ELLEN YIN IS SHINING A LIGHT ON WEALTH BUILDING WOMEN
The multi-figure entrepreneur believes financial freedom requires financial transparency.
– KEYS SOULCARE
By the age of 28, Ellen Yin turned a $300 freelance marketing gig to $2 million in revenue as an entrepreneur. As the founder of Cubicle to Ceo and host of its namesake podcast, Ellen shines a light on other women making an impressive financial footprint on the world through entrepreneurship. The daughter, sister, and soon-to-be wife has a lot to be grateful for, and she’s saying thank you by providing her listeners, followers, and program participants with inside scoops on how to secure the bag, one decision at a time.
Here’s what Ellen had to say about financial transparency and the most important asset every entrepreneur should have.
TELL US ABOUT CUBICLE TO CEO.
We are a media platform focused on telling the stories of women-owned, bootstrap businesses making between $100,000 and $100 million a year in revenue. We share these stories out on our podcast, Cubicle to CEO. The tagline for that show is we ask successful entrepreneurs the business questions you can’t Google. We ask a lot of hard-hitting, financially transparent questions to normalize a conversation around money. Our weekly newsletter dives into those transparent insights behind the businesses of these six, seven, and eight-figure entrepreneurs that are hard to find elsewhere.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART ABOUT THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
My favorite part of the work is meeting incredible women — and sharing their work and how they are doing it — [while] impacting generations of their own families and communities through the gifts they share.
THE ORIGIN STORY OF CUBICLE TO CEO IS YOU QUIT YOUR WELL-PAYING CORPORATE JOB WITHOUT A PLAN. WHAT FACTORS LED YOU TO THAT DECISION?
The misalignment was very clear from day one. When I applied for that job, I thought I was applying for a marketing position for the hospital, which extends to their foundation, gym facilities, and programs. I was very excited about the community-oriented aspect of the work. But I showed up on my first day of the job, and I remember my boss asking, “What do you know about Medicare and Medicaid?” [Turns out] there was another branch of the parent company, and I had been hired for a marketing position for insurance. In that role [with], so [there were] many legal stipulations and limitations on what you can say.
[There was] little room to think outside the box. Whether working for someone or working for myself, I wanted the ability to think creatively and be curious because curiosity is my biggest superpower and strength. Any role that would stifle my curiosity felt extremely misaligned. The one perk is I did meet my now fiancé and soon-to-be husband there, so it was worth it.
HOW DID YOU FIND THE COURAGE TO TAKE THE LEAP INTO ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
My leap into entrepreneurship was fueled by naivete in many ways. I was very young. I was 23, and it was my first traditional corporate job. I got a lot of advice from people saying, “Hey, you know, you’re young. You have this great, stable, paying job. You should stay at least a year or two so you don’t have this weird jump on your resume or line up another job before you quit this one.” All well-meaning advice, but I’ve always been the kind of person who when I make up my mind — especially when it comes to big life decisions — I am extremely impulsive. Once I’ve decided, you will have a hard time changing my mind.
Essentially, I gave notice and left without [having] anything lined up. Many factors contributed to my risk tolerance that may not be applicable to everybody in a situation like that. I was very lucky that the year [before quitting,] I had lived with my parents after college and didn’t have to pay rent. I also graduated college debt-free as a result of working multiple jobs and getting scholarships. I was in a unique situation where I didn’t have a lot of responsibility, crushing debt, and anyone else to be responsible for, which isn’t realistic for a lot of people.
DID YOU KNOW RIGHT AWAY THAT YOU WANTED TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Contrary to what most people think, I was not one of those people that [wanted to] be their own boss. I was applying for other jobs, but landed my first freelance marketing client for a very small project. It made me realize I had a skillset I could monetize outside of a traditional job structure. It opened this door of possibility to me that I didn’t realize existed before. It led me to lean in and go: If I could get this one client for $300, could I get another client for $500 or $1,000? Could I renew these clients? Could I build this thing up enough to replace my income from the job I left? From that point, the sky was the limit.
HOW HAS YOUR MONEY MINDSET SHAPED YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY?
Financial transparency is a core value in our company that has informed the content we put into the world. We model financial transparency by disclosing our business’s income reports every 90 days. [Each] quarter, we publicly release on the podcast how much our business made that quarter, how much we spent, and how much we profited with context, insights, and lessons surrounding the last 90 days.
That is a huge part of why people are attracted to our community because they feel like there’s that mutual trust. We extend that value of financial transparency through all of our content. We bring on guests who are willing to get vulnerable and share the data and the financial insights that a lot of people are not willing to share. We normalize conversations around money and collectively raise the financial IQ of all the people in our community, especially women who come from backgrounds where this type of information is not readily accessible to them.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR ENTREPRENEURS TO BUILD COMMUNITY?
Community is everything to the success of an entrepreneur. [You need] community in all its forms: Your peers, through mentorship, and customers who are willing to show up for you again and again.
Entrepreneurship is a very lonely journey. Even when you have a great community, it still feels lonely many times because so much responsibility falls on you, but when I look back at my business and what created the success that it has, it always comes down to the relationships. There’s no doubt about it. No tactic, strategy, or hack has impacted my business more than actual people. Community is essential because people are your greatest assets and you have to approach business with that mindset.
AS WE CELEBRATE WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, THIS PHRASE COINED BY HISTORIAN LAUREL THATCHER ULRICH COMES TO MIND: “WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY.” HOW HAVE YOU “MISBEHAVED” TO MAKE YOUR MARK ON HISTORY?
I choose to do the things that other people may be too scared to do themselves, but if they see that there’s more to life out there, then maybe they feel like it’s possible for them, too. Those decisions have encouraged many women in my life, who I didn’t even know were watching me. They come to me and go, “Hey, I just wanted to let you know because I’ve been watching you do these things that are not traditional, I decided to start a podcast, or I decided to get my real estate license, or I decided to do something unconventional that doesn’t make sense on paper.”
I was just at a conference speaking for Kendra Scott, an amazing woman entrepreneur who has built such an incredible brand. One of the things that she always talks about is, “If you can see her, you can be her.” And I believe that there is power in that.
WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU’RE UNLEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF?
I’m an enneagram type three, which is the Achiever. Growing up, a lot of my self-value and self-worth were tied to my ability to produce, accomplish, and achieve. That is a hard thing to unlearn, and it is hard for me to just be and exist outside of production.
WHAT MAKES YOU A LIGHTWORKER?
When I was little, I looked up the definition of names, and Ellen does mean light. I can make someone’s light a little brighter within themselves, and their light is going to touch so many people in their network and community that I may never actually meet. It’s a ripple effect. It expands beyond just the direct people that you interact with.
Financial freedom requires transparency. What money mindset shifts or goals are you looking to make this year? Let us know in the comments!