Yajing (ChiChi) Wang is a passionate and accomplished social entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Sageus Collective. She was awarded the 2022 Business in Vancouver (BIV) Forty Under 40 Award, as well as the 2021 Buick Excellence Award and 2021 Readers’ Choice Award through WeWorkingWomen. She has made waves worldwide as a TEDx speaker, has built cultural bridges from China to Peru with the Inkaterra Tea Project, and has worked on global initiatives with the United Nations, including initiating the UN Women Gender Equality and CSR Conference and leading the “HeForShe” campaign in Hangzhou, China. Currently, ChiChi is dedicated to furthering her education at Columbia University, pursuing a Master of Strategic Communications. She is set to be a speaker at the 2024 Winter Symposium at Columbia University.
Today, I had the pleasure of sitting down with ChiChi to ask all my burning questions about social enterprises, her business philosophy, and more.
Juliet: Why should people start or work for a social enterprise compared to a traditional corporation?
ChiChi: As a social entrepreneur, consultant, and speaker, I know that businesses have the power to change the world. There’s no doubt that traditional business models are effective at what they do.
What’s important to understand is that the business world is nuanced. I only “found out” about social entrepreneurship in my early 30s, after having worked extensively within corporate settings. Since then, I’ve learned that the world is not black and white. I believe everyone goes on their own journey to discover these nuances and navigate the path that’s best for them. For me, social enterprises provide an opportunity to enhance our collective well-being. They allow for creativity and flexibility in addressing today’s global challenges.
J: Now let’s talk about you. You describe yourself as a “global citizen”. Can you explain more about what that means?
C: To me, being a global citizen means to hold compassion for others and to make an impact, by giving back in your own way. When we talk about impact, we’re not just talking about efficiency. If you act with kind intention, this creates a ripple effect across communities, corporations, and society. I truly believe that each one of us can be a positive force. As global citizens, it is our shared responsibility to solve global issues together and pay it forward with the future we create for generations to come.
J: That’s beautiful. Can you please tell us more about Sageus Collective and your “why” behind it?
C: Yes. I founded Sageus Collective, a social enterprise, to embody and advance sustainability, philanthropy, and social impact. The Collective is comprised of four key components: Journey of Awakening, which is our annual in-person speaker series; Intuitive Dining; Conscious Travel; and Art of Living, our carefully curated E-commerce platform.
In essence, Sageus Collective aims to create transformative wellness experiences for those on a journey of self-discovery. Through Sageus, I strive to create a safe space for meaningful connections.
J: Have you ever had an “aha” moment or pivotal event which changed you as a business leader?
C: I’ve always set lofty goals for myself. By my early 30s, I felt good about what I had accomplished in my career and was gaining validation from others. But at one point, I started to ask myself, “what is the meaning of my life, and what is the meaning of my work?” I started meditating and went on a 10-day Vipassana retreat, where we spent 10 days meditating in silence. I always knew that I wanted to do something good for the world. My ‘aha’ moment was when I realized I could use my business expertise to directly contribute to greater well-being for others and the world we live in. That’s why I chose to create Sageus Collective. I’m choosing to do business for good.
J: What do you believe is your greatest strength?
C: I strive to find a balance within myself. I am rational, but also intuitive. I’m practical, but also spiritual. Cultivating this equilibrium allows me to lead with intuition, empathy, and compassion and I hope to inspire others. This inner harmony is integral to who I am as a global citizen.
J: Can you share more about your philosophy in business, or in life?
C: Fundamentally, I believe our life’s purpose revolves around continuous learning. We enter this world with a mission to gain insights from one another, embrace experiences, and absorb knowledge into our daily lives. This process grounds us, enabling us to truly experience the art of living.
Collectively, I believe our ultimate calling is to share this wealth of learning, contributing to our communities, society, and the world with love. While conventional perspectives might perceive business as a pursuit of profit, power, and reputation, I see it as an opportunity for something more profound—to catalyze positive change in the world and pay it forward.
In essence, my aspiration is to do good as an individual. If my actions inspire others to do something similar, that would be the cherry on top, creating a ripple effect of positive impact.
J: In case our readers are just as inspired as I am, what is something you’d encourage them to put on their to-do list after reading this article?
C: Take some time every day to cultivate stillness, whether through mindful meditation or walking meditation. Establishing a regular meditation practice helps you act with kind intentions. Trust me, this will have a profound effect on the world, whether you notice it or not. If anyone is curious and wants to explore more, I’d love to chat at our next Sageus Journey of Awakening event, scheduled for late September 2024.
About the Author
Juliet Feng, a Chinese-Canadian from Vancouver, is currently pursuing her MBA at the Beedie School of Business. After earning her Bachelor’s in Music Performance at McGill University, her creative focus shifted to digital media. For three years, she served as the Social Media Manager for Jan & Jul, her family’s mid-size ethical children’s outdoor clothing brand. In this role, she led marketing strategy, created content on various platforms, managed copywriting for digital and print media, and represented the company on live broadcasts.
At Beedie, Juliet founded the Student Wellness Club, hosting weekly student-led meditations and speaker events to enhance wellbeing within the Beedie community. Additionally, she takes pride in serving as the videographer for this year’s BC MBA Games.
For meditation sessions and speaker events held at Segal Graduate School, connect with Juliet on LinkedIn to get involved in the Beedie Wellness Club.