The large-scale shift to telework brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting businesses around the world to explore new avenues to engage with clients and friends. Harris Bricken is no exception, and we are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench.

In Episode #36, we are joined by Lingling Zhang, a Presidential Diamond Wellness Advocate with doTERRA International LLC. We discuss:

  • Lingling’s experience moving from China to the U.S., including how she was received in the U.S. and how her decision was viewed by her Chinese colleagues.
  • The IT (information technology) industry in China vs. the U.S.
  • How Lingling’s IT experience prepared her to succeed after her significant transition away from IT and into health and wellness.
  • Why the prevalence of health and wellness companies, including those focused on essential oils and other nutraceuticals, have been increasing and will likely continue to increase.
  • The challenges of overseeing and managing a team across multiple countries and time zones.
  • How dealing with individuals across borders makes those international borders matter less and brings people together foremost as people, no matter the languages, countries, or cultures.
  • Reading, listening, and watching recommendations from:

We’ll see you next week when we sit down to discuss our reflections on 2020 and predictions for 2021 for the blog and for international law and business.

This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Fred Rocafort 0:08
Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Bricken’s International Business attorneys.I’m Fred Rocafort.

Jonathan Bench 0:37
And I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We covered the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.

Fred Rocafort 1:02
We hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.

Jonathan Bench 1:22
Lingling Zhang was born and raised in China. In 2000. After finishing her master’s degree at Nanjing University, Lingling traveled to the US to attend the University of Maryland at College Park to pursue a PhD in computer science and technology. During her study in the US, lingling realized that computer science was not her passion, but she was very attracted to nonprofit causes in their work. After leaving her Ph. D program, Lingling volunteered in multiple nonprofit organizations worked in the IT industry and studied nonprofit management. In 2013, Lingling met doTERRA and essential oil nutraceutical company based in Utah in 2015. She quit her promising IT management job and became a full time doTERRA leader Lingling is a presidential diamond, the top rank in doTERRA. And also a member of doTERRA’s China’s founders club Lingling, Welcome to Harris Bricken’s Global Lawand Business.

Lingling Zhang 2:12
Hi, Jonathan. Hi, Fred. Thank you for having me.

Fred Rocafort 2:16
Lingling, welcome to global lawn business. Both Jonathan and I have had the experience of moving from the US to China, but we are very curious as to what that experience is like the other way. So can you please share with us what your immigration experience was like? How have you been received in the in the US in general terms?

Lingling Zhang 2:38
My experience from moving from China to US, I think it’s pretty smooth, I came here as a student studying in the university. So the environment is relatively simple, and you know, just a learning environment. And I focused on my study for the first few years. And then I moved on to working and then raising my own family here. So the whole experience, I feel is very good. I like it. And I like the value and culture that US has here. And I feel like it’s that value and culture that led me to us. Interestingly, I, I thought about immigrate or you know, studying at least, to like in a smaller country like Singapore. But when I visited Singapore, while I was still in China, you know, doing my graduate school. I felt like, no, this is not the place I want, you know, but then, you know, we watch a lot of US movies in China. And I felt like those values in those movies kind of call it for me, and I felt really resonant and moved by those. And then I just thought to myself, why not go to us? Right, so I studied, you know, prepared all the studies and tests and apply to the graduate school here. Yeah, so I was admitted, and I came here. Everybody was so nice and friendly. I think it’s exactly how I imagined so I’m really glad I’m here. And of course the learning the language, right the culture, the food, these are new, but but I think us provides the flexibility and freedom so that we can have more choices for example, food, of course, I I used to Chinese food, and we have the option to cook our own food in our home so we don’t need to be stuck with the you know us food all the time. Right. So we have the options. So for language wise, I do think that is very, very important if you are to move to a different country or live or work there, because language is the way to communicate. And so we do need to have good language skills in order to be successful there be you know, living a happy life there. Because if you can’t communicate with the people locally, you will be, you will feel lonely and isolated. Right. So that, and you know, luckily, I think I have the talent of language. So I feel pretty much immersed and blended into us. Society.

