Jeanny Chai is an entrepreneur, coach, and cancer survivor. She’s inspired hundreds of women to break free from unfulfilling jobs and relationships. But she wasn’t always this way. In this exclusive interview she talks about how she went from a scared loner kid to a powerful leadership coach.
Childhood Pressures and Shaping of Mindset
Growing up, Jeanny was always under pressure to achieve. Sound familiar? In episode 3 of her podcast, Asians Breaking Ceilings, she shares the expectations her parents placed on her. “Oh, you’re going to be a doctor.”
She lived under constant pressure to be perfect. “I was called careless when I missed math problems and my parents were displeased. I got disapproval and felt like a burden whenever I made mistakes, like spilling milk or getting sick. I felt like I had to be perfect to avoid anyone getting mad at me.”
Her Battle with Cancer and Path to Transformation
As an adult she was free from her parents but then cancer got her. Her doctor told her that she had 3 tumors, stress-induced. Her reaction? “ashamed, scared, angry and then finally hopeful.” Despite cancer being a shitty experience, she had HOPE. How?
Hope came when she realized that she was allowed to ask for help. It wasn’t her job to suffer alone in silence. She had managed to handle all the other stressors in her life alone, but this one was too much for her – and that was okay. For the first time ever, Jeanny learned asking for help was not a sign of failure or weakness. This theme would return later on.
A Glimmer of Hope in Solitude
Cancer threw Jeanny’s life and routine out the window. Yet the hardest part wasn’t the physical pain – it was the overwhelming sense of loneliness she experienced. Unable to have visitors, she was profoundly isolated, physically and emotionally. She shares, “When you are under so much medication, your days and nights mesh together and you get lost in your own thoughts,”
But in that time of sadness, Jeanny felt a glimmer of hope. One day, she heard a loud voice that declared, “You are already good enough.” The unexpected declaration left her in a state of awe.
Jeanny had never entertained such a notion about herself before; this was a pivotal moment. She kept repeating this idea to herself for the next few years, and that’s when she started to feel stronger, more confident, and more in control of her life. This also marked the starting point of her business, Bamboo Myth.
A Journey of Self-Discovery
After casually beating cancer, Jeanny embarked on a five-year journey of self-discovery.
“When I got sick, I was no longer focused on becoming the next Elon Musk or landing a job at the next unicorn start-up in Silicon Valley. Instead, I bought myself an electric piano and an acoustic guitar. Later I bought a saxophone and ukulele and I gave myself voice lessons. I bought myself a baby rabbit, who was my bedside companion during my chemotherapy treatment. I remembered that I loved music, singing, and animals and learned to create my own happiness,” she shared.
With cancer showing her that life was short, Jeanny decided to leave the corporate world and start her own business, pursuing purpose instead of promotions.
“Asians Breaking Ceilings” Podcast
Fast forward a few years and her business is thriving. She speaks about the Bamboo Ceiling at Fortune 500 companies and major conferences.
She also runs a 12-week coaching program called “Live Your Leadership Potential,” and has coached over 300 Asian women, bringing “life-changing” results. Her program centers on 2 core principles that help women regain confidence, energy, and agency.
She teaches that what’s needed isn’t communication strategies, but permission to speak without guilt or shame. Once women overcome this barrier, their natural leadership abilities and newfound confidence are allowed to shine.
The best part? Jeanny emphasizes that this mindshift set doesn’t require years of therapy or yoga; all it takes is a focused approach to transform from burnout to happiness.
Now she is making these cultural-specific leadership strategies available to everyone, through her podcast. In it, she shares a powerful new definition of success.
“Confidence, assertiveness, and happiness are an inside job. So my new definition of success is this: Being able to decide, create, and ask for what you want in your career and life. And my podcast is designed exactly to do just that,” Jeanny shared.
Advice for Those with Similar Struggles
Did you resonate with any of this? Jeanny has the the following advice for individuals who struggle with people-pleasing, fear, or lack of self-compassion:
First, you must stop stuffing your feelings and coping by working harder and harder. Realize that you don’t need anyone’s permission, apology, validation, or approval for you to make the transition from unfulfilled to living your leadership potential.
Stop getting more certifications and degrees to fill that feeling of “not being enough.”
Listen to my podcast! Start with Episode 1 and let yourself feel again. Many of us have numbed out our emotions so we can handle and cope with all the stress but this is the opposite of what we need to do to begin the transformation.
Find a safe person (therapist, coach) and tell them your story. As Brene Brown says, shame thrives in silence. That’s why I’m paving the way by speaking up so others can speak up and be transformed for good.
And take this FREE assessment that I’ve created just for Asian Americans. It helps you identify in just under 5 minutes what is your biggest roadblock to success:
There is personal advice emailed to you based on your quiz results.
CONNECT WITH JEANNY CHAI
Linkedin: Jeanny Chai
Facebook: Bamboo Myth
Website (Bamboo Myth): bamboomyth.com
Website (Podcast): asiansbreakingceilings.com