it\’s Fei,  this is my story.

If you prefer listening to this story, please use the player below. Otherwise, read on! 


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2000

That\’s me on the right. This was taken at the Beijing International Airport on August 26th, 2000.

I was 17, waiting to embark on a new journey as an international high school student with six other teenagers, to the land of the unknown – the United States. 


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Just weeks before my big trip, I was working part-time at the China National Radio Station (CNR), preparing to wrap up my weekly radio show called \”Youth Rhythm\” that had been running for a year. I was the first bilingual, teenage DJ they had ever hired. 

It was the coolest job ever.  

The flight from Beijing to LA was 13 hours. I had $3,000 in cash. It was all the money I could bring without knowing when I\’d return home. 

Everything felt (and was) really expensive to us. The exchange rate between RMB (Chinese Yuan) and USD was 8.3 to 1.

I still remember visiting Disneyland in LA, where I purchased an ice cream cone for $7 (or 56RMB) and dropped it on the ground even before the first bite. My heart sank. A bottle of water for $6 was all I had for the rest of that day.

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve always been a nervous and somewhat anxious kid. So much of my life up until then and continued to be for the next 15 years was about high achievements and making my parents proud. The funny thing was, my parents never really asked for it but I’d always assumed it was my job to do well in everything – academically, career-wise, and oh – finding the perfect husband and birth perfect children. (Spoiler alert: I missed some serious marks here).

After two days in LA, we took off again to our final destination: Fryeburg, Maine. Population: 3,449, where I became one of 600 students at Fryeburg Academy, living in an international student dorm with fifty girls from all around the world.

The rules weren\’t written, and I didn\’t want to live anyone else\’s dream. I wanted to play ice hockey, enjoy sports with other American kids. 

But I wasn\’t a good athlete by American standard. Oh please, I’m not trying to be humble. There was legit competition.


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The boys on the hockey team was amazing. We didn’t have a girl’s hockey team so I could only play with boys, much taller and strong than I am.

Imagine the first day of physical conditioning training:

Me: 5’4’’ and 110 pounds, not very strong at all, endurance was even worse. And oh, forgot to mention my English vocabulary was limited. I still remember Coach Mango (yeah that’s his real name) held onto my helmet and trying to tell me something strategic about the game during intermission, and I couldn’t make out a word he was saying between my limited understanding and ridiculously loud background noise.

Them: all boys, many of them over 5’10, probably 160 pounds or more. One time, we played with PGs (Post-Graduate students) from Bridgton Academy in Maine. They were all 19-year old dudes who played hockey as if it was their entire life. The game ended 12-0 (we were 0). Brutal!

Pretty quickly learned that most kids in Maine who play hockey often start when they are two years old. Given the convenient Northeast climate in America, their parents can easily backyard skating rinks that lasted all winter long.

I started at 16 (literally, the year before I came to the States. Oops!). 


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Til this day, I’m still shocked by the opportunity to play hockey given to me by Fryeburg Academy, Coach Mango., but making me the Captain for the boys and girls hockey team was… just absurd! I couldn’t possibly accept it at first, but Coach Mango insisted.

He presented the title in front of my entire art class and said: \”Say yes, Fei. Stand up for yourself!\” 

It was one of those strangely breakthrough moments I’d experienced. Despite the discomfort (I was very ready to vomit), I ended up saying yes. All the Chinese kids at Fryeburg Academy – all 7 of them – went crazy. They were so proud, and some voted me to be dorm president.

Another surprise came through at the end of the school year, I received the Captain Award in front of the entire school. When the president called me a valuable leader and team member from half way around the world, I felt I had come home to everyone.

2001: Chapter 1. High School

My college years were a blur. A lot happened, yet it felt like nothing happened compared to my first year in America studying at Fryeburg Academy.


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In Boston, I was a tiny fish in a huge pond.  Bostonians are go-getters, and the city is a destination for millions of world-class talents. Lucky for me, I found a place where I belong – a Tae Kwon Do school right next to the Red Sox Stadium. I made friends a decade older and wiser than I was.

Five years of college (including 1.5 years of co-op experience) flew by quickly, I had a decision to make – do I stay, or do I go back to China? 

I chose to stay, because I thought a few years of work experience wouldn\’t hurt. Plus, I really wanted to make some money back after my parents invested all their 401K in my college education.

2006: Chapter 2. College

A few years turn into six, then ten years of working in tech consulting and marketing. First as a computer programmer to prove that my degree (Computer Science and Math dual major) had a point, but quickly I switched over to be a project manager, it was a good choice because it allowed me to learn from everyone and see through the entire lifecycle of many different projects.

2008-2009: Chapter 3. Saying goodbye to dad

I received a call from my parents after snowboarding at Sunday River in Maine for an entire day. Exhausted.

I still remember mom’s voice trembling before she choked up and couldn’t speak anymore. My dad took over and asked me to “relax, don’t worry. it’s going to be fine.”

He wasn’t fine. Stage 3 esophageal cancer. His tumor wasn’t operable.

For the next two years, I traveled 5-6 times between US and China with sick leave. The longest time I stayed was three months. I worried I’d lose my job, which meant I’d lose my H1B (US work visa status) and never be able to return to the country again, which I’d seen happen to friends of mine.