Jonathan Bench 5:46
Did I recall you saying that you are also studying Spanish right now?

Lingling Zhang 5:50
Yes, I’m planning to I love learning languages. Back in China, I tried to Italian, German, but just a little bit, like, just scratch a surface. Never really delvian because I didn’t need me to use their language, right? It was just an interest. Of course, English, I needed to use it. So that’s probably the best foreign language I had. But I’m I love traveling the world. So would it be cool to speak the local language where you go there? So I plan to learn different languages. So Spanish is my next one that I’m going to seriously study. Yes. So that’s my plan.

Jonathan Bench 6:32
And do you have something on the list after Spanish? I’m the same way, right. I’m studying Spanish right now after learning Cantonese and Mandarin. So I’m always curious to hear what other people are interested in. Like, for instance, I love the sound of Russian. You know, from a business perspective, we don’t do a lot of business with Russia. And I don’t work for a government agency that would have given me a reason to study Russian. So I’m kind of stuck. But I think kind of growing up in the Cold War era, that Russia was always the boogeyman. And so I think I’ve always just been fascinated with the way the language sounds.

Lingling Zhang 7:05
That’s cool. Well, the next one, after Spanish might be German. Because last year, I had the chance to travel with my son to Switzerland and Germany. And my son has already decided he’s going to go to Germany to do maybe study abroad, on the neuroscience that he’s interested in. And they have really good, you know, neuroscience and psychology programs there. And I love Switzerland. And I think I will live there one day. So having that language is also very important.

Jonathan Bench 7:37
Fascinating. So, one more question on your movement from China to the US. Was your experience typical, would you say of your classmates wanting to have some experience abroad? Or were you seen as an outlier? So you know, saying, well, I want to go study in the States. And people said, Well, why would you do that? There’s plenty of opportunity in China. How was that received?

Lingling Zhang 7:59
Well, people like the idea of going abroad, especially to us to study that, that that’s being respected. First of all, but but not, of course, not everybody think they can do it, right? Even though they think, Oh, that’s a great idea or great move. But some people think now I’m my English is not good enough, you know, I’m not good enough. So not that many actually try to come. But I think if if you want to do something, and you really try, you will ended up you know, doing that thing. Just some people just give up too easily, I guess. So moving to us or studying us is something sought after or respected in China? I mean, nobody’s surprised, or, let’s see, why would you do that? No, they will say great, even now, people still, as long as they have the opportunity, or they can they have the, you know, financial support. They all want to come to us to study, because, you know, we all know us. Education is very different than China. And it has its own merits, I will say and of course it presents the most developed country. And it’s just the attraction to China to Chinese people.

Jonathan Bench 9:24
So in your, in your IT classes, I’m curious how you know, what was the culture like in your it classes, and even here in the United States, I would say it field is still predominantly male. And so curious what your experience was in school and then you know, when you came to the US, did was that experience any different being an IT than you then you think it would have been if you had been an IT professional in China?

Lingling Zhang 9:48
Yes, that ratio is probably universal. When I was in university, my class, we had a total 130 Students and out of their 130 about 25 are girls that were girls. So it’s pretty small ratio. And so I didn’t work I was I finished my bachelor’s and I moved on to graduate school did the masters. But during the masters of course, we work with the professor’s right we have labs, and we have projects are my professor, my advisor. He was fluent in Japanese. So we always did the projects with the Fujitsu company in Japan. And I even traveled to Japan for the business, the environment in China. I mean, I didn’t work there. But from nowadays, I heard it’s very, very stressful. And people work overtime all the time. It’s the norm in China, like if you’re working IT. you got to work. Maybe 60 hours a week now 40 hours

Jonathan Bench 11:03
JoJo, JoJo Leo.

Lingling Zhang 11:06
Church. Oh, what is that?

Jonathan Bench 11:08
I read that an article once about the hours for IT professionals? Or maybe it was just startup in general. Right? It was the you work from nine to nine, six days a week, right? Jojo?

