From $10 Per Hour to $875 Per Hour with Founder and Leadership Expert Vivian Chan

Vivian Chan’s career began as so many of ours do – climbing the corporate ladder. She was great with people management, untangling problems, and was absorbing all the ins and outs of business at a senior level. In the eyes of everyone around her, she was ‘successful’. But Vivian didn’t feel successful. She was spending […]

Vivian Chan’s career began as so many of ours do – climbing the corporate ladder. She was great with people management, untangling problems, and was absorbing all the ins and outs of business at a senior level. In the eyes of everyone around her, she was ‘successful’.

But Vivian didn’t feel successful. She was spending her energy building a kingdom for someone else…and it didn’t feel fulfilling. She quickly realized that sitting at a desk from 9-5 wasn’t something she wholeheartedly believed in.

She wanted to help people grow, and help them leverage the talent they didn’t realize existed. But first, Vivian had to discover what her own talent was, what would make her truly feel successful. This his her story.

Vivian Chan’s Website: https://thesette.co/

Josh:
Hi, everyone. This week, we are here with Vivian Chan. She’s a leadership expert, and we’re just chatting before we hit record here about some of her backstory. And she was sharing that when she first arrived in New York, she was making $10 an hour. And that was her previous job. And now she’s selling VIP coaching packages for $3,500 for four hours, which if you do the math and I think we did it right, it’s $875 an hour. And that’s just a huge change, which is amazing. And I think really cool and interesting is she’s kept her job this entire way. And I want to hear more about that, but it’s cool because now she was sharing this, she’s like 70% of the way to feeling confident in jumping off and just doing coaching full time, which is just such a cool milestone. So hi, Vivian, thanks for coming on the show.

Vivian:
Hi, Josh. Thank you so much for having me.

Josh:
Yeah, of course. So walk us through what’s happened here. Like what’s the backstory? How did this whole thing come up and go back as far as it makes sense, in terms of when you first got this idea that you wanted to work for yourself?

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. So I’m originally from Malaysia and I moved to New York in 2009 and then ever since then, I started working while I was still studying in college and I was majored in engineering, but I was working in IT field. So, it’s not related at all, but I was studying, but I started in IT field. And then, at the time I was still a student and then I worked part-time and studying full-time and I was paid $10. I think $10 per hour. Yeah, I think at the time the minimum wage is like $9 something in New York. Now, obviously it’s more. And then, so I was working in IT field for over seven years. And I think after working for four years, I was still making $10. And then even though my direct supervisor at the time, he was very supportive of my work. And then he wanted to promote me to a full-time position or give me a raise but the department, because of the budget issue, they couldn’t do that.

Vivian:
And funny enough, even though the job is very low pay I still stayed, because I got to do the stuff that I really love doing. And then I get to use my strengths every day. So I kind of had this sense of a fulfillment. So, I just stayed there. And because I really liked helping people grow and maximize their potential and I was managing… At the time, I was managing a team of 30 people and all those times I was just a part-timer. Part-timer managing 30 people with low pay. Yeah, but I still stayed because I really had a sense of accomplishment by working at that job. But then during the time, I really thought maybe it’s possible for me to turn that position into a full-time position so I also kind of stayed because of that.

Vivian:
And so everything went pretty well until one day there was a like bad office experience that happened over there and then it kind of broke my heart. So, I kind of decided, “Okay, it’s time for me to move on instead of just waiting around and not being appreciated for what I’ve done and contributed.” So that’s when I started to make up my mind to look for alternative. And that’s when I kind of discovered online business at the time. I was good at doing Google search. So I did a lot of search on the internet and I found out about online business. I found out about [inaudible 00:05:12] school and stuff like that.

Vivian:
So I was like fascinated by the idea that, “Oh, I can actually make money online instead of working, finding jobs like in New York or somewhere else. So that’s how I started my journey of online business. So in 2017, I started my web design development online business. And then it was called [inaudible 00:05:49] at the time and then why I chose web design and development is because I already have the knowledge, like the skills, the skill sets to perform this. And then at the time I was thinking, “Oh, since I already know how to do this, and people probably want to pay to get this done. So I might as well do this.” So, I kept on going for a while and then I realized that something is not right. Like I felt something was misaligned but I couldn’t point out like, “Oh, what exactly is wrong?” But I just kept on going.

