Ep 37: Cik Mei Tjan
My interview with Cik Mei Tjan, an immigrant to Vancouver & successful entrepreneur, who got what she wanted by truly understanding her ‘why’.
My guest for episode 37 was Vancouver financial educator Cik Mei Tjan. She’s someone who came to Canada twelve years ago speaking barely any English, who has become a local expert in managing and building wealth and a real legacy.
First, a quick explanation of what she does. A financial educator, as she explains early in the video, is someone who helps families and individuals understand their finances. Where a financial planner spends time managing the accounts, the financial educator can help clients understand where all the finances are, why they’re moving, and how this plays into goals in a real way.
When the Student Is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear
How Mei Found Her Teachers
Mei had a courageous early life where she travelled around the world to reach Canada. She was born in Indonesia, and moved from Singapore and then to Hong Kong to work for families who could sponsor her move to Vancouver.
Before we got into the meat of the topic, we took a little time to discuss personal philosophy. Mei is a lover of the proverb “When the student is ready, the master will appear”, and she shared with me how much that meant to her. She found that opening herself up to learning revealed mentors everywhere, from people to passages of books. Speaking of books…
Mei’s Financial Education & Personal Growth Reading List
Mei and I had our first great conversations about our reading lists. Mei gave me a great starting reading list for financial education and developing a better foundation for understanding finances.
- Gail Oxlade Til Debt Do Us Part (TV Series)
- The Wealthy Barber – David Chilton
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
- Start with Why – Simon Sinek
- Anything by John C. Maxwell
How Her Family Motivates Her
Mei comes from what she describes as a ‘humble family’. Throughout her childhood, she was determined to grow up as fast as possible so that she could help her hardworking mother, and move the family from the patchy home in Indonesia’s monsoon zone to somewhere where her younger relatives would have better opportunities.
How She Bought a Home in Vancouver on a Housekeeper’s Salary
“It doesn’t matter how much you make, it matters how much you save”, Mae says. First, she says, you need to understand the “why”. She wanted a home that was her own, where she would have a comfortable place where she couldn’t be pushed around by a landlord. Once she understood the why, nothing could stop her, not even the need to work sixteen hours per day as a maid.
Another important step she took was budgeting her life around her why. She managed to save 80% of her earnings for several years. She ate affordably, cut corners where she could, and managed to close on a house in Vancouver in only a few years.
How She Overcame Shyness to Meet New People
“Don’t be nosy” she said of the attitude where she grew up. She spent many years mistaken for being shy because she wasn’t used to approaching people, or saw a purpose. Once she became a financial manager, she quickly learned that she needed new skills to build the network that she needed. She overcame her sensitivity when talking to people (and talking about money) by forcing herself to spend time in crowds as much as possible. She pushed her limits further and further in service to her why.
She developed a habit of following up on all of the business cards she was given. She noticed that she had zero responses when she was waiting for communication, but built her network rapidly as soon as she decided to be the one to take the initiative. Her network of associates became a network of friends who were able to refer many of the people who became her clients.
Finding Your Why
Cik Mei found her “why” very early in life. She had to protect her family from threats that those of us here on the Pacific West coast may never have to face. What stands out about her story is how much purpose matters to reaching your goals. A 60-hour week here and there isn’t as bad when you’re building something that will give you satisfaction for a lifetime.