Lingling Zhang 11:20
Pretty much? I think so. I think it’s very stressful. I just heard from you know, my, my, my classmates or people I know. Although they earn in a good living. But time wise, they are like deprived. They married to the job, basically. But here in us, the good thing is, you know, people respect to the weekends, right. And nine to five is very much respected and observed. Of course, once in a while you have to you have to work overtime. I don’t know about the COVID situation, though. Because I haven’t been in that field. I feel like people are working more hours when they work from home, because they can access it from home too. But overall, overall, US has much more work life balance than China. At least the weekends were observed, I think, for most most of the IT professionals. So that’s my experience.

Jonathan Bench 12:26
So you ultimately decided to leave it. We’d like to hear more about why you did that. And if you’ve regretted moving away from IT into the nonprofit world and now into nutraceuticals. Would you say that your IT skills have transferred well? Or do you feel like you’ve had a steep learning curve moving from such a technical area into less technical field?

Lingling Zhang 12:45
That’s a good question. So that decision to leave it was not well accepted by my families, because they’ve always, you know, seeing me working study in the IT field. But for me, it was a natural switch. Because I was following my heart. When I met doTERRA, I was just a user, I was searching for a natural, safe, effective products for my own family. But after I use it for a while, I felt like I was so empowered. And I wanted to empower others, because that was always my dream and mission, you will say when I was even a child, I always wanted to help others. And I felt like doTERRA is a good tool to you know, to help others. So I started sharing doTERRA just but on the on the side of my it job, right? So I used all my free time to do doTERRA On the side, and sharing teaching and helping people around the world. And I felt really satisfied and fulfilled. And so the more I did on that the more people I helped, I felt that that’s what I’m supposed to do, you know. So every day when I drove to work, of course, you stuck in traffic for one hour, one way and I felt like this is wasting of my life. Why am I just sitting here where, whereas I could have been helping someone you know, otherwise. So that this feeling of like wasting my life get stronger and stronger. And I really wanted to quit my job. But of course my families thought I was crazy. So they wouldn’t agree. So I had to do continue to do my it and doTERRA at the same time for another year also. And But finally, I couldn’t take any more, you know, on both jobs, because my teams are growing bigger. They needed more, you know, more help or support from me and I will wanted to, you know, devote all my time to doTERRA. So I finally said, I couldn’t do this anymore. I have to quit. So, at that time, my family kind of yield back they said, okay, we see your struggle we, we know, you know, it’s, it’s been hard for you, why don’t you go try for a year, right. And if it didn’t work out, you can always come back to the work, which is true. My bosses even say, anytime you want to back, you know, we will have you. happily. So, so I left, of course, I knew I would never go back to it. In my heart, I knew I wouldn’t miss it, because I found my passion, with doTERRA with the natural products, and how it can empower others as well. So yeah, so I happily quit, quit my job. And, you know, devoted all my time, energy and heart into this business. And, you know, I became successful in this because I had the whole heart, you know, whole heart and mind into this. My IT skills. Yes, they served me well, I should say. So I’m thankful for my experiences in the IT world and the training I received as an IT professional because we are good problem solvers. Right? And so once there’s a problem, because we have problems anywhere, in any business, any part of life, right, we always have problems. So my habit is, whenever a problem arises, I just say, okay, what’s the solution? I never even thought about complaining, anything. I just the first reaction was, what’s the solution? What’s the cause? What’s the solution, so go directly into problem solving. And so that logical part of my brain, how it works, really, you know, served in this business, because when you move into a business, like you’re, you’re the boss, right, you will encounter many, many problems. So I think the logical training of my brain really served me in, in solving the problems. And the analytical skills helped me understand the numbers, right numbers, and then the compensation plans and all these, like, you need your logical and, and numbers skills. They really helped me, you know, serve me. But of course, that technology, we use so much technology in our businesses in our lives nowadays, right? Because of my technology background. You know, I’m not afraid of trying any new technology, or, you know, troubleshooting or getting to work, that was not an issue for me, whereas, it’s many people’s fear technology right? There, they may be good at marketing, they may be good at teaching or selling, but they are afraid of technology. So, you know, I have I have some strength here. But of course, I needed to learn something else other than the technology and problem solving, which is, you know, how to talk with people how to communicate how to teach and how to share and, and lead a team. Those skills were not natural to me or not, I didn’t have as training or practiced, right. So yes, it’s a learning curve. It’s a growing, I would say it’s a growing journey, self growth journey. And I’m really, really, really grateful for that. For this seven years of experience doing doTERRA the best reward is the self growth. And yeah, so I think I have grown so much in this field, the people relationship, people skills, communication skills, leadership skills. Yeah. So I, I feel, you know, I’m grateful for my past it experience and trainings, but I’m also grateful for the current business trainings.

