Tracey Chang: Confidence, Happiness and Beauty with Power

Mar 2024

The genuine Tracey Chang is a former TV journalist turned entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger with over 4 million followers. Crowned as Miss New York 2009, she became the first woman of Chinese descent and first foreign-born contestant to win the pageant in U.S. history.

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"The biggest drive for entrepreneurs is the ability and the audacity to hope."
Tracey Chang: Confidence, Happiness and Beauty with Power
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”
by Coco Chanel, a French fashion designer and entrepreneur

About The Episode

In this episode of The Founder Spirit, the genuine Tracey Chang, a former TV journalist turned entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger, shares her unexpected win as Miss New York and insights on becoming a successful TV journalist, building a personal brand and the meaning of her work as an online influencer. 

Tracey emphasizes the importance of authenticity and self-love in the pursuit of beauty and happiness, highlighting the significance of staying true to oneself in the digital age.

Just how does the former CNBC reporter empower millions of women to lead happier, more confident lives? 

TUNE IN to this authentic conversation & find out. 


Tracey Chang is an entrepreneur in China’s online beauty sector, a lifestyle blogger with over 4 million followers, a successful journalist and a beauty queen. Crowned as Miss New York 2009, Tracey became the first woman of Chinese descent and first foreign-born contestant to win the pageant in U.S. history. She was honored with the Asian American Excellence Award and recognized for her outstanding contributions to the community. 

Tracey started out her career on Wall Street before switching to the field of journalism. She was a bilingual reporter and correspondent at CNBC Asia, and later became an anchor at China Global Television Network, where she hosted its flagship business program, conducting numerous in-depth interviews with top business leaders. 

Tracey graduated from DePauw University with a degree in economics on a full academic Posse Foundation scholarship and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Episode Transcript

[00:02] Jennifer Wu: Hi everyone, thanks for listening to The Founder Spirit podcast. I'm your host, Jennifer Wu. In this podcast series, I interview exceptional individuals from all over the world with the Founder Spirit, ranging from social entrepreneurs, tech founders, to philanthropists, elite athletes, and more. Together, we'll uncover not only how they manage to succeed in face of multiple challenges, but also who they are as people and their human story.

“The support and love that you can give to your child is really the greatest gift. That's the true privilege, not your skin color, not even your socioeconomic background.”

“Never in a million years I thought that I could actually win it. And when I did win it, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. At that moment, I really believed in if you want to do something, if you put all your effort and time and energy into doing something, then you can actually achieve something. That happened, I never thought that was possible.”

“It's that connection and trust you build with people, I value that so much. Because to them, I'm just a stranger on the Internet, I'm really a nobody, I'm not a mega celebrity; I'm just someone selling a little bit privacy online to gain some attention. To be honest, that's all there is to it.” 

“I am so grateful that there are so many women that would give me their very valuable time to even want to hear what I have to say or being concerned about what I'm going through in my life or what I'm up to. That's incredible honor, and I'm incredibly moved by that as well. So I feel like I have a moral responsibility and obligation to tell them the truth.”

Joining us today is the genuine Tracey Chang, an entrepreneur in China’s online beauty sector, a lifestyle blogger with over 4 million followers, a successful journalist and a former beauty queen. 

Crowned as Miss New York 2009, Tracey became the first woman of Chinese descent and first foreign-born contestant to win the pageant in U.S. history. She was honored with the Asian American Excellence Award and recognized for her outstanding contributions to the community. Tracey started out her career on Wall Street before switching to the field of journalism. 

Just how does the former CNBC reporter empower millions of women to lead happier, more confident lives? Well, let’s talk to her & find out. 

Hello, Tracey, welcome to the Founder Spirit podcast - thank you for taking the time.

[02:26] Tracey Chang: Thank you so much, it’s an honor to be here, Jennifer.

[02:29] Jennifer: Tracey, I understand that you're from a family of entertainers. I believe your great grandfather started the Chang family style of crosstalk, which is a form of stand-up comedy in China, but it's done with two people. 

Your grandfather was named a cultural treasure of China, which is an honor that's bestowed on a select few. So, Tracey, what was it like growing up in a family of entertainers?

[02:56] Tracey: I think people think that my grandfather enjoys making other people laugh, so he must be a very easy person to talk to in real life. But actually, I know a lot of comedians in my life because my grandfather's colleagues, and they're actually the group of people that are most prone to developing depression. 

