When you hear someone say finance, the word that you likely associate with it is money. That’s the conventional thinking — finance is all about the money, how you manage it.
But for my friend, renowned financial advisor Winnie Sun, there’s much more to the financial industry than just the money. It’s about building the interpersonal connections between not just her and her clients but also between her and her audience, online and offline.
Keeping this idea in mind, Winnie has grown to become one of the most prominent female financial advisors in the industry. With years of experience, Winnie later formed her own financial consulting firm, Sun Group Wealth Partners. As successful as she is now, Winnie started from humble beginnings, persevering through financial hardships throughout college and slowly making her way up.
She learned to ditch the act.
Many people struggle with finding their own identity when they grow up as they try to fit in with the rest of society. Instead of molding herself to someone else’s expectations, Winnie knew she had to stay true to herself. “You have to be honest with your personality,” comments Winnie. “You [will] feel invincible because you are truly being comfortable in your own skin and owning who you are and really not worrying about what anybody else thinks about you anymore.”
In the industry, it can be easy to lose focus of who you are. “Many of us were taught to go out there and just be all business, but then everyone ends up looking the same when they are like that, and they don’t really stick out,” she says. That’s why she makes sure to personalize her brand to represent who she is.
For her own business, Winnie emphasizes the importance of building a relationship with her audience because she values communication herself. She connects with her audience regularly through her social media accounts, her #winniesun tweet chat, and her podcasts, answering any of their questions, offering advice and resources, and simply building an enjoyable community. However, being active on social media isn’t necessarily the norm for her profession.
There have even been times when she was criticized for her unconventional methods, but then she realized that she shouldn’t worry about other people’s judgments. “When I was first starting off, my business partner would say, ‘Are you sure you should be spending your time doing this social media thing? I feel like if you spent the same amount of time with seminars or looking for new clients, we would have so much more business.’ I remember for years he was challenging me. And truthfully, I wasn’t 100% sure either, but I just pushed on and said, ‘I just think this is good, I think we should just keep at it, I think I should just keep working on it,” Winnie says.
By continuing on the social media path, Winnie was able to build a large network of connections and help her business become successful — simply because she ditched the act and followed her instinct.
“I always say you should reach out to the person that you don’t think will pick up your call because more than likely they will pick up the call, and more than likely they’re going to want to talk to you,” she suggests. “If you make the effort to get to know them […] without asking anything from them, you’ll end up with such incredible relationships that you can then efficiently maintain on social media.”
However, people can get carried away on social media by putting on a fake facade because they want to market themselves and be appealing to the general public. “You don’t need to set everything out there unless that’s your brand and that’s really who you are,” advises Winnie. “You just have to figure out what works for you, and just be true to yourself, and don’t do it just because of everyone else.”
What makes her different from and more successful than other people is that Winnie also strives to share the importance of authenticity with her clients. Not only does she help manage their money, but she also wants to clear up any misconceptions about the value of money in their lives.
“I want to make their life a little bit better, by giving them perspective on what money can and cannot do and that it doesn’t define you, and it shouldn’t impact how you feel any given day,” Winnie says. “They should feel good because of who they are and who they are at the core because money is just a tool that gets you from point A to point B.”
Winnie attributes her success to her confidence in herself because she trusts herself to push through any challenges. Looking back now, Winnie comments, “I’m in a comfortable situation financially, and personally, and I’m really proud of the type of person I am character-wise, so whatever people think really doesn’t matter anymore.”
With over twenty years of experience, Winnie knows what it takes to be successful: “Don’t not tell your story; If you don’t tell your story, then someone else is going to tell your story.”
And that’s important. Because the first step to success beings with a simple change of mindset: ditching the act. Why have someone dictate your life when you can be your own narrator?
I’m so honored to be friends with Winnie, especially considering that I stood her up for our first coffee meeting (but I’ll save that story for another time). She is such a great example of being herself, and she is such a positive force for good!
Be inspired by Winnie.
Be real, be you.
Want to learn more about how you can ditch the act? In our book, Ditch the Act, Leonard Kim and I share how you can find success by simply being yourself. In it, you will find more inspiring stories of professionals like Winnie from various industries who attribute ditching their act as part of their competitive advantage.