Fred Rocafort 19:26
In recent years, recent decades, we have seen companies like doTERRA really grow into large international companies, household names, if you will. Why do you think that we’re seeing this trend, you know, what is it about your industry, that is that is driving such growth, with Jonathan being based in Utah and with our with our firm, having having also an interest in that market, we are seeing many others that are also based based in Utah undergoing the same trajectory. So we’d love to hear your thoughts about that.

Lingling Zhang 20:03
Yes, I think this is a great trend issues that people around the world are starting to focus or see the importance of health, right, all these companies big nutrition or you know, essential oils, or natural suitable, these are focused on the health and wellness, comparing to health care, which is actually sick care where you are sick, you could go to a doctor and hospital, people around the world, realize how important it is to take care of your body before you get sick during your everyday life, how you can keep your body energized, and have strong immunity, right, being able to defend itself when some threats occurs. So this is a great trend that we see around the world, people start to take care of their bodies, their physical health, their emotional health. So these companies, the reason why they grow so much, of course, they meet the needs of the people, but also the products they provide are more and more you will see towards natural, okay, natural products. That’s another great trend. Because as as smart as we are as advanced as our technology can develop into, which is a great thing. We we depend on our technologies nowadays. But some things, we just can replace the nature, and we shouldn’t try to replace the nature, nature is where we live in and we can we can never replace this nature. So some things are just need to be natural. Okay, for example, health. So natural health is starting to get more and more attention in people’s, you know, world and concepts there their awareness, I should say, because of their discovery of the side effects and, and it’s getting more and more open this inflammation by with the, you know, internet, more and more people are starting to realize the side effects of the modern medication can cause a lot of harm. So people are starting to wander in, and then actually go back to the nature with which is to me, of course, I’m a person who pursues natural. And I’m really happy that people are starting to doing that because nature is reproducible. And it’s not replaceable, either. So these company when they focus on natural products, so they are well received. And also they’re effective, right? People use them, first of all, they’re safe, right? No harm there. And then when they see they’re also very effective, of course, people welcome and love them, and use them every day. Right. So I think this trend that you see that, you know, international companies like this, growing fast is a great thing. And I also believe this will help protect the environment. once people start to use these natural products, they will respect they will be grateful they will thank the nature for these gifts. Right. So in return, people will be more conscious about protecting our nature. One other thing I want to mention is it takes them some time to learn about these products, how to use them effectively, safely right. And before people may be relying on other people to take care of their health every person I think they know something about their body and how you know these herbs can help them and with these natural products come in, they require the learning so it’s a good thing and and we should be people should be more responsible for their own health and their family’s health.

Jonathan Bench 24:19
A big turning point I grew up in a very healthy household where my mother would dump our soda down, you know down the drain right if she saw it in the fridge. So very healthy, very healthy house. And for me the big changer has been being able to have data that I could study and also just data about myself like I recently finally got on the smartwatch trend. And I actually love tracking my personal data. I don’t input every calorie or all the water I drink in the day. But I do love knowing about my resting heart rate. You know my kind of what my heart rate is while I’m exercising, you know my oxygen saturation About sleeping all this is extremely interesting to learn, and have this individualized data that we can then say, Oh, well, my body is different than my wife’s or my children’s. And, you know, and what I put in and how much I exercise and how much sleep I get those all affect how I feel each day. And so it is, I think, to your point about, you know, making us more aware and also more respectful, right. I mean, I I’ve always respected nature, but I feel even more so now that, that as we’re trying to, you’re trying to live more in harmony with nature, rather than just stripping it of the resources and leaving it for bear. I feel like that resonated with me with me quite a bit.

