Dr. Pei grew up in China and immigrated to US in her 20’s. She has the experience of successfully running both brick-and-mortar and online businesses. She excels in strategizing, marketing, leadership and communication. A “Part-time dentist living a full life“
Zephan: Hey, everyone, Zephan Blaxberg back again with another episode of the Year of Purpose podcast, and today I’m joined by Dr. Pei Kang. Now Dr. Pei is one half of the broadcast team behind the creation, development, and explosive growth of the ReLaunch podcast. If you told Dr. Pei thirteen years ago that she would be podcasting, speaking, coaching, and developing business systems full-time, she wouldn’t have had a clue as to what you are talking about. Born in mainland China and academically trained as a dentist, she immigrated by herself to the US in 1998. She worked full-time as a dentist for ten years and owned her own practice for eight. She sold her practice in 2014 so she could concentrate fully on ReLaunch and the growth opportunities for the business.
Pei, thank you for joining me today on the Year of Purpose podcast!
Dr. Pei: Well thank you for the invitation. And I love the theme of your show. I’m so glad we get to connect through this podcast. Yeah, thank you.
Zephan: Absolutely. You actually piqued my interested when I was reading your bio there, because you were born in China and moved here back in 1998. What ultimately prompted you to do that?
Dr. Pei: Well, I was—let’s see, I was in my dentist school back then, and I was trying to decide should I choose a hospital—because that’s when—back then, it’s a communist country, and there’s not so much of private business and most of the doctors, when you graduate, you’re assigned to a hospital. So I was looking for that opportunity, and then I heard the other opportunity is either go abroad to study, seek another opportunity, and I had—let’s see, I applied for a place in Japan and applied for three schools in America, and my—going to Japan at the time was easier and when I applied to come to the US, I was accepted by one of the schools, but my visa was rejected three times. Actually twice, and then the third time, I said “You know what, I’ll try it one last time, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll just go to Japan.” And sure enough, I walked to the window, she said “There you go.” I’m like “Seriously…?”
Zephan: Because you tried the first two times, and they said no, and then it was that easy on the third try.
Dr. Pei: I know, I know. It changed—there are things in our life, maybe a few things that could dramatically change the course of our life, and others kind of slowly nudging you through your paths. But that—I have to say that that day was one of the dramatic shifts.
Zephan: And I think that’s a perfect example of so many people that are on the border of find success or what they really want to do. They tried the first two times, and it didn’t work, and so many people give up before trying that third time. And it’s crazy to me to see that people don’t keep trying, because they’re right here. They’re right on the verge of figuring out what it is they want to do or where they want to go in life. And look, I mean, you were on the verge of your dream and what you wanted to do and where you wanted to go and it took that third try to even get there. And it’s crazy to me to think that some people don’t even push for more.
Dr. Pei: Well, I agree with you. And look how you—you, back this, when you started this video business, I bet there were moments that you felt like “Maybe this is not gonna work,” right? Was there a time like that?
Zephan: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this was one of those things where I said “I’m gonna quit my job” and I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I knew what I was good at, and I knew what I went to school for, but I wasn’t sure what it was going to look like six months out from my first day in business for myself. And there were plenty of times, especially in the first two or three weeks, where, you know, the first day, you’re really excited and the second day you’re kind of like “Alright, where do my clients come from?” and then the third day you’re kind of like “Oh my gosh, I just spend all this money on things and I don’t know how I’m doing to replenish that!” So I was definitely in the same boat.
Dr. Pei: Yeah. You know, what’s interesting—can I share a story?
Dr. Pei: Just in that line where you talked about, I—one of the entrepreneurs, he’s super. He’s in Texas, I absolutely love him. And Joel, my husband, says he’s one of my business boyfriends. And I called him a mentor, myself. Keith Cunningham. And he was giving a speech one day, and he said one of the number one problems of entrepreneurs is this shiny object syndrome, where you—let’s say you stay at the buffet line. And then you know you got lots of people in front of you, but after waiting a little while, you’re like “Eh, I this line’s not moving. Maybe I should jump to the next…jump to the next…” And then he said you perpetually stay in line rather than get to the food. So he said “Pick a line. Stay there.” because sometimes it’s not—if you’re passionate about doing a certain business, it’s not about—and if you find someone that’s already doing it successfully, then there’s a way. Learn how. And, yeah, definitely.
