Interview With Tina Su of Think Simple Now

Today, I am lucky to have Tina Su, of Think Simple Now, as a guest. Tina is a rapidly rising “pro-blogger” and she recently had a very well received guest post on how she gained 2000 subscribers to her site in one hundred and twenty days on ProBlogger.

  1. What was the catalyst that started you on your path to personal freedom? How come so many of us are hesitant to take that first step toward serving our own happiness?

Catalyst: My mother. Who encouraged me to learn about EQ (emotional intelligence) when I was a teen. She also handed me my first personal growth books “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Think & Grow Rich” when I was 18.

Why many of us are hesitant to take the first step?
We are afraid. Afraid of the unknown and potential instability. We fear awkwardness and being labeled as an outcast by our peers. We are naturally adverse to change and fear the potential loss and pain. Did you know that we are more sensitive to avoiding pain than we are to gaining pleasure?

  1. Do you have a personal mission statement for 2008? If yes, what is it?

“To live every moment fully and to choose how I spend my time based on passion and purpose.”

In my pursuit for freedom of time, I make decisions regarding projects and tasks by asking myself the following question, “If I had all the wealth and resources in the world, would I be doing this right now?” I will then only proceed if the answer is yes.

  1. What has been the most fulfilling aspect of having your website Think Simple Now, what is the significance behind your website name, and how do you plan to improve or grow the site in 2008?

Most fulfilling aspect: Every time I receive an email or comment from a reader who felt connected with my voice. I am so empowered by the thought that I might have contributed to their lives in a positive way. That means so much to me. I would pay money to experience that. :)

Website name: I did not think very hard about this. The name just came to me one day. It felt right and it stuck. I make many decisions this way, listening and trusting my gut feelings.

Think Simple Now suggests that happiness can be experienced now! In a shift of a thought instantly! It can be as difficult or as simple as we make it. So decide to make it simple, and experience the now.

Plans for 2008: There are many plans for improvement, and many will be implemented in the fall. Specifically, there are three major areas which I anticipate for ThinkSimpleNow:

  1. a) Going Fulltime – Becoming a ‘pro-blogger’ and dedicate more time and focus on the blog. It really makes my heart sing, and so I shall follow my heart.
  2. b) Additional Writers – Bring on additional voices from exceptional writers who share the same mission to making a positive contribution to the lives of others through motivational writing.
  3. c) Internationalization – I’d like to make the content more accessible to other cultures and languages. If you are a proficient writer in another language and connect with my content, please contact me at tina[at]thinksimplenow.com
  4. How did growing up in Beijing help to create who you are today? Was it hard to transition to living in the U.S. as a young person?

The biggest impact that growing up in Beijing had was watching how my parents persevered to leave China. Leaving China was quite a difficult task prior to Tianmen Square, but my parents had a laser sharp vision, even though they did not know how they were going to do it.

Watching how hard my mother worked to save up enough money for our plane tickets to North America was a deeply moving one. Each night after her day job, she would ride her bicycle for 2 hours to see foreign patients in order to make a dollar an hour, as extra income. From that, she saved enough for us to leave. That’s persistence.

Transitioning as a child was simple. As a ten year old, it took me a year to learn English. During this time, the kids at school were quite cruel, because I couldn’t speak English. You know how kids can be.

  1. For budding entrepreneurs out there, what is the one piece of advice that you would give them?

To create a concrete vision, followed by a measurable goal with a date attached, and then plug in at full speed towards this goal with massive action and absolute faith.

Many people don’t get what they want, because they don’t know what they want. I’ve found the act of defining a goal with dates to be the most important piece for me in terms of achievement.

Next, I would work on understanding myself and how to deal with fear. Fear and doubt is the enemy of quick action, which cause our failure to reach our goals. At which point, guilt and regret usually sets in. I feel that taking the time to understand our own psychology and ways to understand ourselves is extremely important.

  1. How do you divide your time between your job (at Amazon), your blog, and your art?

Great question! It was very easy without the blog, but the blog has added an extra dimension of complexity. I am still working and continuously adjusting on better balancing this. I love my blog and my readers, and so I will make it work despite the additional workload.

I use my early mornings and evenings during the weekday for my blog and other projects. I divide up the week for when I’ll work on which and allocate the number of hours dedicated to each.

My job at Amazon has flexible hours, which I am very fortunate to have. My success there is measured by delivering value on time rather than the number of hours I work.

I often work from home, with less distractions, and I am able to become more efficient with my time. I try to stack meetings together, for less interruption and reduced context switching time.

Saturdays are also devoted to the blog. Sundays are for my photography work, meditation and planning for the coming week.

To summarize, the keys are:

  1. Planning & Revising Goals – Regular planning for how I would like to spend the week.
  2. Set time – Allocated time duration for tasks is important. If I don’t set a pre-determined limit to complete a task, I could potentially work on it for weeks. This inserts a sense of urgency, and forces me to get what I need done in less time.
  3. Get Paid for Value – Create situations such that you are paid for value rather than time.
  1. You are off to travel in India soon, will you be blogging about your travels? What types of cultural experiences are you hoping to have?

