We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeany Zhao and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeany, how do you think about risk?
If you’ve ever asked yourself the question “who am I?” or had a hard time “finding yourself”, taking risks is one of the easiest ways to solve these. Additionally, going through the process of taking risks (and learning from them) will culminate in better decisions and an easier path in your life and career. Risk is discovery…you learn about who you are, and who you’re not. Yes, you will make mistakes…but you will learn even more. The more you take risks, the more you fine tune who you are. You’ll discover that you have more to talk about with people, you’ll become a more interesting person, you’ll have more experiences to share and laugh about, and make fun of yourself about. Life is a series of risks…from those first steps you take as an infant, to choosing a career, to being in a relationship. The more you risk, the more you’ll live. And since who you are is an ever-evolving creature, taking risks is the only way you’ll grow and learn. For me personally, the more risks I take, the faster I’m able to make good decisions. It has helped me better assess situations, read people, have an idea of what I’m getting into, and whether it’s something I’ll enjoy. Both in the corporate world and as an entrepreneur, this is a skills set that will set you apart. It’s made professional and personal relationship building so much easier because having a bunch of crazy experiences means I almost always have something in common with a person that I can talk about and connect over. I love the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man…and while that may take it a little to the extreme, the message is the same. Instead of asking yourself why, start asking why not?
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I have multiple business that I’m passionate about. I’ve had a consulting business called Aphoena for many years, and it’s a multi-service company. I provide services from data analytics and branding/marketing to business strategy & operations to building technology solutions. My skills set is not that I know how to do everything, but that I can help paint a big picture, create a strategy, and put together a winning team to get things done. I also have a company called ZK Performance that sells a scratchless car detailer and nanotech metal lubricant. This is a company I created with a friend because we like solving problems and creating better things when we think existing products don’t meet our needs. I also have a Texas BBQ restaurant in Bogota, Colombia with a partner and we’re so excited that we’re finally reopening after a long shutdown due to covid. I love writing as well and have written published articles for automotive magazines, doing one of the things I love most…driving fast cars. I have two very recent companies as well. The first is GrandPrix Originals USA, which is a luxury racing lifestyle shoe and apparel company that my partners and I brought into the US from Europe. And I’m just starting a personal and business coaching program called Suck It Up Coaching, haha! It’s a half joke. It’s meant to make people laugh a little, but it’s serious in the sense that it’s meant for people who are ready to stop feeling like a victim of life, and take action to make a change in themselves.
People ask all the time how I get involved in so many businesses that are so different. I just like to get involved in things that I’m passionate about and believe in. I don’t go into business purely to make money, because I can sell anything I don’t personally believe in. I feel like the things I do genuinely help people, or solve a problem, or alleviate a frustration, or make people feel good in some way. And it helps that I have a pretty extensive corporate background and I’m familiar with the business and professional side of things as well. I always knew that I wanted to own my own business, be in control of my own destiny, and reap all the results of the effort that I put in. My biggest challenge is managing my time and giving attention to everything. I can definitely get stretched thin, and doing multiple things is not for everyone. I have to actively manage this constantly and it is not easy. But at the end of the day, I love getting up and getting to work everyday because I believe in the things I do…and that is a worthwhile reward.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
What I love about Santa Monica and the LA area is its diversity and variety. There is something for pretty much everyone here to love. I’m a foodie…so the first things I would love to show someone is the variety of food here. Within a 20 minute drive, you can get great authentic food of all ethnicities like Asian, Cuban, Mexican, and Ethiopian – just to name a few of my favorites. You can go to the beach and the mountains and see snow in the same day if you wanted to. Some of my favorite things to do are go to a racetrack and race cars, go for a hike, drive up the coast to Malibu and enjoy the view and great food. There are so many great shopping spots with both high end stores, big name brands, boutique shops, and vintage clothing.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents were the first risk takers I know…with no English language skills, they immigrated from China to Los Angeles when I was 7, leaving behind everything familiar to them to start at the bottom all over again, for the chance at a better life. From there, I am grateful to every teacher/manager/mentor that took the time to guide me, every person who took a chance on me when I didn’t have the experience but had the passion, every person who forgave my mistakes, let me learn, and gave me another chance.