Connect with Ally:
Founder of Limitless Lowai, Health Enthusiast, Wife, Mom, Podcaster, Seminar-giver, Network Marketer
A decade ago, Ally and her husband moved from the USA to China with just two backpacks and dreams of adventure. Over the years, in addition to the beautiful family they created together, Ally built herself a successful and stable corporate career in Shanghai. Eventually, she began wanting more than her nine to five job could give her – specifically, a life outside the four walls of her office. “I remember going to lunch one day and looking around and seeing people super relaxed and super chill,” she says. The light bulb switched on and she realized, “there is life outside of work and I want a piece of that!” At the time, she had a nanny who helped care for her two daughters while she was at work, but she wanted to raise them. So, with her little girls as inspiration, she began her transition from corporate China to momtrepreneur.
Moving From Corporate Career To Entrepreneur
“Take the time and do the hard work of identifying your passions and your purpose and then put your blinders on and get to work.”
In the beginning, self-doubt crept in again. Just the idea of creating a podcast was daunting and as she continued to plan, research and build it, she was plagued with insecurity – with which, she reveals, she then plagued her husband (for better or for worse, right?). For the first 60 days, Ally recalls, she would share her fears – “What am I doing? No one’s going to want this. No one’s going to listen. Positive media doesn’t sell. Nobody’s going to care … I must be insane.”
After two months of indulging her own self-criticism, she picked up a marker and wrote herself a message in the most easily visible place she could think of – her wall. “Jake and Jenny Expat need you,” it read. “They’re fictitious people,” she says, “but the idea that one day, if the content helps one person live better in China, one person love their experience more – one person – then it was worth it. That really drove me.” Her husband’s tough advice to, “put your blinders on and get to work,” also made an impact. So, Ally focused on the people she would serve and she literally put her blinders on and carried through bringing her podcast to life and eventually monetizing it.
It’s been three years since Limitless Laowai was born and, since then, Ally has gone on to build several successful businesses. She’s still experiencing the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurship but has learned to see her challenges and setbacks as major opportunities. Ally’s story is proof that when you believe in yourself and overcome self-doubt, the potential for growth truly is limitless.
- She suffered a serious case of burnout when her balancing act as brand manager at her office job (40 hours/week), teacher on the side (20 hours/week), wife and mom (not enough time/week) and start-up entrepreneur (the pockets of time she had left/week), threatened to topple over. “I was running myself ragged,” she says. She needed to prioritize and realized she could not do it all – she would have to make a sacrifice.
- She took a big blow to her self-esteem when her network marketing business went bust – this is after leaving her full-time job (i.e. steady source of income). “I cried and cried and cried,” she says. She didn’t let the self-doubt that failure brings discourage her, however. Having had a taste of entrepreneurship, free time with her girls and making an impact on people’s lives, Ally shut down her negative thoughts. She went back to the drawing board and, with the help of her husband, discovered a need that she could fill.
- She spotted an opportunity to use her years of experience to share advice with fellow expats. As expatriates living in China, they were part of a large community and were often asked, why they loved living there. “The expat move is not easy,” she explains. “There was this a massive gap for expats, between making the decision to move overseas and what life is actually like over here … they needed to know that they were going to be okay.” There weren’t any services like hers at the time and she positioned herself to serve those unmet needs.
- She created a business to be a source of support and reassurance. In 2014 she launched the Limitless Laowai podcast, the first and only podcast in China at that time. Today, Limitless Laowai is a five-star-rated podcast with more than 150,000 downloads and subscribers from 139 countries, not to mention Ally’s own loyal tribe of followers from her hometown in Shanghai.
- She adjusted to changing market conditions and created new products for her listeners. She’s recently launched the Limitless Laowai app and is planning online course content, like the 90-Day Game Plan, to help people unlock freedom and possibility in their lives. Get a free copy of the 90 Day Game Plan to transform your business and life.
- Identify problems in your immediate environment with the people closest to your face. The people closest to Ally were other foreigners in Shanghai struggling to adjust to the new way of life.
- Develop a solution that helps ease their pains. Ally’s solution was a podcast that provided helpful tips to make living in Shanghai more enjoyable for new and existing expats.
- Overcome self-doubt by thinking only about the people whose lives will be made better by the work you’re creating. Ally’s mantra whenever she felt like giving up was, “Jake and Jenny Expat need you!” These were the imaginary characters she created.
- Put your blinders on and do the work needed to produce quality content. Ally listened to her husband’s tough advice to quit whining about giving up and just do the work.
- Accept that self-doubt will always be a part of your journey and trust in the fact that you made it through your past experiences. You will make it through this too.
- Start at the beginning: Make sure that your project, idea, business, or whatever you’re working on, is something that you believe in. Ally says, “When you jump you should really be building something that’s personal to you that is an extension of who you are and your values.”
- Do the work: When you’re just starting to work on your project, “you’re building in the dark,” Ally says. You don’t yet know what you want or how you can achieve it. You don’t know how it will turn out in the end, but it is your passion, so it feels personal and you’re hesitant to create anything less than perfect. Rather than let that self-doubt consume you, put your nose to the grindstone and remain focused on your purpose and the impact your work can make in someone else life.
- Break it up: Ally subscribes to the 90-day game plan. It’s a “way of living on purpose,” she says, and it has contributed to her success today. When you have that larger-than-life plan for how you’ll pursue your passion, don’t look at it as a whole and work towards reaching the one big goal. Instead, think of how you can break your plan into smaller chunks and you’ll see that, “so much more is possible because, when you take control of your life for 90 days at a time, things happen.” Get your free copy of the 90 Day Game Planto transform your business and life in 90 days.
- Don’t try to be perfect: People are more comfortable connecting with a real-life human being with real-life flaws, rather than the superhuman perfectionist who always seems to have it together. “It’s not real,” Ally says. Rather, be your imperfect self, she advises, sharing that she “found more engagement,” once she stopped worrying about how she looked and sounded. “That’s what makes people feel like they can really be themselves,” she says. “How can you help people unlock freedom if you’re not free?”
- Focus on who you’re helping: If you feel yourself succumbing to self-doubt, think about the people whose lives you’ll impact with your work or, of the people who’ll continue to struggle if you give up. Remember Ally’s mantra – “Jake and Jenny Expat need you!”
- Ignore naysayers: “There are three types of people in this world,” Ally says:
- people who are for you (they’ve got your back no matter what).
- people who are for your message (not a bad thing, but if you change your tune, they’re walking).
- people who are against what you’re against (at least you have something in common).“If you have two or three people in your life who are for you, your message and not what you’re against,” she says, “hold them close and really nurture those relationships … ask them your gifts and talent, ask them what people say about you when you’re not there to listen. But don’t listen to the other people.”
- Listen to people who breathe life into you: We don’t have an objective view of our own strengths and weakness. “Often times we’re so blinded by our own doubt, our own woe,” Ally says. “People see things that we’re blind to and we have to trust to listen to the people in our world who absolutely adore us.”
- Remember it’s okay: Understand that it’s okay to have feelings of self-doubt. “When you are called into something and you have an enormous amount of self-doubt it’s okay,” Ally says.
- Trust that it gets easier: Things aren’t always awesome when you step out of the dark, Ally says. “Every time you pivot … change something … feel like you need to flex, those doubts still resurface. But you can look back on the past experience and say, it’s okay. It does get easier but it doesn’t stop.”
Identify your Passions and Purpose.
Put your Blinders On and Get To Work!
When you are called into something and you have enormous self-doubt, it’s okay.