DREAM! Resilient people allow themselves to have missions and goals bigger than them. We can cultivate this by moving towards our goals and working towards them consistently no matter if it is a small or massive action, as long as it is moving you towards the goal that we want to accomplish. We can achieve and have anything you want in life if you are willing to put the work in. Remember: You are worth it!
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pinky Chong.
Pinky Chong is a Luxury Brand Authentication and Resale Specialist, Business Growth Strategist and founder of The Resale Academy where she helps entrepreneurs to be profitable and reputable in the luxury reselling business.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I was born on August 26, 1969, to Justo and Teodora Cammayo. I am the fifth of their 6 children. I graduated as a salutatorian during my elementary years. I was privileged to pass a rigorous 2-step examination given to the top 10 graduates all over the Phillipines to be admitted to a world-class high school program similar to the STEM program here in the US — but if I may say, better. I was one of 240 students who was admitted out of thousands who took the entrance examination. I then went onto pursue my college education at the University of the Philippines, another highly-respected and premier-ranked educational institution. Being a student and being able to pass and survive these rigorous programs has helped me develop reselience even in my younger years. Being away from my family as a young high schooler to go to Philippine Science High School required me to develop self-reliance, independence and the ability to adapt to the new environment and the challenges of a highly-advanced high school program known to produce the country’s leaders in different fields. These were the same challenges I had to navigate in my college years as the University of the Philippines is a well respected educational institution, as well.
My journey as an immigrant leaving the Philippines as a 22-year old new college graduate to seek employment in a foreign country was another major part of the beginning of building resilience in my life. Though I have built a career as a physical therapist for 3 decades, both as an employee and as an employer, I always had to trade hours for dollars which became very challenging when I had my son and daughter and had to constantly decide whether to be with them or go to work to make a living. This was a constant struggle so much so that I had to leave my newborn daughter at home, who I delivered via caesarean section just two days prior, to go back to work for a few hours.
Being a physical therapist was the only job I knew that the thoughts of changing careers almost seemed impossible. In my desire to be able to spend as much time as I want with my young children, I revisited my passion for fashion and was able to build a business that had allowed me to fulfill this deep desire to be with them especially during their younger growing years. In the last 11 years, I have built an online reselling business that has allowed me to spend time with my family as much as I need and want.
I now help others start and grow their reselling business so they can build a profitable business online and make a massive impact whatever that looks like for them while making a global impact by helping the environment through sustainable fashion/recommerce.
Going through all these challenges, I have learned that resilience is essential in both our business and personal lives.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
In my different careers as a physical therapist, a reseller and a business strategist, I have hundreds if not thousands of interesting stories about life. People and their stories are always interesting to me so I like asking questions about life because life lessons are very important to me. One major aspect that I have learned is that no matter what we are in our lives, whether we are wealthy or poor, young or old, we all have the same challenges and aspirations in life, and we generally have the same desires and regrets. With all the countless talks and discussions with the people I have met, spending time with loved ones seems to be what most say that they desire most. In the span of my different careers, there was always a common desire for most people — them being my patients as a physical therapist or my customers as a reseller. Most want to spend more time with their children, spouse/partner, friend or whoever is significant in their lives. I think this is one of the factors that really pushed me to make the decisions in my career choices because of my conversations with the people I came in contact with.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As a Luxury Brand Authentication and Resale Expert, Business Strategist and founder of The Resale CEO Academy where I help entrepreneurs grow their reselling business so they can be profitable while making a global impact by helping the environment through sustainable fashion, I teach my clients the lessons that I have learned along the way. I not only share with them my skills as a reseller but I combine that with all the lessons that I have acquired and learned throughout my career as a physical therapist, as well as, being a mother running a business. For business strategies, I provide practical strategies that are current, easy to implement and specific to their business. My teachings are based on things I have already tested, tried and not just based purely on theory.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
We always have someone who helps us along the way, in life and/or business, and my special person who has greatly guided me along the way is my husband of 26 years, Fernando Chong. I do tend to be the dreamy one and I lovingly refer to him as the “dream crusher”. This is to say it in the most endearing and respectful way as he has helped me create balance in both my career and my personal life. In life, we all need someone to balance us and I feel blessed and grateful for having a husband who has both the innate gift and the formal education in psychology and business. Running a business, being a wife and a mother can be daunting and he is my barometer that allows me to have some sense of balance through it all.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the ability to recover and rebound from setbacks and challenges brought about by life crises that prevents someone from falling into despair or unhealthy coping mechanisms. It is the mental reservoir that allows us to cope with the hardships that we encounter in life. We can compare resilience to bamboo which has both strength and flexibility to adapt so it does not break when external forces are met, in this case, called life.
There are several characteristics and traits that make a resilient individual and here are some of them:
- Self-awareness. This is why entrepreneurship is very rewarding because it gives opportunities towards self-discovery. Knowing yourself is powerful, as well as being mindful of your strengths and weaknesses and learning how to use them.
- Confidence. Having a strong sense of self and a positive self-image are critical in tackling hardships in life.
- Optimistism. Having a positive attitude contributes to resilience. Life cannot always be easy but it does not have to be hard either. Focus on the positive and it will eventually displace the negative thoughts. Ask yourself, “What is the lesson that I am presented to learn here?” instead of “Why me?”.
- Commitment. This is about being dedicated and accountable for your decisions and actions. This also paves the way to consistency in your actions.
- Self-control. When you realize that you have control over your decisions, actions and emotions then you are likely to be able to know how to bounce back from a challenging situation because we make ourselves accountable.
