We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us. Check us out on Anchor, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Spotify, and more. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave us a positive 5-star review. This is our opportunity to use the voices of the Asian community and share these incredible stories with the world. We release a new episode every Wednesday, so stay tuned!
Geena Chen is the author of the first Asian Hustle Network book, Uplifted, which collects intimate recountings from Asian American entrepreneurs about how and why they started their businesses. A first-time author and rusty writer, Geena eventually quit her job at a recycling startup to focus on crafting Uplifted full time. Over the year that followed, she hired a storytelling coach, marshaled her self-education around writing, and rewrote the book 4 times, while exploring her own relationship to hustling and being Asian American. When it launched on Kickstarter, Uplifted reached its $10,000 funding goal in less than 24 hours with the support of the community (and so far sits around $24K - there are 2 days left!).
Geena trained in spoken word poetry and mechanical engineering at Stanford University, and she considers herself an independent operator working on projects she believes in. She spent most of her career in the circular economy, leading teams of engineers and designers across Taiwan and Europe. Together, they turned single-use plastic cups into furniture, plastic toys into restaurant trays, and old textiles into renewed textiles for the world's largest consumer brands. One minute she would sit on Zoom calls like a corporate square and the next moment she would be exuberantly dumpster diving for materials. For her, shapeshifting and contradiction are the spice of life.
Please check out our Patreon at @asianhustlenetwork. We want AHN to continue to be meaningful and give back to the Asian community. If you enjoy our podcast and would like to contribute to our future, we hope you’ll consider becoming a patron.
Please check out our Patreon. We want AHN to continue to be meaningful and give back to the Asian community. If you enjoy our podcast and would like to contribute to our future, we hope you’ll consider becoming a patron.
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Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. This is episode number 100. We're super excited for this episode, we have a very special guest with us and her name is Gina Chen. Gina Chan is the author of the first Asian hustle network book, uplifted, which collects intimate recounting from Asian-American entrepreneurs about how and why they started their businesses. A first time author and rusty writer, Gina eventually quit her job at a recycling startup to focus on crafting uplifted full-time when it launched on Kickstarter uplifted. $10,000 funding goal in less than 24 hours with the support of the community. Gina trained in spoken word poetry and mechanical engineering at Stanford university. And she considers herself an independent operator working on projects. She believes in, she spent most of her career in circular economy. Leading teams of engineers and designers across Taiwan and Europe. Lastly, she loves a good soft boiled egg as garnish to an otherwise boring meal. And she loves Brian Maggie and the Ahn team. Gina, welcome to the show.
Geena: (00:01:32) Thank you so much.
Maggie: (00:01:36) We're super excited to have you for episode 100 to kind of finish off our season one of ahm podcasts. So let's jump right into it. Gina, tell us about your upbringing, you know, like where you grew up, where you were born and what was your family life? What was that environment like for you?
Geena: (00:01:52) Yeah, totally. Um, I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, although I don't really remember it. Cause at age two, I moved up to the suburbs of Boston with my parents. Um, so I grew up in a pretty suburban, but leaning towards a rural environment. We lived across a huge pond and like in the middle of the woods and kind of isolated from our neighbors and the community. Um, my parents are both Chinese. They came to the U S when they were like in their mid twenties for grad school and they met in North Carolina. Um, and yeah, I had a. I had a childhood spent like very much in my head and with my little brother who's three years younger than me just cause I think, oh, the physical isolation. And also because my parents, um, had like a community of. They had some friends that they were scattered around the region, uh, in the suburbs of Boston. It's not super Asian grew up in a really white town. Um, but all the people I knew growing up were like the children of my parents' friends who are also like, you know, who also came over as Chinese grad students.
Um, so yeah, I spent a lot of time playing Neo pets, uh, like just playing with my little brother reading books. Um, I only had like two friends and I had play dates with them every single day. And I was very sheltered from the rest of the world and really weird and eccentric. Um, I read Harry Potter, like every single Harry Potter book, 17 times each.
And I just felt like maybe I was scared of the world. So I sort of sheltered myself by being really closed off and weird. Um, when I say weird, I guess, I mean, People could tell. I was kind of weird. Like I wore only one outfit ever. And it was like the same, uh, blue Mickey mouse fleece every single day with really high pigtails and black pants.
And people would be like, why you always wear the exact same thing? Like don't you ever do laundry? And I was like, uh, no. And they're like, you ever take out your pigtails, like, we'll pay you to take out your pig tails. And I'm like, no, but I was. I think I had this really rigid identity to sort of protect myself and have this hard outer shell to the world.
Um, but yeah, inside I'm very soft and just like imaginating things a lot and reading. Kind of weird.
Bryan: (00:04:13) We like, we like your readiness and we don't consider weird at all. I think it's very unique, right? I think that, you know, a lot of us kind of grew into that. We tried to succumb to social norms. Right. But what's cool what to wear, how to dress, how to talk.
But the fact that you kept yourself true, since you were a kid, just shows how strong of a character you have and your own self belief to dive deep into that more. It's like, I'm wondering, like, how did your parents raise you? Like, where are they super strict on you? Cause I know that you and your younger brother are super smart.