We think about this famous comedian, Stephen Chow, the Hong Kong actor and Robin Williams, they all suffered from severe depression. My grandfather was the same story, and he had to seek treatment in the US in the late 1980s, early 90s, when the treatment wasn't really available in China. It's not easy to make people laugh, and they're always very serious at home. 

That being said, my family loves cracking jokes. When it's not your part of your job, you just love doing it so much more, isn't it? So we're all very outgoing, we're all very comfortable in front of camera, which is why I think it transitioned very well for me when I became a blogger.

Unfortunately, when I became a blogger, my grandfather had passed away. If he was still around, I'm sure that he would be so game to helping me build an online following, despite how serious he was when he was around.

[04:01] Jennifer: As a child, you grew up between China and the US and finally immigrated to the US, to New York City as a teenager. What was the young Tracey like?

[04:12] Tracey: I think I was a very fierce child. I had a lot of personality. A lot of people called me very sassy. I was very passionate and emotional, and I was the same way. Even when I moved to the US, despite the initial language barrier, I couldn't really communicate very fluently with people in English, but that didn't stop me from making friends. 

Until this day, I still think for kids from immigrant families, a lot of times they were taught not to say much, they were told not to voice your opinions, they were made to feel self-conscious, whether it's their skin color or cultural background. Personally, I don't think that's the right approach. 

For me, my family encouraged me just to be who I am, and they reassured me, you are who you are, people who love you are going to love you, and people who don't like you are not going to like you, so don't change. 

And it doesn't matter that you may not speak the language fluently. But the United States is a very open country and people are going to respect and even find you more interesting because you're from a different culture. And that turned out to be the case when I was growing up. 

And people embraced my difference, embraced the cultural differences, but at the same time, they also embraced similarities. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing. We want friends, we want love, we want acceptance, we want a lot of fun. And so I did not have a very difficult transition as a lot of other kids did. 

I think primarily because I didn't see myself as a newcomer, I didn't see myself as a victim, I didn't see myself as, okay, I'm a girl, color, maybe people will see me differently. Not at all, and people accepted me and loved me for who I am.

[05:42] Jennifer: In an earlier interview, you talked about being from a very traditional family and not raised to be a beauty queen, even though that you come from the family of entertainers. What prompted you to pursue the Miss New York title?

[05:58] Tracey: Well, I mean, talking about traditional, I don't mean the sense of being really conservative or very rigid or serious. Traditional, I mean, I have a very close relationship with my parents, very typical of Chinese families, we're a very close, tight family in that sense. 

My parents, they've always supported me in whatever I wanted to do. I think personally, that's the biggest blessing in my life because I received so much love and support as a child, and that's invaluable. 

Support and love that you can give to your child is really the greatest gift. That's the true privilege, not your skin color, not even your socioeconomic background. My parents supported me unconditionally for whatever I wanted to do. 

And a friend of mine is from Texas at the time in New York, and she's always been into pageant and watching pageant shows with me, so I tried it out one year with her just because she's like, okay, I think I'm going to go do this thing. And they put two girls stay in one room. Would you like to come with me? That way that we can try to stay in one room, we'll support each other, it’ll be just a fun weekend. 

And I did it, and I actually placed very well, I won Miss Manhattan. So they're like, okay, we're going to send you to the national, it will be fun. 

Never in a million years I thought that I could actually win it. And when I did win it, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. At that moment, I really believed in if you want to do something, if you put all your effort and time and energy into doing something, then you can actually achieve something. That happened, I never thought that was possible. 

So that's actually a very simple story - just one day I'm like, okay, I'm going to do this. My parents were like, okay, go ahead, we'll fly from China to go watch you in Albany, New York. And I won - so crazy.

[07:45] Jennifer: And you became an inspiration because you were the first person of Chinese descent to be crowned Miss New York. What qualities do you think the judges saw in you? Why do you think you won?

[07:56] Tracey: I think confidence. People would say that I appear really confident, not that I think I'm the most beautiful girl in the world, far from it. I just think the way you carry yourself, you think that you're going to win, you’re owning that stage, and you're having fun. You're just thinking that, you know what? I am queen at that moment. No matter what anyone else thinks, I'm going to own that stage. 

I bought this really expensive, really shiny dress that makes me look like a crystal chandelier on stage. And I will own that moment, and I will have as much fun as possible - anything else is irrelevant. I think that's very important to the judges. And I'm from a different background, that makes me very interesting. And also, I worked so hard to fit in that bikini. 

I think confidence and the fun spirit and that I communicated with the judges, thinking that, okay, if you send me over there, I'm going to be great representation. And that's what the pageant is all about - it’s about having fun and building your self-confidence and showcase what you have. And I think that's what really moved them and gave the title to me.

