Rhea Wong

Welcome to The Underdog Show Podcast! Meet Rhea Wong, a seasoned fundraising pro with over 15 years of experience. She is dedicated to helping Executive Directors and development staff take their nonprofit’s funds to the next level. In this episode, Rhea simplifies the art of fundraising, offering practical insights on refining your message, engaging your ideal donors, and making those crucial asks that drive change. Say goodbye to overwhelm and hello to resources.

Her mission is to equip individuals with the skills needed to excel in their roles, turning accidental fundraisers into effective advocates for their missions. Rhea’s brand, accessible and fun through her podcast, book, and online community, has garnered praise for delivering tangible results. Yet, as a solopreneur, she understands the constant learning and discomfort that come with the territory. Her top tips for business success: solve real problems, stay focused, and leverage your unique strengths while outsourcing the rest.

In this episode, Pamela highlights Rhea’s journey and what inspired it. Some of the episode highlights include:

  • Her breakthrough in becoming an entrepreneur and executive director
  • How to be taken seriously as a young woman in a male-dominated industry
  • Understanding deep-seated conditioning and the important limiting beliefs about money
  • How can you change someone’s internal state?
  • The importance of conscious awareness and listening
  • What would Rhea tell her older self based on what she knows now?

Here’s an important thought: “Be whole in yourself first and be fulfilled in yourself before going out there and creating the reality that you want to create.”If you found this story worth your time and made changes in your life, we’d love to hear from you! Subscribe and leave a review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Catch up with Rhea Wong here:

The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also in the Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

Our goal is to help you create the life you dream of through real estate. We’re giving value-packed masterclasses on our YouTube Channel – Elevate Through Real Estate. Make sure to subscribe. https://www.youtube.com/@elevatethroughrealestate.


Click To Read The Transcript

Rhea Wong’s Journey to Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit Successes

Pamela Bardhi: Oh hello everyone and welcome to the underdog podcast today I have an incredible guest here with me Rhea, how are you?

Rhea Wong: Hello, I am so good. Thank you so much for having me. It’s such a pleasure.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you so much for being here. My goodness, you have been radiant since the second that I came on this screen. I’m like, Rhea is just a, beast. I can’t wait to hear the stories and all of the things. So thank you so much for being here, Rhea.

Rhea Wong: I appreciate it. I appreciate now and you’re such an inspiration to know I was doing searching online. The success that you’ve had, the person that you are. how you’re giving back to the community is really inspiring. So kudos to you.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you so much. Rhea. It’s a gift. It’s honestly a gift. And I’m blessed because I meet people like you throughout the rising tide, rises all ships is what they say. Everything. Everybody in the shipyard rises together. So I love that. I love that. And I just honestly can’t wait to get into your story. to learn about all the awesomeness that you’re doing in the realms of money and capital. raising like all the amazingness that you are.

What inspired you on your journey to where you are today

Pamela Bardhi: And so I am super curious, Rhea, what inspired you on your journey to where you are today? And I know that’s a wicked loaded question. but I feel like there’s a lot to unpack.

Rhea Wong: You know, it’s so interesting to think about the origin story. So before you and I started recording, we were talking about our family stories. So my grandparents are immigrants from China. They came to escape communism. Actually my grandfather came prior to World War II and very typical immigrant story. showed up with $20 in their pocket on my mom’s side. They had seven kids, if you can believe it. Everyone is in San Francisco. I’m I guess a third generation and so my mom was raised in a very traditional Chinese family. where like, girls worth a lot. Her mom expected her to just graduate high school, get married and have it. 

That was the ambition. And so I think my mom in particular was really clear about the fact. that as a girl I should have all of the opportunities that my brothers had. In a way, it was almost like I was living out the dream that she wanted for herself. So really I came out of the womb fierce. I don’t know about you. I’m sure you did too. Which, like, I am here, I am loud, I know what I want, and I’m going to go get it. So I don’t really know where that comes from. other than it was an innate part of me. But I really credit my parents for encouraging and supporting that drive. I mean, so I was just going to get it done. 

So I shipped myself off to boarding school at 14 years old. which, in retrospect, seems crazy. at the time I was like, of course, that’s what I’m going to do. Obviously, I’m out to see the world. I’m out to make things happen. I’ve bounced around, lived in Europe, lived in Asia, lived in Africa. then after college, I ended up in New York City. And I was a 26 year old executive director of a nonprofit here in New York called Breakthrough New York. we identified high achieving, low income kids and support, them for ten years on the road to college. So two and three college. And where I am now is I actually coach people on how to fundraise. 