You guys are very accomplished. People feel like, how did your, how did your parents raised you to like, be comfortable who you are? Or was this something where. Where you develop that, that feeling or concept on your own and sorta, sorta cherish that throughout your entire childhood. Right. So how did your parents raise you?
Geena: (00:05:03) Yeah, totally. Um, this is a question I've been thinking about a lot more lately because I've just moved back in with them. I've been away for 10 years and now I'm like living back in my childhood room and like, Redeveloping my relationship with them as adults. So I've been reflecting a lot on this. Um, I do think that my parents, they, they gave me like the greatest gifts of my life by simply believing in me, trusting in me and sort of modeling what it means, what it looks like to totally love and trust yourself.
Because I think that the two of them are very comfortable with who they are. They have. Love and trust for themselves. And therefore they, I think they treated me and my brother as full humans, not necessarily like as an extension of their ego. Um, and they also were not that strict, surprisingly, they were not strict in the sense that they told us what to do.
They're actually quite hands-off. But I do think that there was a form of strictness in the sense that they had very, um, high implicit standards for us. They, they kind of just made it known from a young age that the two of them were like the best at what they did. Um, I think like that, that generation of Chinese immigrants, you know, what came over in the, uh, seven days, 80.
To pursue like higher education in technical fields. They had to definitely be like the best at what they did in China to be able to come to the U S so a lot of the origin stories I have around my parents is that they were number one in their class forever, and they never said explicitly, so you have to be to ever, but I do think that growing up with that conception of my parents made me believe, well, I could do that too, if I want it to.
Um, and so. In general, I feel like the way they raised us was they didn't put ceilings on what they thought we could accomplish. They generally were positive about it, but they also made sure to express often we don't need you to do the same thing as us or you don't need to be. Um, actually a weird thing is that my mom has a saying, she'd always say, she'd be like, don't be the best.
Don't be the worst is best. If you could be somewhere in the middle. So people don't like notice you and give you trouble. Um, that's something I kind of ignored, but like, They generally were not like gunning for us to be, um, anything in particular besides what we, you know, would naturally stray towards.
Bryan: (00:07:31) Yeah. I love the way that your parents raised you. The raise raise you and your little brother out in Korea out of curiosity. Are they, are they both engineers?
Geena: (00:07:40) They are both engineers. Yeah. My dad is an electrical engineer. My mom's a software engineer.
Bryan: (00:07:44) I love that because that's, that's an ongoing joke. Uh, I had with my, with my. Uh, my dad was. I was just telling my dad's at work. I don't want to be the best or the worst. I just want to be unnoticeable. So when your moms did that to you, I'm like, wait a minute. I say that to my dad.
Maggie: (00:08:05) I love that. I mean, it's, it's so important to have that support system from your family and your close swans around you. And I love that. They said don't be the best and don't be the worst because I feel like often, you know, when parents forced you to be the best. Kids often rebel, you know, because they, they they're under so much pressure, you know, and realistically we can't be the best, you know, we're never going to be as perfect as some Asian parents want us to be.
And I love that you have that support you and your brother both have that support system from your family, which is so important. Yeah. So we want to know, you know, we, I think Brian and I met you, how long ago was it? I think, um, two years ago. Yeah. So was it two, two or three years ago?
Geena: (00:08:51) More than that now? Yeah, two and a half years. Yeah.
Maggie: (00:08:55) Two and a half years ago. Yeah. And you know, I think that moment was such a special moment for us. Um, and you know, we, we can talk about that story over and over again, but before we dive into it, you know, what were you doing at that time? You know, I think you were, you know, hustling pretty hard and you were diving deep into different, you know, hustles.
You also had a full-time job as well. And we know that you often work on projects you fully believe in. Um, and you know, you're, you're very, uh, into a circular economy you're very into sustainability. Um, and just talk about, you know, the career that you were in before we had met you on what you were doing at that time.
Bryan: (00:09:31) Yeah. Out of curiosity too, like w why, why are you, why were you so interested in financial freedom? Right? Like what made, what sparked that interest? Because that's how we. Right. We met at a financial freedom class in San Francisco. So I'm kind of curious, like you're working a stable job. You have parents that care a lot about you.
You went to really good school. My why? All of a sudden, you want to learn more about financial security. Was that mean for you?
Geena: (00:09:56) Yeah, totally. Um, so I guess some context is, um, Let's see, I met Brian and Maggie at a financial freedom type of mastermind. It was a book group where we read like think and grow rich or rich dad's cashflow quadrant.
Um, alternatingly and, um, it's hosted in San Francisco by a really wonderful person. And there's always like a random mix of people in that room talking about their personal experiences. Um, so I. I guess a lot of questions in there. So I'll just try to paint a timeline. After I graduated Stanford, I went into, um, a kind of niche field, like circular economy.
That is, uh, a sort of like academic way of just expressing. How can we close the loop on quote waste and try to, first of all, like design out waste, but also potentially use wasted materials in new products. That is sort of what I tried to gear my education towards at Stanford. Like from it mechanical engineering.