[08:53] Jennifer: Well, I think that self confidence also comes from the love and support of your family, from your parents. And that has a lot to do with it.

[09:01] Tracey: Absolutely.

[09:02] Jennifer: Aside from being a great career launch pad for your next move, what else did you take away from that pageant experience?

[09:11] Tracey: I really think girls are way more kind to each other than people give them credit for. I heard a lot of really horrible stories of girls cutting up each other's dresses, doing nasty things to each other so they could get ahead and all of that. 

But from my experience, everybody was so nice. After I won, I can't tell you how many people came up to me and said, you deserved it, we were so happy, we were all cheering for you, and you're such a wonderful representation for New York. 

Same thing happened, it was my naturalization ceremony - I was 14 at the time, and I didn't have any family member with me.And there was an old American lady came up to me., and she's like, you look so wonderful, dear. You don't have any family here with you, but I took photos of you for you. Welcome to our nation, we love you, you're going to be great here. And then she's like, give me your address, I'll send a photo to you. And she did. It was such a wonderful story. 

It's kind of the same thing, nobody thought it was odd that I'm ethnically Chinese that I would be representing New York, and nobody thought that was slightly inappropriate or didn't raise any issues about it. And that's the beauty of America at the time, I thought. I mean, today is a whole different world. 

But I still think that deep down, overwhelming majority of the people can see others past their skin color or their ethnicity or their cultural background, their religious background. That common bond - the pursuit for beauty and happiness and the joy of being young and having fun - that really bonded people together. And girls were so great to me, and that will forever be one of the greatest memories of my life.

[10:42] Jennifer: I think it says a lot about the common humanity. And I also love that story about the kindness from strangers - it could really change somebody's day just if you smile at someone on the street.

[10:54] Tracey: I mean, these days people can't talk to each other without getting really political or sensitive. People always ask me whether I was discriminated against as a Chinese girl growing up in the US. And when I tell people I don't think I did, some people get really upset - they’re thinking that you're normalizing racist behavior. 

But I mean, have I encountered ignorant people? Of course I have. But they stem from their own insecurity, not necessarily have anything to do with the color of my skin. That's the way I chose to look at it and that's the way that I thought it really helped me grow up and not constrain myself inside of a framed murder circle. 

I was able to force myself to go out of the comfort zone and thinking that I'm just like anybody else and nothing will stop me, not language barrier, not cultural barrier, not the color of my skin. This is a very even sensitive topic to talk to people about these days, but honestly, that's truly how I feel, even till this day. 

[11:50] Jennifer: So after graduating from Columbia Business School, you switched careers into journalism. What motivated you to become a financial journalist on TV?

[11:58] Tracey: Being in front of camera is always something that I wanted, and being a financial journalist was just the right way to go into it because I would watch all the news. I watched English news, Chinese news, left-wing, right-wing, middle, everything. And of course I thought that I had some financial expertise.

And the most important thing was when I was a second-year business school student, I had the opportunity of meeting (Michael) Bloomberg because I was a student  representative. Henry Kravitz at the time was a commencement speaker, and he pledged to build a new building on campus. So he actually had people over for dinner, where I had the honor of being invited. 

And at the event, I had the opportunity of meeting Michael Bloomberg, so I just told him. He’s like, oh, we're looking for MBA contractors, maybe you can contact this and that person. And that's how I became a Bloomberg contractor when I was still at (business) school and I became Betty Liu's research person. 

And that led to me meeting Susan Krakauer, who was the producer of Mad Money and Fast Money at the time. And that's how I got the job at CNBC and the rest of history.

[13:01] Jennifer: And do you recall your first time on air, how did you feel? Were you very comfortable? 

[13:07] Tracey: I was so nervous, and I never let my own insecurity of English not being my first language bother me. 

But being on air for the first time was different. I was so nervous, sometimes my Chinese accent comes out or my grammar isn't great. I think the back of my throat was shaking a little bit, and my hands were trembling, but I tried not to let people see it. 

I had gotten used to giving speeches in front of people, but knowing that all the cameras are in front of you and the producers were 3-2-1. It's kind of making you nervous, and there are seasoned on-air personalities around you who just carry themselves so comfortably, and there you go looking so awkward and not knowing where to look at or you have to think about what to say at the same time. 

