Ironically, nine years ago the passion for Asfalis was derived out of my personal crisis. A tornado with wind speeds exceeding 130 miles per hour totaled my vehicle while I was inside of it. That passion became the fuel that led me out of my comfort zone in corporate America, into the ambiguity of entrepreneurship, and across the pond to China.
In 2017, I was one of 50 women entrepreneurs across the United States and China, that was selected as a Global Innovation Fellow with the U.S. State Department. Upon my return to the U.S., many people have asked about the experience, culture, and opportunities in China.
In the words of Christie Mason “Progress always involves risk; you can’t progress to second base and also keep your foot on first.” Enjoy my story and video interview with Beth Cochran, Co-Founder and CEO of Wired PR below, and I hope it inspires you to continue to move forward in your life’s journey.
What was your main reason for wanting to participate in the Entrepreneur Forum in China?
Well, I’ve never been to China, so I’ve always wanted to have the experience and opportunity to come and learn more. My background has been in aviation and manufacturing, and I know manufacturing is very big in China. I wanted to come learn about how the Chinese view and see risk, and how they view American businesses and the opportunity to come, and be a part of the economic growth here.
What was one thing that surprised you about this trip, and that you learned?
I learned that literally 25 to 30 years ago Shenzhen was a village. They are at the pinnacle of business and growth here. China has not experienced an economic downturn yet, so what the Americans have learned about the 2008 financial crisis and all of the things we experienced prior to that, the Chinese have not experienced yet. From a risk management perspective, the Chinese do not think about risk like Americans do. Business growth has been great and going higher and higher.
In December when we had an opportunity to visit the FinTech companies in Shenzhen, and that was one of the main questions. They said their biggest crisis would be the unemployment crisis, and they don’t even know how it would effect them. So I thought that was pretty interesting.
What’s one thing that you will take away from this Forum, any new business developments you have in the works?
My goal in China was to learn about the economy, businesses here, and hopefully meet people who do risk or crisis management in my space. And, to really get an understanding of, if crisis management matters in China, and if it will have an opportunity to work here.
Before leaving China, I had a chance to meet people who do crisis management here, so I’m looking forward to that. Also, people who do management consulting in China, as well as people who do manufacturing. I’m excited about taking those relationships back home and being able to ask questions, send them things, and just get their input. They have the exposure, experience, and they also know the culture, which is important here. So to be able to have that relationship with someone in China would be absolutely valuable.
Also, being around entrepreneurs, everyone does something different. and it’s amazing when you are not the smartest in the room. So I’ve just been amazed to meet everybody from America, as well as our Chinese counterparts and to learn what they do. For the Chinese many of them were already doing business in America.
So I’m excited for them, and I’m also just excited to have the opportunity to work here as well.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to fellow entrepreneurs in general, or even as it pertains to getting out and exploring other foreign markets, even if they are not thinking about expanding?
Two quotes that I live by, one is one that my aunt told my mom when she applied for a job years ago, and that is “let them tell you no.” So when I got my application I could have made a decision in my head to say no, I’m not going to apply because of X, Y, and Z, and I could have given myself a million excuses. But, apply anyway, and let them tell you no.
The second one is, “if you never jump off the cliff, you will never know what your parachute will do.” If I never came to China, I would have never known that I could have met other business owners here, I could have met long-term friends that I’ll be friends with for the rest of my life. I would have never known if I didn’t jump. I was scared, I was nervous, I’m still nervous, but I’m here. Entrepreneurs do not shy away from opportunities, they face them and they have courage, so you’ve got to take the opportunity.