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#HaveYouMetHerYet? - Anna Chan

What is your story? What do you do and how did you get to where you are today in your career?

I’m Anna, Founder & CEO of myMomentum – a recently launched app that brings Vancouver’s health & wellness community together through events and challenges. I guess that is one of many titles I wear?! I’m also a new mother (15-month-old) and a puppy mother (2 years) J

My career path has been a bit untraditional – I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, but I chose to do a degree in Finance and work in corporate (investments) for about 6 years. Then in 2011, just up and left everything behind to take a hiatus and travel the world … again! (this was my 3rdmini retirement and I was only 28… ) My now husband and I bought a one-way ticket to Europe with a backpack and zero plans. After travelling for almost 5 months (through Russia, Mongolia, Nepal, etc.) we ended up in Shanghai, China. Originally the plan was to stay a year or 2, but we got stuck as so many expats do, and ended up doing 6 years abroad! Over that time, I worked with a few different starts ups starting with high growth stage, to early growth and then 2 years with a brand new agency in China just launching their presence – all in leadership and business development roles. It taught me so much, but I got so burned out and my health was starting to suffer. I ended up taking some time off so that I could rest, recover and also redirect my focus career wise to something that I felt really passionate about. In the meantime, I started teaching some spin classes and really fell in love with it, the music, the energy, being able to bring people within the community together and have a fun time while sweating. It took some nudging but finally after a long period of debating should I do it, and what will it be/look like, after deciding to move back to Canada to start a family, I thought it would be no better time to pursue something on my own that would hopefully bring all the fragments of my ‘untraditional’ career path (corporate finance, experience in biz dev and starts ups, leadership) together with my love for health & wellness. It’s been a crazy last 3 years with lots of starts, stops (having a baby will do that!), mini-failures, pivots, but it’s been an amazing ride.

What is one piece of valuable advice you would give someone who wants to get into your field?

For anyone who is just starting to explore entrepreneurship or tech start up, my advice really would be to take your time. In today’s world, there is almost this immediate pressure to make it all happen fast and the reality is that things just don’t happen that quickly (well, maybe they do for some people, but it’s so rare!). It’s been almost 3 years for myMomentum and in many ways, we are only JUST starting. I think growth is absolutely non-linear and there are so many different measures of success. What works for one startup may not work for another. So in addition to taking your time, make sure that you are doing what works for you. A lot of people are going to give you advice, but you need to know what works for you and your team. Timing and a bit of luck are so key.

Name three things someone has told you are good at or what they admire you for.

Three things I’ve been told I’m great at/admired for 1) finding the positive 2) bringing amazing people together 3) good work life balance and making things fun

One quote you live by - personal quote or borrowed

Omg, I can only pick one quote? I love quotes so much. “People with passion can change the world for the better’ is one of my faves.

How do you keep motivated?

For me, there’s always this burning urge to create and make an impact – it’s with me always. But surrounding myself with the right people and the right energy is so key and keeps me motivated day-to-day.

What are your strategies on avoiding burnouts?

I have hit a big burnout before, it’s such a hard place to be in. So now I really focus on making sure my days are optimized and prioritized so that it’s not just go-go-go, and when I’m off, I’m really turned off. I carve time out to workout, to prep healthy meals and to just relax or do a massage. Sleep is a big one for me lately and I’m really trying to wind down in the evening properly and then get a solid 7-8 hours a night (but it doesn’t always happen especially with a baby!) I always stress this with the team too – just because we are a start-up doesn’t mean we are working 24/7. We work very hard, but we very much turn off every day to recharge.

What is one accomplishment you are extremely proud of?

We launched our app on Feb 16 and have hosted 3 well-received community events so far in Vancouver. I’m really excited as part of me wondered if we would ever get to this point!It just goes to show the power of team. I definitely think finding the people who I’m working with now and convincing them to join this journey has been the ultimate ‘win’ to date for myMomentum. It really has been the team to bring a concept to reality over the past few years.

What is your secret sauce to success?

My secret sauce to “success” is be relentlessly positive while you are failing! HAHA because inevitably you will so many times… and make so many mistakes! I think also, keeping your eye on the goal in mind but being understanding and accepting of the uncertainty and flexible enough to pivot when needed.

What is something you think you will regret in the future not starting now and what is something you already regret not starting sooner?

I really regret not starting learning different languages when I was younger – I took Spanish in university and then lived in South America for 6 months while travelling, and then starting learning Chinese in my early 30s while living in China for 6 years but already forget so much now that I’m back in Canada. My family is from China, but we mostly spoke English growing up, I just had no interest to learn back then. Ironic now as I’ve spent most of my 20s and 30s travelling the world and living abroad with such a global focus…

What's the worst and best thing about being female?

Omg I love being a woman! I’ve spent most of my career in traditionally male-dominated industries so there were moments where I was like, ugh no one is taking me seriously today… but for the most part I’m always trying to find my angle as a woman. The best part of being a woman has definitely been the journey of motherhood. It’s so unique and special. I was pregnant with my son James while I started pursing tech start up – I remember pitching to investors while I was 7 months pregnant. That’s unique for sure and something to be proud of.

What are you most passionate about and what do you wish you were most passionate about?

I really love to bring people together, it’s definitely what I’m most passionate about. Whether it’s leading a super talented team in a start-up, or planning a community event, there’s something so awesome about the energy that is when you are together.

What's something that you've never been able to do well?

For some reason it’s really hard for me to get my inbox to a manageable size – I struggled with this before and now it’s just getting worse! HAHA, my team makes so much fun of me for this. I’m also notorious for being bad at managing my electronic devices – half the time my phone or laptop battery is dead. But I swear, I am organized! LOL My husband also claims I’m awful at going to sleep on time – he has to force me to get to bed at a decent hour – especially now that I’m trying to focus on sleep! My mind just perks up in the evening I start to get creative at the oddest hours.

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