A lot of my content were ad lib, so meaning that you had no script - reading was a lot easier. So I was so nervous. But later on, you just got used to it and then you're not nervous anymore. Everybody makes mistakes, I mean, it's live news. People say things that are not entirely correct, and that's okay. You just correct yourself later on, you'll learn to appreciate.

[14:07] Jennifer: Yeah, and I think maybe you're the only one who notices that shakiness in your voice, most people don't hear it, so we're more self-conscious. 

[14:16] Tracey: Yeah and totally - other people don't notice, (you’re) your hardest critic.

[14:20] Jennifer: Absolutely. You joined CCTV News, China Global Television network, and became anchor and reporter for global business, its flagship business program. 

Can you shed some lights on the inner workings of being a TV anchor? Is it super competitive as sometimes it's portrayed on TV?

[14:40] Tracey: I think it depends on the network and the program you're on. For us, it was competitive, sure, but it was a very friendly competition. 

To put it this way, the sub-anchor I had at the time, she’s still my best friend from work, from CGTN, so we had a obviously wonderful relationship. And she really had my back when I was pregnant and when I was trying to get pregnant, and I had hers as well. So I think it's a very healthy, competitive environment.

But obviously, I was very lucky in that aspect. I had a great boss, too - I had a lady boss who was just wonderful at CGTN. I couldn't be more happy, and I could have felt more lucky to have her as my mentor and my boss, too. 

That being said, that doesn't mean that other teams or networks wouldn't have a very toxic work environment - I just never experienced it. But I'm sure that happens. The US networks, I always think, is more competitive because one position, one person, and everybody's fighting for that position. So I was very lucky to never had to experience that kind of toxic work environment.

[15:41] Jennifer: Tracey, you also hosted New Money, which is a weekend program that's focused on China's new generation of entrepreneurs. What did you learn about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship from this show?

[15:54] Tracey: I learned so much. Their stories are all different, backgrounds are all different, but there's one thing they all agreed upon was saying that entrepreneurship is the hardest thing that you can do as a career. And they all agree that the process is… how do I translate it into English? They say 九死一生 (pinyin: jiǔ sǐ yī shēng), meaning that out of ten entrepreneurs, nine of them will be dead. 

And all the success stories you hear are basically survivor bias - it's just so difficult. A lot of them even say that (if) opportunity is given again, they probably wouldn't have chosen to be an entrepreneur. But they all had that very fiery entrepreneurial spirit within them that you could see that they're yearning for something different, something exciting, difficult. 

You could even argue that a lot of them love being tortured. We talked about Elon Musk - I think he's one of the rare individuals that actually enjoys pain and suffering. Just like people who like to work out, it really hurts, but then it makes you feel really good afterwards, it's kind of like that. 

And also, it's for people who have very unsettled soul, I like to say - that you don't want to just settle with your status quo and you can see what happens in about 10-20 years’ time. You seek that unknown factor, and that's incredibly admirable and exciting to me, and that's what I saw in every single entrepreneur I interviewed.

[17:09] Jennifer: After almost a decade, you decided to leave the comfort of being a high profile TV journalist to pursue an entrepreneur career, even though that you understood what it meant or what it takes to be an entrepreneur from this show, from New Money.

And switching gears, I wanted to ask you, when did you start blogging online and how did you get started? 

[17:33] Tracey: I started blogging online Christmas 2017, I remember it very clearly. My first video was a Kim Kardashian makeup (chuckles) and followed by Christmas makeup.

Reason how I started was I got married in September of 2017. I love doing makeup myself, I never let anyone else do my makeup - very particular. Before my wedding, I started researching on YouTube - that was the height of the YouTube beauty community. Everybody was watching beauty videos and beauty YouTubers have just become big in the US.

So I found a lot of videos. I'm like, wow, this is so great, this is so interesting. So I became obsessed with those makeup videos. And later on, I would rehearse recording videos in a bathroom just by myself, this would be really weird. 

And a friend of mine called me in, and he's like, okay, my company can help you edit and upload videos, and we could help you to become a beauty blogger. Is that something you'd be interested in? And that's really how I got started.

[18:28] Jennifer: And how did you then go about building your own personal brand online? It's been 6-7 years now, since you first started. 

[18:36] Tracey: I really think that people can see your authenticity through the lenses. I'm not perfect, I have a lot of flaws - not that I don't want people to think I'm perfect. 

I feel like if you try to be somebody else other than yourself, that is incredibly tiring for you in the long haul, and exhausting to not speak your mind. And it is so exhausting to always try to get people to like you, because not everybody is going to like you. 