Zephan: Yeah. I actually—I saw a video about that one time. It might have been him speaking. But it was all about how when we’re in the line to checkout at the grocery store. And you know it’s always busy at the supermarket trying to check out. and I do this two as I stand there, I got two or three people in front of me, and I kind of look over and like that line looks like it might move faster and this line is moving slower, and you want to change lines to check out. But I think they even check that, statistically, you are best to stay in the line that you’re in. statistically speaking, no other line is moving faster because you know that the one time that you do switch lines, that one is going to take longer than the one that you were in!
So I think you’re absolutely right that so many of us just need to follow the path and just keep going. But let me ask you this: How do we stay motivated throughout that? Because, I mean, yeah the shiny object might come by and then we get distracted and think that there’s something better out there. How do we continue to talk to ourselves and have that little voice on our shoulder tell us “Keep going. Keep pushing forward”?
Dr. Pei: That’s such a big question. I can tell you, number one, just understand. There might be days, there might be more days that you feel like this is not gonna work than the days you feel it’s gonna work, and especially in the beginning. So first of all, I think just to understand that is a path a lot of people walk through and so you don’t feel like “Gosh…” cause sometimes people have this misconception about “Oh, if I’m on the right path, I should feel peace, right? I should feel energized, passionate all the time.” And if they don’t feel that, they feel like they are on the wrong path. I think that’s a myth.
So I think, first of all, to understand that is a possibility. Not just a possibility, that for sure is gonna happen. Second is—I heard this story, you possibly have too—there are two wolves. They’re fighting. And on is a good one, the other is an evil one. And then there is this young man asking the wise man saying “Who’s going to win? They both look strong. They’re both same size and everything.” And the wise man said “The one you feed.” There are days it’s easier to listen to the voice and say “This is not gonna work. Look at you. Who do you think you are? Who’s gonna listen to you?” But then if you you keep feeding that, then that voice is gonna be louder and louder.
Zephan: What do you think is the biggest reason why most people either give up or don’t reach their goal that they set out for themselves?
Dr. Pei: Well, there could be many. One of them is what you mentioned earlier, not staying in line. But I think it’s also the myth of thinking—hm, let me just tell you a short story. One of my patients the other day, a lady in her sixties, and she are her husband run a business together ever since they got married in their twenties. And they have two daughters, they’re both entrepreneurial. And I said “What do you think your daughters felt when they started a business? Don’t they want to ever work somewhere? Have that ever crossed their mind?” And this lady said “Well, yeah, but here’s what’s interesting. These two girls, they watched us go up and down. They watched what it really takes. There were months there were not much profit and there are months there are. So they grew up knowing that’s normal. And they also grew up knowing the freedom their parents could have by having a business.”
So I think…obviously that’s not available to a lot of people here in this generation. We watch our parents have steady jobs. Work for thirty years, get a gold watch when they retire, and living on the pension and social security. But just to know that there are—the other side of life, if you want that freedom, there are prices that come with it and to understand what it takes to walk through that journey.
Zephan: Yeah. You brought up something interesting, so I have another question for you. So many times, we convince people that happiness kind of only comes when you work for yourself. We talk about entrepreneurship and how much freedom we can build from that. Do you think that we absolutely have to be an entrepreneur to be free and be happy or do you think it’s still possible to work a 9-to-5 or a corporate job and have your freedom?
Dr. Pei: You ask amazing questions. Frankly, freedom and happiness, to me, they are mindsets. I think we can be happy and feel free no matter where we are. I mean, if we talk about extreme situations, even if we are in a very—not in this country, or somewhere where the government has so much control, then there’s still a sense of happiness or freedom you can have. So I don’t think those two feelings are circumstantial—did I say that word right?
Dr. Pei: Yeah. But we actually have a couple people on our show talk about after they tried entrepreneur journey, then they realized they like collaboration. They like to work in a team environment, so they, after trying their own ideas and got some expertise and met some great people, they start collaborating working either for or together. So I think the freedom and happiness is very individual. And success, the definition of success is different for everybody. So it—maybe it’s important for us all to define what that is for us first, and then pursue that. Because I think that is sometimes a hard concept, especially when we—if we grew up in public schools, and then go to college, we’re taught kind of to compare with each other. To want what other people have, to have the same standard of success. But at a certain point in our life, we’re going to have to find out what that is for us.
Zephan: Yeah. And that happiness is something that’s going to come from inside. It’s not something outside, despite what people think. Far too many people are convinced that “Oh, if I just make a little bit more money, I’ll be happier” or “Oh, if I could afford to…something…I’ll be happier.” And I think that everyone has their own journey to happiness. And at the same time though, I think that it’s very easy if you just hit the reset button and say “Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and I’m not going to be like I am today.” And being able to have that power, when you have a bad day, and to wake up the next day and say “Here’s what I’m going to do today and this is what it’s going to be,” I think it’s huge and so many people have trouble getting to that point because they feel so stuck or so lost.
