Why is it important to create and nurture a network of connections? Isn’t it enough to have lots of followers on social media? In this episode, Alice Tang, Vice President at an Oregon wealth management firm, discusses the importance of human connection and how your network is your net worth. She shares her journey as an immigrant and how she created a network as a foreigner in a new country place. The support she got from the human connections she established with her new neighbors allowed her to start over in a new place. Now she has built a strong web of friends, colleagues, and followers. Alice urges everyone to surround themselves with people who believe in them. These are the people you need when facing the challenges of life. Move forward in this episode with Alice Tang today.
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Your Network Is Your Net Worth With Alice Tang
This is the show where we talk about diversity, leadership, presentation skills, and what it means to be a woman in the 21st century. Before I get onto my very interesting guest, let me invite you to see how your presentation skills are doing by taking our free four-minute assessment at www.SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s where you can see where your presentation skills are strong and helping you, and where perhaps a little bit of support could help you get the results you need and the recognition that you deserve.
My guest is Alice Tang, who is a community leader. She’s a financial advisor and has built a strong network of women in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, which is also my hometown, so I’m happy to interview her. When it comes to building networks, many believe that you need to know a lot of people or spend a lot of time networking. Alice Tang, who is a Vice President and Partner at an Oregon wealth management firm, is a top female producer in the financial industry and a sought-after speaker.
She has built her business and success by focusing on creating and deepening relationships one connection at a time. She originated from humble beginnings in Hong Kong. Alice quickly realized that relationships are the key to success as she watched her father build his business. As the first of her family to earn a college degree, Alice graduated from the University of London, where she met her husband. She then immigrated to the US without a network, family, or community, and started a career in financial advising.
After years of following the tried and true advice for networking and building a business, Alice realized that this was not scalable because there are only so many hours in the day. She set out to create a system that is not only scalable but also has exponentially grown her network, business, and success ever since.
As an advocate for female professionals and helping the next generation succeed, Alice has unveiled her process to the world, and now helps professionals catapult their success and that of their networks through her no-nonsense practical approach to building connections. I had a very interesting conversation with Alice Tang. I know you’ll enjoy it.
Alice Tang, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Elizabeth. I’m happy to be here.
I’m delighted to have you here. We met recently and you were highly recommended. The minute we talked, I went, “Absolutely. She’s someone I want to interview.” before I get into my questions for you, let me ask you the question I ask everybody, which is if you were to interview someone who is no longer with us, someone from history, who would it be? What would you ask them, and who should be listening?
I would love to interview Jesus Christ.
A rabbi from Jerusalem. Why would you do that?
First of all, because of my faith. Second is because, through my faith and my journey of learning myself, I learned about him. Most important is his love and forgiveness. Thinking of life, later on, we are going to touch a point. In any relationship that we have, it’s not all the time awesome. It’s not challenging all the time. You and I are in good marriages, I assume.
I’m in a very good marriage. Thank you. Thank God.
When I look back to my marriage, it’s not every day that it’s happy like the day you said yes many years ago. There are challenges. At that point, do we choose to do something outrageous? Walk away is outrageous. Fight for even rights, a tooth for a tooth, or we choose love and forgiveness. Sometimes in life, things cannot be resolved. You need to accept, forgive, and move on. The memory will not pass us. Sometimes it comes back after a year or a month. I have memories of a friendship that come back upon me every day since I broke up. One day I said to the memory, “You served me well. Please go. I’ve moved on.”
I remember a great phrase I read once about someone who not only carried a grudge but carried the grudge until it was dead, then had it stuffed and hung up on the wall. I thought there was someone who never forgave and died angry. She never got past what she considered a betrayal. I do remember that one saying, “That’s a lesson.” She couldn’t get past that forgiveness and how sad that she couldn’t resolve it before she left us. Love and forgiveness are very important messages. You were talking about relationships. Of all the many wonderful things you do, you were talking about advocating for women and their success, and you have a couple of questions about that. I’m going to jump to the question of why are relationship so important in the context of women and success.
The first thing I can think of, and I always use it as my foundation, is no one goes through life by themselves. You have other people around you, whether there are two more people around you. Some of us have more close to our chest. I only have two good wonderful friends, or one friend that’s very close, or some of us are like me. I have a community because I love people. I cannot help but be curious about them. Relationship and success.
