How The Pros Do It: 10 Questions With Amy Chan

The only way to reach your targets in life is to get to work. But it’s easier said than done. Only a fraction of people in life are actively working towards their goals. They know how to create and use the right tools and processes to generate progress for themselves. A lot of these people have a ton of interesting things to say. So I thought I’d interview them.

Most of my weekly guests created their own business, and they got where they are today by successfully implementing self-discipline in their life. To each one of them, I ask questions about their life, their learnings, their tools, and sometimes about which celebrity they would like to have coffee with.

There are no rules for success, only consistency in the work you do. None of the people I interviewed are super-humans. They’re just dedicated, and they have a lot of awesome things to teach us.

Let’s get to it.

This week, my guest is Amy Chan. She is the founder and Chief Heart Hacker of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a company that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart through retreats and seminars. Amy went through a major life shakeup 7 years ago, which led her to quit her 6-figure job to create her own business. Her company went on to receive national coverage from Nightline, Good Morning America, CNN, Fortune, Vogue, as well as being featured on the cover of The New York Times. By year 2, Amy landed a book deal and a movie offer.

Do you have a morning routine?

Yes. The very first thing I do when I wake up is set my timer for 20 minutes and meditate. I make sure that my phone is on airplane mode, so that I’m not disrupted by any of the messages or notifications. After I meditate, I start my day. I’m most creative in the morning and my writing tends to get loose in quality after 12, so I try to make sure that my first few hours of the morning are dedicated to writing. I also don’t take any meetings until late afternoon when my creative levels have dropped down.

What is the number one productivity item you can’t live without?

I don’t use a lot of tools to track productivity, maybe to a fault. I have a notebook I use the night before, to write down the key things I want to accomplish the day after. During the day, I cross them off my list.

The One Book you recommend for self-improvement and/or productivity?

It’s not exactly for productivity, but I would say How to Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s an old one but a good one.

Can you tell us about your use of journaling and goal tracking?

I have 2 journals. One is a regular journal I write in when I really feel like writing. I use this one 2 to 3 times a week. The other one is a One Line A Day Journal. It has 365 pages for each day of the year, with 5 entries on each page, to last for 5 years. So what I write today I am able to compare to what I was doing exactly this day last year, and the year before that, all on the same page. I do this because it’s really interesting to see what was going on 2 years ago versus now, for instance. It can show your growth as a human being or in your business, and of course the things that were preoccupying your mind.

You quit a 6-figure job to create your own company following a major shakeup in your life. How determining was the “shakeup factor” in your decision?

7 years ago, I thought my breakup in Vancouver was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. Looking back now, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, the complete shakeup I needed to redirect my life. Back then my dream was to date, get married, have children, and work on the side as a passion/hobby because my husband would make enough money for the both of us.

That dream has now completely shifted, but back then I didn’t know of any other dream. That’s what I grew up with, what I saw some of my friends creating and striving for. So I automatically took on that dream as if it was my own. I also thought everything was set for me, and I was going to marry that guy. After the breakup, I completely re-evaluated my life, my beliefs and what I wanted.

Fast forward to now, I live in New York, I founded my company helping people through breakups. So I definitely needed all this to get out of complacency.

In one of your article, you say that “perfection is procrastination in disguise”. What do you mean by that?

It’s easy to hide behind trying to perfect something and using that as an excuse to not launch, to not put yourself out there. Whether you’re launching a blog, a video series, or a business, I have found that the method which is most helpful is to take action, launch and get it out there. Iterate later, perfect it later, and get into the momentum of action taking it one step after another.

Once you hit a different phase, things will change, and I’m starting to experience this now. I’m no longer in launch phase, I’m 3 years into the business. I can’t do things haphazardly and without looking at details anymore. I’m more thoughtful, more strategic in the things that I’m putting out there.

Within a year, your company received national coverage from Nightline, Good Morning America, CNN, Fortune, Vogue, The New York Times… How did you handle the promo/coverage without losing your focus on growing the business?

Press coverage grows a business. I don’t do any ad spends or anything like that. All of my bootcamps sell out because if you google terms like “breakup retreat” or “breakup help”, my company does really well in google search. The media has been great to me, and that’s how a lot of people discover my company.

When it comes to being distracted by success, I don’t know if I’m distracted by it per se. I’ve learned how to hire people and delegate, I have realised that I can’t do it all on my own and that I need to plan. When you’re bootstrapping you’re kind of doing everything and flying by the seat of your pants anyway. But now I have a business coach who has helped me a lot.

When I was working in the corporate corporate world, I was doing a lot of hours. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave because that’s rewarded in corporate culture. I was doing things just to be busy. Now I focus on doing things that move the needle. If it doesn’t move the needle, it’s a no. That means I turn down a lot of things. Coffees, requests for collaborations… A lot of these things are detrimental to my focus, so I say no to them.

By year two, you landed a book deal and a movie offer. You’ve been very successful. People say it’s easier to climb the hill than to stay at the top of the hill. Would you agree?

I don’t worry about the competition. My mission is to help people have healthy relationships with themselves, and as a result healthy relationships with other people. I believe this is my part in doing what I can for this world, while creating a business out of it.

If there are more people out there creating products, services, bootcamps to help others who are going through heartache, mental illness… It’s amazing, people should keep doing it. For my part, I know I have a very unique offering and there is a reason why my company is doing well. The women who come to my retreats are my biggest ambassadors. Even 2 years after they’ve come, they’re still so grateful they’ve had the experience, and that’s because we offer them a quality product. In that sense, I’m not afraid that someone is going to take that away.

I still believe in hard work and sacrifice, I’ve been doing it for a long time. Yes I’ve gotten a book deal, but behind that book deal was being a relationship columnist for 11 years. The majority of those years was writing for free, pitching countless publications and editors, getting a hard “no”, or being ignored (I still get ignored). At the end of the day, 8 proposals, 2 different agents, and then a book deal. On the outside it might look like it came fast, but the reality is this: all of the seeds I’ve been planting are finally growing, and now I can see the garden. And competition won’t take that away.

Some people say the classic newsletter/email list model is dying when it comes to generating more online business. What is your opinion on this?

I have something like 8000 people on my list right now, and if I didn’t have that, I think I’d still have a business. I’m selling out the retreats and a lot of that is by being in the media, being on podcasts, not by having the email list. I have a goal of being on 100 different podcasts before, during, and after my book launch.

If you could have a coffee and talk about anything with a personality (dead or alive) you admire, who would it be and why?

That would be Oprah. She’s created an empire while remaining super connected to her fans, all with a kind heart and her eyes still on her mission, and I think that’s admirable.

There you have it. I want to personally thank my guest for taking the time to provide me and my readers with really insightful answers. I am deeply grateful to Amy Chan. Thanks a lot, and all the best for the future of Renew Breakup Bootcamp!

And thanks to you for reading my content!

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