So I decided I'm just going to be who I am and speak my mind. And people like me, they'll like me, and people hate me for it, and they'll hate me for it. And I think that was very rewarding. People can see that kind of authenticity. They will reward authenticity. 

Not everybody wants to hear the truth or not everybody agrees with your opinion, but at least you're not lying to people and being really disingenuous. I think that's how I started building my following, is being really real. 

And also my unique life experience that you would relate to this, Jennifer, gives you the unique opportunity to bridge the cultural gap between East and West. And sometimes because of cultural differences, a lot of reasons, people have misunderstandings of each other. You can really stand in the middle - that really give me advantage at my job working for CGTN as well. I want to tell this story from a very authentic point of view, as someone who lived it, somebody who's breathing it.

And even today, I base my career in China. There's a lot of misunderstandings out there about China, and I want to clear that up for people who've never been to China and didn't know how (it) really is. And nobody's perfect, no country is perfect, but this is such a great culture and great people to be around. I think I really helped people connect. 

And same thing with the Americans. Chinese people also have misunderstandings of how Americans are, Western people in general. And then I served as a bridge, you give them unfettered, real information, and they loved me for it. Some people hated me for it, but whatever haters gonna hate.

[20:28] Jennifer: So do you consider yourself more Chinese or more American these days?

[20:33] Tracey: That's such a great question. Because when I was younger, I thought I was more American. Because the most critical period of your life where you started forming your world views or your views on yourself, I spent in the US. 

But as I've gotten older, especially after I've had my child, I've become way more Chinese. Also, the US culturally has shifted so much, it's really hard for me to identify with the US these days. 

Personally speaking, I really value that nuclear family and the bond with my own parent, and love and support for your children, and teaching them what's right or wrong, and sticking to the truth and not what pleases people, or what's the latest trend, whether it's scientific truth, biological truth, it's truth. These days, I think I'm more Chinese. (chuckles)

[21:20] Jennifer: I used to think that I'm very American. And similar to you, I don't think I'm that anymore. But I also don't think that I'm that Chinese either. So I don't actually know where I belong, and now I'm based in Europe.

[21:34] Tracey: You're a global citizen now.

[21:37] Jennifer: I don't know, I don't feel European either. But I'm comfortable everywhere. But I'm not sure that I belong to a specific geography - that's how I think about myself these days.

[21:49] Tracey: Yeah, part of the reason why we are Chinese these days is also because I've spent so much time in China - my business is here. The kind of work ethic and the drive and the desire to be excellent, and I think that's something so valuable in our Chinese culture and Asian culture. 

Part of the reasons why I'm always so proud to be Chinese is the drive to be successful. It's so intense, it encourages me to reach higher - not only from a monetary standpoint, but also realizing your dreams - to go for it, to be excellent academically, socially, I love that. 

[22:19] Jennifer: Well, you’re a mother of a four-year old daughter. So she came and visited us just now. What are you teaching her about how to grow up? What is your education philosophy on raising a daughter?

[22:31] Tracey: Wow, she’s a little bit too young for me to get too deep into anything. But these days she's the only child for now, and she gets all the attention. So I'm trying to teach her that in life, nothing is free basically. 

I teach her, okay you like it - Mommy paid for it, it's because Mommy worked hard. It's so Chinese. It's like, you have to work hard if you want nice things. (chuckles) But I want her to understand that nothing is free in this world. Everything you want, you have to work for it, one way or another. 

And I think it's very important for a child to realize that early on, so she wouldn't have that sense of entitlement. I think that's toxic and detrimental to a child's development.

[23:09] Jennifer: In general, I think we cuddle our kids a lot.

[23:11] Tracey: Yeah, I was cuddled as a kid, but I did learn that nothing comes for free.

At that time, everybody (in China) was the only child, and people just wanted to give you whatever they have. And my grandmother loved me, and I loved her with all my heart. She was literally my sun, my beacon of hope. And she was the bravest, smartest, most intelligent, and just the most morally sound person that I know. She was so great. 

I think she taught me a lot, not necessarily making me do housework, but she taught me important lessons about life - always rely on yourself and be strong and be really kind to people who've helped you along the way, and never give any chance to people who've wronged you. That's something that she taught me I still carry very dearly in my heart. 

It's like people say, oh, do you hold grudges? Yeah, I don't forgive people easily. That's why my grandmother told me, if they hurt you once, don't give them the opportunity to hurt you again. So that's something that I think was very valuable to me.

[24:05] Jennifer: So I came across your Instagram post about your grandmother when she passed away, it was really a loving post. Yeah, I love that picture and what you wrote about her. 