I did that because, uh, in mechanical engineering, I remember in my junior year, my professor once told. Like 95% of people in this major are not going to become mechanical engineers. And I'm like what he said. Yeah. They'll go into like tech, finance consulting. Um, not really traditional. Trying to build things, which is kind of what I thought engineers would do is create things.
So, um, yeah, I, I created my own major from that point and made it really specialized on thinking about recycling and recycled materials and how materials. Get created and destroyed and developed. So that was already really specific. And that gave me like one or two companies that I would want to work at after graduation, who are really tackling that problem in the real world.
So moved to Taiwan after graduating, um, and was really immersed in my full-time job back then, because it was doing exactly what I thought I wanted to do. I, uh, moved back to San Francisco and worked in a tech job that I was not very excited about at the time that I met both of you. That was because I wanted to be with my partner who is now my husband.
So I was kind of like, whatever, I'll take, whatever job I find. Um, so that kind of leads into why I was really focused on financial freedom that year. I think because I was so detached from my work and I was really trying to think like, um, how can I. Sort of like a playful world and future that I want to live in doing things that I believe in again, um, maybe not necessarily on someone else's terms.
I mean, I would have loved to work in circular economy still, but it's just not as developed in the U S and certainly wasn't a company in San Francisco that wanted to work for. Um, so yeah, I figured, let me take little baby steps. I never really focused on. Um, I think like financial freedom is an interesting topic or even like phrase, cause I wasn't introduced to it until.
I'm probably my senior year of Stanford. And it was in that book group that we talked about. It's something that my husband took me to and we were at Stanford and we went like once a year. And, um, so the first time that I started reading about anything like financial literacy related. And I really do think it's an interesting topic because I feel like most of my community or people I know reframe their relationship to money later in their life, like maybe in their twenties or thirties or even later just cause it's not something we're by default programmed to think about.
You know, healthy or proactive way. So it feels like a relevant topic for our, you know, age group, just because I think it becomes something that a lot of people just proactively create a relationship around for the first time later in life. Um, so yeah, I was definitely attracted by a lot of those. Early sorta like, you know, um, entrepreneurship 1 0 1 type of books and readings that you might do, like rich dad, poor dad think and grow rich four hour work week.
A lot of the, a lot of the white dude, like entrepreneur books. And, um, I was really inspired by them and. I should try to put some of these ideas into practice. So when I met Brian and Maggie, I had just quit my job. I'd worked there for a year. I was getting ready to move to Europe to start another job.
And in those two months in between, I started hustling these, um, what I call Bonners. They're like a rubber ball on a stick with a spring on it. And you, you like tap. Your muscles and joints with them. And I was inspired by my 95 year old grandmother. Cause she started using that, um, like the minute she woke up, she would just start like, bonging her different, like critical points that she learned from some doctor and she just loved it and gave her a lot of mobility.
Um, so I imported like 120 of them planning to do like a little side project with my coworker at the time. That was bonkers came so late, like seven months later, then they were supposed to that I had already left my job by then. And like, I just did on my own during those two months, um, set up my first small, like LLC and sold some products.
But unfortunately I still have like 400 of them in my little brother's closet behind me. Um, so that was like a bit of a semi failed venture. That nonetheless taught me a lot about like, how to just go through that straightforward playbook of, you know, starting something, delegating a lot of things like launching a product, et cetera.
Bryan: (00:15:20) I love that. I love that story a lot. I'm really grateful that you took that leap and, and your interest in financial literacy. I think that's, that's how we met. Right. And what really stood out from you that day was. Your sense of curiosity really caught my attention. And it was like some of the questions I, you were asking me during lunch.
And during that evening, I was like, wow, she's really eager. But also I felt kind of bad too. Now we'll kind of keep that between us, because I felt like some of the stuff that was taught during the event was very basic and it almost felt like you're led down a wrong path. You never so eager. So I'm like, you know what, I'm just going to take out for lunch to see if I can learn more about.
So, you know, we took, took you out for lunch and, you know, at that point you're moving to Europe and it really strikes me that you're someone that is very, very smart and you're very go getter. Right? You, you take a lot of initiatives. And even though at the time, like Asian, lots of network was not founded yet at all, or not even close to being founded.
And back in back of my mind as like, I want to work with someone like Gina in the future, right. Because I just have this, this, this feeling about you. How authentic you are and how go yet or you are. And I just want to see how I can help you unlock your potential. Right. And I saw that with you and everything you said in your passport, he just makes a lot of sense, like starting over major at Stanford.
That's crazy. Like who starts their own measure? 19 20, 21 year old, uh, undergrad. I wouldn't be like, Hey, I'm not learning what I want to learn. I'm going to create my own major, you know, and that speaks volumes to who you are as a person. And that sort of leans down to like the project that we asked to see ready, which is Asian hustle network book.
I think. This is partially my fault and Maggie's fault as a wall, but we were like, not very clear what we wanted the book, right. But the book came up to be one of the best things I ever read on by, by any of my team members at all, you know, and that that's some crazy that you're able to put this together and key results.