Dr. Pei: I absolutely love that.
Zephan: Yeah, so how do we get out of this place of being stuck?
Dr. Pei: Hmm. Well, I think—I was a poster child for feeling stuck a lot. Because I always feel like something has to happen for me to be either happier or in a better work situation. Especially for us who are entrepreneurs, who like to grow personally, we always feel like there’s something out there, there’s always a gap. And I think that’s natural for us to reach for something that we feel like it’s ultimate, that that’s where we should be. That’s great, but to understand—there’s this guy…let’s see, what’s his name? Uhm…he was on our show. He plays drum for Cher.
Zephan: Oh, really?
Dr. Pei: Yeah. Gosh, what’s his name? He’s working on a great book too. He was on our show and he said something very insightful. He said “Life is a series of nows.” So after that, I had a personal realization, and I’m actually reading the book “Power of Nows.” These two are totally separate, but just to realize, at this moment, I’m doing the best I can do. Be the best person I can be. I’m speaking to you, I’m understanding what your audience want, delivering what I have from my life experience. Share whatever I know. Answering your questions. That’s the best I can do, and I should be happy with that.
And I think taking action a little bit at a time. Focus on what I have no, what I can do now, that helps me to get unstuck.
Zephan: Yeah. Is there anything that you do to bring yourself back to the present in case your mind stars to wander off in one direction or the other?
Dr. Pei: There are many ways, but, possibly you don’t know, I teach yoga as well, just to breathe. To like take a breath, “Okay, what’s the reality here? Is this all necessary? What’s this big drama right now? Is there really a drama? Am I seeing things as”—cause sometimes when I look at a goal or a project that’s coming up, I make it bigger than it actually is. And then I feel like “Gosh, from here to there, there’s such a big gap” and then I start to feel sorry that I don’t have all the capabilities to do, and then it’s just gets downhill from there. But instead breaking down, break it down into what I can do now and take a breath and just start doing it.
Zephan: That’s really nice. It’s interesting to hear what everyone does to stay present or to at least just be in the moment. Because my method has been far different from most other people.
Dr. Pei: Tell me! I like to learn!
Zephan: I’ve had—I have a lot of trouble being still. My mind is always hyperactive. So, actually right before I started the Year of Purpose podcast, I tried a float tank, an isolation chamber tank. And it was a very interesting experience. But I had trouble with it because I could only stay present for so long. So I found that my love for rowing and being on the water is actually where I’m the most present. They always have this saying of “Keep your head in the boat” or “Stay in the boat,” and they don’t mean physically. They don’t mean “Don’t fall out of the boat.” They mean keep your head thinking on what you’re doing. And the greatest part about rowing is that while you might be pushing your body to the limit, your mind is so quiet because you’re focusing on just balancing the boat and staying on the water and doing this same motion over and over again.
And I think on top of that, one of the best parts about it is when you’re rowing in these boats, you can only see where you’ve been you’re not actually facing the direction in which you’re going. That’s just how physics works, because you’re pulling the boat and it’s going that way. But you can only see where you’ve been, you can’t see where you’re going, and that’s one of the greatest lessons. Is that you can only look at where you’ve gone. You can’t look at what’s coming up in the next ten seconds, thirty seconds, thirty days, thirty years, and I think that’s one of the best lessons, too, that I take back with me after every time I’m out on the water. And that’s why I go three times a week.
Dr. Pei: I love that. And, you know, that just shows everybody should find their own way of finding that Now. We have different paths and if your listeners listening to this, just try something. Maybe walking is your way. Maybe dancing for some others. Maybe climbing mountains for somebody else. And for me, sometimes petting my dog gets me back to the present.
Another thing that you mentioned about, you can only see the past, which, if you don’t mind, I want to bring up one of my morning routines I absolutely love. I spend just a few minutes meditating on the great things I have done in the past that I’m proud of. Because if I can start a day appreciating myself, appreciating where I—where I have been and where I am now, then it gives me more confidence to go on to take bigger tasks for the day.
So, yeah, instead of looking forward, always looking at what we don’t have yet, think about what he have done, what we already do have.
