Ep. 211: How this former IT consultant grew a successful private practice as a remote wellness coach with Miinkay Yu
In this episode, I speak with Miinkay who is a bodyworker and career coach.
5 years ago, she quit her longtime career as an IT consultant to find her calling. After the initial panic and stress that comes with reinventing yourself, she started on the path to a career in wellness.
Now she has a successful private practice and is building an online business around helping people find their purpose in life. In response to COVID, she started a podcast called What’s Your Calling? Podcast where she explores the idea of purpose and interviews people who have found their calling in life.
Listen on to find out how Miinkay has been able to grow a successful private practice as a remote wellness coach.
Ep. 210: How this podcaster helps amplify voices of women of color and build wealth with Danielle Desir
Ep. 209: How this former educator left her secure career to become a remote CEO with Amanda Smith
Ep. 208: How this entrepreneur organically grew a self storage company and become an online entrepreneur with Kevin Shee
Hey everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I am super excited to have my guest on today. I’m here with Miinkay. Hey, how are you?
Hi, Debbie. I’m good. How are you?
I am wonderful. Thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us about you and why you live an offbeat life?
Yeah. My name is Miinkay. I am a career coach and I think my life is offbeat because I used to be an engineer and a consultant and I quit all that, cold turkey, because I just knew it wasn’t for me.
I went in search of purpose and calling and what was more important to me and figuring out how to make a happy life. Because I felt like I had done all the things that everyone told me to do: get a degree, get a job, climb the ladder. I climbed that ladder. In the end, I was making six figures at my old job and I was still so unhappy.
So I went in search of something more meaningful and that led me down the route to becoming a bodyworker, I’m also a massage therapist. And then along the way, a lot of my friends were asking me, “How did you make that flip? How did you flip from being a consultant to working with your hands? Basically, you’re self-employed.”
And I’d started telling about it and I learned very quickly that a lot of people were going through what I went through which was feeling like they had done everything right but still being unhappy.
Then I went to get more training to become a remote wellness coach because I felt like there’s really a need for people to understand themselves better, to understand how to find purpose, how to find their calling. And that’s something that I want through myself. So I want to be able to help others find that too.
And so that’s when I started my online business around career: learning how to do your own career, learning how to search for what is meaningful to you, and leave behind what is not. And then also I started my own podcast too to help people figure out: What do I do with my life and how do I make a life that I love to live?
That’s a really hard thing to do for anyone. For a lot of people, we figure that out when we’re in our thirties, forties, sometimes even fifties when you’ve been at your job for like 20 some odd years and then you start questioning everything.
You’ve been happy for like decades and then you finally get that chance to be like, “Oh my God, this is not it for me.”
So, what was it for you, Miinkay, that really pushed you over the edge to say, “This is not something that I want. This is what society told me to do, maybe even my family or friends expected me to do this.”?
How did you finally transition to that point where you were like. “I am ready to leave that. Leave all the expectations, leave the six-figure job to do something I have no idea about.”? ‘Cause that’s a huge leap.
Yeah. It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I think at that point, I was just fed up. Because when I started consulting, I knew pretty much right away that it was kind of like I was unsatisfied and then I just tried to work my way around it.
Like, “Well, I’m here, maybe there’s another position I can try or maybe if I move up, it’ll be better or maybe if I move Industries, that’ll be better.” And so I just tried so many things. I tried to like it so much. I tried my best. I eventually left the consulting world and went into in-house and like work for hospitals for a long time.
And I felt like, “Could this be a thing? Because I’m doing good in the world. If people need this work,” but in the end, I just got fed up. I was tired of waking up every morning like I didn’t want to go to work. I was tired of being bored. I was tired of going out to parties to take my mind off of it. I was just tired of my whole lifestyle.
And at that point, I had started to question everything: question how I was doing things, question my way of living. Because to me, it was like all the things I thought I was doing right led me to this dead end. So how do I shift everything and reset so that I can figure out what is really going to be good for me?
