Q: How did you get to become the anchor of your own television show?
Christine: Today, I own my own communications consulting business. I develop content and strategies to help professionals hit their target audiences. It is similar to what I did within the framework for TV news for years. KCTS was my first client, as I was brought in to help develop a personal finance series. This is funny to me, since my father – a 30+ year veteran of the business world and the first Asian Senior VP for Bank of America – has been on my case to save my money since I was 10 years old.
Today, I love developing consumer friendly business and money information. During the dot-com boom in Seattle, I led the business and technology coverage as an anchor-reporter for KCPQ-TV. I was enthralled with the dynamic entrepreneurs I met while reporting these stories.
I considered leaving TV news at that time, but it wasn’t the right time. I was just about to begin a new morning show that proved to be cutting edge, challenging, fun and my favorite experience in my journalism career. In early 2007, a combination of industry trends, personal life changes, and encouraging signs from the business world led me to start my own communications and marketing consulting firm, Chen Communications.
So, I have the best of both worlds now. I am earning my small business stripes with Chen Communications. With KCTS as a client, I work in my previous medium on business topics—interviewing many entrepreneurs in a regular feature called CEO Spotlight. Other clients include a top law firm, a fashion website, an alternative energy start-up, a leading online travel company, and an online advertising agency.
Q: What do you see as your key areas of strength?
- Distilling complex information into relevant, easily understood forms of communication.
- The ability to make connections for myself and facilitate connections for others.
- Developing content that is engaging and creates opportunities.
- Understanding the big picture and overall impact of a business strategy.
- Personally presenting material in a way that engages audiences.
Q: What do you like most about having your own communications company?
Christine: In my job today, I love the fact that I am creating something on my own—leveraging 16 years of award-winning experience, in a community that has supported my skills and contributions. I am making decisions on a wide range of issues at a whole new level. And for the first time I am able to create a schedule that works for my life. And since my budget for clothing, hair and makeup plummeted, I get to save all that money!
Q: What’s the biggest barrier or hurdle you’ve had to overcome? How did you handle it?
Christine: I rose very quickly. When I was 25 years old, CBS News in New York tapped me to be part of an elite group of four to five young journalists nationwide. The goal was to mentor us at local levels, accelerate our careers, and promote us to national correspondent positions after completing a two-year program. I was placed in Portland, because I expressed a strong desire to be close to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I grew up.
I found that several other journalists were very bitter about my opportunity. I was encouraged by some, but I was treated with disdain by others. As the youngest on-air reporter by at least 10 years, I had to prove myself tri-fold: as a young person, as a woman, and as a minority in order to earn respect. They were tough lessons to learn, since I hadn’t encountered any of those issues before.
I worked hard to prove myself, but ultimately, at the end of the two years, CBS still wanted to pursue my development as a correspondent. Feeling like that hard-core lifestyle wasn’t for me, I told the president of CBS News that I wasn’t “ready”. I knew I was in for more intensity that wasn’t aligned with what I enjoyed in life: being part of a community.
I have never regretted that two-year experience, nor my ultimate decision to say no to the pressures many other people describe as the “brass ring”.
Q: Now that you have all the demands of your own company, how do you deal with balancing work and your personal life?
Christine: I try to have a clear perspective at all times, and yoga helps. I originally began cultivating my yoga practice after a spine injury. Yoga taught me much about giving myself space to examine how things affect my mind, body, and spirit.
When I’m on the mat in practice, if my mind is everywhere, my ability to maintain poses and breath is undermined. If I don’t listen to what my body is telling me about where I am in the moment, I could hurt myself. I use these lessons as metaphors for life in general.
I consider yoga a gift that helps me evaluate, listen, process and take action that is most beneficial to my life. What constitutes balance changes all the time, and I don’t always get it right, but the act of trying to achieve balance is important for personal evolution.
Q: What advice can you offer other women, based on what you’ve learned in your career?
Christine: Breathe. Consciously try to lower your shoulders away from your ears at all times. Notice if your brow is furrowed, and smooth out the wrinkles. The physical act of doing this sends a message to your brain to relax.
Celebrate all your achievements and be grateful for them, even as you’re pushing for your next edge. And regularly ask yourself, “What do I want my life to look like?” Based on your honest answers, don’t be afraid to make career choices that help you realize your vision.
Q: If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
Christine: Career-wise, I’d like to be remembered as someone who always cares about quality, content, and delivering results.