Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Chenny Xia, who’s been coding websites since she was 12 and has been chosen among Canada’s Next 36 for her outstanding work in the field of UX strategy. We caught up with her to find out what inspires her work and how she would define the word ‘success’…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m the CEO of Journey. We help teams evolve their products and services to stay ahead of the curve by addressing changing human behaviours. We call this innovation consulting.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
I’ve been called an “accidental entrepreneur.” Our family never had a lot, and I couldn’t get approved for a student loan. At 16, I experimented with different ways to optimize time (so I could actually have time to study) while maximizing return (tuition, rent, food… it adds up quick).
I believe human experiences are the best investments we can make. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to understanding our relationship to memories, and how to empower teams to create great ones.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
The first month that we had enough financial runway to not worry about whether or not we could pay salaries. When you need money to keep the lights on, it puts you in a difficult position where you cannot make the best decisions for your company.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
I don’t know. I personally don’t set any goals beyond 24 months because you just never know what’s going to happen. Instead, I’d rather focus my time on ensuring I make great decisions today. As long as I continue to do that, I have faith that the future will work out just fine.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
If you’re in your 20s, you really can’t mess up. So take risks, if not simply for the experiences you will gain.
If you’re in your 30s, focus on your strengths. I don’t believe in trying to “fix” your weaknesses. No one ever accomplished meaningful things without others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
My partner, Jessica Fan, and I do a couple pro-bono innovation sessions and programs for Canadian high schools and universities every year.
Let’s be real — the world has no shortage of challenges. We believe the best way to sustainably address this is to invest in our community’s youth.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
In our industry, there are a lot of conflicting personalities that sit around the boardroom table. This can sometimes make the decision-making process very lengthy and cumbersome.
We formed a power team of mentors and advisors, headed by Sapphire Digital Health Solutions Inc CEO Andrea Matheson, to help us navigate corporate politics and relationships. Our ability to effectively negotiate and frame interests-based conversations has been instrumental to the successes we’ve had today.
What does the word notable mean to you?
I associate “notable” with “noteworthy.” For me, anything noteworthy (people, companies, or things) has an innate ability to ease anxieties and drive motivations.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Hands down: Mattachionni on Dupont. There’s a feeling of magic behind having a short menu, farm-fresh ingredients, and humble dishes. Plus, it’s affordable enough to fit everyone’s budget.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Website: Gmail… by a landslide.
Song: Sevdaliza’s “The Other Girl.” She’s definitely my favourite up-and-coming artist of from 2015.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Personally, I believe everyone’s feed could use more art. We live in such a metric-driven world where the value of creativity is decreasing over time.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Despite having visited over 20 countries, one of my favourite cities is still New Orleans. What can I say? A little jazz, a little gumbo… it’s good for everyone’s soul!
I’ll be heading to Jordan this April. The itinerary is to trek by foot (with some help from camels) to Petra. I’m trying to get all the physical “must-do” adventures out of the way while my body is still young.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
As an entrepreneur, I find it tough to find quality time with your parents and grandparents — especially if they live almost 6000 miles away. My mother is in Vancouver, my father in Beijing. Just like everyone else, one of my greatest fears is regret.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Driving with no destination in mind. In today’s hyper-connected world, our brain pathways can sometimes be fire hoses of random thoughts. Driving requires you to focus on the road, so it’s a fantastic way to achieve ‘internal quiet time’.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I am slowly training myself to fall out of love with material things. It’s hard. I’m Chinese, so I come from a culture that values social perception more than real life.
When I doubt, I invest in experiences. You can’t take your Rolex to your grave, but you certainly can take your memories.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
I think success is directly tied to happiness. However, because happiness is determined based on reality minus expectations, I believe our drivers of success change over time as we go through different life stages.