So motivated. So I want to dive deep into that, that as well, like I know we, we came to you with me, Gina, we want to write this book and you sorta took it and you ran. And for you guys listen to this podcast, that is an understatement of how much time credit effort that Gina has put into this. And I hope that Maggie and square to add more to it, to tell our listeners.
Some of the detailed stuff that she did on her own. And I really blew the rest of the team away. Oh my God. I Gina's at a complete different level here. We love it. So much of that.
Maggie: (00:18:01) We do love your Gina. And just to add on some context to that. Kind of rewinding back to what Brian was saying. The first day that we met, you know, Brian did, you know, turned to me and he was like, no, I know Gina is going to do big things in the future.
Like I just know I can, bro. Brian's like really good at reading people. So, you know, meeting you, it was just like such a phenomenal day and like same with KK as well. And to our listeners KK is Gina's husband and you guys just make such a good pair and we thought the same thing of both you and KK, you know, you.
Are going to do such great things in the future and you already are. Um, and to provide some more context on, like, when we had tasked Gina with this project, you know, none of us had ever written a book before and you know, when a new project comes out, it's like, you kind of know what you want or what you're envisioning.
But then at the same time, it's like, we never done something like this before. So it was very, like, some of the parts were very ambiguous to the things that we were saying to Gina. Like we wanted this project to. It looks like this, but we don't know exactly what we're going to put into it yet. Right. And so to the listeners out there, when we had told, you know, we wanted this book to, you know, look like this, or we wanted this book for Asian hustle network, she, you know, really, really took the reins and just like, went with it.
You know, Gina has never written a book before. And so just the things that she did, you know, she hired a writing coach, which we will talk about in a little bit. Um, she just took initiative on so many parts and, you know, without us actually like following up or without us, you know, asking her like, you know, where is this or what's happening with this part, she would always come very prepared and things.
Some of the things that she would do would be like, Provide us with screenshots and like gifts into our slack channel. And we're all just like, I didn't even know that you could make gifts and send them in slack, or she would just have like a whole paragraph of like dot, dot dot, like 1, 2, 3, this is the update for the week.
And we're just like so amazed every time, because it's like, we never asked, you know, for this sort of information, but it's always so helpful and it's always something that we need. Um, so yeah. The irritable. Yes. The air table. Sometimes people are just like, I don't even know how to use the air table, but Gina like mastered it.
And she would always provide us with a beautifully laid out irritable each week. So the decks. Yes, the decks as well. I don't know how Gina does it, but she's like a master at PowerPoint slides and Google slides. And, you know, I know some people, including myself, hate hates putting together Google slides on PowerPoint slides, but Gina's is always so beautiful.
And it's not like, yeah. That's her major, anything she's just good at it. So do you know, I want to hear from you, you know, like what was your thought process when you were tasked with this project? I think Brian and I talked enough about you, but we can go on forever, but you know, just want to hear from you.
What were you thinking at that time? And, you know, we can apologize all we want for not being clear enough, but I think that this is something that both, you know, Brian, myself and you were very excited about, um, something that we envisioned, but want to hear from, from your perspective.
Geena: (00:21:04) Yeah, of course. Well, thank you so much. That was so sweet. I know listeners. Can't see, but I was just making exaggerated I'm flattered. Like can't really handle this type of faces cause it's so sweet. Um, I mean, I'm really grateful to. In general, be surrounded by people who believe in me. I think that's, it's an active choice too. I really do like gravitate towards people who have chosen to like see something in me.
It's not everyone, you know, is, I think it's actually quite rare, uh, to find some kind of like sponsor of your abilities and confidence like you to wear to me. So I'm obviously really grateful because that changes people's lives. That absolutely changed my life. Um, I. I think like the slides air tables have a status, just like an inbred employee tendency for me, you know, like being a very operations type of person.
Um, so I, I think that that's my training and it's much more natural for me to be like number two or number seven or number 10 on a project, the number one. And I see you two as really strong initiators. So this was such a good partnership for me. Cause I got to learn how. I mean, not just learn, but experience how to like super skilled relentless executor's work.
And, um, probably my constant learning throughout the 15 months in different forms every week was just seeing like, wow, I overthink things so much. And there's, you know, the value that I get from this partnership and learning from you too, in all aspects of your lives is how can you just like keep taking one step at a time?
Imperfectly not knowing like exactly where that's going to lead 10 steps down the road. Um, that's been like an invaluable lesson to learn because yes, I read that. I read that in articles all the time that you're supposed to do that, but it's a different thing to feel it in my body because I'm living that and like seeing two people actually do that every day.
So, yeah, I think like when you first approached me about the project, it was, it was proposed more like a web article series that was more like December of 2019. So HN was only a month old. Um, COVID stuff hadn't happened yet. It was really blowing up and people were having like, taking a lot of interest in people's stories.
So I remember Brian reached out, he was. I like that you're in a different time zone. I was in London at the time. And we want to just be able to sit you up and talk with like really awesome entrepreneurs and learn from them. So I thought at the time, um, yeah, I think that my strengths in life are like talking to people, asking questions, listening, and potentially writing though.