- Patience. Give grace to yourself and be patient. Developing resilience is not a straight path so allow yourself the time to navigate the path as it will not always be a straight one.
- Faith. Be it your belief in God, the universe or whatever it is that gives you faith to keep going, you have to have a strong belief in something bigger than yourself.
- Sense of humor. Create and identify sources of joy and humour to bring lightheartedness to the situation. Indeed, “laughter is the best medicine.”
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Psychologists define resilience as the ability to recover — “bouncing back”, from adversity and difficulties from a tragedy, trauma or any life events that creates significant stress. Becoming resilient empowers one to navigate through these difficulties and to continue on in spite of these challenges.
Courage, on the other hand, is the ability to endure these challenges and stress in life which may not necessarily mean the ability to recover from it but merely being able to withstand the situation with confidence.
Resilience is the ability to recover while courage is the ability to withstand the crisis in life. Together, they are powerful characteristics that are vital in navigating life.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
My parents, who I miss so much because they live in the Philippines. They have been married for 67 year. My father, Justo G. Cammayo, is 89 years old and is a retired Provincial Agriculturist. My mother, Teodora C. Cammayo, is 90 years old and is a retired school teacher. They both are the epitome of what a resilient person is. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers and we all finished college with 3 of them with a medical degree. They made sure that we finished our education no matter what. They worked tirelessly and put all of us through school and never complained.They strongly believed in education and that it was the path for a better life for us. Looking back now, I think that that is where I got my entrepreneurial mindset because they had their jobs but they were always doing something extra, what we refer to as side hustle nowadays, so we can all go to school without having to worry about the expenses so we only had to focus on our studies. They were and still are always helping others in different ways including sending other families so they could send their children to school.
A big part of their resilience is their prayerfulness and their strong belief in God. There is not a morning and evening that they don’t say their prayers. A big part of my childhood memory is the whole family saying the rosary every night and you better stay awake. It is endearing to remember my mother falling asleep at times and my father lovingly nudging her so she can stay awake. They are devout Catholics and they have instilled in us the love for God and the power of prayers and faith.
They also have a mindset that when life brings bumps in the road, things can always be worse and things will be better, to be strong for what has come and to always be grateful for what we have.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Changing from a career of being a physical therapist for 3 decades to being a reseller now as a business strategist was something that I did not embrace right away especially because PT was what I went to college for and it was all I knew and practiced for 30 years! At the 4th decade of my life, the midlife crisis did happen though I will not call it a crisis but rather the pivot that was meant to be towards a more fulfilling life in reselling that I am now sharing with others so they too can have an option to create the life that they envision to have — have a profitable reselling business as a springboard so they can fulfill whatever their vision is — be it to be with their family, help others, and create an impact whatever that looks like for them.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I always valued doing my best at my job as a physical therapist. As an employer and as an employee, having your contract terminated and being fired were my greatest setbacks but also my greatest pivotal moment because it propelled me to revisit my passion for fashion which led me to being a reseller. What started as reselling items from my own closet 11 years ago has now paved the way to a profitable luxury reselling business and also being able to help the environment through sustainable fashion. I want to create a bigger impact and as a Business Strategist, I help entrepreneurs grow and scale their luxury reselling business.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
My parents believed in living within your means. Typhoons are fairly common in the Philippines. There would be times when the whole town we were living in would be flooded and the calamity would wipe up all the crops and livestock. The aftermath of a typhoon and flooding is heartbreaking as it is a scene where everything is practically wiped out so you have to start all over again from almost nothing. This did not happen just once but multiple times in my life and they continue to happen to my parents even at their older age but they continue to work through it.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Resilience is the ability to rise above the ashes. Life can bring us adversity and trauma. Resilience gives us the ability to overcome such hardships in spite of the massive challenges. Here are some characteristics or traits of resilient people and how we can develop them.
1. BE GRATEFUL! Start everyday with gratitude. Think of 1–3 things that you are grateful for to set the tone for the day. Counting your blessings really matters especially on the days that things may not seem to go in the direction that we had planned for it to go.
2. HELP OTHERS! When our intention is to help others, providing the support will foster a sense of purpose and self-worth which are foundational in building resilience.
3. DREAM! Resilient people allow themselves to have missions and goals bigger than them. We can cultivate this by moving towards our goals and working towards them consistently no matter if it is a small or massive action, as long as it is moving you towards the goal that we want to accomplish. We can achieve and have anything you want in life if you are willing to put the work in. Remember: You are worth it!
4. SOCIAL SUPPORT. Part of building resilience is surrounding ourselves with individuals who will lift us up especially on those times when self-doubt overcomes us. Do you ever feel drained around certain people and groups? Some of our relationships and connections can actually drain our energy instead of increasing it. Examine the people around you and choose those who energize you to work and continue your missions and dreams.
5. FAILURE IS FEEDBACK! We are met with life’s challenges, and resilient individuals embrace setbacks and they learn from it. As difficult as it may be to face it, failures expose our weakness and strengths. Let failures catapult you forward towards success because it is when we fail that we learn the most. Fail forward and fail fast so you can move on towards your goals and dreams.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Reselling opened my eyes to the impact of fashion in our environment. I have discovered fashion sustainability. Let us help each other save the environment…one handbag…one pair of heels at a time. We only have one planet! Let us take care of it!
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
The person in the world I would have loved to have a private breakfast with would be Mother Teresa who was honoured by the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She was one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century who founded the Missionaries of Charity. She taught us the true meaning of charity, universal love and selflessness. I would have loved to listen to her speak of God and her life.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Here are my website and social media platforms. I would love for your readers to connect with me!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!