07 Feb A Real and Raw interview with Wendy Wu
Real and Raw, made purely from serendipity with the DNA of drive and ambition… Wendy Wu is living proof that real ambition can master the world while living the life you desire the most!
The desire and appeal for the authentic life story behind the ongoing success and renowned Powerhouse Woman, Wendy Wu, is what drove us travel to London to meet with Wendy in person so that we could find out the truth behind what has made Wendy the success that she is today, and we were dazzled, awed and inspired to find a woman who was willing to share her story, unashamedly owning her power and raw enough to admit her faults. We love her!
With a company reining over 20 years’ experience, established originally as “THE GO-TO” China & Asia Tour Specialists, Wendy Wu Tours is not slowing down with its recorded year-on-year growth.
So who is the real Wendy Wu?
Aspiration and Hard Work, Very Hard Work…
Originally born in Tibet where Wendy spent the first seven years of her life before relocating with her Father and Mother to Shanghai where she then grew up with the strong guidance and high expectations of her parents to become something “Great” in life, Wendy’s life path was laid out for her, with the obvious expectation to follow in their footsteps to pursue a medical career the same as they had achieved.
With her parents, both medical doctors originally from China, Wendy’s father a Principle of a Hospital with 1000 beds, guiding Wendy towards a career with medical leadership was the key, and Wendy’s mother a Cardiologist, bidding Wendy to be a specialist in the medical world, neither of these were to come to fruition as fate had a different direction for Wendy to campaign. Of course, they really wanted Wendy to become a Doctor but that was not to be her destiny. it was her school marks that precluded her from that career path.
Wendy remained not at all bothered by the change in her expected career path, as she had a deep love of literature. She actually really wanted to be a writer not just any writer a “great writer.” At least then fulfilling her parents desire for her to be “Great” in life. I think that’s the thing that stood out most about Wendy whatever she was going to do in life she was going to be great at it. Something she learnt early on from her parents, to work hard, very hard at whatever you do and don’t settle for a life of mediocracy. However, her parents convinced her that it was very hard to make a living as a writer so she was told to forget about literature or arts and do engineering.
With the plea of her parents to do something that will provide a good career and income, Wendy decided on doing a degree in chemistry, but not without having her decision on the location to study. “I chose the furthest university away from my parents. 40 hours by train from them so my parents could not come see me”, says Wendy with a laugh.
Wendy’s parents were strict and she was a free spirit who needed to spread her wings.
After she got her degree she got a job in Petroleum and became assistant editor for Petroleum Magazine. A very well-paid job which pleased her parents tremendously but not her soul. “After three years of working in a role that was very boring, and although paid very well, I felt I needed to get out of this rut”, said Wendy.
“I had a Love of working and my parents were right it would provide a very good living but I wanted more for my life, it was boring. A job for life and it didn’t suit me. I felt like my life was just wasting away”, says Wendy.
“Deep down what I really want in life is… I never want to be ordinary, never be mediocre. I fear that more than death!”
“So much to the horror of my parents, I left my job and landed in Sydney, Australia and fell in love with it and stayed 15 years. I was immediately in love with Australia, it was Love at first site”, says Wendy.
Seeing the missing piece…
Finally, in Australia and living her dreams, Wendy was now in full charge of her own life, able to take up her long-desired passion to study literature.
“I was studying full time at Macquarie English literature and my parents so were far away they could not stop me pursuing my dreams, I loved being so far away” says Wendy.
But during her time away in Sydney while studying, Wendy had that tantalising travel itch that was a deep burning desire that needed fulfilling. She longed to explore her home land in China, something she said she always dreamed of doing, even when living there. She always had the love for her home country and culture and she felt it was time to take a break, venture out and explore.
“I was in Sydney for about 4 years. I wanted to do a tour of China with my partner. So, I knew what I wanted to see. It was a 4-week itinerary that I had done all the research to all these great destinations. I got the research completed and got the best deal and being Chinese I knew how to get best deal. But 2 weeks before the trip my partner was asked to stay and become Assisting Manager, so the choice was either stay and get the promotion or go on holiday and miss out on the opportunity. We are quite ambitious and he would have missed the job, so we decided he should stay and I would go but the problem was we had already paid for the trip”, says Wendy.