Lingling Zhang 25:39
Yes, I agree.

Jonathan Bench 25:40
So let’s change topics now and talk a little bit more about your international experience you, we’ve known each other for quite a few years, and you’re probably more of an interland internationalist than I knew at the time when we first met many years ago in Virginia. So you now you’re overseeing many international teams from your home base in the US. I’d like to hear more about how you do that, you know, and what have you learned about yourself as you become more international, and you’ve engaged even more with your international teams? And, you know, does that give you any insights into how we can or should be doing business across borders?

Lingling Zhang 26:15
Yes, I always see myself as a international citizen like world citizen, right. Interestingly, I that is not very common in, in my peers, or, you know, in China, and, but I, I always have this had had this strong feeling like, there shouldn’t be so divided, you know, countries and, you know, people, we are all people, you know, we are very similar now that I travel more to every continent, I meet people and make friends with people from different cultures, I see that more and more we are same people, we have the same desires, we, we want to you know, health, happiness and family. And we want to self growth, right? We want to realize our life’s purpose, that’s our basic needs. So really, different culture, background, language, race, whatever colors, they are just like, you know, uniqueness every have different colors, right in the world. They, they don’t define who we are, we are all same people. So with that international perspective, in my mind, I share, you know, oils with everybody I meet. And you know, in return, I have members or teams in different countries and cultures. And I love it, the the challenge it comes is the time difference. Because we only have 24 hours a day, and we work on different clocks. So that the challenge for me is time management, right? How do I work people in different time zones? So well, with my main teams in China and us, it i’ve you know, gotten used to manage these two locations, because they are actually not that bad. In the summertime, it’s 12 hours apart in the wintertime is 13 hours apart. So not not too much calculation there, but with other people in you know, Europe or Africa that I have to like think what time is it for them? Right. But overall, I think it’s it’s a good challenge to have because we all need to work on our time management right or activity management whatever to make us more efficient in what we do. So So, I think from international perspective, working with people not so much as I said, people are pretty much same. Sometimes the way of thinking or communication can be different, but deep inside our desires, our wants and needs are the same. So not a lot of difference there. The only thing is, you know, language time and sometimes the way how you say it right more direct or more rhetoric or, you know, how you how you express yourself how you communicate, could be different, but, but to me, I didn’t feel like I have to be different person to to deal with different parts of the world. So that that I love I can be just me, you know, be authentic and work with The people from all over the world. And so, as far as the business over the borders, I, I like that, I love that.

Because I think that the future trend it will be, it will be more and more like the earth is, is a village by the world village. So, with right now it’s separated separation comes, but the trend the overall trend will be more openness, cross the borders, borders, okay. And the business, of course wants to take advantage of this benefits. And as I said, like the the products like doTERRA, or other nutrition company, these are all human beings basic needs, right? Every person needs that health and wellness. So why not go across the border, and serve and help more people around the world. And also the resources like the distribution of resources, like doTERRA is a US company. But the purpose is to help the world, right. So when you do business, when you have a business overseas, you naturally are in that environment, you know, the country, you know, the people, you know, the culture, you know, their needs, and you will be able to help them better write what they need. So, so I think the business is nowadays they are not just doing strictly just business, you know, business selling or earning money, they also have this social responsibility to help make, make make the world a better place to help people where they were they have business with. So it’s two way both ways people serve each other. So in that sense, I think it’s really, really, really good to have the businesses go across the countries go cross the borders, to help and serve more people.

Fred Rocafort 32:22
Lingling we’ve really enjoyed our conversation today. And before we let you go, we’d like to ask for any recommendations that you might have for our listeners.