I haven't written in like a long time. So it sounded super aligned with my interests. Though. Um, what I learned later from one of our interviewees say, Bo, was this concept of the Dunning-Kruger curve. It's like, when you first start something, you have low competency, but really high confidence. And then as you go on, you quickly fall into like a pit of despair because you realize how incompetent you are.
And then you like slowly spend the rest of the journey, learning your way out of it. So I thought that was really accurate. Like I had high confidence in myself, but actually very low competence. Um, I learned I'm not like that. Great at interviewing and writing. Like these things are super hard for me at the beginning.
Um, like my priority during the interviews in the beginning was can I, you know, build a great relationship with this person? Can we just have a good time during the podcast? And they don't ask. Or not podcasts, but interview, maybe I'll ask some really thought provoking questions that makes them like think.
Um, but lo and behold, that doesn't really create the best result for an article. Also doesn't work with everyone. And, um, sometimes they would have a really good time builds a good relationship, but then it'd be like, I. Prioritize the reader, uh, like what's the reader going to get out of this. And so it took some learning, first of all, to refine the interviewing style and really prioritize, like what's going to create a great experience on a blank white page to an anonymous reader, halfway around the world who just like can't meet this person and read all their entertaining body language, et cetera.
Um, and the writing part was a whole other thing. And I think the learning curve for that was way longer. So. Um, yeah, I mean, going through all those transformations of the book was good. Like I had to skill up a lot and I think that's why it was high effort. Maybe people don't like. You know, it wouldn't have been that high for if I'd been experienced coming in.
But a lot of those first few months between us three was also like refining our vision, trying things, um, figuring out what didn't work. I remember when we were in month five of this project, or month four, we had already done 30 interviews. We had like a 500 page manuscript, um, which was like already laid out in, in design and the three of us plus our other team members, Mikayla and.
And somewhat K two, we workshopped it. And we just decided like, yes, this is a book already. It's already 500 pages, but this is not worth shoving down anyone's throat. And that's not because of the people who were like volunteering their time at all. It was purely because I didn't take any risks with that content and present it in a way that was.
Actually going to provide value to readers. And I think that was like a huge turning point where we all, you know, learned a lot. We could not have learned it though without doing it.
Bryan: (00:26:32) That is, that is amazing. Gina. And even though I'm listening to your story again, I still feel like it's underrated. How much time effort.
I still think you're selling yourself short to our listeners slice. There's so much effort work that you put into it. Um, I'm just kinda curious too, like how, how have you grown talking to all these people? Right? Because. No, we made sure that we position you in a way where you want to do as an author to learn a lot about entrepreneurship.
So how have you said, how, what would you say since the very beginning to now? My, why? What is your holistic view of the world in the business world and what have you learned and what do you hope our listeners who read the book will take away by reading the book?
Geena: (00:27:15) So the way that I've changed, I think has purely been, um, it's been like a result of the internal workings of my mind during this process, more so than the influence of the content itself, which is somewhat of a surprise. Um, I think it's just that the, like, thinking about how to frame the stories with. In my mind all the time that I was absorbing less of the lessons that people actually taught me through the interviews.
However, if I do think about like the incredible people that I met in this process, it definitely reinforced like a certain view of the business world or like a worldview that I already had. But now feel a little more. Just more conviction in that everyone's context matters so much and there's absolutely no formula for success.
Um, I always knew that, but I do feel like sometimes there's a tendency within business or productivity content to be like, do this playbook, do it this way. Or there's some things that are universally good. Um, I really believe. There's not really a hierarchy to how anyone lives life. And in general, I don't even believe anything is like better or worse than anything else in general.
Um, I think things can only be like better or worse than something else within like a very specific context and result you're trying to achieve. So that is the lens that I took. I'm approaching this book. Like something people probably don't know is that when we first started writing it, we really. Like our first model was Tim Ferriss tools of Titans.
And that's like a huge volume. That's almost like a collection of notes from a lot of successful people about, you know, how they do their morning routine or different systems that they've come up with in their lives to create their success. That's something we use to guide ourselves at first. And there's definitely a lot of value in that.
But I think that we also were sort of approaching it from a standpoint of like, this can't really be made into cliff notes or like meme ified people's stories just really depend on where they're coming from and what suited them at a particular moment. And that's sort of what we're trying to paint through, going into more of a deep dive and, um, telling it from the interviewees voice directly.
Maggie: (00:29:38) Hmm. I love that. I love that you brought up the fact that we kind of modeled it to Tim Ferriss tools of Titan. I think like Brian, myself Eugena and the rest of the agent team that were working on this book, we were trying for the hardest and longest time to come up with a name. Right. And tools of Titan was like, just something that we kind of.
Just modeled after and trying to try, try, try, try to mirror also. Right. But we couldn't think of a name, um, that would kind of appeal to the broader audience besides the Asian community. And so what was it like for you when we were trying to come up with the name? Uplifted? I think like that's such a compelling name.
