Woman Wednesday: Stephanie


Q and A with Stephanie, Los Angeles, CA

“If I had caved and listened to the naysayers, I wouldn’t be here.”


Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I had gotten laid off from my advertising job, and a recruiter suggested I take an interview with New York Life, which is a mutually owned financial firm. It’s been very enlightening because being a mutually owned financial firm, we are owned solely by our clients, and not beholden to outside forces like shareholders. We do put our clients first in so many ways. Being in the financial industry, I’ve really noticed how many people do what other people do and don’t understand how things affect them. 401(k)s are not your only retirement vehicles to utilize, and it’s been a mission of mine to educate people on all their options that are most viable to them for their own personal goals. I want to empower people to take hold of their portfolios to live their best lives now.

I’m very big on living sustainably. Minimizing my carbon footprint and finding other like-minded people and small ways to change my life to have a big impact on the environment, like getting rid of napkins and paper towels and using cloth towels instead. I’m also using more glass and less plastic. Basically, I’m making sustainable changes in my life and lifestyle. Right now, I’m working on assisting small businesses with their company 401(k) needs. Here in California, we have a CalSavers plan which is forcing almost all business owners to offer retirement plans. I’ve had a lot of great conversations, educating business owners on their options and if CalSavers (the state retirement plan) is best for them, or if opening their own 401(k) plan works best for them. I’m really big about keeping the small businesses afloat and supporting as many as I can. While I can’t deny the convenience of Target or Amazon, small businesses are what give our cities personality, and I want to see as many of them thrive as possible.


Q: What were your younger years like?

A: Education is very important in my household. I was one of the first people in my family to get a college education. I got a degree in business and an emphasis in marketing, a very practical major. It’s a reflection of me. I was a practical child, and I’m a practical adult. When I was a kid, my mom told me I requested vegetables [she laughs]. What kid asks for veggies? Lima beans were my favorite.

I’m an only child between my parents. My father remarried, and I have two much younger brothers. It worked out so well; I love our big age difference (20+ years). When I was younger, I played piano, danced (ballet, jazz, tap), and did martial arts. Being an only child played such a big part in who I am now. I like my alone time and value it as much as I value spending time with my friends, family, and my boyfriend. I think because I was an only child and my mother’s sole focus, I was able to find myself pretty quickly. I never did anything I didn’t want to do, and never cared about trends. I think that’s why being an entrepreneur works so well for me; I like independence.


Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I suppose what I want others to learn from my story is to be true to who you are. Never settle for less. Stand steadfast, regardless of what people say or their resistance to you. You’ll find your people eventually, those who support you and understand you. When I left my steady paycheck and started doing what I’m doing now, I had so many people tell me why I was wrong. I didn’t listen, and now I’m doing something that I enjoy so much; it doesn’t feel like work. And my time is my own. My grandmothers aren’t doing well, and I have the flexibility to be with them and spend time with them. I have also found my people, so many people who support me and are so excited for me and my happiness. If I had caved and listened to the naysayers, I wouldn’t be here.

I love a good themed event/party! This photo was from a 70s-themed party. Me and my boyfriend went all out! -Stephanie

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism, to me, means being true to yourself, being the best at what you do to break those glass ceilings. Doing it with grace and respect, while not remaining silent. Lifting others up, not bringing down them down. Every generation has its own battle to engage in, and we need to remember the battles from before. History shouldn’t be forgotten. History is a formidable weapon if used appropriately. We need to keep striving forward, not forget where we were, and be proud of how far we’ve come.

MORE ABOUT STEPHANIE: Hmm, fun fact: I have a bearded dragon for a pet that I’m totally obsessed with [she laughs]. He’s not your typical pet. Many people are afraid of reptiles (I totally get it). I love to travel and have been on 6 of the 7 continents (Antarctica, I will get to you!!!) I’ve also done much of my traveling by myself. I’ve been to many places like Africa and South America as examples. I usually go somewhere for 2 weeks, and I’ll do half the trip by myself, and the second half I’ll jump on a tour to meet other traveling like-minded people. I stay in touch with a lot of them; it’s been a great network to have in terms of travel tips and being kept up to date on international news from locals.

That’s the bearded dragon! My boyfriend built him a castle, so he gets to sit there during outside time. -Stephanie


Thank you for reading!

Link to my financial advising quiz: https://p1p2zgomnrd.typeform.com/BuildYourLegacy

Link to my Facebook group you can join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3207192119404857

Woman Wednesday: Thao

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         


Q and A with Thao, Newark, California

“It’s best to live life to the fullest of our ability, and it’s critical to keep going and get back up when life knocks you down.”

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about connecting with and helping people! I have been a stay-at-home mom with a home-based business, but prior to that, I was working in corporate in the human resources field. Despite being great at my HR jobs, I was not fulfilled. Then I became a full-time stay-at-home mom, and that has been challenging. For years, I felt guilty about not fully enjoying being at home with my kids as much as I thought. The thing is, I know to my core that I’m made for more. It was not until I decided to take a huge leap of faith last year and started my home-based business that I finally feel empowered to create my own joy.

I now have a balanced life in that I get to be home with my children but also have something of my own! Aside from the flexibility, what I love about my current job is I get to help and impact other people’s lives in ways I never knew I could. It brings meaning and purpose back to my life all because I learned to listen to my gut instincts and did it despite uncertainties.

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States when I was 9 years old. Growing up, my parents had a successful home-based bakery and were extremely busy with their business that there was no family structure and minimal quality time. Needless to say, I was an unhappy child and didn’t feel I had anyone to go to. My upbringing definitely had a huge impact on the person I’ve become. I struggled with self-esteem and insecurities as a child, and this played well into my adulthood despite having a bold and outgoing personality. However, I’ve done well academically and achieved both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees by the age of 24.

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I was ambitious, focused, hardworking, and driven. It wasn’t until after finishing my master’s and entering the real world and workforce that I became more lost than ever. For the first time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life! I went into HR, left it, came back to it, and then finally left it altogether after having kids. I desperately tried to figure out my purpose and direction in life, but I wasn’t able to do it for years. I think my self-awareness, resilience, and persistence have been instrumental to my growth and overcoming challenges. After I became a mom, I have been secretly living with depression and anxiety. Finally, I had the courage to share my story last winter on Facebook. It’s mind-boggling what these mental disorders can do to someone’s self-belief and ability to enjoy life. I realized during my darkest moments that the one person who was always there for me despite anything has been God. My struggles have indeed deepened my spirituality and commitment to redefining my life. The only person who could bring real change to my life is me and only me. I am not a quitter!

Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I have learned that no worldly achievements will bring lasting meaning and happiness to my life if I don’t make an effort to develop myself and become the best version of who I am meant to be. Self-growth is the best gift anyone can give to themselves and has personally helped me cope with my mental disorders and life challenges in general. Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma in our society and in most cultures about mental illness. I want to be the voice of people living with mental illness and show others that it is definitely possible to thrive in life despite your mental conditions. I also want young people to know that it’s okay to not know what you want to do in life. Some of us still couldn’t figure it out in adulthood! It’s best to live life to the fullest of our ability and it’s critical to keep going and get back up when life knocks you down. I also wish I was less fearful of trying new things for most of my life. Now, I’ve learned that doing things despite fear is the key to unlocking my best self and best life. It’s never too late!

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Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: For years, women have been limited by what we can do, and feminism to me is about breaking boundaries and glass ceilings. I see the ideal world of equality, and if that is desiring the same rights and privileges as men, then call me a feminist!

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Thank you for reading!

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