Making 10x Her Previous Salary and Overcoming Doubters with Mai-kee Tsang

Mai-kee Tsang had a lot to work through on her entrepreneurial journey – a family expectation that didn’t involve leaving stabile work to build her own business, an abusive relationship that played into a people-pleasing tendency, and the fear of “what if it doesn’t work and people pity me?” Yet she persisted, and today is […]

Mai-kee Tsang had a lot to work through on her entrepreneurial journey – a family expectation that didn’t involve leaving stabile work to build her own business, an abusive relationship that played into a people-pleasing tendency, and the fear of “what if it doesn’t work and people pity me?”

Yet she persisted, and today is making 10 times more working for herself than she did in her previous job. This is an amazing story you don’t want to miss.

Mai-kee’s Website: https://maikeetsang.com/

Josh:
Hi everyone, this week we’re here with Mai-kee Sang. She was making $10,000 a month in her last job, which we’ll talk about-

Mai-kee:
You mean a year.

Josh:
Yes. That’s a good point. We’re not going to edit this because that’s how this goes. 10,000 a year. I was thinking about that because now you make 10,000 a month, and your annual revenue is over a 100,000. You’re literally making 10 times more than your previous job, and you have the freedom of working for yourself, which is amazing. That’s a dream for a lot of people, but as the premise of this show is, what happened? How did this happen?

Mai-kee:
Well, first of all, I’d say that the whole 100,000 thing… I’m on track to my first six figures. I just want to just clarify that first and foremost. But yeah. Where do you want to start? There are so many jump off points.

Josh:
I think for me, I’ve been writing some of my story, and it starts really early. As early as you can remember, that has impacted what you’re doing now.

Mai-kee:
Okay. I feel that the best place to start would be during my university years. I was the kid that could never answer the question, what do you want to be when you grow up? Right? It was only during my teenagers where my friends would always say, “Oh, Mai-kee. you’re such a great listener.” I always thought, Okay, I wonder if I couldn’t make this… As a career. A profession. Then that’s when university came in, where I wanted to study psychology, and go into counseling because that’s one of the pathway that you can take here in the UK. Josh. Okay. I was in one of the final years in the UK before our university fees tripled. I was at 3k a year, and then my partner who is a… The academic year after me, rose with 9k a year. Right?

Mai-kee:
It was a big jump. You can imagine how I felt. I really pressured to stay on because… I’ll be extremely honest with you. The first day of university, every fiber of my being was telling me, Nikkei this isn’t for you. I thought, shoot. I can’t quit though, because I got into my first choice. I got the grades I needed. I worked hell of hard to get here. I had always been a great academic student, and so it just felt so wrong to deviate from that. The good girl path.

Mai-kee:
Then the thing is… What happened is, during my second year of university, I was involved with a guy who wound up sexually abusing me. I realized in retrospect that the need to please others, to never speak up for myself, and to just go along with the status quo the way that I had been raised up to be… I didn’t realize how much that set me up to be a victim of that circumstance. Of course, I’m aware of the fact that I did have a choice, and at the time I just felt like I didn’t have one because I was just so used to following orders.

Mai-kee:
That situation was the catalyst for me because I thought to myself, this isn’t right. I can’t live this way, following everyone else’s orders, and never speaking up for myself. What is this? It took me to the rockiest of rock bottoms, and I just saw how much I had been escaping by all these years on other people’s needs for me. Their expectations of me. I never really spoke up for myself. 19 year old me back then, I pick myself up from the inside out. A lot of healing work. I took care of my health, my mental health as well, and I reconnected with my loved ones.

Mai-kee:
Because I was so obsessed with taking care of my health back then, I was a perfect target, I suppose, for Facebook ads. I’m like, thank you Facebook Ad that day, because I was targeted for this health coaching school. I was like, What’s this? I was so interested in health back then, so that’s why I was really drawn to it. Then when I really learned about coaching, I was like, this is what it is. This is what I’m looking for.

Mai-kee:
During my final year of university, I actually studied health coaching on the side, and I graduated the same year as I did with my coaching certification. That was great, and it was from there that I decided to deviate from the traditional pathway. I was clearly not going down the counseling psychology route, but instead, to this entrepreneurial coaching route.

Mai-kee:
Josh, I was… I sucked. I sucked at sales and marketing. I was a classic coach. Great at coaching, not great at business, which I’m sure you’ve spoken to some of those on the show… Who’s [inaudible 00:05:50] been in that situation before. I had to learn everything from the ground up, and I’ll tell you one of the biggest turning points was when I worked under a mentor for a year. What’s funny is that he was supposed to be my mentor, but then I actually turned into his intern four months in to this mentorship arrangement. I worked with him for a year, and I saw what it looked like to be behind the scenes, and front of scene at the same time. Watching a business go from literally zero to six figures.