Elizabeth, let me ask you and the audience this. Today, you have $1 billion. You don’t need to worry about money in general, depending on how you spend it, but you have no relationships. No one cares about you. No one loves you. Even if you want to give your love, nobody cares about it. How does it make you feel?
You feel terrible.
It’s because we need relationships. We need human connection.
Why do we need human connections? We need human connections because, to go back to what we talked about before, we are not supposed to live life by ourselves. Having something. Even remember when you had candy when you were running in the playground when you were three years old, you want to share. You want a shoulder to cry on, “That girl beat me up.” “I have half of a cupcake. I fought for it. It doesn’t look beautiful, but Elizabeth, my friend, I’ll share a bite with you.” When we eat those, we feel good. That’s the experience.
This is about relationships in life. Let me go back to the question I was going to start with and then expand it to business as well, which is why you are so passionate about advocating for women and their success. You’re so passionate that you have built a community of women to help them achieve more success.
I’m an immigrant. When I came to the United States, I didn’t have a work permit. I couldn’t work. I had no network because I was an immigrant. You’re not supposed to bring your grandmother, your whole nine cousins, and all these good people with me. I was by myself with my husband. When we immigrated, he went to work. It’s because of work that we came. I was by myself. I was very lonely. I used to work and I took pride in my work, and I couldn’t work.
It started with my neighbor across the street, who started inviting me over. She’s a Christian, so we pray. I received my first Bible from her. My next-door neighbor, when my husband was doing a lot of business trips, invited me over for a simple dinner. I learned how to play Bunco because there is a woman in the group that puts together a little party every month. You play and enjoy the conversation. That was how it started.
It’s because of the support that I was able to go through the most difficult time in my life, which was being in a new country. My husband worked very hard for the family. He was always on the road. I have a home that I’m grateful for. I have shelter. The mortgage was being paid but I was by myself. We don’t even have social media, WhatsApp, and text messages. We’re talking about many years ago. There’s nothing. You write a letter, have it picked up, and send it to mom and dad. Telephones are expensive. Can you do $400 a month? That is a lot of telephone bills back then.
I remember those days and not being able to make the telephone calls, or being stuck in a hotel room where everyone else in the team was working. I had nothing to do because they weren’t ready for me yet. I was awake at 3:00 in the morning because it was on a different continent and no one to talk to. I do remember those days. Relationships are important. Women and their success. You have AskAliceTang.com where you advise people, especially women, to cultivate relationships and money. This is why relationships are important. We’re not designed to be alone. Why is money so important?Beyond water and oxygen, relationships and money are the two necessities we cannot live without. Click To Tweet
In my opinion, money buys 80% to 90% of the things in our life that we desire for ourselves, or if you are a woman, for the people around you because we always think about people around us first. What can I do for my spouse? What can I do for my children? What can I do for my cousin or my grandmother? All these things happen.
I flew to Australia to see my parents. It’s not a short trip. It’s not an inexpensive trip. It’s not a trip that I didn’t worry about. Will I contract COVID on the plane? It’s packed. It takes money to make things happen. Think about a problem in your life. If there is some indirect relationship with having a little bit more resources, it can solve that. Of course, there are things we can’t solve like health issues.
We cannot solve everything, but it sure helps to have resources.
I like to close this question with the following. If we have the resource, I’m talking about financial resources or money here, to solve those problems that can be solved by money. When money can fix it, it’s not a problem. That can free up both time and energy to focus on the most important things in our life. We can get our health better or fix a relationship that we want to fix. If every day you need to work twenty hours, you couldn’t possibly have the energy and the time to do those important things in your life.
Tell us about the Women’s Million-Dollar Conversations. What are you trying to accomplish with this group?
What I want to do is to change the statistics of the protocol. I know I alone cannot do it. What happened is if anyone out there is googling how many people have a net worth of over $1 million, you will hit the same answer that I did about eighteen months ago. About 10% of American household has a net worth of more than $1 million. Let’s define net worth. It’s all your assets, your home equity, the money you have, whether it’s a retirement account or not, minus the liability. The money you own minus the money you owe is your net worth. Only 10% of American households is more than $1 million in net worth. To me, that was crazy.
Calling our country the wealthiest country in the world among a few other advanced Western countries, are you kidding me? What I want to do is to make that 10% number 10.5% or 11% with the little bit that I do. I especially want women to be in charge of their money and bring their households actively across that line.
