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3 Keys To Being A Successful Female Entrepreneur

Prosperous female entrepreneurs across every industry follow many of the same principles to generate success. These principles are ideologies pianist and founder Ching-Yun Hu has used throughout her career.

As a Chinese-American pianist, I have defied the odds of a male-dominated society.

To achieve this I have followed the same steps of many entrepreneurs, and then poured  what I know into my love and pursuit of classical music. I attribute my success to these specific areas: creativity, passion, logic, vision, and a circle of advisors.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

I was born in Taipei, one of the most exciting cities in Asia. In addition to its fashionable skyscrapers, street-food scene and active night markets, there are many strong and talented women. Though, this female empowerment is not everywhere in Asia and often the contrary is true.

I am very fortunate that I was influenced by the love and support of several very strong women. My mother loves classical music, and has always encouraged and supported me wholeheartedly to follow my dreams. Under her guidance, I grew up unaware of the boundaries and restrictions that were often placed on other women’s achievements.

I came to the U.S. to study at The Juilliard School when I was fourteen, made my debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at seventeen, and now perform with orchestras and in recitals all over the world. In 2008, I had the great honor of winning the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv, Israel. I started touring the world in prestigious concert hall and festivals, and soon released an all-Chopin CD that won Taiwan's 2012 Golden Melody Award for Best Classical Album of the Year. 

While I have defied the odds, I also see it as my responsibility to counterbalance past generations who have set limitations for girls who were not as fortunate.

In Chinese culture, gender favoritism is still so very prevalent. In China, there is a traditional preference for sons (over daughters) that dates back for centuries and some families believe that only sons can carry on their family’s legacy and traditions.

I was very privileged to avoid these beliefs and carve out a life path knowing anything is possible. In contrast, I have worked with young women who have been put down, discouraged and told that they would amount to nothing. I remind them, “you are what you believe yourself to be. If you want to succeed in life and be loved by others, you must first believe and love yourself.”

It’s very hard to challenge someone’s belief that they will amount to nothing, and even harder for that individual to learn to believe in themselves.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." We must achieve an expertise in personal change and success first so that we can rise to the challenge of helping others in the world with similar struggles.

I am very passionate about being an advocate for young musicians, and founded the Yun-Hsiang International Music Festival in Taipei in 2012, and a year later, began a summer festival called PYPA Piano Festival in Philadelphia, which has become one of the most anticipated summer piano festivals on the East Coast. PYPA Piano Festival is known for its world class concerts and masterclasses, as well as its intense and extraordinary quality. I joined the piano faculty of Temple University and at the Shenzhen Arts School in China, as a visiting professor. I regularly give lectures and masterclasses to young generations of pianists around the world. 

We all have to start somewhere, whether it’s sharing what you know or becoming the master of your own mind. Start with allowing your imagination to run wild with possibilities, and surround yourself with people who support your dreams. Magical things will start to happen! Many of my greatest mentors have come from outside of classical music. Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed surrounding myself with people who have strong abilities in fields about which I know nothing. The breadth of knowledge that they lend makes it possible for me to build inventive enterprises and projects that push the boundaries of classical music norms. No successful woman ever got to where she is by following a well-worn path!

DAYDREAM—IT HELPS IMMENSELY

I believe in letting my mind wander daily to think about everything and nothing at all, and this has been essential to my success. Some would discourage daydreaming and dismiss it as a waste of time. In fact, I’ve known parents who worried about their children’s work ethic and lack of drive when they saw them enjoying idle time. I am thankful for my mother’s limitless confidence in my creative process, as she parented without applying limits to these leisurely moments. Now, I can easily shed boundaries and let my imagination go wild. I didn’t know as a young girl, but learned as an adult that neuroscience actually supports that idle time is crucial for creativity, innovation and breakthrough thinking.

Scientific America shares that, brilliant minds have used this technique for centuries.  Legend has it that Archimedes was relaxing in the bathtub when he had an idea that led to his widely-used principle about water displacement, and that Einstein also worked out the Theory of Relativity while riding around on his bicycle. Leisure time is when I have my most profound creative breakthroughs, because when we are idle, scientists find that this is when our brains are most active. A marvelous idea comes to my mind, and I start to imagine how this new plan or project can become reality. This process is one of my favorite things to do, because I never know where it will take my life next. There have been so many unexplained magical moments in my life from this creative process that I fear if I ever stopped daydreaming one day things would become very dull. 

Once I imagine something, I come up with very specific plans, and execute them in my mind step-by-step until imagination becomes reality. I have found that I am a dreamer with an executive mind, but this isn’t enough on its own. Without meticulous and disciplined planning and execution, imagination will remain just a figment of your imagination. This process takes a lot of work and determination. However, if you’ve surrounded yourself with a strong circle of great advisers, you will find help.

It’s my hope that you find inspiration from this perspective: Believe in yourself, surround yourself with good people, and never forget to daydream.

Listen to Ching-Yun Hu's Favorites playlist for inspiration or listen to her new album Rachmaninoff on the Centaur label.
LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST  LISTEN TO THE ALBUM