“So, I put an advert in the paper advertising the tour with this price and the itinerary and said I will be the free tour guide because I speak Chinese. It was crazy because I had so many people wanting to go with me”, says Wendy.
Shocked at the response from the people willing to go on a tour with her, Wendy quickly realised the missing piece in the travel market that she could offer.
“The funny thing was that I realised how hard and difficult it was back then to get visas approved quickly in such a short time frame, not everyone could go because they needed a visa and there was not enough time to get one. It was a 28-day holiday and I learnt very quickly that Australian’s love long holidays”, says Wendy.
Recognising there was such a huge opportunity to take Australians to China, Wendy went to find a tour company.
“I know there is a popular demand so I went to American Express office and told them I want to join them to create my own company. American Express was the closest to my university – so it was totally serendipity not a plan at all”, says Wendy.
“So I joined American Express, It was a Franchise office and it trained me in customer service and introduced me how to run the business,” says Wendy.
“The Owner of the business was Barry Alsop. He was amazing and I often felt working for Barry was better than working for myself. I was working with one of my colleagues and I said I am going to go do this for myself and she said she would love to work for me. 20 years later she is still working with me today!”
“I Learnt how to treat people and treat suppliers from Barry. I learnt a lot from him that I am grateful for”, says Wendy.”
It’s in my DNA… “Drunk on Energy”
From small beginnings Wendy Wu Tours was born, from clippings in newspapers the business formed a life of its own, with the gap in the market and the demand for authentic China tours started by pure serendipity, even though it may seem as destiny, Wendy contributes a lot of its success down to her ambition and energy derived from her DNA.
“I have the DNA of entrepreneur by default not by choice, I have the drive and ambition, and the energy to boot. I am excessively happy, and excessively energetic with excessive passion it’s in my DNA.
I call myself almost always drunk on energy and I have an Internal clock or internal whip. I don’t want to live a life of mediocracy”, says Wendy.
Wendy admits she thrives off a challenge she LOVES it. “I ended up in business by pure accident, I never had any desire to run a business especially since my parents brainwashed me to work in a Corporate Secure job”, Says Wendy.
Wendy’s true desires not to be ordinary, and to never be mediocre have set her on this now global business where she gets to live each day loving work, loving the chase of forever possibilities of growth both in her company and in her personal life.
It’s no question, Wendy aspires to greatness. Claiming to be excessively ambitious and encouraging to her team to think the same, a team which embodies 200 employees around the globe.
“5% growth, I would not get out of bed for so yes I am ambitious. I love love love working – so I live and breathe it. It is always about what makes you happy. I get lots of satisfaction and I get a kick out of business.”
“A lot of things I do now is because I can learn so much more,” says Wendy.
Personal Growth is imperative
“Right now, I am learning how to be a good Managing Director. I am in the interim Managing Director in the UK at the moment. I decided to do that so I could learn and grow into a better manager for my company, so I can relate to the people in my business more.
The challenges for me stepping into that role as an owner of business is we already get away with a lot as an owner, people tolerate us, spoil us and allow us to get away with a stroppy temper, I want to be less reactive and I want to be there for my staff, balancing both tasks of Owner and Managing Director are very demanding.” says Wendy.
Wendy openly admits she is a very tough leader and sometimes can be harsh, something we truly admire her courage to say. As an owner and founder it takes a lot of resilience and grit to build a business, a lot of the time you can’t be the nice person, which is why you hire the right people to balance out your weaknesses as sometimes burning ambition and drive outweighs patience and empathy, something Managing Directors usually fill for you.
“I have had Managing Directors who are far older and wiser than me and far better than me.” says Wendy.
“The journey that I am going through now is I am challenging myself. I attended an Anthony Robbins Course and it was life changing, along with another great course, ‘The Gift of Love’, that has resulted in three new life goals or ambitions… ” says Wendy.
“The first is I realised People work hard, make great contribution and in some areas can’t meet my expectations. This is ridiculous, I realised – that it is terrible because they put so much time and effort in and I wanted to change the way I work with these people. They are brilliant but not brilliant in all aspects. They make great contribution to the company. I can’t come along tear it apart anymore and say do it again. I realised the language and way I communicate is disabling and unproductive so I find myself in the place where I must change, to learn to be a more patient and empathetic leader.” says Wendy.
