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The 4Th Space

A journey toward self exploration

Always Smiling 
My name is Jiani Wu. I was born in Suzhou, China. The hometown of the world-class architect I. M. Pei. A beautiful city with stone bridges, pagodas, and domestic rivers. Ancient emperors loved to spend a summer here in their private gardens. Now those gardens become public and many visitors come each year to enjoy a good time.

I came to the States when I was 21 as an international exchange student then I went back to China to finish my last year in college. After graduate I came back to Pittsburg KS to do a 2 year graduate school. During that two years, I worked with professors to set up a TV station with a mission to distribute news and stories about international culture and people.   Back when I was 7 years old,  I was hosting campus-wide events, broadcasting news to the school, and entertaining students with music programs such as “Song for you,” where students can order a song for someone they cared about. However, due to the heavy course load as I moved to middle school, I stopped doing media related work and focused all my energy to studying for a grade. 

During the two years of graduate school, I decided to apply to Boston University’s doctoral program in Educational Media and Technology. Professors and classmates thought I was crazy trying to go from a small town in KS to a big city like Boston. I always know that I am this girl with magic power. Whatever I make up my mind to do, I will do it with success. The more challenging a situation is, the more passionate I am to accomplish it. Again, I proved myself right. I got the admission letter from Boston University.  However, I didn’t go to BU directly. I put a hold onto the admission, instead, I took a job as a door-to-door sales lady for a sales consulting company. For a year, I pitched door to door around  Greater Boston from Framingham to foxborough persuading people to switch to Verizon Fios for internet, phone, and TV.                                                                                                                                                

The sales experience didn’t go well at the beginning. I was nervous as hell when I first began selling and I didn’t make a single sale for a whole month. I would find myself crying at someone’s door step. Then I would wipe off the tears, and move on. Practice after practice, a Rabbi become my first client because I solved a critical problem of his by providing the service he needs. After this success, I became more confident and focused the pitch more on finding out the problems and solving them by providing the service I represent. I was able to make one to two sales per day and make friends with the clients I serve. It was challenging but relational rewarding. 

After one year of door to door sales experience , I was ready to go back to school with a curiosity in combining media with business. I started many companies while taking a full course load at school. My first business was a branding agency for a private winery. However, due to a conflict of interest, I broke off with the co-founder and the business was dissolved. The second business was a international logistic consulting agency, helping Chinese small business to lower the international shipping costs. However, the market was too volatile for me to handle, I closed this agency in two years. After several failures, I gradually lost the confidence and magic inside of me, and became self-doubting and depressed. I felt that I was dying inside because I did the business just for the sake of making money and chasing after traditional success. I gradually understood that for me to become successful in business, money along was not enough. I decided to leave school for a while and regain the soul and magic inside. 

During the years off school, I didn’t travel the world as most of people would fantasize. I stayed at my apartment and read a lot of psychological books and watched a lot of videos about positive psychology on YouTube. I was healing myself. Then I asked myself an important questions: “Jiani, what did you do to make yourself happy when you were a child?” I remembered gradually though many meditations that I loved rallying my neighbors to do activities such as role play or art performance. I would call up all the parents nearby to be audience.  I had tremendous fun.  So I decided to organize my friends in Boston to paint pictures together. We fund raised to get all canvas and painting supplies. The instruction for the first workshop was simple: “ What do you want to see in your future ?” Some friends painted a guy on a motorcycle, some painted a pair of ballet shoes. I painted a semi-abstract rose garden with pavement and a circle of waters, a picture I had in my mind. 

Then something magical happened. I went to Seattle to attend a friends wedding as a bridesmaid. The house I was staying was on a mountain overseeing a lake. As I walked into their back garden, I saw roses, pebble pavement , and the huge lake down the mountain just turned into a small circle of water. It was like the painting I did at that workshop. I was so happy and excited.  I saw this as a sign for me to continue my journey on this path. 

The first paint workshop was transformed into what is now The 4th space (https://www.the4th.space/). The website is still under construction, the startup positioning is still being discussed. The mission is to help people foster and nourish the sacred space of personal exploration and happiness. In the modern times, most of us are preoccupied by responsibilities from school, work, and home, feeling overwhelmed and stressed. The 4th Space taps into the healing power of art. We are committed to helping people release stress and encourage personal exploration by engaging indoor and outdoor art workshops. We actively work with local artists to design and facilitate creative processes, which include but are not limited to visual art, handcraft, culinary art, and outdoor art activities. The ultimate goal for the 4th Space is to empower everyone to truly enjoy doing things, being happy with who we truly are, and doing the creative work without being judged. Once we manage to nourish the 4th space, we will reap benefits in other 3 spaces : work, school, and family.               

However, being trained as an educator and trying to become a business women for a start up is not easy. The 4th Space constantly faces new challenges. On the team side, most of us are part time and working remotely and couldn’t focus on our energy consistently to create momentum. On the business model side, the only source for the income is the workshop ticket sales. And all that money can only beak even with the material and operational costs (not counting in human labor costs). On the mentor side, I am still seeking suitable mentors who truly gets me and the idea behind the startup and will help us to scale up. At times, I feel stressed and helpless. Nevertheless, after a few dark and hopeless psychological sessions, I force myself back on my feet and get working, even though I don’t know where exactly I need to go. I am making every effort I can to push forward.                                                                                             

I hope you liked my stories and please feel free to share with me about your own personal journey, your struggles, and what suggestions you would like to provide for the 4th Space’s development and growth. 

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