What is the common myth, Tracey, about being a social media influencer? And what do you like most and least about it?

[24:23] Tracey: Okay, I want to say that I'm not the kind of person who would sit here and deny that stereotypes are all wrong. To be honest, stereotypes come from somewhere. 

And being an influencer, I think the common myth is that you're so superficial and fake - that's probably the most common one, and some people will assume that you're not very well-educated. But then again, I think I'm the kind of person to think of education differently. Like, you don't only receive your education from school, you'll learn from anywhere. 

And the reason why being an influencer, online personality is so different is that the barrier to entry is so low. There is literally no barrier to entry. I actually think it's great, it afforded opportunity to common folks who otherwise wouldn't have any access to fame or wealth or success, it gave them the opportunity to rise up. 

And I will tell you one story of this big time blogger on DouYin (“TikTok” in China), his name is Xiao Yang Ge, little Yang brother. So they're a family from rural China, a lot of people dissed them for being not well-educated. They started blogging about their life, being really funny, providing something people find useful. 

I think in 2016, they didn't have any jobs, they were very young, and later they became really successful, and they started doing ecommerce on China's TikTok, DouYin platform, and they became huge. 

And I was thinking to myself, McKinsey, for example, they would never consider someone like that. And their fate seemed to be written, okay, you would just have to find a job that does menial labor and get paid not very much, and live the rest of your life like that. But the opportunity on the Internet, in particular, opportunity in China, really gave them this path - they are on their way to become billionaires. I'm not kidding.

And that's making me so happy, because they've got no background, yet they shattered all barrier to success. Obviously, this is survivor bias, not everybody will achieve the kind of success they do. 

But that just tells you the story of the Internet development in China, how extraordinarily fast and how amazing it had been for regular folks. They could really tap on the opportunity, because there's no barrier to entry. Who's there to tell you that you won't be successful?

[26:31] Jennifer: And as a key opinion leader with a large fan base, you'll inevitably encounter criticisms online. And how have you handled criticisms over the years, Tracey?

[26:42] Tracey: I will have to be very honest with you, I handled it horribly (chuckles) in the beginning, especially. 

I told you I was a very fierce as a child, if the people were nice to me, I was super nice to them. But on the other hand, if somebody were mean to me, I get back at them. If they hit me once, I'll hit them ten time - that kind of person. 

So clearly, when I first became a blogger, they're going to be attacks against you for no reason, part of the job. Anybody who's in the public eye or is willing to put yourself out there, you are exposing yourself to a lot of criticism to a larger extent, even your family, for no reason - people could be really vile online. 

And initially I fought back and all of that. Then later on, I realized it really drained a lot of my energy and it's not a great look. If you want to keep going, you just have to let it go at a lot of point. It’s hard, it’s not easy to let that kind of very hurtful and very enraging things go, but I'm learning. 

Five, six years later, I'm finally getting there. I'm able to let a lot of things go. And at a certain point, you just have to learn how to block and move on with your life. 

I read something that really inspired me this year. It says that never try to argue with people who purposely try to misunderstand you. So if somebody try to misconstrue what you said on purpose, it doesn't matter how you explain yourself to them, it doesn't matter how much evidence you present. You're not going to change their opinion because their purpose is not to have a reasonable conversation, their purpose is to hurt your feelings.

Because in real life, your environment is filtered, the people you meet is filtered. Online, that filters is gone. And people will say to you things they would never imagine saying to anyone in a million years. In real life, they'll probably get punched in the face, they just wouldn't do it. 

But when you hide behind a moniker and it's complete anonymous, and people don't know who you are, and the ugliest part of humanity comes out, it's unfortunate.

[28:35] Jennifer: As mentioned, Tracey, you have a fan base of 4 million followers across various social channels. What is your business model related to monetization?

[28:45] Tracey: I really do think the Chinese Internet space offers people way more monetization opportunities. I do think the opportunity is moving to the US too. I intend to participate, to be part of it, whether it's through training people or doing it myself. 

Primarily, you have to match your influence with e-commerce activities. You look at the Kardashians, they all came up with their own products - that's one way to do it. Another way is using your influence to sell other people's products, and that's what China is doing. I think live selling is an incredibly exciting opportunity that's happening in China - the size of the transaction is already enormous. 

I do think the model can and will be replicated in the US. China is homogeneous, US will be a little more difficult because it's way more diverse, but the consumption power is there and the model was proven to be successful. Remember QVC and the infomercials? People went crazy. This is so much more exciting and I want everybody to pay attention.

