Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur“ we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmy Wu.
With two decades of experience in the Hollywood film industry, she’s worked with brands like MGM, Paramount, Disney, Real Housewives, and Subaru. Emmy brings big-screen storytelling strategies to help artists and visionaries to elevate their online presence and create a bigger impact using the power of video. At the heart of her work is her love for storytelling. She believes that it’s through stories, we can educate, inspire, and change the world.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Emmy Wu: I’ve always been creative, so the film industry was the right step for me when I graduated from university. I learned how to manage large-scale, multi-million projects, worked with cameras even before HD existed, and learned how to tell a great story for any brand. However, the film industry didn’t allow me to really use my creativity, and I longed for more creative expression. When my mother passed away from cancer, it was a real wake-up call for me to pivot. Long hours in the film industry made it hard to be with her when she needed me the most. It was at that moment that I decided that I would make a big career change and step into something that wouldn’t suffocate me. In 2015 when I moved from Vancouver, Canada to the US to marry my love, I took my skills online and set out to empower entrepreneurs with video skills that would set them apart from their competition.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Emmy Wu: As a shy, introverted person, I definitely developed an aptitude for entrepreneurship. I learned how important showing up consistently and visibility is, even when I cringed at seeing myself on video. I learned how important it is to put relationships first and you can’t do that if you’re constantly hiding. I learned to stand by my worthiness to charge rates that would honor my worth instead of diluting who I am. It’s certainly been a journey but also one that’s tremendously rewarding.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Emmy Wu: I bootstrapped everything myself in the beginning, but I would still credit my mother for encouraging me to go on when I wanted to give up. My business would not exist today, had I decided to stop then. I also credit other entrepreneurs like Facebook ads strategists and copywriters who showed up to my tiny Facebook group years ago to learn video but have flourished into friendships and business besties. It’s wonderful when we have complementary skills but can collaborate and teach to a similar audience.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Emmy Wu: Customer avatar exercises are extremely popular in the online space. It seems that every coach is telling you to create a customer avatar, then creates a package to sell them. I followed this strategy for the first 2–3 years in my business, which resulted in a ton of confusion, and wasted time and energy (our most valuable resources as entrepreneurs). Coco Chanel and Maserati didn’t do customer avatar exercises. Instead, they focused on building the brand and highlighting the artistry of their work. When I started to focus more on my own values, my art, and the value I offered to my market, marketing and selling became so much easier.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Emmy Wu: As a video storyteller, I’ll always encourage other business leaders to leverage video to build know, like, and trust. There’s simply no other medium that allows people to experience the way you talk, teach, and share your message. Create videos that not only educate but inspire them with your unique twist!
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Emmy Wu: Video is even bigger today than it was only a year ago. Social media platforms are encouraging users to use video because they keep people engaged. While short-form videos are easily consumable and work great on platforms like Tik Tok or Instagram, don’t neglect long-form videos (20–60 minutes)! Longer videos allow you to go really deep on a topic with your audience and build relationships quickly. You’ll likely also gain more organic reach because social platforms love this medium.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Emmy Wu: Creating the products or services before building the relationships. I’ve seen too many aspiring entrepreneurs try to launch a new course when they don’t yet have an audience, which leads to months of frustration if your messaging is off. By focusing on building the relationships and community first, you’ll naturally know which offers will best fit your audience, and how to talk about it in a way that gets them excited to join.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
Emmy Wu: As an entrepreneur, you’re putting yourself out there every day. You put in tireless hours and push your own edges to realize your dreams, so it’s no wonder it can feel like there’s a lot at stake. Sometimes all it takes is someone posting a negative comment on your social media feed to make you feel like everything you’ve done is for nothing. This is the double-edged sword of entrepreneurship. Because it’s so deeply personal, even small setbacks can feel bigger than they actually are, but this also means that small wins deserve big celebrations.