I still remember clearly the thoughts I had every day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to stay with dad for the time he has left? Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could be present with him to enjoy the limited conversations we had left, instead of working on some financial reports while standing outside the ICU?

While most entrepreneurs-to-be dreamed about 9am yoga classes, I dreamed about spending time with parents and the ones I love on their final days.

Mom and I looked and felt awful most days during those two years. For me, it taught me an important lesson and helped me see the North Star I needed to pursue the real career I want.

The life I have now took years of trials and errors. I wish I knew it’s an iterative process just like my own becoming for the rest of my life.

2014: Chapter 4. Feisworld Podcast

After losing my father to cancer at the age of 26, I realized I had no recordings (audio or video) of him. He was a talented man with lots of interests and expertise: a treasured calligrapher, a writer, and the most beloved person at every social gathering. Going through his things, I noticed the letters he wrote on my behalf to my listeners from CNR, from more than 10 years ago!  At the time, I was busy with school when I had my radio show, so dad replied to them all, often with a small gift of some sort from Beijing. 

That’s when I realized that I missed being a talkshow host, sharing stories and conversations, so I started the Feisworld Podcast in October 2014. At the time, podcasting was on the rise, but mostly led by major media companies or celebrities. 

Listening to my voice again after 15 years of not being a radio host felt terribly strange. It took me two weeks to hit \”Publish\” before the first episode of Feisworld went live. Yet it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Go, make your podcast!

Here’s something I made that might help you.

  1. Silence your inner fear and doubts and hit that launch button.

Sitting with my guest #1, Caleb Brown at a Japanese restaurant outside of work, I confessed my struggle to hit the launch button for my podcast. At the time, I had a full time job at a marketing agency. “What will they think of me? Why do I have to have my own show?” It’s strange to look back to this moment because as an entrepreneur today, I can’t care less about what others “think”, because what I need to do is too important to let go.

I still remember what Caleb said, which was \”What if people right here (inside the restaurant) want to see you succeed?\” Exactly! Why do we assume that others won’t be supportive of us? Why do we need constant affirmations to pursue what we love? It was that simple. I returned to my desk after launch and hit “go live” on first podcast episode. Caleb was great, I sounded nervous and needed a lot of work. Nobody cared how much I sounded other than me.

Another early guest on the show, a mentor and a friend, Matt Lindley, told me stories about his upbringing. Both of his parents were artists. When it came to becoming successful, or more importantly – living a fulfilling life, they often said to him: \”Why not you?\”

2. You gotta know when to get out of your way!

Nearly 8 years later, I carry these conversations, soundbites of wisdoms from 200+ guests, everywhere I go, especially when I\’m feeling alone and lost. They help me find myself and my purpose, over and over again. 

I realize that I want to do this for as long as I can – writing, podcasting, creating content, and teaching others to do the same.

2018: Chapter 5. Feisworld Documentary

My producer German traveled all the way from Sweden to visit me in Boston one weekend in February 2018. He made the world-best empanadas and we sat in the living room chatting about our favorite shows on Netflix. It turned out that we both loved watching documentaries and docuseries (short for \”documentary series”).

“Feisworld should a documentary!” German yelled out.

The rest is history.

Ok, not really. German and I spent the entire weekend with dozens of markers and ideas to plan out. We loved what we saw as potential to bring Feisworld Podcast to a whole new level.

I still had to figure out the financing side of things. So I went back to China with nothing but an idea to sell.

I met with a number of businessmen in China, feeling awkward and slightly embarrassed to explain what I was trying to do. They didn’t quite get it at first, and there’s no Netflix or Amazon Prime in China. But when I mentioned that I wanted to be the first Chinese TV host and make my own show featuring extraordinary people from around the world… all of sudden, something changed.

One businessman said yes. He was very interested and secured 40% of my docuseries funding.

I still had to invest 60% right out of my own pocket.

The journey of our documentary production still feels so surreal. It remains to be one of the most exciting time of my life. You can now check out our series for free on Amazon Prime.

2019 – Present. Chapter 6: Feisworld Media (on YouTube)

Launching the documentary on Amazon Prime took a few weeks. Shortly after that, I felt the urge to continue my video storytelling journey. I do not regret it!

YouTube, as the second largest search engine in the world, has accelerated Feisworld’s reach to half a million views in less than six months. We became a monetized channel on YouTube in March 2020. Shortly after, consulting and sponsorship opportunities rushed in unexpectedly when I only had a few thousands subscribers.

It quickly became clear that I want to evolve so much of what I do for Feisworld around YouTube, and strategically leverage the platform (YouTube and Google) to build a new business model.

While I continue to maintain a handful of marketing mentorship clients, I began building out online courses extensively to reach more people (1 to many vs 1:1).

As of January 2022, our Skillshare course has nearly 1,000 students. Our Podia course platform (aka Feisworld Academy) has a dozen or so signature courses, startup guide and free resources for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs.

I’ve also transitioned from general marketing mentorship to focus on YouTube strategy, where I I help small business owners craft video content to showcase their products and services, and to grow their customer base with YouTube strategies designed to meet their business needs.

To be continued…

 

Let’s chat, shall we?

Ask away, work together, and tell me your origin stories!

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