Leslie is the Owner and CEO of Rise Lean and the Creator of Lean Instinct Formula™. For 8 years, Leslie Chen has been helping high-achievers solve the overweight problem and regain unlimited freedom AND automated self-control with food, using Asia’s body-transforming and mind-liberating wisdom.
Leslie’s approach involves rewriting how a person psychologically, emotionally, and physically experiences eating and weight loss. Leslie has been also listed as one of the Top Weight Loss coaches in the media, and she’s a frequent interview guest on a dozen of globally ranked podcasts and shows.
For more details, visit their website here.
Here we sit down with Leslie, to know a bit more about her journey as an entrepreneur.
Q. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Leslie: I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur growing up. When I was 7 years old in elementary school in China, I wrote my first essay about my career dream, which is to become a business creator.
I still remember how shocked and entertained my teachers were when reading my essay because in the early 1990s in China, the concept of ‘capitalism’ was novel to most people. So yes, I think being an entrepreneur was an idea that was naturally imbued in my self-identity at a very early stage in life.
Q. How did you get started?
Leslie: Before I started this business, I was a management consultant at a Big Four company. After leaving my corporate job, I knew I was going to start a business. However, I’ve never thought of it being a weight loss coaching practice — even though during the past years, I’ve always been asked how I was able to eat care-freely while keeping fit.
Some people initially thought it was Asian genes. Then they were surprised at the results they saw after implementing what I taught them. It was emotionally rewarding for me to see their changes, but I didn’t take them too seriously.
One day, just when I was thinking about what I should start, the phone rang. It was an ex-co-worker. After 15 minutes of chatting, she asked me this question:
“Can you share with me how you eat? I’ve learned what you shared with others really worked. And I can pay you.”
Voila, a business idea revealed itself to me.
Soon, I took the ideation process to the next level. Through a friend who had an email list for his supplement business, I asked 500 Americans with weight problems if they wanted to learn how Chinese effortlessly kept the weight off while eating tons of carbs and without counting calories.
Their answer was “hell yes!” That lit up the initial momentum. And I knew as soon as people were willing to pay, this idea would work.
Q. What was your biggest startup challenge? What steps did you take to overcome it? What did you learn?
Leslie: The biggest challenge I had when starting up my business was not knowing how to sell my service to others.
Growing up, I admired entrepreneurship because of all the creativity and leadership it unleashes in a person. However, I didn’t like the word or the profession of ‘sales’ and never considered myself a salesperson. To me, the word “sales” carried a negative tone naturally, and it meant making non-realistic promises to customers and using unethical tactics to persuade and even rip off other people.
Because of that, for a while, I wasn’t refrained from talking to people about my business and charging a worthy price for my solution.
Gradually, I realized growing this business per se isn’t actually about sales. And in fact, if I could target the right audience who have the right pain point, and just honestly explain to them how I could help them, the sales would happen on its own as the prospect understood what this solution meant to them.
Based on that thinking, I adopted the mindset of being a careful listener of my market and a delicate narrator of my solution. It boiled down to having an authentic conversation in either a verbal or written way, on which I was already a natural.
That mindset shift was a massive game-changer in growing my business.
Q. What is the most memorable thing you’ve done since you started your business?
Leslie: This is my favorite one:
I was fully aware that as someone who started up a new brand, it was common that nobody knew me, and a great way to get known was to be covered by reputable media.
So that summer 8 years ago, I made a plan for myself. I told myself I would pitch reporters from all first-tier and second-tier media platforms in the western world to get the visibility I aspired to have.
It was a tougher job than I thought. For starters, every media and news channel had a Health and Wellness category which was covered by multiple journalists and reporters. Therefore, my initial version of a target list accumulated 1380 names on it, and these were all the people I had to pitch.
It took me a month to research the reporters and their contact information. And in my understanding, if you wanted to pitch an idea to a person, the best thing to do was to write a highly personable email. That meant I had to learn about their work first, figure out how my story would add value to them, and then write an email just for them, individually.
So I took the time, did the work, wrote 1380 emails, and sent them out, hoping I would get a good ROI — despite knowing each of these reporters was probably getting 100 pitches a day and wouldn’t open most of them.
In about a week, I got 2 responses.
The initial disappointment quickly faded away when I saw the senders’ email addresses.
US News & World Report and Forbes.
WOW. I was relieved. Even though the response rate was 0.14%, the work paid off!
At that moment I felt invincible because the message this experience conveyed to me:
Things work out as long as I choose to do the work.
That mindset, throughout the later years of business, was the main driver whenever I meet new challenges. I’ve learned that the outcome really lies in my own hand, and all I need to do to harvest the outcome is do the work.
Q. What is one book you recommend, and why?
Leslie: Definitely a $100 Million Dollar Offer by Alex Hormozi.
I bought this book a long time ago, read and reflect on it every quarter during the year because every single time, it gives me new inspiration on how to improve my solution and offer.
The book isn’t just about selling the offer even though it’s the final goal. In fact, a lot of it is about maximizing the value of the solution you’ve created — so that it sells itself. Creating and packaging an offer is an art process. And the core, foundation piece is building a solution that exceeds people’s expectations.
So inspired by this book, the 3 essential variables I keep reflecting on are:
1. Is your solution strong enough that the expected chance of success is close to 100%, for the right customer? (Result comes first as value)
2. Are you making executing your solution simple and resistance-free for your customers? (Ease and convenience value).
3. Are you making your customers see results as early as possible? (Time is value).
These 3 questions have fueled much drive and momentum in me for creating the highest-value solution for my customers — by constantly finding better ways that connect the dots more easily.
Q. What are your top 3 favourite online apps, tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Leslie: At this moment:
1. ChatGPT — It’s a friend now who gives me plenty of great topic ideas for writing in my business.
2. The Notes app that iPhone comes with. This is a basic app but it comes with GREAT help. Anytime I have new inspiration which I can’t act on at that moment, I take it down on Notes. Every 2-3 days, I review Notes to find ideas I’ve jogged down that I can act on now. It keeps me on track with things, making sure I don’t miss opportunities.
3. Zapier — because it automates EVERYTHING.
Q. In terms of legacy, what is the mark you’d like to leave on the world?
Leslie: Decades later at my funeral, my daughter will tell people “my mother was an incredibly brave woman who never took ‘no’ for an answer and because of that, she was able to change millions of lives through the venture she loved.”
Q. In one sentence, what’s the best advice you’d give to someone just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?
Leslie: Every step counts — whether or not it brings immediate monetary value.
Tara L. Prater: Redirect The Course Of Your Fitness Journey By Looking Inward Into Your Spirit(Opens in a new browser tab)
To keep up to date with Leslie and her journey, connect with her on LinkedIn, and Tiktok.