[00:00:00] Bryan Pham: Hey, everyone. Welcome to our episode on the Asian Hustle Network podcast. Today, we have a very special guest. Her name is Gloria. Gloria is someone that I look up to, and we can’t wait to hear a story today.
[00:00:12] Gloria Zhu: Thanks for having me.
[00:00:13] Bryan Pham: Of course. So Gloria, we always ask the first question on our podcast. Please tell us about your upbringing and where you grew up.
[00:00:20] Gloria Zhu: Yes, of course. So my parents had a huge impact on the way I think and who I am today. So for context, I was born two hours away from St. Louis because my parents moved from Shanghai to Missouri for graduate school.
[00:00:36] Gloria Zhu: I remember my mom telling me that both of them were getting there. They have a degree in computer science. They were working full-time jobs. My mom was pregnant with me, all the while integrating into American culture and learning the language and how things worked. And once they graduated, they moved to the bay area for opportunity. I have to credit my parents because how they decided where to move was based on how diverse the schools were.
[00:01:05] Gloria Zhu: I was lucky enough to have my community, close friends, and sponsors. So even if I experienced subtle racism, I had a community that supported me. And I think. Frankly, I was so busy thinking about what kind of impact I wanted to make on the world, brainstorming, and what I wanted to do with my life to give any mind share to the naysayers.
[00:01:32] Bryan Pham: Gloria, I love the energy you bring to the table. We have to give your parents a lot of credit too. And their hustle story working as a waiter, and waitress, going to graduate school, and being pregnant. I can’t imagine myself in that position. I can’t focus on one thing.
[00:01:46] Gloria Zhu: Yes, I didn’t realize it until I was much older to appreciate everything they did for me.
[00:01:54] Bryan Pham: Yes, 100% out of curiosity, which part of the bay area did you grow up in?
[00:01:58] Gloria Zhu: I grew up in the east bay in Castro Valley. So our fast size in high school was like 700-800 people when we graduated.
[00:02:08] Bryan Pham: Yes. The great thing about the bay is so diverse. It’s so big. There’s a lot of stuff going on.
[00:02:13] Bryan Pham: I love hearing that. I’m curious too. How did that translate into your career? Knowing about your parents’ story growing up in the bay area, and even like you said earlier, planning out how you want to make a difference in the world is incredible.
[00:02:28] Bryan Pham: How does that translate into your current career?
[00:02:31] Gloria Zhu: That’s a great question. So growing up in the bay area, we’re lucky because it’s so diverse and you’re surrounded by innovation, and you’re taught that any challenge is an opportunity. And for me, I had a pivotal moment in 2008 when I was growing up during the global financial crisis.
[00:02:51] Gloria Zhu: It was challenging during that time because my dad was laid off. It was a tough time with my family. I saw people struggling in my community. I had neighbors who had to move away because they could no longer afford their mortgages. It made me realize that as a first-generation Asian American female, I didn’t know how the financial system worked.
[00:03:13] Gloria Zhu: And I never want to see the people I care about struggle like that again. That was my challenge. I knew that if I didn’t lean in and make personal finance, my career would be challenging for me to learn like elsewhere.
[00:03:28] Gloria Zhu: From that challenge came opportunity. I got my first job when I was 17 down in San Mateo at a wealth management firm with a team group.
[00:03:38] Gloria Zhu: It was really interesting because with the teen group, it was John, Jeff, Jason, and Linda, and they were all Asian American. They just showed me, like, hey, people who look like me belong in the industry.
[00:03:56] Bryan Pham: Yes. It’s commendable to hear that too. I feel like your first job always ends up shaping the person you become.
[00:04:02] Gloria Zhu: Yes.
[00:04:04] Bryan Pham: Honestly, being at San Mateo, starting your career at 17, that’s insane.
[00:04:08] Gloria Zhu: They gave a chance. Yes. They gave me a chance because I hadn’t even started college yet.
[00:04:14] Bryan Pham: Yes. That’s commendable and has shaped you into who you are today.
[00:04:18] Bryan Pham: I’m also an eight type of person, the baby. I was going through a recession. Unfortunately, I was one of the families affected by my parents losing many properties they owned and fighting for bankruptcy back in 2008.