Because I was a 26 year old ed. I didn’t know anything. Like, nothing. My first day on the job, I Googled, what does an executive director do. and how do you fundraise? Because I was so clueless. And it took me twelve and a half years. I built up this multimillion dollar nonprofit. then I was like, wow, I’m freaking tired. But also, why did it take me so long to figure this? Like, I’m a smart person, I work hard. This really should not have taken this long.

 And I think, unfortunately, a lot of people in the nonprofit, sector are given these very, very big jobs. with a mandate to make the most important things happen in the world. like clean oceans, sending kids to college.making sure women have health care, voting rights, you name it. Nonprofits play a really important role in our community. and yet these poor people are out here being asked to do these big jobs. with zero training and zero support. 

So I was like, I know, why don’t I just teach people all the stuff that I learned. that I made a ton of mistakes. And you and I were talking about you vulnerable through mistakes. so they can learn from my mistakes. They can make new and different mistakes. That’s what I do. Now, I have a podcast, I have a book, I do free webinars. I have a group coaching program. in order to just save people the heartache and the headache of learning. by doing and learning by making mistakes. and instead just getting really good, really fast.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that, Rhea. I love that.

You came out with this fire in you, which is amazing

Pamela Bardhi: And I mean, you mentioned a bit about your childhood, too. that you just came out with this fire in you, which is amazing. So what did you want to be as a kid growing up? What was your dream?

Rhea Wong: Oh, my God. Well, you know what? I think there were a lot of dreams. but when you’re a little Asian kid growing up in San Francisco. I grew up in the we don’t have all the jobs that we have now. Social media didn’t exist. The Internet didn’t exist. So it was like, okay, you’re going to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant or a dentist. Those are the four things. So when m I was a kid, I was like, I guess I’ll be a lawyer. because I’m really bad at math and science. 

Thank God I didn’t go to law school, because I don’t know any happy lawyers. But the thing about the law that really appealed to me is the idea of fighting for people. fighting on, behalf of the right and the good. And I think that’s what I do in nonprofit. Like, every single day, every person who works in the nonprofit goes to work exactly. To your podcast.

 The underdog like people who can’t speak for themselves. that don’t have access, that don’t have resources. and we are there to make the world a little bit more fair. And so I think coming out of the womb, I don’t know where it comes from. but I just had a very strong sense of my purpose on this planet. is to leave it a little bit better.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that. And it’s been a fire that’s been ingrained in you since day one, which is what I love. And I love that it’s kind of ran in your family as well. just from your grandparents coming here and all of that stuff.

Who or what inspired you the most, kind of growing up

Pamela Bardhi: And so why should for you so who or what inspired you the most, kind of growing up?

Rhea Wong: That’s a good question. I mean, I feel like I had so many inspirations. I think my mom for sure was one. So I think her sense of understanding that it wasn’t fair.  she didn’t get the same opportunities. because she was a girl, she and her sisters didn’t get the same. that, I think, really inspired a sense of justice and commitment to fairness. 

I think I had amazing teachers along the way who really inspired my love of learning. I was a, big nerd as a kid, I loved to read, I can think about my school librarian. who would book society, be like, oh, here are the books that you might really like. It’s funny, I was hiking the other day. Mr. Rogers, I think, was a big inspiration. you’re probably younger than I am. but we were like the Mr. Rogers generation of like, oh, it’s good to be kind to people. I’m like, yeah, I want to live in that Mr. Rogers world. 

So those are a couple key ones. Oh, you know, a big inspiration, actually, is Maya Angelou. So I remember reading when I was a kid. probably a little bit more mature than I should have been reading. But when I was a kid, I read. I know why the cage bird sings and my mind was blown. that this kind of story could be told in such a heartbreaking and true and beautiful way. And so the other thing is, I love writing, I love reading, I love beautiful prose and fiction. And I’m really dedicated. to helping people to have a voice in the world.

Pamela Bardhi: I, absolutely love that. I love that.

You became executive director of a nonprofit after college

Pamela Bardhi: And so you mentioned you got into this executive director role and you’re like. what’s? an executive director and what do I do? What led you to that? So you mentioned you didn’t want to go to law school. and all these other things and your different options. So what led you into that particular nonprofit space?