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Emmy Wu: After seven months of hustling and not landing any clients, I was about to give up on my entrepreneurial vision. But after the note from my mother falling on my lap that encouraged me to keep going, I committed to creating a 3-part video series that would disrupt some of the current conversations around video. I wanted to throw out the idea that you had to look and speak perfectly on video in order to make a big impact, and the engagement around those videos spoke volumes. People were so excited about this idea and I saw them stepping out of their shells to create their first-ever videos. It was during that first launch that I would feel the impact of my work, and even though it was only a small step in the right direction, I never forgot the buzz that solidified that I could do this.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Emmy Wu: In my second year of business, I was hired by a fairly high-profile client to shoot their launch videos which turned out to be a nightmare. This was the first time I was contracted to do a big job, but because I didn’t know any better at the time, I massively undercharged, hustled for 16 hour days, and shot all the deliverables myself. And agreed to even more deliverables than we had initially agreed to. I felt like a complete doormat because I was afraid to speak up. At that moment, I realized that it was to keep running my business, I had to stop devaluing myself, which meant unlearning years of bad habits and reinforcing low self-esteem.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Keep your values close to you. Sometimes we can be taken off track as new ideas and trends come and go, but by getting clear on the things that truly matter for you and the values you live personally and run your business by, you’ll be less likely to get involved with situations that aren’t aligned. Don’t be afraid of doing consistent gut checks and re-evaluate often. It’s okay to say no to people who aren’t the right fit because you’re actually doing them a disservice by not being honest with yourself.
- Understand that challenges are not meant to take you down, but to expand you. Along your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll absolutely hit bumps and roadblocks. Instead of taking them personally and feeling like you’ve failed, approach the situation with an open heart and curiosity. What is this situation teaching you? How can you step into a stronger version of yourself? Entrepreneurship isn’t about avoiding the challenges, but rather knowing you’ll handle every situation with grace and courage because that’s who you’re meant to be.
- Surround yourself with people who understand entrepreneurship that you can confide in. Entrepreneurship can be very lonely, and it’s easy to stay quiet or internalize issues when we’re alone. But I quickly learned that having a core circle of people who understand the journey that you can share with, mastermind with, and celebrate with, makes all the difference. Even if you don’t find a solution, just being witnessed and heard by people who understand can be very empowering, and that support will likely encourage you to keep going.
- Remember your brilliance. It’s so easy to look at what other people are doing and suddenly feel like a failure or like you’re not enough. In those moments, remember what drove you to start your business in the first place. Remember your experiences, skills, and all the unique attributes you bring to your niche. We tend to under-value our gifts and take them for granted, but there are people out there who need exactly what you have! Remind yourself of your brilliance often and continue to act like THAT person who’s ready to own it.
- Keep your eye on the end vision and keep going. Everyone has a different version of success, but defining what your version looks like will help you keep going during hard times. Even if it seems like a far-off idea, that idea planted within you is meant for you to cultivate and bring to life. By keeping the end vision in mind, you’ll stay more focused on your actions, and your journey to greatness will bring more magic than you could imagine.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Emmy Wu: To me, resilience is the ability to keep going even in the face of the toughest challenges by navigating situations with grace and courage. Sometimes it’s a problem client that makes us want to give up, or maybe it’s a failed launch. Resilient people remember to not take everything so personally and rise to the occasion. Instead of feeling defeated, resilient people get creative about solutions and keep going, no matter what.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Emmy Wu: When a leader adopts a positive attitude, it permeates into their team, their work, their clients, and their world. Positive leaders choose to see the good in people and situations and know how to leverage what they have into positive outcomes.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
Emmy Wu: “Be the change you want to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi. I love this quote because it’s so true for life and business. While we cannot control the world and how others treat us, we can empower ourselves to see the world differently and lead by example. I’ve lived by this motto in my own life and business when challenges hit or when I’m not sure about my next steps. Instead of getting stuck in other thinking or feeling defeated, I remember that entrepreneurship gives me the opportunity to lead by example, and to take bold steps forward because I believe in the values and mission I want to bring into the world.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Emmy Wu: They can learn more about me and my work on my Website: emmywu.com and follow me on Instagram: @emmywumedia
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with
this. We wish you continued success and good health!