When this episode is released, Father’s Day 2022 would have just passed the day before. To celebrate, I would love to dedicate this episode to my amazing dad, and also my amazing mom, and share how the lessons I learned from them over the years have helped me become a better entrepreneur.
Neither of my parents would consider themselves entrepreneurs. They don’t have a business and they actually still to this day think of my business as something that’s unstable, despite me being in this space for 3+ years.
So, even though they’re supportive of what I do and they are amazed that I’m able to offer a paid service to people all around the world, their conceptualization of my business is still something “not stable” and I can always go back to research and/or academia or get a job if I want.
But even though my parents and I may hold different viewpoints about my career as a coach and entrepreneur, I secretly think that both of my parents exhibit very entrepreneurial characteristics.
Throughout my life, they’ve unknowingly instilled in me different characteristics or values that have actually helped me be a better entrepreneur.
First, let’s start with my dad. If I had to describe him in one word, the one word would be hard working. Being hard working and having a work ethic is the characteristic he values the most. Not just in himself, but in others as well.
For as long as I can remember, my dad would always paint the narrative of how hard work always trumps talent or having advantageous circumstances. Because for him, his work ethic was what got him out of very, very, very humble beginnings.
Before I move forward , I want to quickly add that because my dad is an extremely private person and he has literally no social media or Internet presence, I will respect his privacy and not talk much about what he’s up to these days.
That said, I would love to share the lessons I’ve learned from him, told from my own perspective.
So, my dad grew up poor. My paternal grandfather worked in a glass factory as a worker and my grandmother was a seamstress. Neither of them had an education. And my dad, as the eldest of three siblings, had a lot of weight on his shoulders since a very young age.
When my dad talks about his school days, he would always say that he wasn’t exactly smart, but he knew how to work hard and study hard.
After finishing his primary and secondary school years in the public school system in Hong Kong, he then worked for a few years before getting into a local university.
And he’s since then pursued a path in what most people would consider to be a traditional and stable career path.
When I was young, my dad would also talk to me about how being hard working changed the trajectory of his life. He always pushed me to study hard in school. And I really internalized the importance of hardwork because I kept seeing examples of work ethic from my dad.
Every single day of my childhood, really. He was always working at his workplace, or he’d bring work home and kept working. My mom always called him a workaholic, but to me, what I saw was an unshakeable commitment to work he really cared about.
Because no matter how stressful his work was, I never saw him complain. Honestly. Like to this day, my dad is always working.
Even now that I’m a full grown adult who is married and has pretty much moved out of my parents place. He still works and is still usually quite stressed.
But in my entire lifespan, I very, very rarely hear my dad complain about his heavy workload or about having extremely difficult colleagues or other challenges at work.
And I will say, my dad’s career journey was not easy. There were many failures and extremely difficult challenges that I’ve seen, as a child who was observing my parents, that have taken a huge toll on him emotionally.
He got over his emotions and kept going. He kept going because he cared about doing better at his job. He also kept looking for more opportunities elsewhere so he could continue doing similar work, even if the circumstances of his previous job were not great.
He kept looking for other opportunities that will allow him to keep doing what he does and to get better at his craft
Right now, at this point in his lifespan, moving up the career ladder or making more money is no longer a strong motivator for my dad. He’s getting old. His entire head is full of white hair. I’ve definitely seen physical changes in his appearances due to aging.
Earlier this year, I asked if he would consider retiring anytime soon. His answer was simple: My work needs me.
As much as it pains me to know that he’s still working his ass off pretty much at this age, I respect his decisions because I see that he really, really cares about his work.
While I myself may prioritize differently compared to him, where I would personally put family and loved ones first before my work and career, I know that my dad is doing what he believes in. And he is relentless in his commitment to what he does.
Yes, he has definitely had to make sacrifices in his personal life in order to keep contributing to his job or career, and I’m sure a lot of the decisions he’s made in his lifetime were not easy.
I know that he still kept to his own values and is doing work that he really, really believes in.
And that is exactly what I hope to embody in my own work as well: The willingness to keep working at something I deeply believe in, even if people around me may not necessarily get why I do what I do, I will still keep going.
It’s like, my dad has a mix of unshakeable work ethic and grit and resilience – all rolled into one.
While my own approach to working on my business doesn’t look identical to my dad.
Because, as many of you may know, I’m actually all about doing the bare minimum in my business, but doing each thing really, really well, so that I can actually NOT sacrifice my personal life in favor of my work.
What I do want to exude even more in my business is that notion of, “If this is something I really, really believe in, I will keep doing it no matter what.”
I think that’s something I unknowingly have been embodying in my own life and business in recent years.
For example, whereas my dad will make decisions that allow him to prioritize his work, I have recently made some big decisions that allowed me to be there for the people who I love most in this world. Which, by the way, includes my parents.
For example, as of April 2022, I made the decision to leave my PhD in order to move to Singapore to be with my husband, who I’ve been doing long distance with for nearly five years.
Also, now that I’m no longer bound by the rules and regulations of the PhD program, I can literally fly to different countries at any time to be with my family, and the business has been able to support this priority of mine.
Shout out to my dad for role modeling what it means to make decisions according to what you believe in and what you value the most.
