Janet T. Phan

founder. author. advocate.

Janet T. Phan

founder. author. advocate.

A Book Inspiring Hope for Underserved Girls

I am the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who fled to the US in the late 70s. Challenged by parents trying to assimilate but still retain their culture. This is a story of finding independence—freedom from the stereotypes imposed upon me.  Never letting a rule or person decide my fate.

Like most people from underserved communities

I spent my teenage years working in the food service industry for low wages. Times were tough, and I even spent a few months in 2004 living out of my 1989 Nissan Sentra. Despite all of these struggles, I still managed to get into the University of Washington. This led to an IT internship where I met my mentor and that is when I started to realize my potential in technology and the course of my life would drastically change for the better.

Photo: The KFC team in Federal Way, Washington some time between 2004-2008

Janet KFC

Photo: The KFC team in Federal Way, Washington some time between 2004-2008

Excerpt from Boldly You.

by Janet Phan

quote

Back in my car, I stared at the receipt under the glow of the bright gas station lights. I loved a lot of things about my life and the people in it, but I hated living so close to the edge financially. I hated not being able to give people rides because it would take away gas from going to work or doing other things I needed to do. I hated not being able to fill up my gas tank all the way.

​In that moment, at 1:49 a.m. in the gas station parking lot next to the KFC in Federal Way, Washington, I made a pact with myself: Janet, you need to do whatever you have to do, to never live from paycheck to paycheck again.

​I sat there in silence, hands on the steering wheel, letting my self-pact sink in. I wasn’t exactly sure how, but I was going to make it happen.

Feeling more determined than ever, I stuffed the receipt and penny into my right pants pocket, turned the car on, and drove toward my friend’s house, where I knew a key was waiting under the mat and a sofa bed was made up for me. Another house, another bed. Another day closer to my goal of college, a career, and a more fruitful life.

Photo: My best friend, Myxuyen, and I always found ways to make work at KFC fun like figuring out ways to pack food in the drive through faster and speaking to customers in different accents while keeping a straight face. Federal Way, Washington

Janet T. Phan KFC

Photo: My best friend, Myxuyen, and I always found ways to make work at KFC fun like figuring out ways to pack food in the drive through faster and speaking to customers in different accents while keeping a straight face. Federal Way, Washington 

Praise for Boldly You.

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"The great thing about this book is that this is your story. This is a story of a real miniority girl living in the projects who didn't let the social stereotypes determine her future and limitations. It's not made up and if you can do it everyone can do it too. You were nowhere perfect but you always figured out a way to make things possible."

– Minh Tran, Inspired me to join CrossFit

"...relatable, personable and inspiring. Janet’s determination to keep the final goal in mind and do whatever it takes to achieve it and beyond was very inspiring to read. Nothing was beneath her."

– Cindy Bolam 

"As the child of an immigrant it can be hard to talk about never hearing your parents saying the simple words “ I love you” or even give you a hug when you really needed it. Our parents never really understand Americans customs, they were taught to do good in school, go straight home to do homework, and help around the house. In some cases it can be the child dropping out of school to earn extra cash to put food on the table. You didn’t let your parents stop you from defining your own future. You continue to persevere and build out branches way beyond what your parents wanted for you. "

– Christine Lam, Thriving Elements Mentee

"Janet’s story is proof that you don’t have to accept the stereotypes: you can be your own person. You don’t have to accept the rules: you can challenge them and cut your own path. She’s proof that your past is your history, and your future is yours to create. "

– Julie Averill, EVP, CTO at lululemon

Janet Phan Thriving Elements

Photo: February 2020 – Scavenger Hunt at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington sponsored by PwC. Thriving Elements’ quarterly events brings mentors and mentees from all schools together for networking and leadership development.

My Hope for Girls and Young Women…

Girls and young women reading this book should feel open to possibility—that they can do it (whatever “it” is). Feeling empowered to overcome their situation and work toward a future they define, rather than one that is defined by their parents or community. This book is about hope and opportunity—helping girls analyze their current reality to find possibility, and then opening them up to STEM as a potential career path. Through my story, they’ll see how grit, hard work, perseverance, and not accepting “no” can help them overcome challenges or problems that seem to be outside their control. That they, too, can show up for themselves and thrive.