Blogging about traveling? Probably not, but my partner Adam might. If he decides to blog about it, it will be at AdamTina.com and I would supply the images. We will be gone for several months, chances are we will come up with something.

Cultural experiences I hope to gain: I will be focused on Living in the present and Finding Bliss among Chaos.

I don’t have many expectations other than to experience. I like to watch as beautiful expressions unfold as memorable experiences. With my photography work, I’m incredibly curious about people, so I can expect to spend lots of time talking to strangers. I hope to gain wisdom from the people I cross paths with. I’m also sending out the intention to be invited to an Indian wedding. :)

If anyone have tips about visiting India (including must see places). Please share with us in the comments. I’d love to hear them.

  1. Do you think humanitarians and social entrepreneurs in general have been utilizing the online medium effectively to help raise awareness and funds? How do you as an entrepreneur give back?

Yes, I think so. The web has made it easy for many charitable causes to thrive. Kiva is an excellent example of one such organization. By allowing people to give loans electronically without leaving their homes, they’ve created a low-friction and super-easy way for people to contribute. I love that.

I give back in several ways.

  1. Hosting free ads on my site for charitable causes. Periodically, you’ll see Kiva ads on my side bar, those are all unpaid and they get pretty good click-through rates.
  2. 5% of everything I make after tax goes to sponsoring children inside Tibet for food/shelter/education. I’m currently sponsoring 8 kids and 1 senior.

Here are some sites for great causes that I would like to mention:

  • Tibet Fund: Sponsor a child inside Tibet
  • Kiva: Loans that change lives
  • GlobalGiving: biodegradable gift cards online charitable giving. Support projects that change peoples’ lives – like education for a Zimbabwean orphan, pedal-powered electricity for a Nepalese village, or fuel-efficient stoves for Sudanese refugees.
  • CharityFocus: 100,000 volunteers towards compassionate causes. One of its founders deeply touched me with his stories.
  1. How do you maintain your positive, optimistic, and upbeat outlook everyday?

It helps to be reminded that I am Alive!! What a precious gift! Even experiencing something ‘crappy’ can be a great reminder that we are alive and are able to experience this moment.

I, too, go through days where I’m not positive and upbeat. But as with any habit, or attitude, the more we do it, the easier it becomes.

Here are several things that I’ve found helpful in my own life:

  • Language – Watch my language and thoughts. What I say to myself, what I say to others, what I write in emails. Can I replace a word of negative connotation with a positive one? I also avoid saying “I can’t”, even in casual sentences as reply to invitations. I replace it with, “I will not …”
  • Be Inspired – Reading inspirational books, watching motivational videos, listening to empowering audio talks regularly. I don’t do this as much as I would like.
  • Gratitude – As often as I can, I like to take a little time to feel thankful for my day and all the miracles in my life. My partner and I do a “Wins and Realizations” exercise each night.
  • Surroundings – Create an environment. Be surrounded by optimistic people. When I’m on a downward slope, it’s so powerful to have close friends who remind me of alternatively positive views. These reminders have the power to snap me out of the negative vibrational frequency, and put things in perspective.
  1. Think Simple Now, with its high quality content, has become quite a successful blog in a relatively short period of time, do you have a writing background? For those of us that would like to draw more comments on our posts, how have you been able to engage your readers so successfully?

Thank you! I’m very thankful for the support from readers and friends.

I don’t have a writing background. In fact, with English being my second language, writing was a fear of mine. I actually got my undergrad in Math just so I could avoid English. Seriously. You can say that part of my motivation for blogging is to overcome this fear.

The content quality comes from my intention to write from the heart and a deep desire to connect with people. This might sound really corny, but it’s true. I do not read other blogs for inspiration before I write, otherwise I will sound like other people. My inspiration comes from issues that I am dealing with that week or topics that I’ve been thinking about extensively during that time.

How to engage readers?

  • Value Intention – Focus on creating value for your readers. Not just a little value, but send out your best intentions for them as you write. I like to ask the question: “Will what I post today be at the best interest for the readers?” If we do not have the intention to create the best content for our readers, it will show in our writing.
  • Candidness – Be honest, genuine, bold and transparent. Don’t be shy to tell an embarrassing personal story. Embarrassing as it may be, people will be able to relate with you on a more personal level. Because we all experience those embarrassing moments. If anything, people will applaud you for your courage of candidness.
  • Ask Questions – In combination with the above two points, ask questions to see what your readers have to say. Make the questions short and simple. In the process of answering, your readers may discover or be reminded of something in themselves that makes them smiles.

One of my goals with my blog is to “Empower others to live life with few limitations.”

One of my projects which has been in research and development mode is a dating site for people interested in personal development. I would like to find out more about people’s interest level. If you are single and is interested in meeting like-minded singles who share your passions for living purposefully and consciously.

About Collis Ta'eed

As cofounder and CEO, Collis Ta’eed leads Envato, one of the world’s most thriving digital marketplaces and creative educational blog networks.

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