And also, shout out to my dad’s ability to manage his emotions. Because while I am much more willing to seek out support when things are hard and take a lot more intentional rests and breaks compared to my dad, my dad didn’t let his emotions get in the way of what he is committed to, even when things are shit.
So, I want to be able to exude the same type of emotional resilience in the sense that I won’t call it quits when things get hard. Whether it’s a minor inconvenience or a prolonged period of challenging times. My dad kept going through it all, and that is something I really admire about him.
I really want to thank my dad for teaching me work ethic and being willing to roll up my sleeves and work hard ESPECIALLY when it comes to work that is important to me.
Also, for teaching me resilience even when the circumstances feel emotionally difficult, and for being an example of someone who makes decisions in accordance with their values, no matter what.
I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to my amazing father. He’s seriously the best.
Now, I want to talk about my mom. My moms is quite different from my dad. In my eyes, she’s kind of weird. She has a quirky energy to her. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s like she has this free spirit vibe to her and also a creative, expressive sort of energy.
In the past few years, ever since she had a major health scare, she’s been doing all sorts of weird and fun things that are, honestly, quite interesting.
Her current two favorite things to do are qigong meditation and singing.
Here’s the thing. In my own personal opinion, my mother isn’t exactly the most talented in the qigong practice, nor is she exactly an amazing singer. And bear in mind that I don’t practice qigong or sing.
Even though she knows that me and my dad literally have no interest in practicing qigong with her and we both don’t exactly think she’s a skillful singer, she literally doesnt give a fuck about what me or my dad thinks. She still does her qigong every day and she keeps singing every single day.
That’s why I think that’s where a lot of my creative energy and being myself on the Internet comes from.
I’ve seen my mom be a role model of someone who keeps doing what she’s extremely passionate about. Even though two of the people who were supposed to be her biggest cheerleader, may not fully 100% get what she’s doing or why she does what she does.
And to be honest, she knows that, but she doesn’t rely on us for validation. She does it because she validates herself.
Because I see that she’s extremely dedicated to the qigong practice and to improving her singing skills, it literally doesn’t matter what I think.
Actually, it’s extremely inspiring and also endearing for me to be able to witness her unswaying commitment to those activities.
Because she led by example, despite what I think of her singing skills or despite how boring I think qigong is, she still does whatever she wants. And this, as a result, makes me want to support her quietly from the side lines.
Finally, another thing I want to add is that my mother actually does qigong and singing not just for herself as a hobby, but she actually participates in the community through these two activities.
For example, she has been trying to tell all of her friends about how qigong meditation has helped her physical and mental health, and she also participated in local meet ups related to qigong, especially before the pandemic kinda shut everything down.
As for singing, she is on this platform / app thing where she sings anonymously. She actually has this anonymous account where she sings very positive and happy songs, and she said it’s because she wants to spread more positivity through her music. I think that is amazing.
She genuinely wants to use her interests and skill sets to add value to others.
Even if she may not be the qigong master or if she may not be the most talented singer. She still commits herself every single week to adding value to her community through these two means.
I have deep, deep respect for my mom for this.
All of these characteristics that my mother embodies, have seeped into how I operate in my business as well.
First, I believe that we don’t need to look at social media analytics or nice direct messages (DMs) from our followers or anything else external to us, to validate us. We need to validate ourselves first.
Second, if you lead by example and if you go first, people will eventually follow suit and support you. Even if they may not initially quite understand why you’re doing what you do.
Third, you can add value no matter what. Even if you’re not the best in your industry, there are still ways you can contribute to the space. There is always room for you and you can always help people. Always.
When I combine both of these lessons and qualities I took away from my parents, there’s one more thing that I want to add to the list is that through the example that my parents set for me.
I can see that for my dad, even if there were roadblocks in his career progression, he didn’t let that stop him from continuing to seek out other opportunities in that career path.
For my mom, she didn’t let what other people’s opinions of her stop her from continuing to add value in this world.
For myself, my value is NOT based on how others perceive me. My worth as an entrepreneur and also as a person.
It isn’t based on how much money I make in my business or how many followers I have or any other fancy external metric.
In entrepreneurship, the last thing I want is to be defined by these things.
But rather, I want to be an example of a coach, a content creator, and entrepreneur who has a clear vision, who has her own thought leadership, and operates according to her own values.
These are undoubtedly characteristics that have helped me become a much better entrepreneur, despite not coming from a business background or having any technical business experiences.
Even though my relationship with my parents is quite complex, I would not be where I am today both as an entrepreneur and as a person, without my parents’ love and support.
Even though I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my younger years that really pissed them off hahaha. They are still here for me to this day.
And also, I wouldn’t be here today without the lessons they’ve shared directly or indirectly with me, or how they’ve literally paved the way for me in my business journey despite themselves not being entrepreneurs.
I am immensely grateful for my mom and dad. I know I don’t say that enough to them.
But moving forward, thanks to this incredible business that I’ve built, I’m now able to literally live a life that lets me go be there in person with people I care about.
If this episode resonated with you in any way, I would actually love to know what entrepreneurial lessons you’ve learned from people around you, especially those who may not have a business themselves.
Feel free to send me a message on Instagram to let me know.
Thank you so much for being here and I’ll see you in the next one.
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