It’s a wonderful goal to have. Out of that 10%, the richest 1% has such a huge concentration of assets in this country. I would think that the more you can have more people part of the top 10% or 20%, the better it will be for the rest of the world. You then turn around and help the person who’s the percent below you. It’s not just women, but a lot of people don’t do that. When you work with women, and you work with women as financial advisors, where do you see that women sabotage themselves or women put walls in front of themselves?
It’s not by nature, but I think it’s the culture we grew up with. I’m not saying the American culture or I came from the Asian culture. It’s none of those. In general, I think women take a more submissive role. Society expects us to mind many things and suggested us if anything happens, wear another hat. There’s only so much time.
By wearing another hat, do you mean to do something else or take on another project?
Every day, raise a child. I know there are a lot of modern men and women or any other sex gender readily able to step in. You and I are of similar age. We don’t want to expose our age to our audience. When we grow up, isn’t that what is expected of us?
We are supposed to be caretakers.
It’s still crazy because my mom also is the first to graduate from high school. It was a big thing for her to earn her nursing degree. She has a nursing job that is secure. Guess what she did? Every day, she comes home, goes to the market, buys food, and she cooks. She cleans and washes dishes. She mops the floor, cleans the kitchen, and now she can take a shower and go to bed.
I think that we are socialized to do that. We’re not necessarily actively trained to take care of each other. I also think a lot about the differences between the way men and women think. It’s not just men and women, but quite often you will have someone who is single-focused and they think about one thing at a time. It’s mostly men, but not always. You then have the multi-focused people who are the ones who are going to notice that the dishes are dirty. They’re going to notice that. There’s the cliché of the man who doesn’t see the dirty sock on the floor, and the woman who reaches over and picks it up. I think it’s more of a matter of what you’re focusing on. What do you notice and what do you not notice?
I love the direction you’re going.
Where does this show up with the women that you are working with?
One thing I noticed is if a woman is a high-level employee, this still crosses their mind, “Am I readily able to accept that new opportunity with new pay? Do I have the guts to go to the negotiation table with my boss or my direct report to say that I’m working more and my pay is not equal to that employee. Show me what I can do. Tell me my blind spot or be fair to me.”
Do you help women with this kind of negotiation?
I don’t have a license or degree. I had a very happy day. I received an award. When we regroup in the evening, we have a bunch of women talking. Everybody is talking. Somebody said, “Alice, you’re a coach.” I said, “No, I’m not a coach. I don’t have a certification. I don’t have a license.” She said, “The conversation we had, I’ve already thought you were a coach because you have encouraged me to ask for fair payment when I write a proposal.” You don’t need to be 80% of the market to win the business. This is not an employee but a business owner. I think people associate the higher the price, the better value I received.
If you price yourself too low, you won’t be taken seriously.
That’s the point I was trying to make to her in the last conversation we had a few months ago. She reminded me. When you talked to so many people, I can’t help correcting them. It’s what I call the mindset. If you have a mindset that you are small and if you have a mindset that you are in scarcity, everything you do, everything you say is going in that direction. No wonder you cannot have a breakthrough. One of the points in the Million Dollar Conversation With Women is to help them to do that ask. We’re the delta. “I can only save another $500 more by scrapping everything. What if I can be paid more based on my ability or based on the business acumen that I can do for you?” You can save way more. We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars.
There is a cultural expectation that men are hired on potential and women are hired on past performance, which is an innate cultural bias. If you are aware of it, then you can talk about yourself as the potential, “Here’s what we can do. Here’s what I can do. Here’s what I’m able to produce.”
In terms of potential, you have to remind people that this is what you’re capable of because the innate bias is to only look at what women have already done instead of the potential. Centuries of history have set us up for that. Alice, tell us more about the work you do with the Women’s Million Dollar Conversations. This is a group that meets regularly, correct?
No. This is by interview, so allow me. I have two groups. I think I confused you when we first met. Let’s start over. Women’s Million Dollar Conversation is an interview-based project. I would interview women who have earned, made, or saved $1 million. The goal is to create as many role models as possible because not everybody can relate to Elizabeth or Alice. Maybe you can relate to a younger person, a colored person, or somebody who is in the very geek field.
I want to have as many varieties of women who either made, earned, or saved $1 million. They would be answering the twelve questions, the role model for the audience, whoever they can relate to. Remember, there are 90% there. We talk about the 10% at the beginning. When the 90% see somebody who looks like them who can do it, they have hope. Second, with the questions, everybody hits a block. When you hit a block, how do they bounce back and choose to push forward instead of, “I have to stop here?” No, you keep going. Somebody has done it and so can you.