And the first thing I did was I went to the library because I wanted to learn more about this little voice inside me that kept telling me something’s not right. Like, sometimes you just feel like something is not right? And you have that little inkling or that little thing that says, “Hey, you got to change this.”
So I started researching that and that’s called your intuition. And when I went to the library I found a bunch of books. I read through as many of those books as I could and one of those books basically said, “If you don’t feel good about something then it’s not for you.”
And that was a whole shift in my thinking because I was always taught to think things through. “Oh, if you have this degree then you have these options,” or “If you have these skills, you can go up in this way.” But this book was just saying, “If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.”
And so I thought a lot about that. I thought about quitting and when I thought about quitting, it felt really good. And even though it was terrifying and obviously not the logical thing to do: to leave a secure job, to leave my 401k, to leave healthcare insurance, when I thought about quitting, I was happy.
And so that’s when I knew I should quit my job.
It’s a really hard decision to do that. I’ve been in your position. It’s something that we thought we really needed to do and then your world is turned upside down. And then you get into this mental state where everything is just really confusing, right?
But I think, for most of us, it’s better to be in that state than being super miserable. With me, I had panic attacks, right? Like, I had everything that I thought I needed: a good job, a well-paying job, there is really nothing wrong with it.
I mentioned this before and I think it’s the worst when your job is not bad, right?
It’s easier to leave something when you absolutely hate what you’re doing, right? Maybe your coworkers are bad, maybe they’re not paying you as much or just not appreciated. But I feel like it’s easy to get out of that ’cause you’re like, “Screw this. I hate everybody here. I just hate this position.”
But when it’s a job where you literally have nothing to complain about, it’s so much worse ’cause you’re like, “What the f am I doing?” Like, there’s nothing to complain about. But you know. You’re talking about intuition, Miinkay, and you know, in your soul, your intuition is telling you, “This is not where I’m supposed to be.”
And there’s some sort of guilt sometimes that you feel along with it, right? Because it’s like, “There’s nothing really to complain about. I went to school for this, I spent so much freaking money.” But then talking about and thinking about what you really need for yourself is so different, right?
And just trusting yourself. Trusting your instincts, your intuition, and leading with that, I think, is a huge thing to do and you definitely were able to do that. So for you, when you finally took that step and you decided to do something completely different from an engineer to using your hands and then being a remote wellnes coach, what was that like for you?
What was it like to finally leave? Did you have a what now moment? Like, “Oh my God, I finally did it. What do I do now?”
Oh yeah. Totally. When I quit, first, I took a whole month off which I’ve never done before in my life and I just did a road trip all over the country. And I came back home and then I was like, “Now, what do I do? How do I figure out my life? Where do I go? Who in the world knows how to quit their job and then start a new one? Like, that’s not a thing that you learn in school.
So, at first, I freaked out a lot. I had a lot of anxiety. I had a huge identity crisis: Who am I if I’m not this person? Who am I if I’m not a consultant? Who am I if I’m not working for hospitals? Who am I now?
And so, I went through that sort of like rebirth about, “Okay. Well, if I’m not that person who I want to be,? How do I want to change my life and what do I want to do?” And that was the big question I didn’t know how to answer: What do I want to do?
Everything that I read just kept telling me to follow what’s interesting, follow what sparks you even if you don’t know if it can make you money or not, even if you don’t know where it’s going to lead, you just follow what you like.
So it’s like, “Okay, I’ll try that and I’ll trust,” because I think the hardest thing for me is to not know where I was going. I got my engineering degree, I knew my options, I knew how much money I was going to make in those jobs. I knew everything but at this point in my life, I had no idea of any possibilities.
And I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to support myself. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay for my healthcare insurance. I was worried that I would have to move out of my apartment and downsize or move back home. Like, there are so many things going on but somehow I got through it with the support of my friends and my boyfriend at the time.
And I just started going down this road of, “Okay, what’s interesting to me?” And that led me to study more yoga because, at the time, I was a yoga instructor as well.