Mai-kee:
I was involved in everything because it was just me and him. I was his right hand, and I was his community manager. I was his general manager when he started hiring more people. I did video animations that helped to get millions of views on YouTube. I picked up so many skills, and copywriting happened to be one of the key skills that just really stood out above the rest of them. What happened with that, we got to a point working together where I felt like it’s my time to go. He felt that way too. He felt that… I feel like I’m keeping you from being your best self if you stay in the company. He basically gave me his blessing to go all in, and I’ve had… Pivoted many times since copywriting. I did copywriting, and [inaudible 00:07:24] strategy, but I actually found my way here to this very point, where I help amplify people’s voices for a living, through sustainable visibility work, and podcast guesting strategy.

Josh:
That’s incredible. I think I’ve been going back through some of my own story, and realizing how pain has been a big factor in a lot of things. Basically everything. Pain and fear. If you’re okay jumping into it more… What has that journey been like as you’re not only breaking the mold of… Because you mentioned earlier, breaking the mold of what was expected of you. I would guess that maybe came from how you grew up?

Mai-kee:
Yes.

Josh:
Then you’re trying to break the mold of the pain, and the fear that comes as a result of… I’m assuming comes as a result of I’m going through a traumatic experience like the one that you did. How have those things affected you in positive, and negative ways as you’ve been on this journey of building something of your own?

Mai-kee:
I’m going to start with a negative, because I always like ending on a high. I realized that every path I’ve chosen has literally been me swimming upstream in some shape, or form. I broke the mold in regards to going from… I was never really in a nine to five, but having a… Just a day job. Right? Instead of the day job, I chose entrepreneurship. Instead of I guess following all of my cultural rules, I’ve broken them. Also, you may have picked up on it that I’m also in a same sex relationship, and not a heterosexual one.

Mai-kee:
When it comes to I guess the negative impact of choosing harder paths, paths that are less paved, it has been incredibly isolating at times because… Especially when you’re still connected to the groups who have followed the rules, and it feels like you’re quite the outsider, and no one understands you, and it makes you doubt yourself, because there are very few people who think like you. That’s why my saving graces have really been the friends I’ve made on my entrepreneurial journey because we all have that in common. Right? That we do something different, and not everybody understands. I guess the hardest thing has always been just picking myself back up during moments of doubt, and not having people there to really lift me out of it during those really deep, dark, downward spirals.

Mai-kee:
I guess the most positive thing that’s come out of this is that I have freedom to create whatever it is I want in my life, and I think now I’m at that point where I can feel it. There is a shift that’s happening. In my family, for example, I can just feel that they see me in a different way. There’s not, Oh, Nikkei is struggling to get by. It’s not that. It’s, Nikkei is clearly doing well now. I can just feel that they don’t feel sorry for me. I can feel the support that’s coming now because I never gave up. There are moments where I wanted to take a break. Sure, but even my own dad… He called… He never says this kind of stuff to me, but he called me stubborn., and I was like, yeah I am, and he was like, “But you know what? Maybe that’s a good thing.”

Mai-kee:
That was quite a thing for my dad to say, because he normally speaks to me in Chinese proverbs. He used to call me like, “You’re like a flower in a greenhouse Nikkei. You only see the sun, and never the rain and storms.” I was like, oh, how actually… I love it. Yeah. Now I’m like, dad your… The flowers out of the greenhouse. There was another one that is very famous. I actually don’t know how to say it in Chinese, but the translation… It sounds silly, but it what it is. You’re riding on a donkey looking for a horse.

Mai-kee:
The meaning behind that is that the donkey was all of the side jobs that I took. I was a barista, I did part time event management… I just did whatever I could to keep myself afloat. The point is, with the donkey, is that you still have assistance to get you to where you are, but it’s not as fast, or as strong as a horse. But literally this year’s Father’s Day, I reminded him of all of these lessons he taught me and I said, “Daddy, your little girl. She’s out of the greenhouse now, and she’s found a horse.” He just started laughing heartily down the phone, because I can feel his worry is off of him. There’s just that, Oh, Nikkei is actually doing okay, even though I don’t understand what she’s doing, even though she had a job that didn’t exist when I was younger.

Mai-kee:
I appreciate that… I’d say 95% within my family don’t understand what I do, or how I do it, and that’s really scary for them because as you can probably tell from my name, I am Chinese, and my parents moved over here when they were young, so they were always focused on stability. Financial stability, family connection, everything. Everything was all about safety. Me making the choices I’ve made, really threatened that safety because it was just beyond their idea of knowing.

Mai-kee:
I always… Whenever I doubted myself because of how they doubted me, I’d just take a moment, feel what I feel, but then I’d look at them and I’m like, this is completely foreign to them. They just love me. They are just trying to meet me where they’re at. So, yeah. That’s my little family background for you, Josh.

