Human race is very adaptive and resilient and always rebound from disastrous situations. In recent history, the US has not only been able to recover from the great depression, the great inflation, September 11, and the 2008 financial crisis, but greatly accelerated its growth afterwards. We are only getting better and stronger because of the situation that we are in.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of my series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vivian Fan.
Besides being the mom of 3 active young boys, Vivian Fan is the CEO/Co-Founder of GoingFlex, an online professional service marketplace that enables the future of work and hiring. Prior to founding GoingFlex, Vivian Fan held an executive position at a leading publicly-traded Fintech company.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I built a successful career first in management consulting and then as a corporate executive while building a family and raising three boys. To be honest, even with a supportive husband, helpful parents, and reliable childcare, it was a constant struggle to maintain the so-called “balance.” The higher I moved up in my career, the more the conflict intensified. I started to think through how to solve this problem. After many brainstorming sessions, my husband and I re-imagined a way of work, that instead of the confined structures of full-time employment, can create more autonomy, options and flexibility for professionals. Thus, GoingFlex was born.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
3 months after GoingFlex launched, COVID hit. We were working on various marketing and membership growth strategies when the world came to a standstill. Like many startups, we had to re-evaluate our plans. To provide some relief to our members, we greatly reduced paid membership fees as well as began offering free trial memberships. The reduced revenue meant we had to find ways to do more with less. We changed original plans to ramp up marketing and I learned resourcefulness by acquiring new skills in digital marketing, social media advertising, and video creation. Even with limited resources, I’m proud to share that GoingFlex has doubled our membership base since March. Nothing is impossible, really!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
GoingFlex is working with small- to mid-sized companies to leverage our platform and professionals to reinvent the future of work. Our skills-based and outcome-based work structure gives employers and professionals flexibility with built-in accountability.
In addition, GoingFlex also recently launched a new service called “GoingFlex Outplacement.” It is uniquely designed for professionals who have been impacted by COVID layoffs to smoothly transition their career in the current labor market and to thrive in the future of work. Our program provides professionals with personalized assessment, coaching, and access to flexible work opportunities.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful to my parents, for I couldn’t be who I am without their endless and selfless support, and professionally there are many individuals who gave me opportunities and lifted me up along the way, but the one person I am the most grateful is my husband Tony, as we lean on each other to keep moving forward. When I first came up with the idea of GoingFlex, he trusted my vision and served as the technical co-founder to get the platform up and running. He also shares chores and childcare with me in a very fluid way so it’s not about 50–50, it’s about doing what it takes to progress together as a family.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
The biggest family related challenge is to keep everyone safe and healthy (physically and mentally).
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
- Talk openly as a family about the current state of Covid-19 so everyone is aware of the facts. Fear and stress often times is caused by the unknown and there are plenty of misleading information out in the public, so it is important to seek out facts and data from trustworthy sources and plan accordingly.
- Practice social distancing and mask-wearing rules and set good examples for the kids.
- Do fun activities as a family together. We have found dancing to “Just Dance” Youtube videos a hit, and we also enjoy baking and cooking together.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
The biggest work-related challenge is to find quality time (more than 30 mins at a time) to focus on tasks on hand without constant disruptions from family members.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
- Have an honest conversation with your other half about how you will need to collaborate to make things work, including the needs to share chores, childcare, and other family needs together. You will need to have this conversation often to adjust accordingly.
- Be okay not to be perfect. It’s okay that the house is not sparkling clean. It’s okay to not have perfectly-prepared meals. It’s okay to not have makeup on during meetings.
- Have a plan for the day but stay flexible. The plan should mostly be a list of tasks that each could be done within 30 mins and may be one task that needs 60 mins or more. Whatever doesn’t get done for the day will be moved to the next day. This is to make sure you are still making progress but not stressed out from not getting everything done.
- Have a schedule for the kids to follow so they keep making progress. Depending on their attention spans, different age groups may need different schedules. From my experience, a five-year-old only has up to 30 mins attention span, so you will need to make plans tailored to each individual accordingly. Don’t forget to schedule family time every day.
- Explain to your kids and spouse ahead of time when you need uninterrupted time and stay in a space with closed doors to stay focused.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
It is almost impossible to have a full-time job while homeschooling, but there are still things that you could do to improve the situation:
- Have a candid conversation with your other half regarding work, childcare, and other family needs. Figure out what would work best for the whole family by setting some rules and guidance. If your kids are at the age that they would understand the rules and guidance, discuss with them as well. It’s important to have everyone be on the same page.
- Talk to your supervisor and HR about flexibility and what that means in your specific situation. You might also want to consider negotiating for a part-time schedule or convert to a contractor for the time being.
- Have a flexible mindset. Remind yourself that this is a temporary situation and not forever. Focus on the must-haves, and de-prioritize the good-to-haves.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
Our family has been sheltering in place since March and progressed from surviving to thriving. Here are the things that have helped:
- Make it fun — Do something fun everyday with the whole family. Some ideas to consider: dance parties, cooking/baking, movie night, game night.
- Have a schedule for the kids and adults but keep it flexible.
- Virtual playdates and meetups with families and friends for both adults and kids.
- Stay active while staying in — When you have breaks form working, you can run around the house with the kiddos, do some yoga stretches, or indoor gardening.
- Plan for daily alone-time where you could just enjoy something you’d like to relax and de-compress, things like taking a long bath, DIY facial, reading a book, or listening to your favorite music.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective, can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Here are my 5 reasons to stay hopeful:
- In recent history, pandemics like Covid-19 always come and go. For example, the Spanish flu lasted less than 2 years.
- Human race is very adaptive and resilient and always rebound from disastrous situations. In recent history, the US has not only been able to recover from the great depression, the great inflation, September 11, and the 2008 financial crisis, but greatly accelerated its growth afterwards. We are only getting better and stronger because of the situation that we are in.
- US is still the strongest economy in the world and is taking care of its citizens financially during this challenging time by sending stimulus checks and relief funds.
- The future of how we work and live are being shaped significantly during this pandemic towards more flexibility, more remote, and more skills-based jobs. This gives people more options to choose how they’d like to work and live.
- Our education system and curriculum design are also getting a significant makeover with digitization, which will undoubtedly provide our future generations with higher quality learning experiences.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Have frequent virtual check-ins/video calls with them so they can talk openly about their anxiety. Be a good listener and offer constructive advice. I video chat with my parents who are overseas every day because they feel calmer just by listening to my voice and seeing we are all well and healthy.
- Send positive messages/quotes to remind them that this is only temporary and things are getting better. I once sent a yummy donut picture with “Donut worry, be happy” quote to a dear friend who was feeling a bit down and made her day!
- Distract them with things that they love. For instance, whenever my kids are feeling a little down because they are running out of things to do, I always offer to bake sweets together and they turn happy almost instantly.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is “Live. Laugh. Love”. It reminds me that no matter what situation we are in, it is a part of this one precious life that has been gifted to us. Don’t stop enjoying the little things that make you laugh, and love will empower us.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can follow me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/vivivianfan or Twitter @viviangoingflex
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!