Vivian:
And then in 2019, I thought about it like, “Okay, I need to figure it out like, what’s wrong?” Because I was procrastinating. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. And then that’s when I found my coaches, mentors at the time, Emily and James Williams. And after working with them, I found that actually what I wanted to do is to become a coach and that I didn’t know that the seed was actually planted within me a few years ago. But at the time, since I was just at the beginning, I just discovered about online business, I didn’t feel like I could do it because of imposter syndrome. Like who is going to work with me? Like who am I to do this? Yeah. All sorts of stuff.

Vivian:
So, after working with my coaches, I decided, “Okay, I’m going to switch to become a coach.” So, after they helped me out and I told them, “Okay, I actually wanted to become a coach.” And then I felt a sense of relief. That’s when I know that okay, I made the right decision. This is the path that I wanted to pursue. So, that’s in 2019, I switched to coaching and yeah. So that’s how I started the current business coaching and leadership coaching business.

Josh:
That’s awesome. Something jumped out at me right at the beginning there that I wanted to ask more about. So were you being paid $10 an hour to manage 30 people?

Vivian:
Yes. And there’s a story behind it.

Josh:
Yeah. What happened if you’re comfortable sharing with us?

Vivian:
Sure. Okay. So when I started working, I didn’t apply to be the manager. So I would just apply to be the assistant at that place. And at the time, there were two team leaders. And then after I started working for two and a half months, both of them decided to quit. And then now my supervisor was left with a place full of like 30 people and then operation to run with no team leaders. So, he was asking around… He asked everybody who have worked there for a while and asked them, “Okay, would you be willing to step up, take on the role of managing the place, the team and the operation?” He literally asked everybody. And then nobody said yes. I can understand why, because you’re not getting more money for all those responsibilities.

Vivian:
So at first he didn’t want to ask me because I just started working. I was kind of new, just two and a half months, but then he decided, okay, he had no choice. I’m the last person and then he just asked me. Yeah, one day he asked me, “Oh, can we have a moment?” I said, “Sure.” And then he asked me the question, “Would you be willing to take on the responsibility of managing the place and operation?” Right away I said, “Yes, I’ll do it.” Yeah. And it’s not because of there’s more money or… I didn’t really see this like a promotion opportunity. But at the time I knew that he needed help and then inside me, I know that I can help him. And if I don’t help him, he’ll be miserable because he’s not there all the time and then there’s no way he can do it all by himself.

Vivian:
So, I said yes, because I wanted to help him and at the time, I didn’t really have any other thoughts. I didn’t think, “Oh, I’m still new, maybe this is not for me.” No. I just said yes right away. And that’s how I ended up managing 30 people, which is $10 [crosstalk 00:11:15].

Josh:
And then another story that you kind of mentioned, I don’t know if you’re comfortable sharing, but what was the catalyst? Because it sounded like there was this particular story where you walked away feeling really undervalued or unappreciated. What happened there?

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. Maybe I don’t say the names.

Josh:
Yeah.

Vivian:
Okay. Well, I left that place already. Okay. So, I was telling you that I was waiting for a full-time opportunity at that place. So, after working for five or six years, I became like the most senior already at that place working at my previous job. And then one day the opportunity came. The full-time position. There was a full-time position open up. But instead of the department, the upper management, instead of letting me know about this opportunity, they kept it a secret from me because they had some other plan. And then this plan was to give that position to someone else in exchange of resources.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vivian:
Yeah. And then they also let my direct supervisor know about it, and then I heard it from someone else. So, I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. But then I was like, “Okay.” But I still applied for that job posting because it’s published online so I can find it.

Josh:
Yeah.

Vivian:
Yeah. But then I know that even though I got invited to this interview and go through all the commotion, the position won’t… They won’t give it to me because they already had other plan.

Josh:
It was like rigged against you from the start.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
Dang. And how did you feel about that?

Vivian:
I kind of lost trust in them, in the system.

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah.

Vivian:
Yeah. So it’s like all these years I’ve devoted my time and energy and then I get nothing in return.

Josh:
Dang. Gosh. Yeah. Wow. Because I was going to ask, like you did devote a lot of time to them, five or six years, especially with being underpaid that whole time.

Vivian:
Yeah. Eventually I got pay raise to $15, but then it was like very… They were reluctant to do that. Even $15, they were reluctant.

Josh:
Yeah. So, yeah. So the system was not working in your advantage and the other thing that comes to mind for me, is I wonder if it felt like being taken advantage of?

Vivian:
Yeah, definitely.

Josh:
Yeah. Gosh. What was the story you’re telling yourself about why that happened?

