Columbia University School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue Room 404 New York, NY 10027
CSSW’14 alumna Annabelle Zhuang, Founder and CEO of KnowYourself, Inc., visited the School on Friday, October 6th, 2017, and met with current students. KnowYourself is a successful internet start-up that creates content through its WeChat channel on self-help and psychological education topics. Annabelle talked about her experience launching an internet start-up, making self-help information widely available in China, and how her social work training prepared her for this venture. This meeting was co-sponsored by the China Center for Social Policy and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.
After graduation, Annabelle, like many other young graduates, was confused about her future and eager to explore and figure out life choices. Encouraged by her own emerging adulthood experience, Annabelle and her co-founders spent five months tailoring an earlier version of KnowYourself, with a mission to empower adolescents. Later, venture capital came in, followers soared, and today’s knowYourself was established. It seemed that everything worked itself out, yet she realized that an even bigger challenge was awaiting her—How to run the company?
Knowledge Annabelle learned from CSSW naturally came into play. A solution-based approach helped her to break down goals into small, feasible tasks. Social research methodologies gave her a better understanding of how different components of a company worked with each other, and how different variables of organizations influenced the trajectory of company development.
Toward the end of the exchange, Annabelle shared her insights, in response to audience’s questions, on the development of applied psychology in China, market size analysis, branding experience, and company transformation. By abolishing the old, simple knowledge-based psychological qualification examination, the Chinese government set on a reform of the psychology profession. The demand for professional therapists is much greater than the current supply. Her branding strategy is to do quality work, transferring evidence-based research findings to plain, easy-to-understand language. She also shared advice about how the current students might choose their second-year concentrations. Speaking from her own experience, she benefited greatly from the clinical track (Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice) in terms of how to engage, motivate, and trust employees; how to communicate with people openly; how to prepare and research a topic; and how to empathize with others.