Exclusive interview with Sha-En Yeo, Founder of Positive Education. She provides positive psychology training & consulting services to schools, supporting teachers and parents to raise the next generation of thriving children. As a speaker & coach, She aims to spread inspiration and joy in the hearts of people, sharing knowledge and stories that help them create and live the life that they want.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Sha-En, and I am passionate about positive psychology (or the science of well-being). I believe that we are all on earth for a purpose, and my purpose is to inspire and help others live a more fulfilling, happier life. I started my career as a school teacher because I benefited greatly from education and wanted to give back. When I discovered positive psychology, I knew it would enhance the way we teach, and raise children who grow up resilient, optimistic and positive contributors to the world. On a more personal note, this is also what I want for my life – to be a positive force in the world, to be a better person every day, to do good.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
As a school teacher, I was struck by how much students value academic results over other life skills like bouncing back from a challenge, or the ability to get along with people who are different. I believe that education is much more than just getting good grades. My business started because of my passion for positive psychology and wanting to ensure that well-being becomes top priority in schools, so I started teaching the tools & concepts to teachers and parents. The business grew organically, through word of mouth and has really taken off in the last couple of years.
What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?
I really love Rising Strong by Brene Brown. She is my idol and is not only smart but also very humble. Her book is authentically written so much so that you feel inspired by her stories, enough to pick yourself up and get going. This particular book is about resilience, and I read it during a period in my life where facing my challenges was about the hardest thing to do. However, I knew from her accounts, that it was better to face the vulnerable feeling instead of running away from it. And she was right. Now when I encounter challenges in my personal life or business, I take steps to face it, and find that the challenge is often not as big as I imagined.
What is the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
Best purchase: my Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program from the University of Pennsylvania. The best year of my life where I got to learn the research and interact with the top minds in the field. Not to mention, the best coursemates one could ever ask for. My worst purchase is probably a long denim skirt that I thought would make me look taller but eventually made me look stunted. Needless to say, I never convinced myself to wear it out!
What takes up too much of your time?
Reminiscing on old memories. I am a sentimental person and enjoy looking through old photos, letters and emails just so I can hang onto those memories that bit longer.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?
First, be clear about your WHY. You have to know why you want to start this business and keep your eye on it even as you go through the ups and downs. This will keep you motivated and focused.
Second, you’ve got to put in the work. Running a business may seem all that more exciting, but business is not going to land in your lap just by starting a website or printing a name card. This doesn’t mean you have to slog 24/7, but you have to be realistic and put in the work in the right areas.
Third, work with others who believe in your work & align with your mission. This means getting a team who can support you or find like-minded partners who can complement your strengths. It would be too far of a stretch to think you can accomplish everything by yourself. Instead, collaborate, delegate, or outsource so that you can grow your business.
Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
My coach Christopher Duncan. A couple of years ago, he lost his business partner in an accident and faced angry clients and a stalled business. He also lost his best friend. However, he picked himself up, re-established the business and led it to flourish, all in one year. I never fail to be inspired by his story of growth amidst adversity.
Tell us about something you are proud of – about your greatest challenge.
In 2011, I had to fly up and down (every month) from Singapore to the US to finish up my Masters Program, all while trying to start my business, settle my 2-year old into pre-school and completing assignments. It took a huge physical, financial and emotional toll on me because so much was changing in such a short period of time. There was hardly any stability and I was pushed way out of my comfort zone. I crazily set a goal to make back the equivalent of my tuition fees (in excess of 40K USD) with my business in the first year. I told myself, “If I can make this happen, then my business is good to go and there is no turning back.” Thankfully, I made it, and on hindsight, I’m glad I pushed myself in that first year. It was proof that with a dream, determination and a clear goal, anything is possible.
How should people connect with you?