Steven Wu is the Managing Director at Zenyum, a consumer-focused healthcare brand that removes medical jargon, the hassle when booking appointments, price variations and puts convenience at the centre of your smile journey.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career in finance and worked my way up on the trading floor in financial derivatives during my 20s. At the time, I flew around Canada and US quite a bit meeting clients and I guess it was fun while it lasted but I really couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my career sitting behind bloomberg screens.
I remember I had the entrepreneurial itch near the end of my banking career and was actively looking for ways to start a business idea on the side or invest in one.
I ended up putting some money in a microbrewery startup where I would also help out on weekends doing tastings and promos at fairs and events. Something completely different from my 9 to 5 then, so it was super fun getting my hands dirty building and learning at the same time (and having a beer or two haha).
When I hit my 30s, I finally made the jump and co-founded Youni (which my co-founder still runs today), now a 4 year old business that operates several health and wellness F&B brands.
We sell a range of products within our own group of operating cafes, e-commerce channels, supermarket chains across Hong Kong, all supported by our cloud kitchen.
I’ve also made small investments in other startups since, mostly to diversify and learn more, from a nutritionist and alternative medicine business, to most recently a crypto DeFi lending project.
Currently I’m the Managing Director of Zenyum, a direct-to-consumer Smile Cosmetics brand here in Asia, where we work with local dentists to produce high quality orthodontic aligner treatments at an affordable price for everyone.
We’ve also developed a range of oral care products like sonic toothbrush, day and night toothpaste, floss and mouthwash – essentially we want to turn a boring chore into a ritual which our customers can look forward to everyday.
I joined the company quite early on after a few months of being founded, and launched the Hong Kong and Macau market. We’ve been on a rocketship since with rapid growth and expansion into 9 markets over the past 3 years. So far it’s been a crazy ride, like really crazy.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I get up at about 7am, start with some meditation and morning rituals before getting into the office at 9am for our morning meetings.
Day to day varies a bit where earlier in the week is for alignment with the different department managers, mid-week for my own deeper impactful work, and near the end of the week for reflection and planning for the week ahead.
By noon I usually head to the gym and have a quick lunch at my desk before the second half of the day. My day in the office usually ends around 7pm, unless I have client or partner meetings. In Hong Kong we are fortunate enough where most things are open and people are out and about so there’s a bit of social activity going on now.
When it’s an evening at home, I switch over to my iPad where I put on my “learning” hat to explore topics unrelated to my business and field. Currently I’m also doing the Growth Series program at Reforge, so that has become my evening default for the past couple of weeks.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes we have the flexibility to work remotely across the company and my colleagues are free to do a mixture of both, although personally I’m in the office most of the time as I find myself more productive in this space. My gym is across the street as well, so that’s convenient for me to get a midday energy booster.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Getting the right balance starts with getting enough sleep, where I typically try to get 7-8 hours.
Self awareness and energy management is something I’ve really started to pick up in my current role. By now I know my body quite well, when my mind is the sharpest, what food fuels me well, my attention span and when I am most effective, so I try to structure my days around that.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I burnt out earlier in the year which is when I really reflected and restructured the way I do things, including some of my personal goals.
I finally picked up and understood the wonders of meditation and also got into more outdoor group exercises like HIIT and Bootcamps after work.
To be honest, for the past couple of years I mostly just kept my head down building the business, so recently I started networking again, and realised the positive effect it has on opening up my mind, and also the compounding effect it has when meeting people who are mostly super helpful which then amplifies the network effect of creating that ecosystem of helping each other.
I tend to think every now and then we need to shock our systems in order to have breakthroughs, more often than not we end up better than where we started.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
For me hands down it would be Shoe Dog. It’s one of those books where I completely submerged into it and really felt I could relate to as an entrepreneur, especially in the direct to consumer space. Phil’s grit, hustle, always pushing limits and boundaries is very inspirational to me.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I would say my most used apps are Podcasts, Spotify, Calm, and Notability. Each serves a different purpose throughout my day or week. I like to doodle a lot too, so I always have a pen in my hand.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Probably Brian Chesky, Phil Knight or Gary Vaynerchuk, where I can take in a bit from each. I’m sure we all know about Elon Musk’s already.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
There’s no one size fits all, but it definitely starts with being self aware, which is the most important if you want to have some sort of impact or control of your destiny.
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