I, you know, I've never seen any other book or title, you know, film named uplifted. Um, but it means something so sentimental to us now. Right. And we've just been. Marketing the book. So often now uplifted is so meaningful to all of us. I'm sure it is. Right. And so talk about your process, your thought process while we're coming up with a name and, you know, trying to appeal to the broader audience aside from the Asian community, because honestly, We have to share these, these stories with people outside of the Asian community, right.
If only Asians were talking about Asian representation or stop Asian hate, nothing will ever change. Right. And I want to know, like, you know, how you personally thought about, you know, the word uplifted, um, and that thought process while we were coming up with the name.
Geena: (00:31:00) Yeah, totally naming is really difficult. Um, I mean, as, at least for me, I think that it's really a hard thing. And sometimes, um, in the beginning of our process, we'd have these like impromptu naming sessions. Like we pull up a whiteboard on zoom and everyone on our team would just start tossing out names. And what's funny is like, we always end up.
Sort of meme of flying or, or like making funny parodies of existing books. We had like a, you know, with Tim Ferriss example, again, he has a book called tribe of mentors and we were like tribe of uncles and aunties, or, um, I forget some other ones. Anyway, we have like an awesome lawyer on our team, Nick.
And he's like, no, we can't do that. So, you know, we were at like zero for the longest time. Uplifted came so out of the blue, it, literally, my husband woke up next to me one day and he's like, you should call it uplifted and like, okay. Um, that's literally how the thing came about, but I think that felt right on a surface level at first, just because it's short.
Um, it's it feels good. It is a word that has been thrown around a lot in 2021, I would say. In the aftermath of, you know, like a really difficult year in 2020, and also a difficult start to 2021, especially with anti-Asian, um, hate incidents and stuff. So I do feel like that's a word that's been circulating in the community a lot in context, too.
Like we are in reference to just needing uplifting content or needing to be there for each other as a community. I would say though, the, the word took on more significance for me over time. Um, it took until maybe may of 2021, which is already like for context a whole year into the project. When I really feel like things clicked with this whole project, like the book, the message, the title, they finally suddenly clicked together.
And I. Um, I just felt like so much clarity flooding into my body physically because I, I came to this conclusion through a session with our storytelling coach actually named Joel and just talking through it with him. We basically landed on the fact that uplifted is it kind of begs the question like uplifted by whom.
Uplifted by actually a lot of factors and the fact that this is an anthology, it's not necessarily saying like what some conclusion about we're all uplifted by blank. But, um, everyone in these stories, in some ways they're on like a hero's journey. It's very much like their own individual, uh, journey to success.
But at the same time, they're all uplifted by something, whether it's their community or their co-founders or their friendship, or even like their failures or. Um, there were like hardest experiences. And even though we didn't write the stories from the beginning, with the frame of trying to emphasize just like all the uplifted newness that's happening in every story, it's awesome to take this retroactive lens and apply it because actually that's something any of us could do to any of the stories in our lives is to say like, well, we're accustomed to typically framing it as our own journey proactively through life, but anyone could think of any story feeling.
All right. What are the things that did uplift me? There was a lot of transfer of energy going on. I helped uplift others. Others helped uplift me without that transfer of energy. And like the gratitude that comes from recognizing it, the journey is a lot more like, you know, just a lot less interesting and rich.
So that is something I believe in wholeheartedly. I feel like I'm thinking about just like passing energy between us is really meaningful to me. Um, Think like immediately of all the people who make things possible for me, like literally nothing would be possible without other people deciding to take a chance on me and uplifting me.
And that's like an intentional act. So I believe that like, if anything. Readers could get out of it is like if they just simply feel inspired to reflect on their own life and their own story. And think about the spirit of either like collectivism or, um, just like mutuality that exists in their journey.
That's, that's something I'd be really happy with.
Bryan: (00:35:17) Well, I mean, that, that is amazing. Jeannine, thank you so much for sharing that insight with us. I do agree with you. There is no such thing as self-made, there's just no such thing. As I did it all by myself, we're all uplifted by our parents, by our peers, our family, or mentors that believe that.
You know, it may not seem a lot at that time, but over time it just adds up, you know, and it really, it really does matter for you to have a community and a tribe that really believes in you to begin with. So I really liked the fact that the book is centered around that theme a lot. So I appreciate that, you know,
Maggie: (00:35:55) Yeah, absolutely agree. I think like we tend to idolize, you know, being self-made in this generation. Right. But honestly, like if anyone were to ever make it, you would have to have a community, someone who would be there to support you, support your business. Right. And so I think this is a really good lesson for all of us. It's like community is so important and there's so much strength and community, and it really is about not only, you know, being uplifted, but uplifting others right.
In our journey. Experiences and telling people what our experiences are so that they can be inspired as well. And I think this book really encapsulates like all of those journeys really well, and you just like laid it out so perfectly.
