“We are one of the most diverse countries in the world, if not the most — diversity is empowerment of the people.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Connie Tang. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Connie is committed to changing lives for the better. As the first woman president and CEO of Princess House, a premier direct selling company, Tang helps independent business owners and employees grow personally, enhance their families, and live fearlessly so they can truly prosper. In her rise to the top, she has served as an inspiration to many women around the globe and has mentored women in all professional levels, from company founders to corporate executives. Fluent in English, Spanish, and Cantonese, Tang was named one of the Top 50 Asian Americans in Business by the Asian American Business Development Center, Inc. and as one of The Most Influential Women in Direct Sales in 2012 and 2014 by Direct Selling News. Under her direction, Princess House was named in 2015, 2016, and 2017 as one of the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts by The Boston Globe and the Commonwealth Institute. She is an Executive Board member of the Direct Selling Education Foundation and the Direct Selling Association. Tang recently published her first book, “Fearless Living: 8 Life-Changing Values for Breakthrough Success.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I arrived in New York City, as an infant with my parents. First, living in a two-room apartment with my grandfather. I’ll never forget it was an old tenement building where the bathtub was next to the tiny sink in the kitchen and had a large metal lid that covered it when not in use. My mother’s older sister (who applied for immigration for my grandparents, her 6 younger siblings, including the three of us) had secured a job for my mom in the same factory she worked at as a seamstress. A trade my mother had to learn to do and still sews in a Chinatown factory today almost 50 years later. My father got a job at Bankers Trust in the World Trade Center as an accountant. They saved enough money within a year to make the security deposit on an apartment a few blocks away from my grandfather and aunt. I was almost two by then and while a relative took care of me briefly during the day, this aunt returned to work when her son started kindergarten. Everyone we knew worked and my parents found themselves in need of a babysitter for me when they went to work during the day. Living in a completely Hispanic, African American neighborhood, in a building next to a synagogue, as the one and only Chinese factory, everyone knew who we were (the little Chinese family) but we also knew no one. I’m not quite certain how they found out the woman who lived upstairs did not work and was a stay-at-home mom. My parents knocked on her door and asked if she’d be interested in watching me during the day and they would pay her in addition to providing my food. With my father’s fair English and one of her children translating for the Spanish speaking Dominican woman, they reached an agreement and each day I would go up at approx. 7:30am when my parents left for the day and come downstairs when they called for me at around 6:30pm at night. Because she only spoke Spanish and I was probably just learning some English watching TV and spoke Cantonese at home with my parents, I began to learn how to speak Spanish at age 2 and continued to speak and formally learn the language throughout my academic years through college. The diversity I was immediately immersed in my neighborhood, my elementary school through second grade would shape who I would become and what I am passionate about today.
At 8 years old, my parents saved enough money to put down payment on their first and only home in Brooklyn (still the only house they’d ever owned now for 40 years). We moved into a completely Caucasian, Irish-catholic American neighborhood and we are still the only Chinese family in the neighborhood! These early experiences shaped my ability to adapt in foreign environments and situations which require relationship development with partners and counterparts of diverse backgrounds. Unbeknownst to me, these were precursors to my later years building a career in international development around the globe as well as segmentation marketing development within the US.
The expectations of Chinese immigrant parents for academic excellence are high and I suspect for most children of immigrant parents. I studied hard, worked hard, was disciplined, took care of my 6 year old younger brother (was a second mom to him while my parents worked) and excelled though the NYC public school system including admittance through testing into Stuyvesant HS, a specialized science and math school and then to Brooklyn College where my drive and determination lead to finishing school in 3 years, summa cum laude and 100% debt free as I worked upwards of 6 jobs at times to pay for everything without loans and no financial aid from my parents.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story? Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
At 10 months-old, my parents and I immigrated to the USA. My parents came for a “better life” and perhaps without clarity of what that meant. My mother had made it clear to my father when they married that she was waiting for her immigration application to be approved because her siblings and parents had already been approved and living in the US. My father agreed he would leave his family of 6 younger brothers and sisters and come to America whenever that happens and so they amended the application to include him and later me. With a hardcore desire to work hard, save money and practicing frugality — we established our American life.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
I am very grateful to my Aunt Mo Yin. She was my mother’s only and elder sister and was the matriarch of our family. All of my mother’s side of the family and descendants are here because of her. She fell in love and married an American born Chinese man, my Uncle Jimmy, and came to the US alone and worked hard to earn money for the application filing fees, medical exams, plane tickets, food money, etc. for her parents and siblings all to have the chance for better opportunities and each of us to pursue our American Dream.