Lingling Zhang 32:33
Okay, thank you, Fred. So before I go, I would like to share some of the books, there are many, but some, some of them that made a big difference in me. Okay, I learned a lot from them. So some are books, but some are like videos, you can watch on YouTube. The first one I want to recommend is a very classic old book called How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is by Dale Carnegie. And in 1930s, right. But he’s principles he’s teachings are still choose today is how do you work with people? How do you become a better friend to others, right, so you can influence or help us serve others in a better way. So that book is a really good if someone if anyone wants to work on their people relationship, you know, communication skills. And the next one I want to recommend is the magic of thinking big magic of thinking big this one. Really, really inspirational and have a big dream have a big dream. We’re all noble beings. We’re all divine beings. We are here to fulfill our purpose. So don’t be afraid to dream big. So the magic of thinking big by David Schwartz. And of course, Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People help you work more effectively, more efficiently. And the secret the secret there is a documentary, The Secret opens up your mind. Now that one is like I I watched it three times within a week. I just had to like watch over and over again. It really really change your mindset towards the world. Okay towards yourself. And yeah, and there are many, many books and or listening I like to use audible to listen to books, so I can do multitasking. But if you drive a lot, you know if you don’t have a block of time, I recommend it you Using audible so you can listen to books. Of course, if you love natural products, you love to learn about more essential oils, which, which is what I do, I recommend you to go on to learn about what essential oils are, how they can be used for. So yeah, so that’s my recommendations for you.

Fred Rocafort 35:24
My recommendation this week is a collection of short stories called Hong Kong Noir. And it’s actually part of a rather large series of noir books. You know, I’m sure they have a Seattle noir and Paris, Noir, etc. But I found that the, the stories in the Hong Kong book, at least were mostly mostly pretty good. And I actually went through the book very, very quickly. Admittedly, I like this, this kind of, I mean, I like fiction, I like short stories, and I like things that have that, that kind of dark undertone to it. Talking about crime, the occult things like things like that. So if you if you have any interest in Hong Kong, I would I would definitely recommend picking up a copy but just more generally, it was a it was a good read, really, really good a window into into some of the idiosyncrasies of the city and the kind of things that rattle hongkongers I actually went ahead in order to one of the other books in the series. That’s how how impressed I was with with this one, the again, the title of the book is Hong Kong war, and its editors are Jason Y. Ng , and Susan Blomberg-Kason. That’s mine. Jonathan, what about you? What do you have for us today?

Jonathan Bench 37:05
I’m recommending a long form article by a former Australian diplomat and journalist named John Garnaut. And is probably Garnaut, but he’s Australian, so I’m not sure. It’s called engineers of the soul ideology in Xi Jinpings China. And this was reposted on cynicism. So this was actually a speech that he gave in 2017, to a bunch of Australian government ministers, about China, and particularly about Xi Jinping, and how his enemy has communist thought legacy, you know, how his personal interpretation and what we can see through Mao Zedong, and through the other communist revolutionaries who inspired Mao Zedong in Russia, particularly how that’s all tied together in the way China is being run by by premier Xi Jinping. It is a it is a long read. And it’s quite thick at times, because you might have to grab Google to really make sure you’re following all the right characters and and understanding the, the author’s quite, quite robust vocabulary. But I would say that if you’re really interested in understanding why China is the way it is right now, and and why it will be the way it is as long as Xi Jinping is in power, and really as long as the Communist Party is in power in China. It’s it’s a really fascinating read, and certainly worth the hour or so you’ll spend in the article. Listening, we want to thank you for, again for being with us today. It’s been a great to hear about your perspective, your adventures, moving from China, to the US and now from the US to other parts of the world. We look forward to catching up with you again, and I look forward to hearing more from you.

Lingling Zhang 38:56
Thank you. Thank you, Jonathan and Fred. Again, thank you for this opportunity.

Jonathan Bench 39:02
We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. We look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law in business. This podcast was produced by Harris Bricken with executive producer Madeline Williams music composed by Steven Schmidt. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.

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