Business Name: ChinaWise Business
Consulting LLC, a business advisory firm connecting U.S. and China
Type of Business: Coaching & Consulting/ Marketing & PR
Business Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Reason for starting
I established ChinaWise in early October, 2001, following a series of dramatic personal and historical events within a month’s period of time, including my first trip back to China with my American husband, the tragic 9/11, my birthday on Sept. 15th and China’s successful entry to the WTO. I realized more than ever that life is short and that I have to live it the way I always wanted: to become an entrepreneur and connect the U.S. and China in business and culture. As a result, I resigned my job ten days after returning from China, six days after 9/11 and two days after my birthday, to fulfill a birthday wish. However, deep down in my heart, I knew that this was a dream come true and the start of a great journey, wherever it would take me! Many people wondered how I could know so early on that I could make it. It is a very interesting question: I just knew, somehow I just knew and I always knew!
How do you define success?
I define my success as being able to have all that matters to me the most: a moderately successful business that I love and a wonderful family life that I embrace. It was not easy and I did make mistakes along the way but I was able to find that ever-important balance. Over the last 13 years, I have been able to run my own business focusing on the meaningful projects that I love and work with people I enjoy working with. At the same time, I was able to raise my three daughters while they were young and still keep my business going and steadily growing. Better yet, after my kids grew older, my husband joined me to run the business together two years ago. Now with the timing, the market potential and our joint effort and experience, I am certain more than ever that we are reaching a tipping point for developing our business to the next level. This is a very exciting time indeed for us.
My biggest success is that I was able to stay true to my authentic self throughout all these years, no matter what challenges I faced and no matter how lost I could be at some points. I always strived hard, sometimes really, really hard, to stay connected with my inner self, to figure out what I really want and to go after it. And I realized that only by following my passion could I be successful and happy, whether in business or personal life. Seeing that so many professional Chinese women in China are still struggling for work life balance, I started a non-profit organization in May, 2013 called “UEnjoy Club”, to inspire and empower women to find that balance in their lives, with the necessary tools, resources and support. Since it was launched three months ago, UEnjoy Club has been catching on like wildfire, receiving overwhelming response and support. This could be the biggest success down the road for me, and for many other Chinese women.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
I have had various challenges along the way. Over the years, the top challenge had been to divide my time between work and family. The way I addressed it was to prioritize, set boundaries and stick to them. For example, I had to turn down clients that required extensive travel when my youngest was under three. Since my husband joined me to run the business two years ago, I have been able to enjoy a lot more flexibility. Now our top challenge is the growing pain many entrepreneurs experience: how much additional risk we can take and how quickly we can expand. Those are the decisions we have to face on a regular basis. And the best way to deal with them is to research and evaluate them as thoroughly as possible, plan strategically but also be prepared for the unexpected, and always make sure to have a comfortable place to fall back when it does work out.
Who is your most important role model?
My mom has been my most important role model all my life. She is a traditional Chinese woman who spent most of her life in mainland China. No words can describe the hardship she went through during the war times and the Culture Revolution in China. Her unconditional love was my strongest motivation to succeed during my early years. After I had children, she came to the U.S. to stay with me and help me out as much as she could. She has made it possible for me to pursue what I want. Her love, passion, endurance and resilience have always been an inspiration for me and forever will be.