[00:04:32] Bryan Pham: I felt that when you said that you need to learn about personal finance, that’s how I started with personal finance. But ironically, I majored in computer science, right? My mentality then was like, oh no, like my parents are not doing financially. I need to make as much money as I can.
[00:04:46] Bryan Pham: What is the shortest career path that makes the most money? Computer science?
[00:04:52] Gloria Zhu: Exactly. I was just about to say that. Yes. What is the route that would give me stability or like the American dream?
[00:05:00] Bryan Pham: Exactly. And going to dive deeper into things like the American dream and personal finance, what is your current purpose and mission?
[00:05:08] Gloria Zhu: Okay. That’s a good question as well. So I would say it’s twofold. The first is I want to be that representation of what a private banker looks like. I think there was a recent Saru report that said that 18% of financial advisors were women,5% were Hispanic, only 4% were Asian American, and 3% were black. I don’t think that represents America’s demographics.
[00:05:39] Gloria Zhu: And I would say. Secondly, the goal is to hold space in the industry. My goal is financial inclusion. So if I am a female Asian American banker, I think there’s a potential special connection: finding clients who look like me or identify with me culturally.
[00:06:02] Gloria Zhu: And I think we’re seeing such a change in wealth, especially here in the bay area and the US. There’s so much opportunity. So I guess there are another two facts that I might want to provide, the first being over 55%. Unicorn founders are immigrants, and there’s even more, I guess. An even more significant percentage of Asian immigrants or first-generation Americans are founders of these unicorn companies.
[00:06:36] Gloria Zhu: And also, we see that a more significant percentage of executives are women. So, for example, I think back ten years ago, about 2.5% of CEOs were female. And now, it’s about 5.4%, still abysmal in numbers, but that’s increasing.
[00:06:56] Gloria Zhu: I want to be able to provide financial advice to these individuals and help change this landscape and protect them and be their partners.
[00:07:05] Bryan Pham: I love that. I realize that financial education is not usually taught in school. I feel like a lot of times, you’re listening to people and a lot of unsolicited advice out there, right? How should you invest in this? Do you just buy that? Or you have this type of money, you should store this and that.
[00:07:20] Bryan Pham: But you need someone like an expert to help guide you along the way. Don’t you just love how the statistics of immigrant founders are pretty significant? Because I feel most immigrants live out the American dream in the US. I’m here Latin-free. You don’t take things for granted.
[00:07:36] Bryan Pham: You go report it and push for it. Yes, I love that statistic. Another statistic is I want to next time we chat, hopefully in the future. I want to hear the numbers of female-led companies to be a much larger percentage, right? But either way, as long as you’re making progress, I feel like that’s a step in the right direction.
[00:07:53] Gloria Zhu: Exactly. And to your point, I’ve noticed that when it comes to personal finance, you get information. Knowledge sharing is happening between you and your immediate community. So I know my parents. They share stock tips with their friends and founders, and maybe talk amongst each other.
[00:08:14] Gloria Zhu: I’ve spent years in this industry. And if I come in as a private banker, I’m not just giving you stock tips or advice. I’m bringing you the best ideas from one of the world’s largest banks. So it’s a different level of knowledge sharing and getting founders, entrepreneurs, or investors into the fold.
[00:08:40] Bryan Pham: Gloria, you’re amazing. I know you mentioned earlier about private bankers and a little bit about JP Morgan, so what does a personal banker do? Why is it necessary at JP Morgan?
[00:08:49] Gloria Zhu: Yes, that’s a good question because I also think it doesn’t get advertised or shared as much amongst the AAPI or first-generation community.
[00:09:01] Gloria Zhu: I would describe my role as a wealthy architect. I partner with executives, founders, and investors to just construct a comprehensive and holistic plan. And then, I just help. For example, if I’m working with a founder, they might have a liquidity event.
[00:09:21] Gloria Zhu: And I take a look at everything I see. Do we need to do tax and estate planning? Are there opportunities to structure things on the estate side? Do you need to open up certain accounts and trusts? And then, I get to dive into the fun stuff. What do you care about? Do you have family members or people in the community to that you want to give back?
[00:09:45] Gloria Zhu: Do you have, for example, another chapter of your life? Or, like a second act, I can leverage investing in credit and philanthropy to help you get there. It’s more of taking what you have and maximizing it for what you want to do. And ultimately, I think you bring me in because you want peace of mind.
