursuing what you truly believe in and always take full responsibility for your decisions and actions.
2) It is okay if people don’t support you or your work in the beginning. Stay committed to your vision and goals.
3) Creating your dream life, career, and business is a choice you have to make. There’s no right or wrong. Just make a decision and move forward!
I hope that by aligning each episode with these values, you will gain the courage to make your own decisions and confidently take your next big move forward in your journey as an entrepreneur!
One last thing, with regards to preparing for the event, I got a simple and elegant floor length dress, and it’s in a light gray. But honestly, it looks a bit lavender colored in some lighting. I also got my lashes redone and dyed my hair darker as well. That essentially concludes everything that happened before the event itself 🙂
Thank you so much for tuning into today’s episode, and I’ll see you in the next one for Part 2 of this 2-part series.
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