Zephan: Yeah. It’s a great way to start your day, and I think it’s a great practice for everyone listening to include. Now, let me ask you this though, because a long with a lot of this hope for the future and great things to come comes a lot of fear. And fear is a big part of everyone’s life. I always go out there and tell people that I’m not afraid of anything, but I’m sure there are some things I’m afraid of. I had a podcast episode where I talked about how I have a fear of rollercoasters and I have a fear of needles, and those are like the two things that I absolutely hate. Those are fears that I can get by, right, that’s not something I need to keep my life going on, but many people, when they’re stuck, they continue to stay stuck because they’re afraid of either, A, doing something really amazing and what happens when they get there, or, B, they’re afraid of the band things that could happen along the way.
Dr. Pei: Yeah. That’s one of the biggest questions here, and I think that keeps us stuck when we think about just fear itself. But one of the things I learned is—this is part of the question we ask our experts here on our show too, we learn so much from them. Instead of thinking—especially for if you get on a stage, start speaking—instead of thinking “Gosh, I’m so scared. I’m so scared. How can I conquer this fear?” Instead of focusing on that, just to know that fear is here and fear could be our friend. Fear, maybe it’s just a way to show that we care. Maybe it’s just a way to show “Oh, I’m gonna be in front of this local group, I’m gonna run a presentation to share my expertise,” that it’s normal. If I’m not fearful, then maybe it’s not normal, then something’s wrong with me, because I care about these people, I care about what value I deliver to them.
But then once you understand fear is gonna be there, the next thing is, guess what, we take action. We’re gonna start speaking anyways, and if we start to focus instead of what’s in us and to actually focus on the people, the impact we’re gonna make, that fear is slowly gonna walk away. To think you’re never gonna have fear? That’s impossible. But if we ask everyone this question “What would you do if you don’t have fear?” and just pause for a moment here if you’re listening to this podcast. Seriously, what would you do if you don’t have fear? And then if you have an answer right now in your heart, don’t try to change it. Because the next thing that’s gonna come toward you will be fear! Will be something like “Oh that will never happen.” It’s that ego starting to question you. It’s that voice from your past starting to question you.
Zephan: Yeah. And there’s, along with that, a great like from Alan Watts. He was a great philosopher and he said “What would you do if money were no object?” So I would question you “What would you do if there was no fear and money wasn’t a problem?” because I think everyone’s first fear that comes up, at least a lot of the time, is money and how they’re going to be able to afford it.
Dr. Pei: Yeah. One thing—I mean, we all live in the real world here. Money and stability is something we try to hold on to, and especially if you just started a brand new family or are about to start one. One of the best, the most practical way, is to start saving at least ten percent of what you make and then maybe save another ten percent to invest in yourself. In books, in coaches. I mean, I hired a ton of coaches during my major transition in life just because I was so fearful to reach for something I really want, and I have to have somebody by me to encourage me, to keep me accountable.
Zephan: Mhm. And there’s no greater motivator than paying a lot of money to a coach to become successful, because you know that you paid all this money to do it. And that’s exactly what I did when I started my business. I paid eleven thousand dollars for a yearlong coaching program, and I didn’t have eleven thousand dollars in my bank account! And I knew that no matter what I did, I had to find a way to make that money back, and so it motivated me to do better and do make more and to build my business and to build a lifestyle that, you know, allowed me the freedoms and things that I wanted.
And another thing is that when I took two months to travel last year, I was tired of everything. I was stuck where everyone else is right now, and I thought I had it all. I had a business, I had a great bank account, and I had friends, I had family, and I didn’t have happiness. So that’s when I decided to buy a one-way plane ticket and I flew around the country for a full twenty-nine straight days, and my biggest fear was coming back to no money and no clients and no business. And the funny part about it is, you know, I had my laptop with me while I was on the road, and I did a little bit of work while I was gone, and I made the same amount of money in November that I made in October by booking video shoots for the following month.
So I just scheduled out December while I was on the road, and I just scheduled them a few weeks out in advance and said “Hey, I’m not home right now, but in two or three weeks, I can come film with you.” and everybody said yes! And it was crazy. When I got home on November 29th, I looked at all of my invoices and everything. I made almost the same exact amount of money that I made in October when I was actually home. So it just goes to show that if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to do it.
Dr. Pei: I love that.
Zephan: And just don’t make any excuses.
Dr. Pei: And I think taking a sabbatical in life is really important. I know for some of us, or some of your, are working and that means a vacation, you have to figure out if you can take off from work, and you’re like taking a sabbatical. I think that’s one thing awesome about entrepreneurship, because we could. We understand there’s business we got to take care of, but because we are the owner, we can have that freedom, even if it means we have to come back and work hard to make up for that.
