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Sheena Yap Chan: “Embrace Your Fears ”

Embrace Your Fears — Use your fears to help you take action in your journey. When you can push through your fears, it really can boost your confidence and you are ready to take on the next fear you want to conquer. Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it […]

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Embrace Your Fears — Use your fears to help you take action in your journey. When you can push through your fears, it really can boost your confidence and you are ready to take on the next fear you want to conquer.


Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Sheena Yap Chan, a keynote speaker, coach, podcaster, consultant, and bestselling author on building self-confidence. She currently inspires women through her award-winning podcast called The Tao of Self Confidence where she interviews Asian women about their inner journey to self-confidence. Her mission is to help Asian Women boost their confidence to live their authentic selves, help Asian Women create a voice in the world, and create a stronger representation for Asian women. Sheena has been featured on MindValley, slice.ca, Marketing in Asia, Manila Times and more. She is also the TOP 100 Filipinos to follow on LinkedIn for inspiration and learning in 2020. She is also the co-author of the International bestselling book Asian Women Who Boss Up.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I used to work in an office for 12 years but I always knew that I couldn’t see myself working in an office until I was 60 or 65 when I had to retire. It wasn’t until the death of my aunt that made me realize how short life is and I wanted to live a more meaningful life. It didn’t happen overnight but it was the start of me thinking of how I wanted to live my life.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Growing up in Toronto, Canada, I never had any Asian role models that I could look up to and because of that I thought I was never good enough to become an entrepreneur. Also, when I was going through my own confidence issues, I couldn’t find any support systems that catered to helping Asian women with their confidence issues. I told myself that if I wanted support and to create a strong representation of Asian women, then I had to start it. I started creating my podcast, The Tao Of Self Confidence, where I interview Asian women about their inner journey to self-confidence, I also help women break out of their shell so they can live an authentic life and thrive through coaching and speaking. The most recent project is our collaborative book that we created called Asian Women Who Boss Up where 18 Asian women share their stories about how they are able to forge their own path, overcome obstacles and thrive.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs but I never thought I could be one because of the way I saw myself. I thought I never was good enough to become an entrepreneur. I had to learn to work on myself, my mindset, hire a coach, surround myself with the right people to develop the attitude of an entrepreneur.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

There was no one person who helped me start my journey, it was actually many people who encouraged me along the way. Those people believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. They push me to conquer my fears, embrace the unknown and overcome rejections. They also told me what I needed to hear versus what I wanted to hear. If I didn’t meet them in my lifetime, I wouldn’t be here today sharing this story.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think what makes it stand out is my personal mission to elevate the voices of Asian Women. When I announced that we were creating the book, Asian Women Who Boss Up, so many women messaged me about finally having a platform where we can celebrate the achievements of Asian women who have been bossing up for years. Plus, you never see books that highlight 16 Asian Women on a cover of a book which definitely stands out. Our book was featured on TV and other media platforms because it was unheard of and it was our time to speak up. What women need the most is support so that they know that they are not alone in their journey.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Make The First Move — Most people are afraid to make the first move because they are too afraid of what others might think of them. I always tell people and clients that if you want things to happen then you have to make the first move because you can’t wait around for things to happen. It’s not easy but the more you do it, the easier it gets. I recently reached out to a woman on Twitter who was looking for contributors for her article. I sent her an email right away asking if I can contribute to her article. She said yes and I sent her the information. On International Women’s Day, my part of the article was actually featured on Huffington Post which was a great surprise because it was my first time being featured on that news platform.

Strong Mindset — It is so important to work on your mindset. Most people don’t even go out and try to forge their own path because they are thinking it’s impossible or fear paralyzes them. When you can start to believe in yourself and think you can, you will start looking for ways to get it done and take action. Before, I was so afraid to take any action because I thought I was never good enough and ended up not doing anything. I started working on my mindset by reading self-help books and listening to the stories of the women I interviewed on my podcast. That really helped me see what I was capable of achieving and started taking action even if it wasn’t perfect.