[00:10:08] Gloria Zhu: I’m here to help create a plan. And if plans change, we can dodge, weave and make things happen. It’s just having a partner.
[00:10:16] Bryan Pham: Definitely. That’s so cool to hear that. As you’re telling me this position, this story, I’m thinking, how would I react if I run into an immense amount of will shortly or in the future?
[00:10:28] Bryan Pham: I think it’s very overwhelming. A lot of times, without proper planning and proper advice, money goes away really fast.
[00:10:34] Gloria Zhu: Exactly. It’s like you don’t. Sometimes, it’s funny because personal finance is one of those things where maybe you don’t learn your lessons until you make a mistake or it’s too late. And so, if you can count on someone who’s seen it all before, has pattern recognition, and can guide you, I think that’s the most considerable value add.
[00:10:57] Bryan Pham: Yes. I know, looking at your profile and looking at your LinkedIn, you’ve been involved with a lot of things before.
[00:11:05] Bryan Pham: I’m curious too. Can you tell us about a time when you struggled with your business and how you managed to overcome it?
[00:11:11] Gloria Zhu: Yes, so it’s funny because every challenge that I’ve gone through, it was tough at the moment. But then, now that I look back at it, it’s really funny. I think one thing I’ll say is I’ve been rejected from pretty much almost every job that I’ve had.
[00:11:30] Gloria Zhu: I’ll give some examples. There’s one company that I worked at, and I interviewed person A. And after a few weeks, I was rejected by person B. And then, I was so sad at that moment, but I felt strongly about the company. And so I emailed the person who interviewed me.
[00:11:50] Gloria Zhu: I said, thanks so much for taking the time. It was fun getting to know you and the company I’m still bullish about. I hoped to keep in touch and wasn’t asking for a job or the job or anything, but it was just like, let’s keep in touch within an hour. That person had called me while I was at the airport and I had a two-hour conversation with that interviewer and the next day I got the job offer.
[00:12:18] Gloria Zhu: So I think, from that experience, I realized that, like, every rejection is not the final answer. It’s just a chance to figure out how you should pivot or how to get to” yes.” I’ll also say there was another company I applied to and interviewed for. I was close to the offer, but they had a hiring freeze.
[00:12:41] Gloria Zhu: And so, I had to wait a year. What ended up happening was I had to interview again, but I got a role that was a better fit for me. I think I’ve learned that rejection is just a fact of life. Challenges just happen. But if you just know what you’re doing, it aligns with your purpose and goals, like just keep going, and maybe it might not happen at the timeline you want it to, but it’ll happen, and it might end up being better.
[00:13:13] Bryan Pham: Yes, I feel like that’s really good advice. You show the hustle story behind that too. Honestly, it’s really hard to judge a person’s abilities and character in a couple of interviews. And I feel like for most, from my personal experience, hiring people too much is excellent.
[00:13:29] Bryan Pham: Employees don’t interview. I feel like there’s a lot more to it. I’m glad you took the opportunity to reflect on how you want to re-approach the situation and the second part of your answer. I feel like everything happens for a reason.
[00:13:46] Bryan Pham: You may think that one thing is better for you. You try to force the situation. I feel like anytime you try to force anything, it isn’t going to work out the way you think it will. And also, you have to give yourself time to grow as a person too. What you might like today, you might not like, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.
[00:14:05] Gloria Zhu: Exactly, same with the Asian Hustle network. I remember hearing about the story, and it’s just grown and evolved. You’ve pivoted, and it’s become much more than what I listened to and what you intended.
[00:14:20] Gloria Zhu: Yes. We grew a lot in the last two years only, but it took a lot of listening to what matters to you. What matters to the community? How do you provide value? And speaking of that, I know that in our Asian hospital network community, we prize our community on each other’s stories.
[00:14:39] Gloria Zhu: Each other’s life experiences, listen to what we learned from our parents. Honestly. What kind of lessons have you learned from your parents? How have they influenced your life, and how does it control your relationship with money?
[00:14:53] Gloria Zhu: Yeah. Whew. That’s a good question. So I would say. My mom had a massive impact on my life.
[00:15:01] Gloria Zhu: I, I was really lucky to have her when, I guess, she spent so much time with me. Especially during middle school, she had taken a break in her career to care for my sister and me. I remember we drove to school, and she would give up. I Like a lot of her moms.