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah. I can resonate with some pieces of that from myself, and then my girlfriend is Cantonese, and her parents came over in their teenage years. The way that she has described things to me… There’re some pieces that resonate as well. A feeling that I get, or have gotten… And I want to see what you think of this. I’ve gotten this feeling that like you were saying, a lot of people don’t understand, and don’t necessarily support you, or support me, until I do the thing. Then they’re like, “Oh yeah. That’s smart.” Right?

Josh:
I loved your example of being stubborn. Always being… I’m guessing that was used against you. Right? You’re stubborn, and that’s a problem. You always only see the good side of things. That’s a problem. Then you get to a certain point, and the same people that were saying that are now saying, “Oh, you’re stubborn. That’s a good thing. Oh, you always see the best side of things. That’s a good thing.” How did you deal with that? When the people that you’re closest to, the people that raised you are telling you that these aspects of you… Right? Being stubborn, and always having a bright outlook on life, and they’re telling you that those are not good things.

Mai-kee:
Oh my goodness. Okay. It’s what you said about being positive, instead of just being wary of how awful the world is. I know that that was a call worry that my family had for me, and my sister, but mainly me because I’m the youngest. Because me and my sister grew up in the countryside. We were country pumpkins. We moved up when I was nine. To London. Then all of my cousins who are around here, they would tell us how awful… It was like, Oh, this is a real world. Because it’s we’re more in the city, more multicultural, et cetera, et cetera. It’s not safe. Then I used to think that… Is it really though? I’m not… They always used to think that I was naive. I am aware of how awful the world can be, and that is actually the precise reason why I do the light work I do, because if the world is so dark, then we obviously need more light, and no one is going to do that on their own.

Mai-kee:
It needs to be a collective effort, and I’m just one of the people who wants to really enable that. What’s happened, a lot of… Here’s the thing. Right? I was always told I was such a sensitive girl, and that was a word always perceived as a negative thing.

Mai-kee:
It was always used against me when I was growing up because I’m a crier. I cry a lot, and they used to be like, “Oh, you’re so sensitive. Don’t take it so seriously.” Then I used to think, what’s wrong with me? Why is no one else like this? But what it took was just reframing it a little. I acknowledge I’m sensitive, but who says it’s a bad thing? Maybe what it is, is the majority of people having the inability to handle sensitive people. The only way they know how, is to shut it down. When you cry they say stop crying, because they don’t know how to hold space for you. A huge part of my work is consciously holding space for people to be. That’s why I know that my sensitivity is a God given gift.

Mai-kee:
Sometimes, what you need to do is… when you’re surrounded by people who just don’t understand you, just look it on its head and see, what can I do to understand them, or about why they don’t understand me, because it can be extremely easy just to shut yourself down, and try to force yourself in a box because you don’t belong, because we have a fundamental human need to belong in order to survive. A lot of this work as entrepreneurs, is about fighting that fundamental need we have, and trying to find our own in the process.

Josh:
Yeah. I can connect with a lot of that. I think reframing is the… What I was picking up on a lot there. It’s turning the negative into a positive, and I’m a very emotional person, which is… If you want to get into gender dynamics, it’s not smiled upon. It’s not just that. Right? I think these cultural things too… They come into it, and now this. I think you put it really well, that a lot of people just don’t know what to do with it, and so they prefer to have it go away, but then you go from thinking about it as something’s wrong with me to, Oh, I wonder why dealing with emotions is really hard for that person. I wonder what happened. Then you start to get curious.

Josh:
My coach is always telling me, “Just stay curious. Just stay curious, and life gets a lot less scary.” One point that I wanted to dig into a little bit. You had mentioned entrepreneurial friends being an important part of your process. I know for me there was a few key people that really reached out to me when I was in my darkest years, and just… I thought you said it really well too. Just held space. They just held space for me. I’m wondering how that played out for you. If there were people that came alongside you, and sat with you through the hard times.

Mai-kee:
Yeah. For sure. In the last job that I was in… Working under the mentor. Right? One of the team members who was a part of that… She left a couple months earlier than me, and she’s my best friend today. I’ve always called her during pivotal times, and all that. I remember calling her that day when I was like, Oh my God, I have to make the decision of whether to leave, or stay. What should I do? She basically… She gave me an ultimatum but in a good way. She’d say… Because at the time when I was focusing on copywriting, she needed help with copy herself. I thought, Oh, maybe there could be a safe bridge, and she was like, “No, break that damn bridge. Take that down.” She was basically saying, “I won’t work with you until you’re full time in your own business.”