And then one of my friends who runs a yoga studio is also a bodyworker and she does massage, and she does all these other specialty work: craniosacral therapy, energy work and she was like, “Oh, I think you should look into this kind of work. I think you would really like it. And so I said, “Okay, sure. Why not? What could hurt?”
And so I started looking into it. I signed up for a class. I started going through that route and discovered that I really was interested. I loved it and when I started doing it, it was so fascinating to me and I just wanted to keep doing it and that’s how I got started on that path.
It’s so fun when you finally figure out what you want to do, right? And it’s such a great feeling when every day is a completely new feeling when you’re actually doing something that you enjoy. It’s like liberating and you actually want to get up and do it.
So that is amazing when you finally find that. And I think most of us, my listeners and us here too, Miinkay, is that’s really what we strive to do. That’s really what we want. Our ultimate life to be.
Before, it’s just like: you need to go to school, you need to find a job, you need to start a family, then you have fun after you retire and on those two-week vacations. But I think now for us, the most important thing is being able to balance everything.
And then when you find that, you realize that you don’t need to be 63 or 65 to finally enjoy your life. It’s such BS that some people give you that type of story sequence that you have to follow. So I love hearing that from you.
So making sure that you are financially secure, that is most people’s fears, when they finally leave a secure job, secure a nine-to-five job. And then when you either become a freelancer or remote worker, you start your own business, that’s something that you can’t automatically make sure that you have.
That’s not a guarantee because you don’t have a company paying you, you don’t have a set salary. You really have to make that yourself and it’s a difficult thing in the beginning. So how do you make sure that you go over that hump and make sure that you still have the security that you need in order to keep going and not having those fears as well?
Yeah. I think as a kid, I was taught to save a lot, so I was really good at that. And luckily, I would save a lot of my salary. I definitely lived well below my means when I was working. Luckily I had a lot of money saved. I had invested and those Investments did well and kept doing well.
And while I was trying to figure out my life, I was sort of managing that, using a lot of my savings. I’m still using my savings sometimes but not as much as before. I got a part-time job to pay for things and downsize a lot of the things that I did.
I didn’t go on vacation for 2 years. I made some sacrifices but to me, it was worth it because I wanted to shift everything and change my life. And what I was studying was so interesting to me I kind of didn’t even miss a vacation.
Like, when you’re working a job you don’t like you’re looking forward to that vacation ’cause it’s something to enjoy. But when you’re doing work that you love, you’re enjoying it every day. So like you were saying that old idea of working for vacation – I totally agree with you.
Like, you can have a job that you enjoy every day and then every day feels good. And that was what I was driving for. So I didn’t really miss the vacation, I didn’t miss all the other things that I had spent money on before because I didn’t like my life. So I was able to manage my finances that way.
And having part-time jobs, starting to work as soon as I could once I got my massage license, starting to get clients through my friends, and just putting myself out there is how I manage that. I would say, I’m still not in the green partly because of COVID.
Last year kind of demolished my massage work but that’s okay because I’ve managed, I got an appointment, I made things work, I still had some savings. And so not looking down at myself for using my savings I think was the biggest thing.
Just really trusting that this is the work that I want to do, it’s gonna take time to build, I’m not gonna make six figures right away. But if I keep working on it and I love what I’m doing, then I’m going to be okay and everything is going to work itself out.
You have to be smart and have that drive to look for the answers. So listening to podcasts, hearing how other entrepreneurs make money, learning different ways that I can make money. So, it’s not like I’m just sitting around expecting money to show up but I’m hustling.
And also, because I don’t have that income makes me want to hustle more. So, it’s sort of, like, this feeling of grit and also like a feeling of satisfaction when you make your own money from scratch, that feels really good.
And I would say my finances aren’t perfect, they’re not where I wanted to be but that’s okay because I’m working towards something and I make a little bit of progress every month and I’m happy with that.
Yeah. And I definitely agree when you earn that money yourself. I mean, obviously, when you have a nine-to-five, you earn that money yourself. But when it’s your business and then that first dollar comes in, I can’t even tell you.