So how are things going today?
I am grateful for the life experiences I’ve had. I’ve had my share of challenges in health, career, and family that have been uplifting and heart breaking and I know I would not be who I am, do what I do and love what I love, without every bit of those experiences. I learned, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Cliché AND true. Though sometimes, no less painful, when you’re living through challenges.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I wrote a book, Fearless Living: 8 Life-Changing Values for Breakthrough Success, to reach people who are looking for personal development, empowerment, entrepreneurship and business development. The purpose of the book is to inspire and engage readers about what’s holding them back and how to overcome those obstacles. My hope is that by paying it forward, I can help someone find a source of strength when faced with what seems like insurmountable fear and use skills they have learned and mastered through my book and stories. I want to help them find a community where they can support one another, have open conversations about challenges and lift one another up while sharing “how.”
The book allows readers to uncover the secret behind eight key values — determination, accountability, drive for results, passion, collaboration, agility, respect and compassion — that when put into practice enable anyone to navigate through virtually any business or personal situation with grace and without fear. In addition to sharing my own personal story, I weave in real-life stories of women I’ve met from all walks of life, and the life-changing impact fearless living has when they start learning, growing and applying these principles.
As a member of an immigrant family from Hong Kong trying to discover the American Dream, I’ve been through some very challenging and even scary moments. I hope that sharing those moments and including other stories will be an inspiration to others to overcome obstacles in their own lives.
You have firsthand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?
As someone who has personally applied for immigration for my mother-in-law and brother-in-law and his family — I can tell you it’s a system that is very difficult to navigate and nearly impossible without help. Three things that would be helpful:
1. Easier to navigate steps for the process that can be accessible online and through resource centers with counselors that help the emotional transition
2. Upfront opportunities to assess skills and areas of contributions potential immigrants can have for our country — this allows our country to benefit from the intellectual expertise which otherwise may go undetected because the initial language proficiency is limited — language, like most skills can be developed, if we give individuals a chance
3. Development of an immigrant to immigrant mentor program — formally developing programs and processes which do not require excess funding through mentorship programs of potential immigrants with others who have walked in their shoes may be an optimum way to insure there is purpose and planning to support each immigrant in their pursuit to be productive members of our country while pursuing their dreams.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
Here are the eight traits I’ve discovered will enable anyone to navigate through virtually any business situation with grace and without fear, to reach their full potential from my book Fearless Living: 8 Life-Changing Values for Breakthrough Success:
One of the most crucial elements of determination is daily discipline — doing what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it. Good, solid habits you practice every day enable you to be more efficient and productive.
Own and take full responsibility for your decisions, your actions and your results — good, bad or ugly, without playing the blame game. Rise above your circumstances and demonstrate ownership in order to achieve the results you want.
3. Drive for results:
Equip yourself to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals with a plan of action and allow it to become a living document, referencing it often. When things change or don’t go as planned, be an agile and resilient problem solver by seeking solutions.
Passion is often sparked by something you’ve experienced, heard or read and rises up from deep within to become a driving force in your life. Let your passion rage like a fire. It’s one of the most important elements of success, and when it’s truly present, work rarely feels like work, even when you’re dog tired.
It’s essential to give respect in order to gain respect by recognizing the value of each individual and their potential contributions to your business relationship. Appreciate your own uniqueness, which will lead to mentally, emotionally and objectively embracing diversity.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
1. We have a Constitution of the United States which set the guidelines for a democratic republic
2. We are one of the most diverse countries in the world, if not the most — diversity is empowerment of the people
3. We are a resilient people — made up of individual triumphs and collective battles won for our freedoms and rights- which are the pillars of our way of life.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I’ve long been a follower, admirer and fan of Oprah Winfrey. Her personal evolution and development of her “brand,” love of self, body image, state of health and wellness in mind and body, accomplishments, faults, business empire and even imperfections has been one that has inspired me, awed me, and challenged me. She would certainly be a wonderful companion over lunch though I might find myself intimidated and in search for words — I’d certainly prepare for that occasion well, so as to not disappoint her and I’ve learned, most importantly, myself.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, Authority Magazine, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.
Originally published at medium.com