Meet Jessica Lui, The Startup CEO Recognized As An Inspiring Entrepreneur By President Obama, Who Wants To Help You Become The Next Global Influencer
Jessica Lui is the CEO of Global Professionals Practicum (GPP), a professional coaching firm dedicated to helping clients build influence in a competitive global environment.
She has been featured in ABC News, the Huffington Post, Financial Post, Globe and Mail and AlphaGamma. Recently, she was recognized as an inspiring international entrepreneur at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Silicon Valley.
Q: What are some challenges you faced when developing your venture?
Every startup founder faces a number of challenges when developing their venture.
One of our biggest challenges was ensuring that we would be able to build a product that would add value to the customer. Many startups don’t test their ideas before going to market, resulting in time and money spent on building an application, service or product that customers don’t want or need. Building a minimum viable product to get feedback and gain traction allowed us to invest our time and money in the right direction.
Another big challenge was building credibility, especially as a young entrepreneur — I was 22 when I founded GPP. As an employee at a company, your credibility is largely tied to the reputation of the organization at which you work. This is why so many people want to work at prestigious firms.
As a startup CEO, you don’t have that luxury (nor do you have the marketing budget). Consequently, it’s up to you to build that credibility. Credibility is key to building traction — getting others to know about your company and what value you can offer. You could have the world’s most incredible offering, but your company will fail if no one recognizes it or its value.
Building a strong network of key influencers who could speak to the credibility of the company, whether it was partnerships with media or expert advisors, was critical to developing the GPP brand in such a short period of time. As a result, GPP was recognized at President Obama’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit within just a year of the company’s founding.
Q: Was there any point when you thought it was over? That you were going to fail?
More times than I can count. I think no matter how successful you are, there are times when you’ll feel like you’re back at square one, days when you’ll feel disappointed by the outcome, or frustrated by the situation.
Anything that is worth pursuing in life has a risk of failure. And it’s okay to fail. What matters is that you don’t allow it to stop you from moving forward. Whenever I’m hesitant to do something because I’m afraid I’ll fail, I remind myself that I’m more afraid of the opportunities I’ll miss because I didn’t try than the possibility of failure.
Failure is actually a fantastic teacher; it helps you to develop the perseverance and resistance to adversity you need to keep moving forward. On the days when you face rejection, it’s important to have faith in your ideas and yourself to move beyond it. Failure is always part of the journey to success. It’s important for entrepreneurs to know they aren’t alone in experiencing failure and that it shouldn’t stop them from achieving their dreams.
Q: As an entrepreneur how important has flexibility been in developing your venture?
On a scale of 1–10? 11.
Adaptability is key, especially in a rapidly changing global environment. The next big idea or successful company might not look anything like today’s organizations. In fact, some of the world’s most recognizable start-ups, such as Facebook, AirBnb and Twitter, didn’t exist 15 years ago. In today’s global environment, the most successful entrepreneurs are the most adaptable.
The key with flexibility is recognizing when adaptability is important to the survival of your company and when it is important to remain committed to your decisions. You should always be committed to the goals that are driving you but stay flexible in your approach. Flexibility allows you to recognize opportunities and move in new — and sometimes unexpected — directions.
Q: What was was your spark, where did it come from?
My spark stems from my belief that opportunities should be accessible to everyone and that learning how to network can open the door to those opportunities.
There have been other times when I have been told otherwise; I can still remember a middle school teacher who felt that I if I did not come from a prestigious family, wealth, or connection, I would not be successful. A decade later, I can still hear that doubt in my mind.
Through the years, I have to come realize that no matter how much others may doubt you, or you may doubt your own abilities, it should never stop you. In the years since that day, I have built a network and personal brand that has allowed me to speak in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations, meet with CEOs of Fortune 500s, gain a front row seat to President Obama’s speech, attend Fashion Week in New York — opportunities I never imagined would be available to me. Your ability to believe in yourself and your capacity to succeed is key to finding your path to success.
I have realized the best way to honor my belief that opportunities should be accessible to everyone is to teach others how to build their own networks and influence. This served as my spark to start GPP.
At GPP, we empower our clients with the tools to become global influencers, opening doors to opportunities that would not have been available otherwise. Having a network is essential because a network is often the difference between success and failure, having opportunities or struggling to find them. GPP helps to democratize opportunities by empowering people with the tools to succeed. Regardless of where you start or who you are, you have the capacity to shape the world.
4. What are your non-work habits that help you with your work-life balance?
Be conscientious about where you are spending your time and focus on high impact activities as much as possible.
I sit down every month to review my annual key priorities and how much time I’ve spent on them in the last month. These priorities should be reflective of your life as a whole — they might include company goals and elements of your personal life such as financial health, spending time with loved ones, etc. The amount of time you spent doesn’t have to be exact- it might be a scale of 1–5; 1 being no time at all and 5 being enough time to make sure this priority is on track.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day aspects of your work, especially if you are passionate about what you do. This helps me to ensure the priorities in my life outside of work don’t get neglected, and to actively reflect on whether I am spending most my time on the important activities. As much as possible, I try to ensure I spend my time on high impact activities. For example, I might speak at a conference instead of attending as a delegate.
Additionally, I delegate as much as possible. If you want to grow your organization, delegation to others allows you to focus on what you are best at.
5. What is your best tip for entrepreneurs?
Don’t be shy. Talk to experts, make your pitches to investors, meet mentors who can help you get through tough patches, and network with fellow innovators.
They key thing that enables entrepreneurs to succeed is networks; building a network is often the difference between success and failure. So if you have faith in your idea, then build a network to support you. Getting yourself and your company recognized as one that people want to invest time, energy, and money into is critical to growing your organization. Those who are truly successful never succeed alone.