You know this, Miinkay, but for our listeners, like, if you haven’t done this yet and when you finally are in that first dollar from what you’re doing, it’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before because you’ve worked so hard and you do all these things. There so many nos before you hear that yes.
And when you finally hear it, you’re like, “Oh my God!” Even if it’s just a dollar that you got, it feels like a million dollars. So, it’s always good. I love that feeling.
So for you, Miinkay, when you are working from home and you have your remote wellness coaching clients and you’re able to do this, how do you manage your time efficiently? Because it’s a lot harder especially when you’re just starting out.
You feel like you have so much freedom now but then that also comes with a lot of responsibility. Can you tell us how you make sure that there’s a balance between your time and you make it work for you?
Oh my gosh, that’s been so hard. It’s totally freaking to have your own schedule but it’s also so hard to keep focus and keep your stuff on track, right? And so for me, I would say it’s always been this trial and error of like, “Okay, try these ideas, somebody’s idea this way, see if it works for me. Try somebody else’s idea, see if that works for me.”
And so this is taken like three or four years of experimenting with different ways to be efficient but this is how I figured out what really works for me: I do the miracle morning. I don’t know if you’ve heard about that but it’s basically a six-step ritual in the morning and it’s just a way to start my day.
It involves meditation, exercise, journaling, affirmations, and this is all like, within an hour, maybe more, maybe it’s more on certain days and a little less on certain days. But that really just sets my mood and really makes me energized, makes me feel like I can do a lot that day.
On the days that I don’t do it, I notice that I feel really scattered And so just having that ritual to like set my mind straight and to get all my energy out ’cause I have a lot of energy. I find that if I don’t exercise in the morning then I’m just all over the place. So, really having that is what helps me be really efficient.
And so I start my day with that. And then I have a way to organize all the work that I do. I use Asana, which is a project management tool. And so I group all my work into projects. So I have my podcast, I have my remote wellness coaching, I have the marketing that I’m doing and certain projects too. Like, right now I’m kind of revamping my website, I’m working with someone to do SEO.
So all those are different projects and then I set aside 2-hour blocks to work on each project. So a task on each project today. After this interview, I’m going to work on my next podcast. I’m going to edit it. Set that up, write all the intros and outros. And then after that, I’m going to work on my about page.
So I have these tasks set up for me and I guess that it takes about 2 hours whether it does or not – depends. But then I try to not sit for more than 2 hours. After a few hours, I get up or walk around, have a snack, then I can reset, come to another task. And doing that throughout the day helps me and then I just go with my flow.
So, if I still feel like working through dinner and into the night then that’s what I do, which is probably not always the healthiest thing. But if I don’t feel like working, I feel like I’m done today and then I’ll cut it off at 6 and I’ll stop, I’ll watch tv, chill out and give myself a break.
Really making sure that the schedule that you put for yourself is something that you can live with and some things that you can keep up with. And I think the key here is making sure that is sustainable for you, right?
Because there’s going to be people there that are going to tell you how they do the routine, how they do their schedule. But if it’s not right for you and your schedule, it’s just not going to work. So it takes a little bit of time sometimes to figure that out but then once you get it going, I think it becomes so much easier when you do that.
So, Miinkay, when you transitioned and you are getting traction going, how did you land your first client?
Well, my first client was actually one of my friends. He was a friend that I had known for a long time and he had been following my newsletters and my posts and my Instagrams. And I had talked to him a couple of times about my work.
And it wasn’t until maybe six months after I had started that he said, “Okay, I think I could use your help.” And so we had a conversation, a professional one, because we were friends before but I wanted to make sure that he knew I would treat this as a professional situation so that he was getting the best work out of me.
And that’s how I got started. And I find that every client since then is one of the same ways. Like, it just takes time for people to warm up to meeting coaching and needing help or admitting that they need help or recognizing that it could be helpful.
And usually, I work with someone not in, I wouldn’t say like a lot, but just like a little bit here and there like, “Hey, how are you doing?” Or, “I remember this problem about this topic you’ve asked me, how did that go?” So, like, following up and keeping up with the relationship. It usually takes like 3 to 6 months before someone wants to hire me.