By now we are truly dazzled, awed by Wendy, unashamedly owning her power and raw enough to admit her faults. She continues to say the last two things she’s endeavouring on changing in her life.
“The Second thing is I am growing up and I want to be calmer, I realised this as it goes through both my work and my life, I think it’s important to find a sense of grounding, it makes you more at peace.” says Wendy.
“The third thing is I want to learn meditation, I don’t think I need to explain why this is quite obvious it’s important to have a peaceful mind and to rest it.” says Wendy.
“It was Accident & Serendipity again as I found that course and it literally gave me everything I needed overnight”, says Wendy.
Wendy is going through huge self-development and implementing her new style of leadership and what is great is her team are commenting on the change. Wendy says she is calmer more collaborative more nurturing and more tolerant supportive as a leader.
Secrets to success, means to try harder
With Wendy’s 20 years’ experience running her own business that has changed the face of travel into China and Asia, plus now the adding almost the rest of the continent, we wanted to find out how do you grow consistently, and with a surprising humble response, although adding in the knowledge that Wendy was inducted into the hall of fame in the UK for Travel and Tourism in 2017, Wendy say’s 20 years is a short time in business.
“We are far away from calling ourselves successful. We have literally changed the scenery of China tours in UK and Australia but we are a long way away from the goals we have. There is so much more that I want to do and so much that I wish we could have done, so there is a very big distance to go yet,” says Wendy.
It seems although a massive success to the outside world, Wendy is not about to boast about her Company which has received an abundant volume of awards, bursting at the seams of their awards cabinet, it’s not near enough for Wendy as her ambitions run excessively high, allowing for an ever growing and changing company and life, with her personal and career drive striving always for more, this will be defining reason why her company will continue to grow.
We asked Wendy what advice would you give to your younger self, interested to find out what secrets she may hold.
“Work and life is same thing for me. I always want to do something extraordinary and something great that can have big impact on society.” says Wendy.
“If I was 30 years old I would tell myself to build the company BIG, FAST & IPO!” says Wendy.
“I wanted to list on the stock exchange. Focus on IPO and do it in your 30’s.” says Wendy.
So, go big and fast and IPO, is Wendy’s advice, something from the outside looks like a well grown business but Wendy wishes it was built quicker. On the other hand, we wanted to know about her children? It turns out it is expected that the apple is to not fall far from the tree.
“As a parent myself, I give more freedom to my children but I encourage them to be driven and as they are in top 10 schools in London. They are expected to be great kids.” says Wendy.
“I tell my kids that Bill Gates met in Secondary School and Steve Jobs met his business partner also in secondary school. So, whilst they are only 10 years old, I am talking to them about leveraging at this age, they are also doing an exam to get in to the number one school currently in the UK, says Wendy.
“I am firm believer, you must live your life but you have to try harder.” Says Wendy.
Expected greatness and brilliance from her young kids, no matter what path they take, Wendy is gleaming proud mother no matter what they do, as long as they try hard along the way. Wendy continues to add notes on the travel industry, adding her advice.
“The Travel Industry is a wonderful and happy industry what would help the industry is have more ambition” says Wendy.
“I also understand what women leaders have to go through. Put up with a lot and recently a lot of female leaders that I know have partners are almost like a wife – take career break and take care of kids. For women to succeed some of them may find it hard, there needs to be that help back at home, and compromise where you can.” says Wendy.
“If you’re thinking of doing something don’t think too much just do it. Some try later when time already has passed, and Some have great ideas and never do it. Don’t let your idea slip by.”
“Bring people with you and don’t have small business mentality, think big.”
“Always be aware in the core of you want to do. If you want to impact Society and have a big impact and share this with others, then let people know. Now it is acceptable where in the past they would think you were crazy.”
Real and Raw, made purely from serendipity and the DNA of drive and ambition…
Wendy Wu is living proof that real ambition can master the world while living the life you desire the most! We can’t wait to see the next journey that Wendy has in store for both her company and her Life.
Remember that ambition breads success, and to live your life the way you want it.
Wendy is travelling to Sydney from London to join us as a Keynote Speaker at our A Force For Good event on International Women’s Day 8th March 2019 and we can’t wait to hear her inspiring talk.
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