Original interview can be found on the Smart Cookies website here.
Have you ever been, by definition, successful – but knew there was something more? Something more you were meant to do, more you were supposed to give, more you could create… something BIGGER you were meant to be a part of? Then Amy’s story is one to pay attention to.
Amy is one of the brightest, most successful women in corporate communications. She is ON TOP of her career, but that is simply one layer of this remarkable woman. Because in addition to her career in communications she’s also a celebrated columnist, writing brazenly about love, loss and life for three major news sources and her own personal project, JustMyType.ca.
The Vancouver Sun describes her as a ‘purveyor of urban culture;’ Amy’s candid words ‘authenticate the life experience of a modern day woman.’
It wasn’t an easy road to get to where she is today, and it wasn’t just gifted writing and her endearing candeur on love that launched her writing career; resiliency was key. She’s sharing with us her thoughts on love, life and how she built the career she loves while pulling herself back up from heartbreak and devastating disappointment.
Allow us to introduce you to Amy Chan.
Q: Tell us about you! We want to know all about your world; your writing career, your website, oh and your full time Director of Communications role?
By day, I lead the communications for a publicly traded biotech company that is developing a treatment for skin cancer. By night I am a writer. I have a column in the 24 Hours Newspaper and blog for the Huffington Post and The Vancouver Sun. I am also the creator ofJustMyType.ca – a website that provides fresh perspectives on all matters related to relationships, love and personal development. My mantra: “Be the type of person you want to meet.”
I set out to create a life that would be filled with inspiration, adventure and colorful stories, and am proud to say that I’m doing just that. I have a home base in San Diego, California as well as a home in Vancouver, B.C. Everyday through my work, writing and helping others in the community; I know that I’m making a contribution to this world and to me, that is success.
Q: How do you balance it all?
I love my job and work for one of the most inspiring leaders I’ve ever met, so my career is quite fulfilling. Writing has always been a daily ritual for me – I write every night before I sleep and I start off my weekends with a coffee and few hours reserved to read and write. I think there’s no such thing as “I don’t have time” – we all have the same amount of time, it’s just a matter of what you choose to prioritize and allocate that time to.
Q: How did you land your first column?
My first adult relationship was with a free-spirited French man who fell in love with me just as quickly as he fell out of love with me. One day, he came home and said, “I don’t love you anymore.” Ouch. Those were some pretty shocking and devastating words to hear. I dealt with my confusion and pain by writing and one day, decided to share a journal entry on my Facebook. I had such an overwhelming response from people telling me that the piece helped them through their experience and it made them feel a little less alone in what they were going through. That support made me think, “Hey, maybe I have something here.”
After that, I decided to cold pitch the article to over 100 different publications. Most of them ignored me, some of them said no, some said I wasn’t experienced enough. But one said yes. That was the 24 Hours newspaper, and five years later, I still write for them today. That exercise taught me a valuable lesson, you only need one person to give you a chance. Don’t let rejection deter you. I approach opportunities with the mentality that it’s a numbers game. I expect rejection as part of the process and keep trying until that “one” gives me a chance.
Q: What do you think it is about you and how you view the world that has allowed you to achieve so much?
My drive in life has come from different sources depending on my stage of life. As a little girl, my parents were always busy working. I was raised by nannies and my sisters. I always wanted to get approval from my parents who had extremely high standards and wanted nothing more than to make them proud. So to get that acceptance, I was an overachiever and strived to be the best at everything. I was also bullied as a kid, and I think that added to the fuel as I desperately searched for empowerment in my teens. Two years ago, I went through a devastating breakup with the man I thought I was going to build a lifetime with, and that gave me a big push. After a period of healing, I used the pain and disappointment to drive me. I took a good look at the life I had, what wasn’t working and the life I wanted to create. I also learned that you can really only rely on yourself to make things happen, so focused on devoting my energy into building myself – my career, my spirituality, my health, my community, and the impact I leave in this world.
Also, I truly believe that you are the sum of the company you keep. I have an incredible, inspiring, and intelligent group of people that surround me. I am very black or white when it comes to the company I keep and choose friends that have similar values and high integrity.
Q: On the front page of your new website, something immediately pops – the quote, “courage is the strength to be vulnerable” what does that mean to you?
I think that our society often sends the wrong messages about what it means to be strong. In this traditional lens, strength is often equated to “sucking it up”, not showing emotion and moving forward as fast as possible. But life happens – and along with that come experiences that make you feel extremely uncomfortable, hurt, sad, etc. These are all emotions that are part of the human experience.
When we suppress, block or numb out these emotions – we don’t heal from our pain and trauma, we just bottle it up. The pain and wounds are not healed and eventually creep up again in some shape or form in the future. I think it takes courage to allow yourself to be human, to feel –to sit with the discomfort of not “feeling good” and healing before rushing to move forward from those emotions.
Q: You’ve been so courageously open about your love life, what have you learned in the pursuit love, that you can apply to your business/career life?
I have learned that with anything in life – whether it be business, opportunities or love, that all you can do is try your best, operate according to a set of morals and values based on doing good versus harm and take the approach of jumping in with two feet. What happens after that is out of your control. I believe that when one door closes it’s because another was meant to open. And when I look back in my life, this has always been true.
Q: What books are a must-read?
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – this book taught me to chase the right things, and to not hold back in telling people how much I appreciate them.
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor – this book discusses how we can rewire our brain for happiness, and how practicing gratitude is a major component of our joy.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – This book takes a new meaning everytime I read it, depending on the stage of life I’m in. It reminds me to have faith and hope that there is beauty and magic in this world, and that everything that happens, and doesn’t happen, is for a reason in the grand scheme of things.
Q: What are your thoughts on dating wealthy men?
I am financially comfortable and enjoy the lifestyle that I have. I’d hope that my partner would be on the same level. While dating a wealthy man who can afford a great lifestyle would be lovely, wealth alone is not nearly enough. What’s empowering about making my own money and do not need a man to financially support me is that I don’t have to lower my standards on the things I need (emotional support, time, affection, etc).
However, I’m not going to deny that ambition, drive, determination and a business savvy mind aren’t important to me. They are. I value those things about myself, and find that attractive in a potential partner.
Q: What words of wisdom do you want to leave with readers?
You are the stories you believe. If you have a negative narrative about yourself, life and people, that’s the reality you will live. Change the story = change your perspective = change your energy = change your outcome.
Q: What’s next for Amy? What can we look forward to?
A book. A TedX talk. And maybe, when the time is right… a love story of my own.