Embrace Rejection — Most people don’t realize that you get more NOs than Yes in your lifetime. Sometimes getting rejected can be depressing. I know, I have been there. There were times where I was so down from all of my rejections that I would eat my feelings. When I started to see rejection in a different perspective, I started to learn that it was part of the process. I see rejection as feedback and an answer versus overanalyzing why I get rejected. I just move on to the next until someone says Yes.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

When I first started in my business, I was told to use paid advertising to start getting customers. So I did start using paid ads but never got a customer. I kept on paying until I ended up spending 2000 dollars on ads that never got me a customer. Nobody told me back then that there are certain things you need to check before you spend your money such as your target audience, if they speak English if it’s targeted in another country, etc. Another person had to tell me to stop the ads if it’s not working which I am glad they did because if not, I still would have kept on going.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

I would tell my colleagues not to give their employees five things to do at the same time. Multitasking doesn’t help you get things done, instead, you end up being busy for the sake of being busy and that is when employees get burned out and overwhelmed. They feel like they have to get everything done at the same time and they end up making more mistakes due to multitasking. Giving them one task at a time to tackle actually is more productive and gets the job done better because the employee will have more focus and brain power on getting one thing done.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

Being honest with the journey of entrepreneurship. Some people love to glamorize the journey and not talk about the hardships they went through. I think the more you can talk about what really happens in our entrepreneurial journey and be more honest with it, more people can trust you because they know you are not perfect, you are human.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

It is essential because newbie entrepreneurs want instant gratification and not realize that sometimes this journey to being a leader can be challenging and long. You see so many people achieve this so-called “overnight success” when in reality they have been working on their craft for 10–30 years or more with so many roadblocks along the way. People have to realize that “overnight success” is false.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Self-promotion. People think that self promotion is bad and because of that many new entrepreneurs will resist promoting their product and/or service. I usually tell people that you are doing a disservice if you are not promoting your product and/or service because you never know whose life you can change for the better with it. One way to correct it is to have an accountability partner or hire a coach who will push you to promote yourself.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

I love this question because I think this is a topic that most people don’t talk about in their entrepreneurial journey. This is definitely different from a job because you might not always have a steady paycheck and even though you get to work your own hours, you could be working 24–28 hours straight. You are the one handling all the expenses versus the company you work for. Also, being an entrepreneur can be a long and lonely road. You have no clue what’s going to happen if what you are doing will benefit you or not and you have days when you doubt your abilities. It’s also the greatest feeling when you get your first client or first speaking gig because it’s proof that you are capable of going out there and creating a life for yourself.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

When our book became #1 in two categories on Amazon it was the greatest feeling because I started getting more opportunities to collaborate with non-profit organizations, get more media attention and get more speaking gigs.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

I remember reaching out to do a paid speaking gig. The event turned me down which made me feel small and unworthy. It felt like I wasn’t good enough and at one point even contemplated quitting.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

Seeking help was what helped me bounce back. In my culture, I was always told that asking for help was a sign of weakness and so I never wanted to ask for help because of that. If I didn’t get a coach to help push me back to where I am today, I would still be delaying my own success.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Self Care — As leaders, we need to learn to take care of ourselves and our mental well-being. Have some “me time” set for yourself where it’s your time to do anything you choose.

Support — Have a support system you can turn to when you have bad days. Join a women’s group, hire a coach or have an accountability partner to help you out.

Take Imperfect Action — Instead of waiting for that perfect moment, learn to take action and course-correct along the way. This journey will never be perfect and the earlier you know that you are more willing to just start.

Confidence — Work on your confidence every single day because you will have new challenges and roadblocks that will come out but at least you will have the tools and resources to solve it quickly.

Embrace Your Fears — Use your fears to help you take action in your journey. When you can push through your fears, it really can boost your confidence and you are ready to take on the next fear you want to conquer.

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

To me, resilience is someone who is willing to keep moving forward no matter what the situation is or how many roadblocks they face. I believe to be resilient, you have to face your fears, have a strong mindset and just keep showing up.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

Creating my podcast really helped me build resiliency. I have had my podcast for over 5 years which is something that is rare in the podcasting space. There were days when I wanted to quit to be honest but getting messages from my listeners telling me how the podcast changed their life helped me keep ongoing. Also my personal mission to elevate the voices of Asian women also keeps me picking myself back up because I know I am doing something that is bigger than me.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

During difficult situations, I do try my best to keep a positive attitude by telling myself that what I am going through is temporary and that there are better days ahead. Also listening to people’s stories of how they are able to overcome their challenges and roadblocks helps me bring my mood up because I know that what’s possible for them is possible for me.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

Having a positive attitude can definitely impact a person’s mood for the better. One thing I do is celebrating wins every Friday in my Asian Women Entrepreneurs group. When I see one person start sharing their wins, it becomes a domino effect and more women in the group will start sharing their wins. Then everyone feels great because the women in the group are celebrating each other’s wins and it’s a great way to end the week.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

My quote is from my book — If you want things to change, if you want things to happen, sometimes you have to go out there and make that first move.

How can our readers further follow you online?

My websites — https://sheenayapchan.com & https://thetaoofselfconfidence.com

If you google “Sheena Yap Chan”, I am the only Sheena Yap Chan on the internet.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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