Bryan: (00:36:36) Yeah. I like that a lot in Gina for this last part. I really want to focus on. You know, we spent the last 15 months worth working together. Our Kickstarters ending this week and our podcast is dropping this week on the, on like the background story of how the book was written. Well, what is next for you? You know, where do you, what do you want to do next? Because I, I said this before, like, whatever you choose to do, you're gonna, you're going to be very successful at it.
And also whatever you choose to do, I will always support you. As much as I can. Cause I just believe in you that much, you know? So I'm kind of curious, and for our listeners too, like you're the author of the Asian house of knower book by what's next for you and you know, what's what, what are your plans moving forward?
Geena: (00:37:21) So to be totally honest, I don't really know. I I'm, uh, you know, as the book winds down, I'm definitely doing some active exploration, just getting to know myself again. I mean, I feel like it was, uh, this process was pretty intense and it was like just disappearing into a wormhole for a year or so. Um, I think everyone kind of had that experience where like a lot of people did just through.
You know, just the last two years and COVID, um, but yeah, like just, uh, transitioning the lifestyle's a big thing for me right now because the process of writing the book, if anyone's ever tried, like writing something that's long-term, it's, it's very solitary. It's like you spend a lot of time. Doing like writing adjacent things like simply feeding myself going on, walks and sleeping and thinking we're all part of the writing process for me, I feel like I was just constantly in this, like living in the soup of writing, um, supportive activities and that, and we were, I was also living in a small town, um, in England, like we had moved out of London, so.
Overall. It was an isolated time. And right now I just feel like for the first time I'm, re-emerging back into the world and talking with people again, networking, again, like meeting new friends, having fun, again, like, um, I, I always have fun doing, not conventionally fun things, but I'm having like conventional fun again.
So I just feel like a little baby just like newly emerged out of my shell again, and like just, um, I'm so happy that we completed this project because there's so many learnings that now, now that I'm not in the middle of it can reflect on it. And yeah, to be very honest, I don't exactly know. I do want to go forward with a definite vision cause I love to concentrate on only one.
You know, for example, this book. Uh, but that means I need to take a lot of time to marinate and like figure out what's going to be aligned with my values going forward.
Maggie: (00:39:34) Well, we wholeheartedly believe that you're going to do great things, Gina, and you know, it's just so amazing. Just hearing your thought process because we've been working with you for the last year and a half, you know, You know, we've, we've met you in person as well.
And you know, we've hung out a few times, but it's just really amazing. Just like learning about what you were thinking internally throughout this process, just writing the book. And I do want to give you like the opportunity to, you know, say one message that you want to share with our listeners. You know, it could be something that you wish you told yourself as a younger child, or, you know, as a younger Gina, what is that one message that you would tell to the.
Um, you know, what would that message be?
Geena: (00:40:15) Yeah, definitely. I guess I'm still learning this message. It's, uh, it's in progress. And I think that like a lot of people, maybe anyone who's had to create something and put it out in the world with their name attached to it would probably relate. Um, I do think that.
Just in general, making things happen or creating things from scratch or, uh, you know, creating things that didn't exist before is a very, it's not always challenging in terms of the tactical things that need to be done. The hardest thing is just, you know, Developing yourself. Uh, for myself, it was always like just talking to the voices in my head that I never knew were there.
I think that working on a more self-initiated project just surface is like the, the most pressing. Questions that you need to personally grow through at every single moment. Um, and so I, yeah, I think that a lot of the internal battle for me is just like believing in myself enough to. Simply do a simple thing and become more skilled as an executer.
Like both of you. I am a very overthinking person. Like I mentioned, grew up like very much in my head. Um, and in some ways, writing a book like this, where it's sometimes a charged environment, Asian anything. Um, I had a friend recently, like, as she was editing the introduction, tell me, you know, like anytime you write anything Asian, of course it needs to come with a lot of like caveats and stuff.
And that's why at the time our introduction was bulked up with so many different, um, explainers and contextualizing of terms and history. And it's still there. I do think that's important. Um, and I was just thinking like, why is that? I think part of that is. In general, like, um, Asian stories, like people of color stories, people of color writers, they're a lot less, uh, there's a lot less content about it.
So there's a lot more pressure to represent, um, where actually that's like impossible. But at the same time, you kind of want to do as good of a job of it as you can. So you're always going to be somewhere on that spectrum of like, I'm trying to simply pay homage to like true stories, but then also thinking about the larger picture of representation.
Gonna potentially be like created and interpreted by all kinds of different people. So I found that to be a very neurotic process. And most of the time I'm always like surfacing potential comments from all the haters that I'm imagining in my mind, I surfaced like thousands of potential. Like, you know, just things that haters would say to me, but then at the end of the process, None of that happened yet.
Um, and moreover like, yeah, this doesn't exist. It's in my head. It's actually like my own judgments of myself. And at the moment when I do have real haters, maybe that means I have like, actually, you know, made enough of it, uh, like been, had enough visibility to be considered, like it was actually seen in the world, you know?
Uh, it was actually my husband who was like, you know, anyone who has haters has probably made. And you don't even have any haters yet. So I'm like, okay. Yeah. I just have imaginary haters. It's myself. That's something I need to work on. And just like, I don't say necessarily resistant, but at least recognize it.
