Psychologist & Podcaster Dr. Stephanie J. Wong on Mom Guilt & Work-Life Harmony

ParentingPublished Mar 19, 2024
By Katharine Chan
stephanie j. wong work it mama

In CafeMom's monthly series, Work It, Mama, powerful moms detail how they navigate their professions and home life.

Stephanie J. Wong, Ph.D., is an Asian American entrepreneur, licensed clinical psychologist, mom, and founder and host of the award-winning Color of Success podcast. Her podcast aims to destigmatize mental health among Asian American and Pacific Islander and ethnic minority communities. Her most recent accomplishment is publishing her book, Cancel the Filter: Realities of a Psychologist, Podcaster, and Working Mother of Color.

She works in private practice with tech professionals, most of whom are ethnic minorities, and at a hospital serving military veterans. Recently, Wong was recognized as one of Asian Hustle Network's 50 Unsung Heroes

Her training in clinical interviewing has led to fireside chats with diverse podcast guests about advancing their careers and addressing mental health and cultural identity.

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Wong didn't initially aspire to become an entrepreneur.

When she reflected on her childhood, she realized she had that entrepreneurial spirit. Her father was a grocer and he could purchase candy wholesale, so she would sell the candy at school for a slight profit.

"I fell into being an entrepreneur because I was presented with a low-risk opportunity to start a private practice, something I had always wanted to do. A colleague referred me to another that was renting office space for an extremely low cost. She only charged me when I used the office space, and therefore, I really had nothing to lose financially," Wong shared.

She realized that even though she had the clinical knowledge to work with patients, she had to learn about running a business from scratch. She read a tax book, deciding whether to register the business as a solo entrepreneurship vs. LLC and how to identify deductions. 

At the same time, the Selling the Couch podcast launched, and Wong was hooked. Dr. Melvin Varghese's episodes provided Wong with a template for building a private practice - how to write copy for your website, set rates, etc.

Ultimately, it was Varghese's webinar that inspired her to begin her own podcast, Color of Success. As Wong grew the podcast, it made sense to establish an LLC. This led to the publishing of her book, Cancel the Filter: Realities of a Psychologist, Podcaster, and Working Mother of Color.

She balances a business and motherhood, and she shared some tips.

Balancing the demands of a business and motherhood is often one of the greatest challenges working mothers have.

Wong shared that in her book, she mentions how she's internalized the work-life harmony concept of Bang Si-Hyuk, Hybe's CEO. The general translation and summary were that when we use the term "work-life balance," work tends to become the culprit.

"I continue to move towards acceptance that there will be some times when I must dedicate more time to work, and other times, to my family," explained Wong.

She has also used the Passion Planner for many years to identify her values and long-term and short-term goals, and to keep her organized and accountable. 

"[My Passion Planner] outlines weekly work and personal to-do lists. Also, I'm fortunate that my partner assumes a lot of household and childcare duties; we are a strong team. I rely on my support network tremendously," Wong shared.

Here's how she deals with the dreaded mom guilt.

Wong shared that the biggest challenge she's faced as a mom and entrepreneur is mom guilt.

"Mother's guilt is real. I never feel like I have enough time to fully devote to family and growing businesses (e.g., marketing and promotion). The reality of life is there is limited time, and I try to spend it living consistently with my values. To address these challenges, I ask for help and build community and teams," Wong said.

She gave an example of when she felt overwhelmed with being a literal one-woman show (podcast). She reached out to close friends to help with editing and promo, and she was encouraged by a mentor and friend to outsource social media. Her friend told her to do the things she loves to do and to outsource the things she doesn't like to do, and the idea stuck.

Still, Wong has had to spend a significant amount of time learning new skills to continue building her business.

"As a mother, being actively involved in my daughters' lives is important so I make sure I show up to all their major events and volunteer on field trips! I also help them with homework every day," Wong explained.

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Establishing a strong support system is key.

Wong shared that a support system is essential to harmonizing work and life.

"Ask those you trust for help and be open to developing relationships with new people and communities. I'm fortunate that my parents, partner, and friends help with daily tasks like school pick-ups/drop-offs, driving the kids to jiu-jitsu, and taking them to birthday parties," she said. "On the business side, leveraging social media and the podcast has been instrumental in building relationships. My network has been the biggest supporter of my book!"

Dr. Stephanie J. Wong work it mama-placeholder
Dr. Stephanie J. Wong work it mama

She protects her time for self-care.

Wong shared that prioritizing taking care of herself is something she continues to work on.

"[Self-care] is an ongoing growth edge for me, and I continue to work on it. I protect my time as I would with any work commitment," she said. "My go-to activities are traveling, karaoke, family movie nights, going to therapy, journaling, acupuncture, and playing mahjong daily with my mom and partner. We love it when we have friends or family join us to take the fourth seat!"

Wong doesn't want to wait until retirement to do things.

She shared her hopes for the future of her business and family. She wants her family to lead happy, healthy, and prosperous lives. For herself, her idea of success has shifted. She wants to do things when she wants and is physically and mentally capable of doing them.

"I don't want to wait until I'm retired to travel. As a result, I may have to spend time working more during certain times of the year so we can enjoy several weeks of vacation internationally," she explained. "I will continue to strive for work-life harmony, living consistently with my values, which includes spending as much time as I can with loved ones."

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