Helping women reach their highest potential is the goal of Claudia Chan, the social entrepreneur and CEO of S.H.E. Globl Media Inc., the company behind the global S.H.E. Summit conference. In her new book, This is How We Rise, the dynamic leadership expert and busy mother of two shares how we can all do our part to make the world a better and more equal place.
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Q: Tells me a little about the road that led you to writing this book. Why now?
I am a daughter of Chinese immigrants who as children survived the civil war in China, were raised in Taiwan after losing everything, and came to America in the 60's for a better life. I watched them struggle and persevere to provide my brother and I with private school educations and everything we needed to fit into the white upper class. They were extraordinary parents and role models who did everything for us, but in doing so ingrained a survival and scarcity mentality that prioritized financial success.
By 29 years old, I was running a multi-million dollar business, so I succeeded in this metric, but ironically didn't feel successful and happy because when you're driven by self-centric means of titles, money and influence, you're always comparing yourself to others who seem to have more, your worth is valued based on the material and physical, and you operate from the ego, which always cares about what others think.
This is what sent me on a personal and professional journey that led to living a "me for we" instead of "me over we" life which I teach in the book. It started with spiritual and personal growth work, that led to leadership development and eventually social impact. In a time when the world is so broken, and people are hungry for how they can be a force for good, This is How We Rise is the practical blueprint for how you can do your part in changing the world, and ensure your whole life thrives in the process. I teach what I am living.
Q: One of your main missions is to empower women to reach their highest potential and bring about change. In the book, you talk about the importance of individuals enacting that change, even on a small level, and how we should become leaders in our communities. What motivation would you give to women who are afraid to take that leap?
When you take actions and lead change for an issue you have seen or experienced, you're not only improving the quality of human experience in the area you're focused on (workplace, school, neighborhood, etc.), but you're also role modeling leadership to your family members, friends and all the people in that impacted area. If every person on the planet made it a personal value to do this, like they do say "generating income," the world would be in such better shape today. The ironic thing is, and I genuinely believe, financial and material successes actually become easier to achieve when you're driven by service because your motives are about benefiting a much larger set of people than just yourself. In turn, because you know your efforts can impact so many in an issue you really care about, you unleash an internal power, passion and courage you didn't even know you had...when really it was all there waiting to be awakened. So, the next time you have a feeling "I just know I'm meant to be more than this..." you know what the answer is.
Q: You have a great chapter in the book on resilience which addresses the power of facing obstacles. How can we learn to reframe our relationship with obstacles so that we can grow from them instead of feeling blocked?
We are all meant for greatness and adversity tends to increase the higher we make our goals. Therefore, we must start seeing obstacles as positive life events and teachers that show up to better us. Obstacles can protect us, direct us, mature us. They also exercise our leadership muscles—be it in creativity, patience, humility, courage, resilience and so on. Humanity will always need innovation which means solving problems (be it social, political, environmental to business) and its people won't know how to fix issues without experiencing them. The greatest inventions and innovations in history have come out of people experiencing obstacles. They force people to step out of their comfort zone and grow.
Q: You suggest we treat our lives as if we were leaders of an organization. How can we be more strategic and prioritize the things that matter most in our lives?
First get clear on what makes up your life chart. Some of the basics are personal health, financial wellbeing for the family, your marriage, parenting/kids, career etc. Then just like you project manage anything or lead a strategic plan at work, you always have a clear bird’s eye view of high level goals and process for each department. This way nothing falls through the cracks and you don't find one area of your life fully depleted or in breakdown mode. Then depending on the life season you are in (about to have a baby, most busy work period, going through marital or financial stress) you can prioritize what life departments are your greatest focus at the time. Read chapter 18 in the book - it's one of my favorite chapters and how I manage it all.
Q: This is a great quote from you: “To bring our most mentally, physically, and emotionally fit selves to the climb, our buckets need to be full and our battery fully charged.” You have an 8thmonth old and a toddler and a very active career. How do you make the time to replenish your energy and how would you encourage others to so without guilt?
I schedule "mini vacations" throughout the day and week. Whether it’s a movie and snuggling with husband, a weekly massage at a local place, date night or family time, nightly bath and fun time with the kids, a hot soak in the tub, reading a book, listening to a nourishing podcast -- the main thing is acknowledging I am doing something that is refilling my bucket a little more and relishing in it.
But probably my greatest replenishment is my prayer and time with God. I am Christian and time with prayer and faith to tap into my higher purpose and the miraculousness of life and all that I am here to receive and do in the universe fills me like nothing else. It's as if my battery gets charged by the universe and I bring a whole next level energy to my family and work.
Q: As the daughter Chinese immigrants who came here and created a successful life, what were the most valuable lessons they taught you, and what will you pass along to your two children?
My mom taught me "to own my independence, you must own your own business" and "if I put in my best effort to work hard and do good, God will always help lift me." My dad taught me "always marry for love and nothing else," that "when you build a business worry about making money, not spending money..." and "when you buy a house the most important room is the kitchen because it will provide the nutrition for the family."
Q: What advice would you give to parents to help them raise their children to become compassionate leaders and change makers? How can we make that more intentional?
Become people of extraordinary character so you role model and raise children of extraordinary character. This means get clear on the moral qualities and personal values that you want to embody and stand for as mothers and fathers, but also together as partners. Children often become what they see, and learn values based on the people they're surrounded by.
Q: What’s the most important message you’d like women to take away from your book?
Stop just living your life for the world, start leading your life for the world.
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