[00:15:25] Gloria Zhu: And one of them in particular to personal finance was probably this phrase of look for value, not just the price. And so what that means is she was just a huge advocate of being intentional about it. Make what I spend my money on, especially when making purchases. For example, it’s not just buying the cheapest thing, but it’s buying something, for example, of higher quality, if you’re going to use it more You should buy stuff from companies that align with your values.
[00:15:58] Gloria Zhu: And it goes the other way too, maybe it’s don’t buy just the cheapest thing, buy something that will give you value, but also don’t buy something just because it’s expensive or designer. If it doesn’t, stand for what you believe in or share the same values as you do. So I feel like maybe even though my mom wasn’t gen Z, she had a lot of gen Z opinions.
[00:16:22] Gloria Zhu was a woman ahead of her time. So yeah, exactly. Yeah. That’s awesome to hear your parents do that too. And teaching you the values of the company matters a lot. Does that philosophy of the company line up with yours? Buying certain products that, is there a need or is it one is gonna be, you’re gonna reuse it often.
[00:16:41] Gloria Zhu: I think that’s cool because that wasn’t taught to me per se, but something that I learned over time. It’s that paying extra money for quality matters a lot.
[00:16:52] Gloria Zhu: Exactly. And I think at the end of the day, it’s this idea that it’s not how much you have or how much you spend it’s how much you get out of what you’re paying.
[00:17:02] Bryan Pham: Exactly. So speak up about personal finance; I want to hear more. I know that you, in the past, have invested in things like focus on economic empowerment and financial literacy. You created something called the beer cat content. . Can you tell us more about that and what inspired you to create that?
[00:17:20] Gloria Zhu: Yes. So I remember there’s this Steve jobs quote that’s something along the lines of you can’t connect the dots. Looking forward, you can connect them looking backward. And for me, I know we’ve spent a lot of time talking about my work at JP Morgan, but the dots for me finally really connected in 2019 because I grew up watching YouTube.
[00:17:44] Gloria Zhu: I think many people in our generation did. So I grew up watching YouTube because that was the only place I saw. People like me on the screen. And so I knew YouTube was this place for, I guess, diversity empowerment. It was knocking walls down. And so I always wanted to do something in entertainment.
[00:18:07] Gloria Zhu: I didn’t know how because I lived in the bay area. I went to Berkeley. I stayed in the bay area and didn’t go full-on on entertainment. I did media studies in college. In 2019, I finally realized that I needed to do something about this if I cared about social media, new media, and entertainment. And so I developed this thesis that I see increasing convergence of content creation and personal finance. And this is because, for every person I’ve talked to about personal finance, they’re like, yes. I think it’s a great idea. I agree. I think we should teach it to everybody, but it’s boring to most people.
[00:18:54] Gloria Zhu: Media and content make it engaging. And then the second is media, storytelling, and content creation. It adds context. I can say that financial literacy is very important. I can tell you that until I’m blue in the face. You only understand that, or it only sinks in if I can show you via media and content.
[00:19:20] Gloria Zhu: That’s more powerful. I already see the financial industry, for example, using influencers and media to break down. Barriers to financial inclusion, and I expect to see a lot more. And so, with Bearcat, we’ve been focused on investing in content. That’s focused on economic empowerment and financial literacy.
[00:19:41] Bryan Pham: I love that. Some of my favorite content creators are financial literacy types of content careers, right? I feel like the way that they can break things down makes it more relatable. Whereas you read it in a textbook, you read it online, you have, you read it on a banking website.
[00:19:57] Bryan Pham: You’re like, okay, how’s that affecting me?
[00:19:59] Gloria Zhu: Yes.
[00:20:00] Bryan Pham: That’s a fantastic project to hear, and it’s great hearing more about Bearcat, for sure. So thank you for doing that.
[00:20:07] Gloria Zhu: Yes, of course. I will say it’s been a journey. It’s still a work in progress with multiple iterations.
[00:20:16] Gloria Zhu: But I will say so far, we’ve invested in four documentaries and talked about three startups that are focused on new media or are at the frontier of FinTech. I’m excited to see where it goes. But again, everything is a work in progress, like everything else.
[00:20:35] Bryan Pham: Of course, that’s a great way to view life.