[29:42] Jennifer: Tracey, your personal slogan is beauty with power. What is beauty to you?

[29:47] Tracey: I think beauty is being confident and being happy - these two things are very important.

When people think about physical beauty - physical beauty to women is such a great gift, but at the same time, if you don't use it wisely, without power, it could be a curse. In Chinese, we have a saying that 自古红颜多薄命 means that beautiful women are usually carry unfortunate fate - that's just a very ancient Chinese saying. 

That just means during ancient times when women held no power, beauty could be a curse. You become an attachment or an item that's owned, a possession of men. And you don't get to control your own fate, and your beauty could really get you in a lot of trouble. 

But these days it's different, women have more power to choose and more choices than they ever did in Chinese history, even world history. I think women these days can choose however life you want to lead for yourself, and all there is left to do is for us to figure out how to be happy in that life and how to be confident. 

And happiness is clearly very elusive, nobody has cracked code on how to be happy. Apparently after a certain point, money doesn't make you happy and beauty doesn't make you happy. What does make you happy? 

And I remember reading Principles in Ray Dalio's book, he talked about meaningful work and meaningful relationships. I largely agree with that.

But for me, probably a little more than that, and then also feeling very confident, look good - so those things make me happy. So happiness and confidence would be two things that I think that are necessary for a person to be beautiful.

[31:15] Jennifer: So going along with that thread of beauty with power, how do you teach them to have the power that comes along with feeling beautiful? 

[31:26] Tracey: One thing that I'm doing is that to always make sure that you're trying to look beautiful, not only because it makes you feel good. Secondarily, I do think if you're more confident, and that helps you in your professional life and your social life. 

And being comfortable in your professional life is going to afford you more financial opportunities, which makes you in turn more powerful because more resources equals more choices, equals more power. And then also being very confident in social circles just makes you more happy because you have more friends, more people to talk to. 

And we're all socially animals, we need interaction, we want a community-based living environment. That's why solitary confinement could be one of the harshest punishment for human beings - we have the need to communicate.

So that's what I try to teach my audience. I don't want to use the word teach because who am I to teach anybody anything but to share with them. My opinion is that these things are not only superficial, like don't think of as, okay, 臭美, that's a Chinese saying that, oh, seeking beauty, you're not that admirable - why are you paying so much attention to the way that you look? 

But for me, it's like if I feel good, then that's going to translate into a more successful career, more power. Let's not joke here, more financial freedom equals to more freedom in general. You have more power when you have more resources, and then you have more power if you have a social structure that supports you. 

We're human beings, we're drawn to people who are confident and looks good and carry themselves confidently, and there's no avoiding that. So there's no shame in pursuing beauty, there's no shame in making yourself feel better about the way you look. Just be your most confident self. 

[33:04] Jennifer: And previously you talked about having meaningful work and meaningful relationships. And as a lifestyle blogger, what meaning does your work hold for you?

[33:15] Tracey: It's that connection and trust you build with people, I value that so much. Because to them, I'm just a stranger on the Internet, I'm really a nobody, I'm not a mega celebrity. I'm just someone selling a little bit privacy online to gain some attention. To be honest, that's all there is to it. 

I am so grateful that there are so many women that would give me their very valuable time to even want to hear what I have to say or being concerned about what I'm going through in my life or what I'm up to. That's incredible honor, and I'm incredibly moved by that as well. So I feel like I have a moral responsibility and obligation to tell them the truth.

And if they buy anything from me that I recommend, that's even a bigger responsibility, because I am the kind of person growing up, it's very uncomfortable for me to talk about money. So when there's money involved and people trust you and they want to buy the things that you recommend or you do sponsorships with, that's a huge responsibility to me. 

So the things I can provide are very limited. For example, I could only do the research that you may not have time to do, I could only try the products you otherwise would have to spend your own money on trying, and then I would spend the time to negotiate a price that you, on yourself, wouldn't otherwise get on your own.

So these are the things that I could provide if that could be valuable to a busy working mom, who didn't want to spend time to research these products, who didn't want to spend all the money to try them one by one, who clearly don't have the power or the money to negotiate a group price or a deal. 

And that's my value - it's not enormous, but it is a little bit value. And people want to give me their trust. I would cherish it so much, I would not take it for granted. 

And then also for me, a lot of stuff that we use, we don't pay attention to how much chemicals we expose ourselves to, or we don't understand the long term repercussion of using these chemicals on our body. So that's also something that I'm very passionate about. It's not only clean beauty, but a clean day-to-day products that we use. How to live a very in the chemical filled world, how to somewhat diminish or at least decrease the harmful effects these chemicals have on us and our children. 

