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Updated 26 Feb 2020


Celebrity Jen Su on building your brand

TV and radio presenter, author and international brand builder, Jen Su has built her profile from the ground up across six countries.


Nadine Todd, Entrepreneur, 11 March 2016  Share  0 comments  Print


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I was told I wouldn’t make a name for myself in South Africa.

When I first arrived in Johannesburg, the immigration consultant told me that there was ‘no way for a Chinese girl with an American accent to ever find work in this industry.’

He told me to stay home and not waste my time trying. I’m so glad I never listened to him. Our successes in life are based on following our dreams and trying new things, even when the people around us don’t believe we can succeed.

Related: 5 Essential traits of the entrepreneurial business woman

Believe in Yourself

It’s so important to have self-belief. Passion for success is the most important driving force to achieving your goals. Do what you do for love, and not for money.

I’ve been fortunate to be blessed with an incredible power to visualise where I want to be, which has then helped me map a path to get there. In the US, I imagined myself on TV and was on the Today Show as part of a Chinese dance troupe at the age of five.

In Taiwan, I won the equivalent of Idols after visualising my success in the competition. I’ve managed to find similar successes across Thailand, Hong Kong and South Africa.

Locally, I arrived here knowing nobody, but managed to be one of the first Chinese people on the local broadcasting scene as a news anchor for Business Day TV and the African Business Report on Sky News – in addition to my radio work with Gareth Cliff and The Breakfast Show. Don’t take no for an answer, and keep picturing yourself where you want to be.

Focus on Goals

I write down what my goals are and speak them aloud. I then visualise those goals and close my eyes, making those images brighter, bolder, and more colourful and vivid.

I’ve had to learn to also be patient; success isn’t instant, but you have to start with a firm set of goals if you ever want to make them a reality.

After being patient for a long time, things generally start moving quickly as they gain traction, and that’s where the magic happens. When things start gaining momentum, and your name is being tossed around the room like social currency, everything comes together at a rapid pace and sometimes there’re just not enough minutes in the day to be able to fulfil all the obligations you’ve set yourself. That’s when you need to start managing what you’ve created. There’s nothing worse than over-promising and under-delivering.

Related: GoBeauty founder on why it takes a lot of nerve to be an innovator

Authenticity and brand consistency are extremely important. These attributes, paired with efficiency and being modest, can really set you apart from the rest. A lot of well-known people in my industry love to lash out on social media or get themselves involved in some type of scandal – but I personally feel that long-term brand consistency and authenticity is much more important than notoriety, as your personal brand stays with you for life.

Make it Happen

The best advice I ever received was ‘Make it happen….with a difference!’ This has stuck with me throughout my career, but I found the opposite happening while I was writing my book, From Z to A-Lister: How To Build Your Personal Brand. I put the book down so many times over the last few years, each time having a panic attack over some part of my life that I’ve been afraid to expose.

I finally realised that it was going to be now or never, and once I put my mind to it, I was writing every day. I just had to get over the hurdle of being afraid to share, and then I was really able to make it happen. It’s such an important mantra for me.

Follow Jen Su on Twitter @jennifer_su.

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About the author


Nadine Todd, Entrepreneur


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