[00:20:37] Bryan Pham: I think Jeff Bezo says that every day’s a great day to make an impact in the world.
[00:20:41] Gloria Zhu: Exactly.
[00:20:43] Bryan Pham: Awesome! Gloria, I have one final question for you as we near the end of the podcast.
[00:20:48] Gloria Zhu: Yes.
[00:20:48] Bryan Pham: This is a great time to ask this question.
[00:20:50] Bryan Pham: Let’s say, if I just recently graduated from 2020-2021, trying to learn more about personal finance, knowing that the economy right now is dealing with inflation and the possibility of a recession. How do I learn about personal finance properly?
[00:21:07] Gloria Zhu: Oh, that’s a good question. I think it’s two things.
[00:21:10] Gloria Zhu: The first would be, I think the way we get our information is usually on social media. I think social media tends to sensationalize a lot of things. So we see a lot of headlines like, I made $50,000 in one day, and that gets views. It’s engaging.
[00:21:31] Gloria Zhu: I think you’re rewarded for absurd things or like outliers online. If you are navigating personal finance, you must stay away and be careful of these headlines. Don’t fall into that trap. Unfortunately, boring stuff is the best way to manage your money.
[00:21:54] Gloria Zhu: It’s the stuff that’s not going to be posted about on a TikTok, maybe, or it might just not get as many views because it’s put your money in perhaps an asset allocation, like a stock-bond split, like a 60-40 stock bond split. I think the second thing is we are taught so much to value how much our net worth is or how much money we have. But it’s more about what your money can do for you and your values.
[00:22:26] Gloria Zhu: So what I’ve seen is a lot of entrepreneurs, for example, who might have seen their portfolios or stock prices drop, are still very passionate about what they do. If you focus on the business on the quality, like the stock price, it doesn’t change how you feel about yourself.
[00:22:47] Gloria Zhu: So I think it’s just two takeaways. Be cautious of the sensationalization of money; sometimes, the most boring stuff is the most helpful. And then, the second is if you focus on your purpose and what you’re building, that’s where your wealth and your money are going to come from.
[00:23:06] Gloria Zhu: It’s the company that you built. No random option strategies or anything fancy on the investing front.
[00:23:13] Bryan Pham: Yes. I like the advice too. I feel like a lot of your answers are very intentional, what purpose and reasoning. It’s really neat to hear that too.
[00:23:22] Bryan Pham: I had this impression of working with private bankers. It’s about money creation, but I like what you mentioned. It’s about the purpose and being aligned with what you’re doing because, honestly, I know this is a little bit off-tangent, but that’s the type of thing that brings you truly.
[00:23:36] Gloria Zhu: Exactly. Especially in this market environment, if you tie your sense of value with the value you have in your bank account, you’re going to have a very tough time.
[00:23:47] Bryan Pham: Absolutely. I feel like, again, off-topic, many people nowadays tie their identity to their job titles, their career, and how much money they’re worth. But it’s not about that, but who you are as a person. So I’m glad that you brought that up during this podcast.
[00:24:06] Gloria Zhu: I’ll say also is that with job titles, maybe you get the dream job title that you always wanted, but perhaps you join, and finally you realize, oh, the culture isn’t what I wanted, or maybe the people that I work with or spend my time with are not as aligned with me in terms of what my personality.
[00:24:28] Gloria Zhu: I think if you’re so wrapped up with the job title, it makes it hard. I think to find happiness and fulfillment, maybe it’s finding a purpose first and then realizing what you can bring to the table and then finding opportunities, regardless of job title, that helps you achieve your goal.
[00:24:49] Bryan Pham: I love that. I love that answer a lot. Thank you, Gloria.
[00:24:52] Gloria Zhu: Yes, thank you for your time.
[00:24:54] Bryan Pham: Of course. Gloria, so one final question, how can our listeners find out more about you and reach out to you online?
[00:24:59] Gloria Zhu: Yes, it’s funny because I think the best place to reach out to me is LinkedIn.
[00:25:05] Gloria Zhu: My LinkedIn, Gloria Zhu, the URL username is with Glo, and then on Instagram and TikTok, @_withglo.
[00:25:14] Bryan Pham: Awesome. We’ll include all that in the show notes. Gloria, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it.
[00:25:19] Gloria Zhu: Yes, keep up the hustle. Thank you.