Huyen Le: „Don’t try to do everything at once – take it step by step.“

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von Nicole Paulus
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Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Can you tell our audience in your own words who you are and what it is you do?  

Huyen:
Hello, my name is Huyen Le, and I’m the Founder of Joylists.com. Joylists is a curated platform of cool fun intimate Creative activities. Our aim is to support independent Creatives by connecting them with people who would be interested in their creative work, their talents. We want to integrate creativity in everyone’s daily lives whatever takes their fancy: cooking, sketching, singing, painting etc.
Meaning anyone with creative talents can easily sign up and showcase their talents with Joylists. Anyone who is interested in cool fun creative things to do can sign up on Joylists, join workshops/ classes/events and support local creative in the meantime.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Since this series aims to deliver transparent advice, let’s jump right into the nitty-gritty – what was one of the biggest failures you had when first starting out on your career path? What was the outcome?  

Huyen:
I would not call it failure, we are on a journey with lots of challenges just like all other start- ups. Probably one of the biggest challenges so far was that Joylists was live just when the pandemic hit. It was discouraging but we do what we do best at Joylists – experiment, pivot and continue working on our platform to make it better for users. We have had 200+ online live classes/events during almost a year of strict Covid measures and we have staged more than 700+ classes/events in total.
I am lucky to have a young team with very passionate members who would want to make positive social changes and we just keep pushing forward.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What is one piece of advice that has helped carry you through the hard times? OR What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? 

Huyen:
My favorite piece of advice is “just take the next right step”. Sometimes things can be so overwhelming: I started joylists in Germany while not speaking the language well – I remember using google translate to communicate with some Creatives that we first worked with, or now when we have had great pleasure working with more than 150+ Creatives, we are looking for funding so that we would be able to support more Creatives and bring more Local creative experiences to people, as non German I did not have a strong network here when I started out.
But just take the next right step, I keep doing what I need to do. Networking, connecting with people and I have met some amazing supportive people through different networks. And doing what we are doing today like this interview and making Joylists‘ stories known to more people.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there a piece of advice a family member or mentor gave you early on that you didn’t follow? What was the consequence or outcome?

Huyen:
I was born in a tiny village in Vietnam where young girls, women are expected to follow certain paths: get a stable job, find a husband and get married. I was a rebellious kid with a big dream- Even though I grew up without tap water, I wanted to see the world. So I created my own path and that path brought me here today. It was not easy but I am happy to live the life that I wanted for myself not the life others expected of me.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there anything about your journey that you would do differently, knowing what you know now?  

Huyen:
I actually managed to get the best out of the circumstances with Joylists: bootstrapping so far, found a technical partner, pivot and continue with Joylists. Despite the pandemic, we have more than 1500+ members/users in Joylists community.
All the bumps on the roads are not failures but the challenges needed to overcome.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What are some of the biggest barriers you have faced on your journey – internal and external ones?

Huyen:
Related to the inner barriers, I’d say it is difficult starting a business in a foreign country where I did not yet speak the language well. I do speak German now but not as much as I want to. Being an entrepreneur is hard. On top of that I really miss the warm weather of Asia and I could not go home for years due to Covid. But Joylists gave me so much Joy – first of all, I joined lots of courses/ events on Joylists (calligraphy, comedy, martial arts) myself and creative activities have protective effects on mental well-being. After two years of COVID, I’ve also learned the importance of human connections, and how local creatives can connect people together socially, meaningfully and are effective in improving mental well-being.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
As well as some of the external barriers: (socioeconomic status, gender, orientation, race, lack of social connections, lack of generational wealth)?  

Huyen:
I grew up in a tiny farming village in Vietnam, where till this date, there is no ATM. I had to ride 20km every time I wanted to go to the English class. But I worked hard to get my MBA scholarship and got different job offers in Europe. I worked hard to find my own path and set up my life here in Germany. Starting a business is not easy and I did not have rich family members for financial support which makes the journey longer, but it’s also very rewarding. After every barrier, I’ve become stronger and learned to look at the solutions instead of the challenges.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
How do you stay motivated in the face of rejection?

Huyen:
One of things that I love to do to stay motivated is to share news with my team, whether good or bad and we cheer each other on to stay positive. We’ve learned to celebrate small wins and learn from rejections of what we’re lacking so that next time, we can do better. On the other hand, I always let my team know that if they’re feeling discouraged, they can find me and I know I can do the same whenever I feel down along the journey.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What piece of career advice would you give your younger self about starting a business??

Huyen:
Realistic expectation – Start up is hard but again i am used to hardship 🙂
And follow your passion. I know a lot of people say that and it may sound cliche at some point, but really, follow your passion. For me it is to work on something with social impact and it is satisfactory to know that I can bring joy to people through Joylists. This keeps me going when it is hard and the reasons to get out of bed in the morning. Yes, there will be doomed days, but there will be better days.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Do you think being a woman has helped or hindered your journey? How?  

Huyen:
On one occasion, I did feel like I was not taken seriously as a startup founder. But It is hard to know if it is because i am female, or minority or both. Statistically, it is a disadvantage and my advisor also told me so.
Things are changing and there are lots of efforts nowadays for inclusivity and diversity. There is a lot of awareness and programs to support female founders. Seems like things are going in the right direction.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Is there any specific life or business advice you’d give women entrepreneurs or leaders?  

Huyen:
I’d say, go for it, and believe in yourself. You’re more than enough and better than you think. Don’t be intimidated or scared that things don’t work out. You’re just amazing to start your business already.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Ok now for some fun questions. Got any hidden talents? Please share!

Huyen:
I can eat lots of food especially Asian food.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What’s your guilty pleasure or favorite way to “waste” time?

Huyen:
Chilling with a good book, with music and a cup of tea especially on a sunny day. Isn’t it the best way to waste time?

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
If you didn’t have to worry about earning money or paying bills – how would you spend your days?

Huyen:
Focus all my time and resources on Joylists.

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
What’s your go-to song when you need a boost of confidence or pick me up?

Huyen:
That would definitely be “Roar” by Katy Perry…haha.

Listen to Huyen’s favourite song

Huyen Le
Nicole Paulus

Nicole:
Thank you Huyen and good luck for the future!

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