And that's the chunk I spend a lot of my big chunk of my time devoted to researching related products and topics. I read a lot of research papers and all of that. If people find that valuable and they don't have time to do it and they want to trust me, then I would be tremendously grateful.

[35:39] Jennifer: I know you're very diligent, Tracey. You actually read research papers, you’re a very nerdy person I know.

[35:45] Tracey: Google Scholar is my friend.

[35:48] Jennifer: Tracey, tell us, where can people find you online?

[35:50] Tracey: Okay, they can follow me on Instagram and YouTube. For people who are in China, they can find me on Douyin as well as Weibo. 

I share a lot about what I think about certain current events or my family life, sometimes I'll make something funny. My content is more diverse, but I hope the one thing that I can guarantee you is that I'm being 100% real and genuine. I never lie to people. I say what's on my mind. That's just who I am.

And then when it comes to the things I endorse, you can rest assured that I've done thorough research behind it. Not everybody's going to love 100% of what I like, that's just reality. But at least I will say that I am speaking to my heart and I'm being 100% honest, I wouldn't endorse anything that I wouldn't use for myself or my children.

[36:35] Jennifer: You have a wide range of content, so it's not just on beauty and lifestyle, but also art of being happy, and you share your own personal experiences. And I also know that you are someone who can talk about just anything - from quantum mechanics to the economy to beauty and to freezing eggs.

Last but not least, what does the Founder Spirit mean to you?

[37:00] Tracey: I think part of the biggest drives for entrepreneurs is the ability and the audacity to hope. And life without hope is a very scary path. But life with hope, however difficult it might be, is always something exciting. And I think that's something that the Founder Spirit podcast really embraces, and I'm so looking forward to seeing more work from you.

And this project, I think, is so wonderful in a sense that you can bring so many people with interesting and wonderful life stories together to talk about entrepreneurship, to talk about women issues, to talk about what it's like to pursue your dreams. 

[37:33] Jennifer: Thank you so much. We're now coming to the end of our interview, and as you know, we end every episode with a quote.  And for this episode, we have a quote from Coco Chanel, a French fashion designer and entrepreneur,

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”

Tracey, many thanks for coming on the podcast today and showing us your true beauty within.  

[37:57] Tracey: Thank you so much, Jennifer. 

[38:00] Jennifer: If this podcast has been beneficial or valuable to you, feel free to become a patron and support us on, that is As always, you can find us on Apple, Google, Amazon and Spotify, as well as social media and our website at

The Founder Spirit podcast is a partner of the Villars Institute, a nonprofit foundation focused on accelerating the transition to a net-zero economy and restoring planetary health.

[38:36] Jennifer: And for those busy moms out there, what are your favorite beauty hacks?

[38:41] Tracey: Wow. I have to tell you this one thing that I find so useful, I learned it from a makeup artist working at CGTN for three decades. 

And you've got to learn this - instead of a trick, it's more of a common mistake that we make. The number one reason for us to have blotchy foundation increasing foundation was because we did not give enough time for our skincare products to completely absorb before we started applying our foundation.

So the normal way we do it is that we use toner and then serum face cream, sunblock, then foundation - it will crease, because your skincare has not completely absorbed into your skin. If you have time, give it half an hour before you apply your foundation. You will see, you will not see another blotchy face in your life.

If you don't have the time, let's say you don't have half an hour to wait around because we're always in a hurry. Buy a little fan and fan your face for at least a minute and a half. Everybody can squeeze 90 seconds, right? And then you apply your foundation, you will see a massive improvement. 

Try it tomorrow. You'd be amazed.

[39:43 END OF AUDIO]

Show Notes

(02:56) A Fierce Child

(05:58) Becoming Miss New York

(11:58) Transition to Journalism

(15:54) Lessons from Entrepreneurs

(17:33) Starting a Blogging Career

(18:36) Building a Personal Brand

(22:31) Raising a Daughter

(24:23) The Common Myth about Influencers

(29:47) Beauty with Power

(33:15) Meaning of Tracey’s Work as an Influencer

(37:00) What the Founder Spirit Means to Tracey

(38:41) Tracey’s Favorite Beauty Hacks


  • The support and love that you can give to your child is the greatest gift.
  • Being genuine and honest is critical for building trust with online followers.
  • The ability and audacity to hope is a major driving force for entrepreneurs.

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