At the end of 2017, Ellen Yin went Cubicle to CEO after she quit her corporate marketing job. She had no backup plan, but she knew she had to do something more with life.
As she went from Cubicle to CEO, Ellen Yin “landed her first client a month into the job search and decided she’d never submit another resume again.” Now, she works as a “self-described accidental entrepreneur.” Her success began when she scaled her $300 client project into revenue running for 7 figures, which is a “milestone only 2% of female founders ever achieve, and one that feels especially momentous as a first-generation Asian American.”
Currently, Ellen Yin hosts the Cubicle to CEO podcast, and runs the Cubicle to CEO online membership program. Members of the program can use a “step by step client attraction system to make their first $10K month—WITHOUT a large audience or complicated marketing strategies.”
With Cubicle to CEO, Ellen Yin has “served over 7,000 entrepreneurs and brands through her online courses + marketing agency services.” Her podcast has also won awards, which Apple Podcasts has also rated as a “new & noteworthy” show during its release week. To date, people from more than 100 countries have downloaded the show, which has also charted in several Top 50 Entrepreneurship Podcast rankings.
Cubicle to CEO led Ellen Yin to land features in media as well. She has appeared on the TODAY show with Hoda & Jenna, and she was featured in Authority Magazine, HerMoney, Thrive Global, Databird Business Journal, and BlogHer.
I think entrepreneurs often derive self-worth from their productivity, and we’ve been sold this lie that the MORE we do, the better. Ellen Yin, Cubicle to CEO
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Ellen Yin: I specifically focus on serving entrepreneurs with small audiences and teaching them how to grow profitable businesses without obsessing about growing their followers or posting every day. Our methods take a very different approach than the advice from most other educators in our industry — we call it “marketing minimalism”.
I love celebrating student wins, like one of our members who signed her first client on Instagram with only 30 followers or another member who achieved THREE $10,000 DAYS in one month simply by clarifying her messaging.
Another thing that makes our company stand out is I’ve been releasing income reports for two years now, and we share down to the dollar exactly what we earn, spend, and profit each quarter with our audience. Our commitment to transparency has really made a big difference in our relationship with our customers, because although they buy from us for our expertise, they also feel like we are on this journey WITH them. It’s an “us” thing rather than a “me above you” kind of dynamic.
Jerome Knyszewski: Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Ellen Yin: That hustle culture = success. I think entrepreneurs often derive self-worth from their productivity, and we’ve been sold this lie that the MORE we do, the better.
I think it’s not about getting more done every day just for the sake of boasting efficiency or wearing busy like a badge of honor; it’s about doing the RIGHT things that have long-term significance in your business and life and align with your values.
People are your greatest asset!
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Ellen Yin: Investing in my network, mindset, and skillset, in that order.
Network: People are your greatest asset! You become interesting by first being interested, so lead with generous action when you network by consuming other people’s content, taking the time to share the work of people you admire, leaving positive reviews, etc.
One of my favorite ways to add value to someone’s life is referring my mutual friends to one another for collaboration or services. When you connect others, you actually strengthen your own relationship with the people you introduce to each other because you are now top of mind for next time they have someone they can connect YOU with.
Mindset: Journaling, seeking mentorship and community, and reading a TON have helped me immensely with my mindset.
Skillset: Always be learning and improving your skill sets! Free information is everywhere and you can make a lot of progress on your own just being scrappy and doing your research online, BUT there is huge value in joining paid programs too. What you receive from paid programs is PERSPECTIVE and a filter for organizing all the information out there so you can skip a lot of trial & error.
Build short breaks into the day.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
1) Stop letting your schedule be run by other people’s urgencies. Get really clear on what it is you want to accomplish, and filter every task or meeting that comes your way by asking yourself: Is this thing only important and urgent right now, or does it have long-term significance in my business? If I do this thing today, will it create more time in my business tomorrow, or will it continue to suck up my time? Significance has become the key priority I make my decisions from these days.
2) Build short breaks into the day. Schedule yourself an actual lunch and eat away from your computer. Block out 10 minutes for a walk up and down the street and stick to it like you would any other meeting. Some of our best thinking happens in the pause, and self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant or complicated. If you can’t take two weeks off yet like I did, take two minutes off multiple times a day. The important thing is that there is intentional rest and pause in your routine.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Ellen Yin: The biggest mistake I see CEOs & Founders make when they start a business is trying to do too many things and help too many different types of people with too many offers.
Clarity + consistent action in one direction will create way bigger impact and momentum.
I teach a formula called “Power of One” > that means your message and product or service should be tailored to helping only ONE identity, with ONE clear desired result, and ONE big problem standing in the way of getting what they want.
Clarity + consistent action in one direction will create way bigger impact and momentum. Ellen Yin
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Ellen Yin: The learning curve of being a good leader: hiring, firing, emotional intelligence, navigating different communication styles, cultivating a positive team culture etc. You can read all the books in the world on these subjects, but I think the only way to really learn is to practice, make mistakes, and pivot.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Ellen Yin: To provide female entrepreneurs of all walks of life, in all locations, and from all socioeconomic backgrounds, more equitable ACCESS to live mentorship, community, and education outside of traditional school systems through a networking + media platform.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Ellen Yin: Follow me and Cubicle to CEO here:
The Cubicle to CEO Podcast
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!