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Q&A with Sheena Yap Chan

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Sheena Yap Chan, Author and Founder @The Tao Of Self-Confidence

How could you describe your career path in few words?  

My career path has been an unusual one.  Growing up in an Asian household, your life is already planned out for you.  You go to school, you graduate, get a job, get married, have kids and never rock the boat.  I did have an office job for 12 years but I always knew it wasn't for me.  After my aunt's death, I realized that life was so short and that I had to forge my own path.  So I did that but it wasn't an easy path.  I had to build up my confidence and courage to be where I am today.  I have been through many failures, struggles and rejections but it was all part of my journey.   In 2015, I decided to start a podcast where I interview Asian women about their journey to self confidence called The Tao of Self-Confidence.  It was important for me to create a better representation of Asian women since we are still seen as quiet, submissive and obedient.  I wanted to dismantle that narrative and I have been able to interview over 700 Asian women from around the world on the topic of self-confidence.  In February of 2021, I co-created a book called Asian Women Who BossUp where we highlight the stories of 18 Asian women who were able to forge their own path, overcome obstacles and thrive.  Since then, I have been speaking for corporations, schools and events about confidence, DEI, leadership and women empowerment.  In May of this year, I will also launch my book, The Tao of Self-Confidence: A Guide to Moving Beyond Trauma and Awakening the Leader Within.  This book is so needed right now as Asian women represent only 2.7% in leadership positions in the United States and we are often not considered as an underrepresented group when it is far from the truth.  This book is the start of seeing Asian women as leaders and more.

What was your most challenging experience and it has changed your mindset?

Starting something new was always the biggest challenge for me.  Everytime I started a new venture or project, I would start to overthink if I made the right decision or I would let fear creep in which delayed my own success.  I also realized that in order to make things happen, I had to get out of my own way and just start. 

When you grow up in an Asian household, you are told that you have to be "perfect" in everything you do.  You have to be the perfect daughter, wife, sister, etc and you are bombarded with such unattainable standards you end up feeling like you are not good enough.  When it comes to forging your own path, you have to be okay with showing up messy and be okay to make mistakes along the way.  All the most successful people did the same thing to get to where they are today.

When I decided to let go of perfection and just start even if it's not perfect, I was able to get the results I wanted.  You have to learn to ready, fire, aim.  You keep taking action and course correct along the way to overcome the challenges you will experience in your journey and get the results you desire.

Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader / manager?

There are so many how-to manuals on how to be a successful female leader and/or manager which is great but first we really need to learn to heal from our traumas which is what my upcoming book is about.  We go through so many traumas in our life that this truly stops us from becoming the best leader we can be.  Sometimes you are not even aware of the trauma that has happened to you or worse, you also carry the traumas of your parents, grandparents and beyond.  It's important to be aware of the traumas we go through in our life so we can take control of life instead of having our traumas control us.  

I had to heal from my own traumas to show up as my best self.  I had to unlearn so many things that my culture has ingrained in my head since I was a child.  That journey was not easy, in fact it was terrible but I needed to go through it so I can show up as my best self.  If we had more ways to help people heal from their traumas, imagine the positive impact we can create in this world.

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