Rhea Wong: Yeah, good story. actually I had been a part of that nonprofit when I was a kid in San Francisco. They’d helped me to, kind of see this whole world in turn in high school and college, whatever. But after college, I actually thought I was going to be on a journalism track. So early. Two thousand s. I was like, yeah, this Internet thing isn’t going to go away. Seeing print journalism as a growth industry. So I ended up working for the national office in San Francisco. 

Kind of by accident. I just called them up and I was like, hey, I was a student back. I’m just wondering if you have any volunteer opportunities. And they’re like, actually we have a job opening. I was like, okay, cool. Kind of worked my way up to the point that I got recruited away to run our New York office. So I overstated when I said that I was clueless about the business side, I knew the program side. but I didn’t really understand fundraising. you know, you’re a business person. 

All of the revenue, the expenses, the infrastructure, the hiring, the staffing. all of the business side. I was a complete newbie and it was a hard lesson learned school of tough knocks, for sure. And it’s not rocket science. Like, you can figure it out, but believe me, I made a ton of mistakes.

Pamela Bardhi: absolutely. My goodness. It’s part of the game. And especially when it’s like our first one and it’s our first introduction to business. you’re like, how does this, how did these things operate? Like, how is this possible?

You hired a coach to help you improve your skills in real estate

Rhea Wong: Curious I know this is about me, but I’m curious for you. especially being a woman in real estate and being in construction. which is a very male dominated industry. was it hard for you as a young woman to be taken seriously. to do what you got to do?

Pamela Bardhi: Oh yeah, for sure. And luckily I hired a coach in the space and so in the development world. So I was able to use that expertise and that knowledge. to kind of level the playing field a bit. So whenever it seemed like, okay, they’re not really listening. It’s like you gain your respect through that knowledge.and then if you give that respect out, it’s always going to come back to you.  

So it was almost like kind of a balancing act. between those two things to gain that respect back. even though you are a newbie to it. I came in with the right coach and the right mentality and giving mentality. and that has always served and worked for me well. So I always tell people I’m m like, hustle out beats talent every day of the week. it doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything walking into something, as long as you have the willingness to hustle and find the information. or tap into the people that do know, it’s golden.

Rhea Wong: Yeah. That’s so smart of you. I don’t know how you became so wise so early. but I think that’s right. Which is you have to be willing to invest to upgrade. You hired a coach. It probably saved you, like, a decade’s worth of learning by doing. but you were willing to invest in yourself. 

And I feel like where I see a lot of women in particular. not doing it is not investing in their own knowledge, in their own development. being like, well, I’ll just figure it out, which you can. I’m sure that’s not a problem. But imagine if you could invest money and get there ten X faster.

Pamela Bardhi: Totally.

Rhea Wong: To me, that math makes sense. I’m going to save myself ten years by investing this amount of money to get there faster. And if I’m working with someone who I know can do that for me. take all my money every day of the week right.

Pamela Bardhi: And get that time hack right? Like, do you want to spend the time and the money. to make the mistakes that somebody else has already done. or do you want to just hack the system and kind of just elevate much faster? Of course, I still learned my own lessons throughout that, even with that.

Rhea Wong: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: But any high risk, any business that you really want to be hyper successful in. that’s definitely, a big thing.

As an entrepreneur, money is a big thing. And I know that that was an element in

Pamela Bardhi: And as an entrepreneur, money is a big thing. I know that that was an element. in which you really dove into as executive director. in building that multimillion dollar nonprofit. So walk me through that a little bit. like that journey of from when you first started. and kind of the realizations and the lessons throughout.

Rhea Wong: Yeah, well, you know, it’s so interesting. I’d love to get your perspective on this, too. I think when I first started, I was 26, as I mentioned. I think at the time, the nonprofit was like 250,000 a year, which is not nothing. but it’s not huge money. And I think I had an orientation to money that was not very helpful. which was really coming at it from a scarcity place of like, I got to hoard the money. Hold on to a we joke about it now because we’re still dear friends. but my program director and I got into this massive fight. because she ordered whiteboard spray. 

You may not remember whiteboard, so she ordered whiteboard spray, which is like $8 a bottle. And I just lost it because I was like, we paid this expensive whiteboard spray. Why are you spending the money? she rightly came back at me. Like, you told me that this was my decision. And it was in that fight that I was like. why am I getting into this over, like, $8 whiteboard spray? But really, it was because I had such deep stuff around mone. it would never come again that we have to squeeze every penny.

