Interview by: Kate Anderson-Song
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment has been overcoming my fears over and over again. I used to be scared of so many things — failing, taking risks, being seen, being judged, disappointing people, and not being liked. Fear used to rule my life. When I was in an abusive relationship, I stayed because I was afraid of not having someone to love me. When I was in a job I hated, I stayed because I was afraid of being unemployed. When my white co-workers called me oriental, I went along with it because I was afraid of not fitting in with the team.
That changed in 2016, when I was just so tired of being scared. In moments of courage, I quit my corporate job, rented out my San Diego home, packed a carry-on, and traveled the world for almost a year with my husband. It was the first time in my life that I gave myself permission to live a life based on what I wanted and not what I thought looked good to others. It was the first time I really started trusting in myself. By removing external securities, I was challenged to find security within myself.
Because I overcame my fears, I’m living a life I would have never dreamt of 3 years ago. Now, I travel the world full-time and have the privilege of helping other 1st & 2nd generation Americans to overcome their fears and live bravely.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
I never thought I was going to be an entrepreneur. As a child, I always imagined myself in a power suit and a briefcase, climbing the corporate ladder. That was my image of success.
And I was well on my way to that image. I was managing multi-million dollar programs at a multi-billion dollar company before I was 30. I got my MBA and was all set to pursue my childhood vision. However, I started realizing that achieving all these impressive goals wasn’t translating to happiness and fulfillment. I looked good on paper but didn’t feel good inside.
Through my travels, I claimed what my real values are: freedom, flexibility, one-on-one deep connection, and helping others live better lives. I made a series of conscious and deliberate decisions to live a life by my design. Entrepreneurship not only allows me to live those values everyday but challenges me to redefine what success authentically looks like for me.
How do you stay in touch with your heritage?
My Filipino heritage is very important to me and I stay in touch with my heritage in a number of ways. I cook and eat Filipino food, I’m part of Filipino entrepreneur communities to support one another, I try to learn as much as I can about the history and struggles of Filipinos, and I learn from my 90 yr-old lola (grandma). I ask her stories about her childhood, how she raised 6 children with very little money, and what she endured.
I lived in the Philippines for a couple years when I was a young child and I remember what life was like there — it was fun, loving, warm but it was also hard. I always have awareness of the countless blessings I have here in the U.S. I’m grateful that I don’t have to worry about having basic necessities. I have the privilege to work on my purpose, my calling, living a life beyond survival.
I also stay in touch with my heritage by trying to honor my ancestors by living a thriving life — by working to elevate future generations as they did for me.
What does a typical morning look like for you?
In the mornings, I make an effort to take time for myself before jumping into the rest of my day. I journal about what I am grateful for, affirmations to acknowledge myself, and work on practicing beliefs I want to internalize that will support my dreams. I do a guided meditation and, on good days, move my body with some yoga. And, let’s be real, I do succumb to the Instagram scroll every now and then.
The part of my mornings that I’m most grateful for is being able to set my schedule. I wake up in a different part of the world every other week and intentionally decide how I spend my time.
What advice do you have for Asian female entrepreneurs?
The biggest lesson I had to learn in entrepreneurship was that my worthiness was not dependent on the success of my business. That if my business fails or succeeds has no bearing on whether or not I am good or bad. Internalizing that lesson has relieved the self-imposed pressure I put on myself to perform, overachieve, and get results quickly. Now, I am able to take action from a place of service, providing love and value and knowing that it will come back to me.
I would also recommend surrounding yourself with a supportive community. As Asian women, we have been taught to go it alone, not talk about our struggles, not reach out when we need help — and to make all that shit look good. Having the support of my coach, my husband, my friends and family, my fellow entrepreneurs, and my clients has helped propel me through valleys of self-doubt.
What is a book you think everyone should read?
I believe everyone should read “Playing Big” by Tara Mohr. I’m not exaggerating when I say this book changed my life. It provided context to understand why I was playing small, why I listened to fear and self-doubt, and why I wasn’t putting myself out there. It gave me tools and prompts to start overcoming my fears and take action. Most importantly, I felt validated and seen. It helped me understand that I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling.
Describe yourself in three words
Courageous, empowered, loving
What does being a second generation American mean to you?
I immigrated to the U.S. in my mom’s womb. She flew from the Philippines to California in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy so that I would be born an American citizen. She left her family and support system in the Philippines to give birth with only her little brother at her side, so that I could start life with the advantages citizenship offers.
As the daughter of immigrants, I feel both weight and privilege. I feel a responsibility to honor the sacrifices my family has made, take full advantage of the opportunities I have here, and break intergenerational cycles that don’t serve me anymore. It can be a lot. However, I also feel privileged to live an abundant life, to have the luxury to think about my purpose and passion, and to pursue a life by my design.
What is your go-to coffee order?
I like my coffee like I like my coaching: simple and straightforward. I order an Americano (no sugar, no cream).
What, in your opinion, is the biggest problem facing Asian women today?
One of the biggest problems I see show up again and again in my clients is being unable to acknowledge and own their worth — always feeling never good enough. Asian women have power, wisdom, and a drive within them that they continually downplay to themselves and in communication with others. This shows up as, “Achieving these goals is what I was supposed to do so I shouldn’t celebrate it” or “It wasn’t that hard” or “I don’t deserve this win.” I make sure to acknowledge and celebrate each of my client’s wins. I reflect back to them how amazing it is that they are challenging themselves, being open and vulnerable, investing in their vision, and taking action in the face of fear.
I love when my clients tell me they feel confident, love themselves, and know their worth. By acknowledging their intrinsic value, regardless of their accomplishments, they lay a strong foundation for taking on any dream they have for themselves.
Kate Anderson-Song is on the editorial team at Overachiever Magazine. She is a NYC-based writer, artist, and performer, currently studying cinema studies at New York University. You can find Kate on Instagram @k8andersonsong and @thek8pages, and you can find more of her work (and tons of other great stuff) here at Overachiever Magazine.