That is a whole interview series. It is indeed on your website, AskAliceTang.com. The other group of women, how do you help them?
The other group of women is called Leaders Executive Across Professions. We shorten it called LEAP. The criteria to be in that group is someone who has at least ten years of experience in their current field. If you are a very successful author and out of the blue, you become an attorney, and this is your year three, you are not a prospective member. What we want to create is a woman’s locker room for women who is at the peak of climbing to the peak. It could be business owners or key executives, and usually in that position, whether it is men or women.
It’s a little lonely, especially for women. Men always talk about their locker rooms. They have a lot to share and a lot to talk about when in their locker rooms. They might have a new insight, a new lead if they have a product and service to sell or a new direction. If somebody has done something, they share. We want to create a women’s locker room. We want to walk in there and chat about all the things that can help us grow personally and most likely, professionally.
What are the challenges that you see?
The challenges are no different from what you have seen, Elizabeth. It’s the authentic leadership that we talked about. How can you be yourself? It’s okay to be authentic, but have EQ. You don’t do too much sharing.
Emotional intelligence, not too much sharing.
The happy habits. If you want to make a change, know that there is a big transition in the middle. Whatever change that is, I want to slow down, I want to speed up, I want to change career, I want to change company, or I want to do all this. The change is good, but the transition scares people. Some of the things we talk about could be that. How about public speaking skills? That is important. Paint a picture of the future. Don’t tell me about your history. How can we take everybody’s vision to see that future about me, the future of this group, and the future of the community?
It’s so very interesting. A great approach to recognizing the challenges that come with making a change and getting support to get through it is so very important, and then talking about various skills. Alice, this has been wonderful, and all the various things that you’ve talked about. If you have one piece of advice for our audience, what would that be?
Surround yourself with people, women or men or any gender, who firmly believe in you. We don’t go through life without challenges or alone. You need those people at a good time to cheer for you. We also need them more at a time when you say, “I’m second-guessing myself.” Those people who know you well will tell you, “Go do that, Alice. I see that in you. Just keep moving.”Surround yourself with people who firmly believe in you. We don't go through life without challenges or alone. Click To Tweet
Hopefully, the people who believe in you will also believe in you enough to give you a little kick if you’re not moving forward and if you’re allowing yourself to be stuck.
I guess the most beautiful quality nowadays is if you think about women comparatively, women are slightly less strong. The vulnerability helps. People love to help people who need help. When you walk by somebody’s office, “How’s your day?” A man will say, “Great. Business is good. How can I help you?” If I tell you, “I am missing three cases to close this year strong, I’m slightly struggling, Elizabeth,” then you come to me and say, “How can I help?” Vulnerability is core.
It’s once you’ve established the trust. You have to establish trust first. Alice Tang, this has been such an interesting conversation. Thank you for being a guest. Definitely surround yourself with people who believe in you. That’s going to be the quotable quote, for sure. Thank you for having been a guest on the show.When we surround ourselves with a network of people who believe in and advocate for us, we can get to the places we have dreamed of. Click To Tweet
Thank you, Elizabeth, for the opportunity to be here. If you want to find out more about me, AskAliceTang.com. You can also be a guest.
If you enjoyed this conversation, please leave us a good review on Apple Podcasts. That’s the one that matters. Follow us on YouTube and subscribe. Tell your friends. We have lots of good, interesting, fascinating guests. I would love to share them with you. I’ll see you at the next one.
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About Alice Tang
When it comes to building networks, many believe that you need to know a lot of people or spend a lot of time networking. Alice Tang, Vice President, and Partner at an Oregon wealth management firm, a top female producer in the financial industry and a sought-after speaker, has built her business and success by focusing on creating and deepening relationships one connection at a time.
Originating from humble beginnings in Hong Kong, Alice quickly realized that relationships are the key to success as she watched her father build his business. As the first in her family to earn a college degree, Alice graduated from the University of London, where she met her husband, Horace. She immigrated to the U.S. without a network, family, or a community and started a career in financial advising. After years of following the “tried and true” advice for networking and building a business, Alice realized it is not scalable, there are only so many hours in the day! So, she set out to create a system that is not only scalable but also has exponentially grown her network, business, and success ever since.
As an advocate for female professionals and helping the next generation succeed, Alice has unveiled her process to the world and now helps professionals catapult their success and that of their networks through her no-nonsense practical approach to building connections.