Chen reveals secrets of success in Queenstown


High-profile public law specialist Mai Chen has shared her secrets of success with 200 Queenstown businesswomen today. 

Chen has been speaking at the Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business conference along with several high-powered Kiwi women like former Telecom boss Theresa Gattung, World of Wearable Arts creator Dame Suzie Moncrieff and TV3 news anchor Hilary Barry at the Hilton Hotel. 

Chen spoke of her battle with her identity as a young Chinese immigrant growing up in NZ in the 1970s, and how her background of hardship was fundamental to her success. 

The youngest of four daughters, she recalls: “When I was born it was made patently clear to me that nothing was expected of someone like me. 

“That was profoundly motivating for me.” 

Chen – who has string of accolades to her name, including founding partner of Chen Palmer, chair of New Zealand Global Women, president of the Harvard Law School Alumni Association (NZ) included on lists of the most influential businesswomen in the country and writer of recently-published book Public Law Tool Box – told attendees to “become pioneers”. 

Her ten top tips are: 

– Learn to forgive yourself and if you fail, try again: “I have failed more than any other person I know. It’s just that I never give up.” 

– Have a vision: “When I pioneer, I can see it, I can taste it, I know what [my idea] will be.” 

– Have energy plus discipline: “Highly successful people who pioneer are always ADHD. They are very energetic. People like John Key, Helen Clark, Jenny Shipley. But there’s one difference – they don’t take Ritalin, they get discipline.” 

– You can’t pioneer unless you suffer hardship.

– No one else will see your idea but yourself: “If they all saw it you wouldn’t be pioneering.” 

– Don’t be afraid: “You’re a long time dead. This is one short life, what are you waiting for?” 

– Those who succeed are the ones who know how to take whatever life gives them and they do something with it.
– Cultivate your creativity: “You cannot use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
– Surround yourself with others who motivate you when the going gets tough: “You need people who tell you not to quit.” 

– Use creativity as a source of power to avoid burnt-out: “I will never retire because creating is my way of remaining energised.” 

“It’s never too late to start being the person you have always dreamed of being,” she says. 

“At the end of your life, did you love deeply, did you live life to the full and did you truly learn to let go?”