Mai-kee:
And I’m like, damn it. It takes some very special kind of friend to say that sort of thing, and I love her for it. At that time I hated the fact that she said it. I was like, damn it you’re making it so hard for me, but at the same time you’re making the decisions so much easier because I know what I need to do. I was just afraid. I had friends from there. I did public speaker training during… After I graduated from university as well, because I wanted to really build up all of my skills as an entrepreneur. Public speaking was actually one of the first ones that I did.

Mai-kee:
I have friends from there. One of them is actually my healing coach. Shout out to Suki. She’s helping me right now with balancing my chakras, because I know that my next level of growth in the business is when I’m really in tune with who I am as a human being, and who I am when it comes to accessing my higher self as well. My mind, and my soul is so much more open than it ever has been, and it’s because of friends like that, that I am able to.

Josh:
Yeah. That’s… It’s so important to have people alongside, and I like the example. She’s like, I’m not going to work with you less you do this. You need a push sometimes, because it’s really scary. The last question as we kind of wrap things up. I’m always curious. What’s on your mind today as a six figure entrepreneur? What do you think about-

Mai-kee:
In the making.

Josh:
In the making. Yes, we will make sure we [inaudible 00:24:01] out that. What are you thinking about? What are the mental battles that happen, now that you’ve reached a certain level of success?

Mai-kee:
The mental battles I find myself having, is maintaining the connection with my audience. No matter how big I grow, there’s something that I do every month for my newsletter. For those who are on my email list, I send out an email. It’s called A Cup Of Catch-ups. Basically I just block off one hour a month on my calendar… Three slots, and I say, “Hey guys, who wants to go on a Cup Of Catch-up?” That’s [inaudible 00:24:50] Book yourself in if you just want to chat. There’s no agenda, there’s no secret sales calls, there’s no market research call. It’s just a connection. I’ve been doing that since 2019, November. It’s been one of those things that no matter how big I grow, I want to always continue doing that because it’s… The thing is that sometimes, I think what I’m scared of to be honest is that when I grow bigger, I will lose that connection.

Mai-kee:
It’s tough to balance that, and also just being aware of the bandwidth that you need for your bigger projects to move forward in regards to income, in regards to impacts… I guess for me… I guess where my mind is, is ensuring that there’s still that personal touch. That I can maintain that balance. Still, I have a beginner’s mind, because as of this recording, I really learned that visibility strategies aren’t always transferable to a different type. I am… I didn’t call myself this, I swear. Okay? I get told by several members of my community, Nikkei you’re the podcasting queen, even though I’m the podcast guesting queen. But, yeah. They say that, and I think to myself, okay. That’s interesting. I lost my train of thought. What was I saying? Podcast queen [inaudible 00:26:17] What was I saying before that? I just totally had a brain fart.

Josh:
[inaudible 00:26:22] Trying to stay connected is what I was picking up on. Staying connected to your community.

Mai-kee:
Yeah. Oh yes. That’s what it is. Okay. Podcast guesting is my key area of visibility. Thank you so much having me on the show. But I realized that I had a good slice of humble pie, because as of three days ago, I opened my Facebook group, and I was really humbled when I was with already 75 members in there, and that’s purely just from word of mouth, and just one email blast. The community is so engaged, but before I hit Go Live on the… During a Facebook live in there, or opening the group [inaudible 00:27:04], I felt like an absolute beginner again, and I was like, Oh, this is interesting.

Mai-kee:
I can’t let my ego get so big, that I feel like I’m untouchable because that’s not true. I never thought of myself that anyway. That was just very interesting. It was a very humbling experience to feel like that again, because that’s exactly how I felt when I started pitching podcasts last year. It’s been my core strategy. It’s a core of my business. It’s all about amplifying your voice, and your message. Hence… Yeah, it’s just been a very, very interesting journey, but… Yeah. For me, six figures, multiple six figures, seven figures, no matter how big I grow, the thing that I will want to always want to keep true is true connection.

Josh:
Yeah. I agree with that one. It gets harder, and harder because… I think you put your finger on it really well. There’re other strategies that are going take up more of your time, and it’s harder to have those connections, have those calls, make space for people, and it’s not going to be the revolutionary thing that takes you to seven figures. It’s not a good ROI time, but in terms of… For me, at least, in terms of the connection back to the actual customer we’re trying to serve… It’s irreplaceable. That’s amazing. Well, thank you so much for coming on, and sharing your story. This is just really awesome, and I think the whole premise of this show is just taking down the walls behind, how does somebody get here? Because somebody goes and looks at your website, and it’s like, Oh, I could never do this. I think hearing your story is really helpful. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Mai-kee:
Thanks so much for having me, Josh. I really hope this helps.

Josh:
Awesome. All right. Well that will wrap things up, and I really appreciate you coming on.

Mai-kee:
Yeah. Thank you. Let me know… Do you have an idea of when this would air so I can just block off…

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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.

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