Zephan: Yeah. And you said that, you know, you sold your practice. This was just a year ago, right? And this is to get to fully dedicate yourself to working on ReLaunch. So I think that that’s a perfect example of, you know, if you want something bad enough, you won’t make excuses and you’ll do what you have to do to get there.
Dr. Pei: Indeed. And I gave myself lots of excuses. I complained, I blame everything else, I waited. I mean, I’ve done everything I could to resist that change, because I was extremely successful. I had things that a lot of dentists don’t even have, but I knew to get to where I want to be and to have that true freedom, to use some gifts that I’ve never been able to use before, there are changes. There’s nobody gonna come rescue me. I have to come make those changes myself.
Zephan: Yeah, absolutely. So, looking back now, because it’s been a little over a year, you know, what do you think about the decision that you made to sell your practice and to work on ReLaunch? Was it completely worth it? What sort of new freedoms have you gotten because of that?
Dr. Pei: Well, it’s completely worth it. Because—I mean, I was in online business, helping my husband on the side when I was practicing full time, but actually to allow myself, give myself this permission to actually devote more time, this past year, I have grown professionally and personally in every single way. This past year possible is the most I’ve learned about myself, compared to the many years before combined. So I think for me to understand where my next step is, I have even more clarity, even more tools. So if I didn’t take that action and just stayed where I was, I would still be making baby steps. Who knows, my mindset would still be the same.
Taking massive, massive action is one way to find our clarity, because one thing, I feel like so many people’s like “I don’t have this clarity in me. Is this gonna work?” The only way to find that is to take big action, because you’re going to find one way or another if one thing’s for you or not.
Zephan: Yeah. And it’s great to look back at how far you’ve come since then and all the exciting things that get to happen now because you took massive action. And I think that the big change comes out of the big decisions. It’s not really the baby steps. In a sense, it’s kind of like gambling, because you have to bet a lot of money to make a lot of money, and I think that’s kind of how life goes. You have to take a really big risk if you want a big reward.
And so to round this all up, let me ask you what do you think, with everything that you know now, with all the challenges that you’ve overcome, with running a business for ten years and ultimately selling it, what do you think is the number one thing you could pass down to someone in my age group that you’d like for them to know, whether it’s about life or in business?
Dr. Pei: Well, if I have to say one thing—and that was my biggest struggle and I’m still working at—will be no taking full personal responsibility. Let me just explain. It’s…the stories we hear on our show, the top performers, and if they have gone through something, either quit their corporate job or transition into a much bigger part of their life, it has always been the moment they realized “You know what, this is up to me.”
There was a mom, she has five kids, and she tried to work her marriage, but when she was on the verge of divorce, her therapist told her that “Just so you know, you’re not able to depend on your husband for anything.” Moments of truth sometimes awaken great potentials in us. And if we feel like—because I used to complain “This has to happen too” and then whatever needs to happen, it was out of my control. So when you complain something has to happen for you to be able to do something, you give your power away. And I did. And I—I was in that stage for a long time, not knowing I gave my power away. Until the day I said “You know what,”—I think I shared a little bit earlier too—“it’s up to me to make this happen,” and it’s amazing. Ideas start to come to you once you take that responsibility. So that could be something I definitely would think hard on.
Zephan: That’s great advice for everyone listening in today. I want to give them, what is the best website for them to learn more about the ReLaunch podcast, and to learn more about your show and to find out about you?
Dr. Pei: Uhm—thank you for asking—relaunchshow.com is the easiest way to get ahold of us.
Zephan: Perfect. And it’s available on iTunes, right?
Dr. Pei: Yeah, yeah. I think with all the podcasts these days, iTunes, Stitcher, all those places. But thank you. I love those questions and you’re one of the few hosts that actually really dig deep and just follow through with some extremely important questions. You don’t just stay on the surface and, as you as you are, I’m very impressed.
Zephan: Thank you for that feedback. It really helps me, because I think that I’m on this journey too. So, for everyone listening, you know, I’m twenty-five. I turn twenty-six this summer, and I’m no different than anyone else. The one thing I say is I just started asking better questions.
Dr. Pei: Well said. You want better answers? Start asking better questions!
Zephan: Exactly, and I think that’s the best way to wrap this episode. So to sum it all up, if you want better answers, start asking better questions. And with that, Dr. Pei, it’s been great to speak with you, and I can’t wait to talk to you again sometime on the Year of Purpose podcast.