And to know that having true haters might not be like the worst thing ever. That's always going to happen. It's fine. Like when it happens, it's not going to be nearly as scary as when it's in my.
Bryan: (00:43:49) Yeah. I mean, sometimes we go, we are our worst critic and I feel like in this situation, it is sorta like that Um, but having Hader is not really a problem, you know, we get a lot of hate messages all the time and actually it actually validates that there's we need these, this. And I see as a form of validation, right. It depends on how you look at that as a narrative, or you look at, look at that and be like, oh, all right, maybe I need to take a step back and learn some more because I'm not fully educated in that field.
You know? So I don't necessarily necessarily see as a bad thing, unless it's. Death threats or, you know, all these little other things, but honestly it shouldn't matter too much. And it's, it's, it's bound to happen as you become bigger and bigger. People just hate on you for a lot of multitude of reasons that aren't valid at all.
So a part of growing up is not caring. What other people think about you, you know, and, and, you know, really appreciate you sharing that.
Geena: (00:44:45) Yeah, definitely. I'm ready for ready for it. Cause it's like at the end of the day it's feedback. So, um, yeah, I think this is a constant learning journey for me. And this helped make, helped me make a lot of progress in that sense.
And like it's much better than the alternative of. Saying or doing anything just because I'm afraid of bad feedback. I mean, I'm not truly afraid of bad feedback. So, um, I think that's like an illusion in my head that took me a while to smash through.
Maggie: (00:45:18) Absolutely. I mean, it's yeah. I think it's a learning process either way, right? Like Brian mentioned, like either you're doing something right. If you have heaters or, you know, it's just a learning process for you. And I think that we there's learning process and learning opportunity and in every situation, so Gina, where can our listeners find out more about you and uplifted?
Geena: (00:45:42) So uplifted has a Kickstarter it's ending in four days. Um, after that point, I guess we have to set up a landing page, so that it'll last longer than that, but definitely Google uplifted, um, a collection of stories from Asian hustle and network, and you will definitely be taken to the Kickstarter. We will set up a more permanent home for it and to learn about me, I guess, probably.Uh, I don't have like a great online presence yet, but I'm on LinkedIn and IgE as Gina beans, Chen beans with a Z.
Maggie: (00:46:18) Love it, we will leave all of that in the show notes of this podcast episode. But Gina, I just wanted to thank you so much, you know, and I'm sure on behalf of Brian as well, and he can speak to this after, but you know, we appreciate our friendship and you know, it's not just a business relationship, but we've grown to be such close friends, such good friends, you know, and.
We've seen you grow so much, and it's just so amazing having this relationship and friendship with you, um, and really excited for you to be episode 100. And you know, after this book is, you know, done with the Kickstarter, you know, I know that Brian and I will always be friends, close friends with Gina.
And she's just an amazing person to be friends with. And everyone that we meet, everyone that Brian and I meets, um, who has met Gina, they say the same thing about you. So they always have great things to say about you. And so thank you so much, Gina for being on this show.
Bryan: (00:47:12) Yeah. Thank you so much. Gina and Ecuador. Maggie said too, it's we freaking love you. We love you a lot. And if anything, this book has removed any sort of dollar in your that we have in your abilities to execute anything that you do in your life. Not just the book, whatever you choose to do. There's no doubt in our mind that you're going to be very successful.
You know, and you've grown away where it's beyond our wildest imagination. By having you talk to entrepreneurs, see you go through that entire process and really surprised that you never really got mad at us. I would be pretty mad if I was working with me. So I want to thank you a lot for, for that. And we really appreciate you.
I know the team has the utmost respect for you and your abilities. And I can't wait till I show the world. W this masterpiece that he puts together, right? This is hard worker for two months and really making our mark known in the world and just taking up space and being seen and being heard. You know, I really, it sounds weird, but I really hope you do get your haters because that just means everyday something great in life. And again, we thank you so much, you know, and we love you. So.
Geena: (00:48:23) Thank you. I truly love you both too. I think that as much as it's great to have, um, you know, on the, on the side of actually finishing the product and launching it for sure, the most rewarding learning experience was our partnership and going through just like a long-term project and.
I mean, I just can't believe in some ways you both orchestrated this, uh, opportunity for me, it was an honor to be able to work with you and come out of it with such a strong relationship. I trusted you both a hundred percent, like in the bottom of my heart, when we first started, even though we only interacted.
Like sometimes, you know, it's definitely a vibe thing. And I think that throughout the process, you just proved that to be stronger and stronger because I did, you know, we did have conflict at certain points or things that weren't working super smoothly sometimes, but I feel like every time I've voiced my concerns, you listened to me completely.
And. Like vice-versa, I've also felt like if you two are experiencing something that you would definitely just confront me about it, it's very drama free. Um, that was like such a new experience for me. And. I really thank you. And truly from the bottom of my heart, I love you both too. I'm so grateful. And I'm so proud that, you know, we were able to do this and thank you for teaching me all the lessons that you taught me.
Maggie: (00:49:44) Thank you so much, Gina.
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