We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Zhong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, how does your business help the community?
Let’s face it, change is really hard – even positive change. Too often we focus all our energy on creating innovative products and solutions then feel discouraged when we don’t see the social impact we hoped for. It’s because we need to change minds AND hearts. How do you convince people to care? To invest in transforming their own lives or the lives of others? The key is: storytelling.
I teach entrepreneurs and thought leaders how to find and tell brand stories that grow your influence and impact in the world – especially if you lack credentials or fancy connections.
We live in times where we need everyone’s imagination, ideas, and superpowers on deck. My mission it to help one million people harness the power of brand storytelling to grow their platforms, and activate positive change their part of the world. And to inspire community around their ideas.
My clients are typically folx who are in business for good, but avoid the spotlight. My business helps them develop stories that promote their offerings in ways that compel, rather than sell. And show them how to create marketing content that serves as a medium for change, and fuel to grow their business.
What should our readers know about your business?
Clients who work with me are entrepreneurs and coaches with a big vision for impact, but can’t stand the idea of marketing and self-promotion. The fear or discomfort with marketing has held them back, and they’re ready to stop playing small – but don’t want to compromise their values. Or they are “Jackie-of-all-Trades” who are multi-passionate, and struggle to create a cohesive narrative about themselves.
I use a signature approach to help clients crystallize the unique brand story only they can tell so they can attract and connect with their dream audience naturally. It’s a framework I developed from techniques I’d learned as a former journalist, podcast producer, writing teacher and marketing director. It not only uncovers hidden gems that reinforce your unique value, but also reveals common threads that tie together surprising parts of your experience into an unforgettable, cohesive brand.
I’m most excited right now about the launch of my program Own Your Message, which teaches entrepreneurs and leaders my framework to uncover their own stories for their businesses. It was a labor of love, built from my own struggle to tell my brand story four years ago. It transformed my business, and I was curious if it was something that others could learn and use. The “ahas” in the pilot cohorts blew me away so I took the step to turn it into a coaching program (a business first!).
Like many projects that mean a lot to us, I experience joy and terror. I fantasized about quitting at least 12 times (but who’s counting).
Lessons for anyone who’s building something important:
* Embrace the dips – my mentor Danielle Leslie reminded me this is part of the journey and that success is often just beyond the point where most people quit. Totally true.
* Build a buddy system – as the first entrepreneur in my family, it’s easy to convince yourself you’re not cut out for this. I had many accountability buddies at different phases to keep me honest to my goals. And reason things out when I got stuck.
* Use the power of baby steps – whenever I got paralyzed, I broke down steps into the smallest increment so I can move forward. Small wins create momentum.
* Go at your own pace – FOMO is real and you can talk yourself out of your dreams. You ARE enough. The only person to compare yourself to is who you were yesterday.
Your unique point of view matters. The world won’t get better by any of us playing small.
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.
Let’s start with a food tour. I take friends to Tsujita Artisan Noodle for out-of-this-world ramen in West LA, melt-in-your-mouth mochi from Fujetsu-Do Bakery (Little Tokyo), finger-licking spicy crab and shrimp from Kickin’ Kasian (Encino), Ethopian food at Meals By Genet or Messoub (Fairfax) and authentic homemade pasta from Ancora Cucina (Tarzana).
On a sunny day, drive down PCH to the top of Corral Canyon for a hike through jumbo rocks where you can sit inside a rock shaped like an elephant and look out over the Pacific Ocean.
We’d karaoke in a private room at Max Karaoke (West LA or Little Tokyo) where we’d end the night in a group rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A big shoutout to my professor and spiritual mother Dr. Mellonnee Burnim, who modeled for me as a fellow woman of color, what “owning your voice” looks like in heart and action.
Marianne Williamson’s body of work has nudged me through my fears and take heartfelt chances in my business and life. One quote in particular, is a lighthouse in my life, ““Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”
My husband Jim is my greatest champion – he’s my own Marty Ginsburg. My mother who was the first feminist I ever met and in the 80s, made sure to always remind me to do anything a male could do.
Final shoutout to my clients who inspire me every day with their desire to use their unique brilliance to better the world. For reminding me how many incredible humans there are in the world.