Vivian:
So, at first when that happened, of course I had a hard time processing it, but after a while, maybe half a year, when I started to think back, I think the head of the department made the decision because he was looking the department as a whole. And then he was just thinking about the department, like the direction that the department wants to go. And then, he didn’t really think about, okay, if he went with the plan who will get hurt along the process? Yeah. So he didn’t really… Like purposely trying to hurt me or anything. So that’s how I thought about it after the event.

Josh:
Right.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
It’s like systems over people.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
Yeah. Yep. And then I would imagine that it left you just feeling very overlooked because it’s like, “Okay, well, I’ve been here for six years now. You can’t even consider me when you’re making this choice. It’s just going to be made purely based off of what’s best for your bottom line.”

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
That is extremely powerful. And if I can take a guess, I’m guessing that’s what moved you to then be like, basically if the system’s not going to work for me, I’m going to go make my own system.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep. That’s why I wanted to be at my own business and then decide what’s best and then make the decisions that I feel best and not relying on people and other people to take control.

Josh:
Right, right. Other people who might not have your best interests in mind or could make decisions based off of what works for them instead of thinking about your loyalty and what you’ve contributed. That makes a ton of sense. And how does that feel carrying through? Because how long have you been working on this on the side, like your own business on the side?

Vivian:
Okay. So I started in 2017. So it’s like three years already.

Josh:
Yeah. And you’re still working at that? You’re working at a different place now?

Vivian:
Yeah. At different place now. So after the incident, I was very desperate to look for other places just to change my environment. So, yeah, I was fortunate enough to be able to find something real quick and then just make the switch.

Josh:
Okay. Awesome.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
But then you’re still working full-time or is it part-time now?

Vivian:
Part-time.

Josh:
Okay. Part-time now. And then you’re building up the coaching business on the side.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
And what has motivated you? Because that’s 18, 19, 20… 3 years now of working on this on the side. What’s keeping you going day-to-day as… Because I can imagine if I’m pulling from my own experience, like when things take a long time, it’s like you need something to fall back on of like, this is why I’m still doing this.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
What’s your why of why you’re still… Or even in the beginning stages, like why you continue to persevere even if you still need to keep your job and like things are difficult, all that kind of stuff?

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I still persevere and continue on because it is something that I really want to do, even though I’m not able to get involved full-time yet. But I know that eventually I would like to be able to work for myself. And even though it’s tough to manage… Have to manage schedules for my part-time job, and then also my business, running business on the side. But I think it’s worth it. I see the end results. And then that’s what has keeping me motivated and keep on going, because I know that eventually… I’m kind of confident that I will make it work. It’s just a matter of time.

Josh:
Yeah, I was going to ask as a follow-up question, how does it feel when you’re on one of those coaching days and you know you’re getting paid and you’re in control? How does that feel compared to being back in that previous job where everything was out of your control and it wasn’t working in your favor?

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I actually feel really good. And then, I also… I was thinking like, “Okay, making money doesn’t have to be this hard.” If you find the right place and right environment, then it’s possible to pursue your dream and to make things happen and then get things right. And you do what you like doing, instead of having to stay at the place that don’t quite align with your values. Yeah. It kind of give me like the contrast like, “Oh, this is how people over there do things, but I can do it differently.” And I’m proving that.

Josh:
Yeah. Like you don’t have to just abide by a system that you don’t agree with.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
Yeah. That’s a big deal. It’s a very big deal. And I imagine that it’s much more exciting to wake up every day and do that, than go work somewhere that it’s just not what you want.

Vivian:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And also like when you do something that you really love, it doesn’t matter how hard, you still will do it.

Josh:
Yeah. Yep. I can definitely resonate with that. Well, we’re coming up on our time here, but thank you so much for sharing your story with us and I think it’s such a common story, not to downplay it at all, but like it’s such a common thing that I hear amongst people that are trying to start their own thing, like being in systems that just don’t work for them. And I really appreciate that you shared with all of us what that was like for you. I think it’s just very, very inspiring to hear that story and that journey. So thank you.

Vivian:
Thank you so much. Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah. And if anybody wants to check out like what’s going on in your world now, like what projects you’re working on, what kind of web presence do you have?

Vivian:
Okay. So if you want to check out what I’m up to, you can follow me on Instagram and my Instagram handle is thesett.co. So, T-H-E-S-E-T-T-E.co

Josh:
Awesome. Cool. Well thank you, Vivian. Really appreciate you coming on.

Vivian:
Thank you.

Make Your Own Quiz For Free

Josh Haynam

Josh Haynam is the co-founder of Interact, a place for creating beautiful and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. Outside of Interact Josh is an outdoor enthusiast, is very into health/fitness, and enjoys spending time with his community in San Francisco.

More Posts by Josh Haynam