I think it’s because they just want to make sure that they actually need it and that, like, this is going to work out for them because 1-o-1 work and 1-o-1 help is definitely expensive but it can be so rewarding. And I think a lot of people just have never spent money on themselves that way.
Yeah. I think the key is making sure you understand that you have to show up every single time and it takes a little bit of time to warm people up. And the biggest mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs make is thinking that it’s going to happen overnight.
Like you’re talking about, Miinkay, it took you a few months, six months to get this person to finally trust you even though they knew you were ready. So look at that: even though this person knew Miinkay, it still took them 6 months to pull the trigger because they’re still thinking about it.
So if you’re in this, if you started your business and it’s a few months and you’re not getting anything – don’t stop. Keep going. Obviously, make sure that what you’re doing is right for you, your audience, the content you’re creating, and putting out there a good message. But also making sure that you stick it out for a while because it definitely doesn’t happen overnight.
And that’s such a good lesson to learn from Miinkay’s story right there. So thank you for that reminder, Miinkay, that’s so important to learn.
So let’s fast-forward to 30 to 40 years from now and you’re looking back at your life, what legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?
Good question. I definitely want to leave a lot of material and help in the world to teach people about intuition, how to follow your heart in a practical way. I think you learn, as a kid, all these fairytale things like, “follow your heart, follow your dreams,” but it’s hard to apply it to the real world now.
And so, I want to leave people with tools to help them apply to the real world, to know what’s possible, and to be able to dream in a realistic way. ‘Cause I think when people dream in a too idealistic or too unrealistic way, they get lost really easily and they get discouraged really quickly, and then they don’t follow their dreams because they just don’t know how.
So I want to be a guide for people to help them figure out what they want in life, to help them get to a better life and a better career so that they can live happy everyday lives. Some of the things that I’m working on are programs to help people through those transitions.
The podcast, I hope to leave a huge legacy with and just encouragement for the world. Like, being a voice, an advocate for following your heart but in a practical and realistic way.
Absolutely. That is such a great goal and great legacy to want, to be able to have for yourself, for your life, and for the future as well. So thank you so much for sharing that with us, Miinkay.
So before we say goodbye to you, I have 5 rapid questions that you have to answer, Miinkay, in one sentence or less. I mean, if you go a little over I won’t be mad at you.
Are you ready?
Okay, I’m ready.
Alright. So what has been the best money you’ve ever spent while you were abroad and why?
Definitely, I went to Japan and I bought the go-kart racing package where they drive you around Japan for like 2 hours and it was expensive but it was totally worth it and so much fun.
That’s awesome and sounds really fun too.
Describe what your ideal day would look like.
Reading on a comfy couch overlooking a national forest, somewhere peaceful.
Oh, that sounds so nice. I’d like to be there too.
Okay, where is the best location to live as a remote worker?
Anywhere. But the first thing that comes to mind is Canada just ’cause of all the forest that I love.
Oh, really? Okay, where in Canada?
I really love Banff.
Yeah. I have to visit Banff because I’ve never been there. I’ve been seeing so many beautiful photos of it. So definitely one day I’m going to have to try that out yet.
Yeah. Super pretty.
If you could have a superpower, Miinkay, what would it be?
Cooking things really quickly like, under 5 minutes and making an amazing meal.
Oh my God, I’ve never heard of that superpower but that is amazing. Like, yeah, I love food so much if I could cook something or if it just magically appears, right? Like, if I just say a food and then it magically appears, that would be the best thing.
Oh my God, Minkay, you are on to something. Okay, that’s a good one.
So what’s the one thing you wish you did sooner?
Quit my job.
Thank you so much, Miinkay, for being here with us. We really appreciate you. If our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?
Yeah, definitely. You can go to my website: MiinkayYu.com. And I’m on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook: @coachmiinkay.
Awesome! Thank you so much. We really appreciate you. Thank you so much again for being here.
Thank you for having me. This was fun.
Audio Engineer: Ben Smith