Meet Zhifu Yan, General Manager of IZEA China. He joined us earlier this year as part of our launch into China to help Chinese companies who want to reach North American audiences. Zhifu, who is based in Beijing, loves cooking, sports, music, hiking, meditation, and spending time with his cat, Miu Miu. I chatted With Zhifu via Zoom about his experience with us so far during his quarantine.
Thanks for meeting with me despite the 13-hour time difference! Could you tell me about your experience with IZEA so far?
“My pleasure! It’s been almost three months; however, due to COVID-19 I’ve been unable to fly over to the U.S. to actually see everybody in person. I think this is a great opportunity for everybody (at IZEA) in the U.S. to better be informed of who we are and what we’re doing.”
Could you tell me about yourself?
“I grew up in Northern China, the Heilongjiang Province, which is between Russia and North Korea, so the northernmost part. I studied there and then I did my master’s degree in Sydney, Australia. I did my master of marketing degree there, and then I went back to China 11 years ago to be in Beijing and work here. Ever since then I’ve been working at both Chinese and international companies in China.”
What have you been focusing on since joining IZEA?
“I’ve really been taking a look at what IZEA offers and our current structure, so that I am sure that I can convey the message in the right way to our Chinese clients. Also the focus has been on building a team here. I interview a lot of people on the ground and also pitch to clients.”
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
“I do a lot of sports. I do a lot of yoga, cardio, weight lifting, a lot of hiking … I take badminton. I’m a very sporty guy.”
Do you share your home with anyone?
“I’m living with my partner and we have a cat named Miu Miu. It’s been quite fun. We got to travel together a lot. Before (COVID-19) we liked to travel together internationally but ever since the pandemic began three years ago we’ve been locked within China, but then that also gave us the opportunity to really see every bit of China, because it is so big. We visited Tibet two times. We’ve been to Mount Everest, the base camp of the highest mountain in the world. … A lot of those remote places in China. We’re planning to go to Macau later this year.”
How old is your cat?
“My cat is 2 years old.”
“Miu Miu actually helps a lot. Helps with everything. I think cats can be a real blessing. …”
Did you hike Mount Everest?
“We hiked around the base camp. We can’t hike up there because I’m not a professional. The highest position we were at I think is 5,300 meters (about 17,388 feet) high. Not a lot of people have been there and it’s not easy. You have a hard time breathing there because the oxygen level is really, really low. I stayed in that area for about two weeks, so we were hiking around Northern Tibetan areas.”
What was your favorite place to visit in North America when you traveled previously?
“I visited the U.S. quite often because my cousin is living right now in California. But then out of personal trips and business trips — I’ve been to both Eastern and Western coasts, not a lot in the middle — I think my favorite city is probably Seattle in its sunny weather season.”
What kind of food do you like to eat?
“I like to do a lot of fusion. My parents would teach me a lot of traditional Chinese cooking, but … let me show you my kitchen. … This is an open kitchen. It’s a mix of Chinese and Western styles. I would just come up with ideas. I thought of mixing Chinese food with a lot of the Western food. Sometimes it can get a little bit messy, but sometimes it’s actually good. So I would write down the good ones and keep them as my own secret recipe. I can share those with my friends when they come to my house for a good family dinner.”
So you like to cook?
“I like to cook. I feel very happy about it. I’m a very happy chef.”
What kind of music do you like?
“I listen to music a lot. I like American music a lot. Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Beyonce — I really like their music. I like Chinese traditional music because I’m trying to have a zen moment, especially when you’re quarantining at home. I do meditation and then I find Chinese traditional music. A lot of it can be very calm, very soothing.”
“I started searching for Zumba music for dancing at home. … So I started signing up for a few online courses with live streaming. … You’re doing it with a few other people and you’ve got a trainer in there who can talk to you and instruct you. So that sense of belonging actually suits me better. I’ve been doing that once a day.”
What would you like IZEANs to know about you or the team in China so far?
“I think because of geopolitical differences I know a lot of Americans will have a bit of a negative opinion on China but I think given all the political news aside, if you actually come to China and take a look at what’s going on here you would actually be amazed.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
If you are a Chinese company interested in influencer marketing visit cn.izea.com.
Marette Flora is IZEA’s Content Manager. She writes and edits content about influencer marketing and all the latest #TeamIZEA happenings. When she is not at work, she can be found writing her personal blog, crafting personalized gifts or exploring Chicago where she lives with her husband, two daughters, dog and plants.