368. Finding Her Voice in Foreign Lands
When she arrived in Singapore from her native China, she didn’t know a soul. In a matter of months, she created a circle of new friends, launched her own business, and found a global market on the internet, helping clients find and use their voice.
Cynthia Zhai, who is based in the Republic of Singapore, the world’s only island city-state, is a voice coach, speaker and author of the book, Influence Through Voice, published by McGraw-Hill. She has helped senior executives and professionals with their speeches, to enable them to speak with impact and conviction. She has been a professional speaker and coach for the past 14 years and her engagement spans Singapore, the United States, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macao, mainland China, India and Brunei. She has appeared on the Singapore radio 938 Live-FM three times, on Hong Kong radio and Malaysia business radio station, BFM, as a guest speaker on the subject of voice.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
In secondary school in her native People’s Republic of China, Cynthia’s extra-curricular activities included playing piano and participating on the singing team, an early sign of her love of the human voice. “I was always the class president. My parents wanted me to be the best in the class, which could be stressful sometimes.” Her father, an engineer, hopes she would follow in his steps, but she preferred to learn about business. “I found that was what I liked. When I was learning about marketing, about managing a company and its people, I liked it. I really enjoyed it. Although she honored her parents’ desires that she finish her bachelor’s degree in economics and earn a master’s degree in business administration, she recalls, “I wanted to get into the real world, to practice what I had learned.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Born in Tianjin, the largest coastal city in northern China, and studying at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Cynthia’s first major turning point was moving to Singapore, and eventually starting her own business. “When I arrived in Singapore I had no friends. I knew no one. But because of Toastmasters, I went to many clubs and also joined one. That’s where I started to get to know people and to understand how the local people think, how they speak. I began to make a lot of friends Also, that’s where I realized that there were so many people running their own businesses. I thought, if they can do it, I can do it, too.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“I want to help people develop a holistic appreciation of their voice. Our voice is not just a tool we use to convey information, which is what most people think. The human voice has been used since ancient times, when there were people going from village to village to tell stories, just using their voice. Today, we have lost touch with the power of our voice. We write more but we use our voices less. Once you develop your voice, not only will you sound better, the way you feel about yourself and the way you influence people will also be enhanced.”
Steps to Success from Cynthia Zhai
1.Don’t settle for a “good” job just because it is safe. Venture out to use your full potential.
2. Go out and meet people, without an agenda, just to get to know them.
3. Cultivate a curiosity about what other people are doing and take inspiration from them.
4. Read, read, read. Never stop learning.
On Her Bookshelf
Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey
Connecting With Cynthia Zhai
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