it's Fei, this is my story.
If you prefer listening to this story, please use the player below. Otherwise, read on!
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.
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 was 13 hours. I had $3,000 in cash. It was all the money I could bring, and I was not sure when I'd return home.
We flew from Beijing to LA first to visit Disneyland, where I purchased an ice cream cone for $7 and dropped it even before the first bite.
After two days in LA, we took off again to our final destination: Fryeburg, Maine. Population: 3,449.
I became one of 600 students at Fryeburg Academy, living in an international student dorm with fifty other girls.
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 that good.
In fact, I was light years behind so many other talented boys on the hockey team. Yes, they were all boys before we had a girls' team.
In Maine, most kids (who played) started when they were two years old. Their parents built backyard skating rinks that lasted all winter long. I started when I was 16 (literally, the year before I came to the States. Oops!).
Allowing me to play was a miracle, making me the Captain was... just absurd.
I was embarrassed. But Coach Mango asked me to "Say yes, Fei. Stand up for yourself!"
It wasn't as effective as Tony Robbins' approach, but I did accept the offer. All the Chinese kids at Fryeburg Academy went crazy. They were so proud.
My college years were a blur. A lot happened, yet it felt like nothing happened compared to my one year studying at Fryeburg Academy.
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 my place and my peace practicing Tae Kwon Do at a local martial arts school, making friends who are a decade older than I was.
Upon college graduation, I had a decision to make - do I stay, or do I go back to China? 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.
For the next 10 years, I worked in tech consulting and advertising. First as a computer programmer to prove that my degree had a point, but quickly switched over to be a project manager, which enabled me to learn from everyone, on every project.
In Corporate America, I saw some of the best and the worst in people.
But, there's something beautiful and timeless in all of us. I wanted to capture them and make them known.
After losing my father to cancer at the age of 26, I realized I had no recordings (audio or video) of him when he was at his peak - as a calligrapher, as 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 work as a Junior in high school when I had my radio show, so my dad replied to them all, often with a small gift of some sort from Beijing.
I missed being a host, creating my show, 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. Can you relate?
Sitting with my guest #1, Caleb Brown, at a Japanese restaurant outside of work, he asked me: "What if people right here want to see you succeed? " Literally, that's what it took for me to hit the launch button.
"Why Not You?"
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?"
For each episode I produce with my team, we add soundbites (our favorite quotes in guests' own words) to the beginning of each episode. We had a soothing music background and credit the musicians on our blog. We also capture show notes, minute marks with powerful questions.
Nearly 4 years later, I carry these questions and wisdoms from 100+ guests, everywhere I go, especially when I'm feeling lost. They help me find myself and my purpose, over and over again.
As I'm writing this, I realize that I want to do this for as long as I can - writing, podcasting, creating content.
What's next for Feisworld, 2019 and beyond?
We are creating our first online course "Reaching Billions" to help English-speaking podcasters launch their shows in China, and reaching 2X the listeners compared to iTunes.
We are producing a self-funded documentary based on my journey as an immigrant, a podcaster, and the journey to my American Dream.
We are launching our Chinese Podcast (finally) on Ximalaya.com