 And I think the nonprofit field also reinforces that idea. Now, let me be clear here. I’m not saying you should spend money wisely. I’m not saying spend money willy nilly. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying, though, is it wasn’t until I understood that money is just a resource. and, it was me that was bringing all the emotion into it. that I was like, oh, it’s a renewable resource. There’s a lot of it. There’s a tremendous amount of wealth. especially here in New York City. 

Like, there’s money everywhere you look. Why am I getting so bent out of shape over an $8 bottle of whiteboard spray. when really I need to be thinking about the $80,000 donation? The $800,000 donation. And it was almost like because I was so deep in scarcity. that I couldn’t even think about the big money. because I was, like, squeezing the pennies. so once I got to the point of like, oh, money is just a resource and it flows. And I can make it flow. 

But first I have to examine all of the blocks that I’m putting up money myself. And a lot of that is couched in my own family and the beliefs that they have about money being scarce. We’re never going to have enough of it. I don’t know about you. In my family, we talked about like, well, money doesn’t grow on trees. who do you think we are, the Rockefellers? And that’s for rich people, not for us. So that gets in your brain and you’re like, oh, well.then that must mean that I’m never going to have enough money. 

Like, I’m never going to have enough. I’m never going to be enough. I’m never going to have enough. to take care of myself and handle what I need to handle. And I think doing that deep inner work of like, wait a second. What if that’s just an opinion? This is just a story that I’m telling myself. All of a sudden, the world opens up. You’re like, well, holy shit. If I can just make money happen on demand. if I can just create value and attract that money then I can do anything.

Pamela Bardhi: Yes, absolutely. You mentioned a lot of key things there, especially when it comes to blocks. and where deep seated conditioning comes in. So for those of you who don’t know that are listening. neuroscience talks about how from zero to seven years old. anything that we pick up becomes our subconscious mind. 95% of our subconscious mind is created by the time we’re seven years old. And that is carried with us for the entire rest of our lives. 

So guess what? If you have some conditioning that is not that great. and it’s going to manifest into your future, it’s going to manifest in your relationships. it’s going to manifest in your careers. it’s going to manifest everywhere because it’s in the back of your mind. And the scariest part is when you’re not aware of it. When you have that conscious awareness. then you got to tap in and really unlearn it, if you will. Rewire the neuroplasticity in your brain, it’s a whole nother thing. this is a legitimate science. So this deep rooted conditioning that showed up in you was rooted from much earlier on?

Rhea Wong: Well, I would even say, like, thinking about epigenetics, for example. and the ways in which information is conveyed through DNA, like trauma HM. Is conveyed through the DNA. So I was probably living out stories about money from my ancestors. Like my, village in China. People who really legitimately were like. we might starve if we don’t work in the rice field, right. In modern day 2023 in New York.

 I’m not going to starve. I’m good. And yet, if I’m not conscious of undoing that narrative. it can really sneak up on you and you can start really operating from this place of fear and scarcity. So I think you have to be, A, to your point, aware of it. and then B, constantly upgrading your brain and being very meta. managing what you think about.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. When this showed up for you, because I m know people will be listening to this. and being like, okay, well, then how do I realize that I have these deep seated blocks deep within? And this conditioning, how did you become aware of it?

Rhea Wong: Yeah, girl, it was not overnight. And I’ll, be honest, I’m still doing the work.

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

Rhea Wong: But it’s funny, I listen to a lot of personal development stuff. I’m sure you do too. But one thing that I always got confused about was like, well, what are your limiting beliefs? And I was like, well, if I knew what they were. I would be able to do something about it. That’s not helpful to me. It’s almost like telling a fish, like, water is wet, and you’re like, what’s water?

Growing up, my parents fought about money, so I had negative reaction

Rhea Wong: So, one thing that you might be able to do that hopefully might help your listeners.is just sit down with yourself in a quiet moment and ask yourself, growing up. What did you hear in your family about money? What did you see in your family regarding money? Like, what do your parents or your characters model for you? What emotional experience do you have around money? 

So, for me, I would see my parents when they would fight. it was usually about money. They’d say that you fight about sex and money are, like, the two big things that people fight about. My parents fought about money. When they would fight, it was usually about money. So, of course, I had kind of a negative reaction to money. Like, oh, well, money makes fight. Not even in a conscious way, but, like, subconsciously, I had that association of, like. money must make people fight. Money must make people stress out.

 And then ask yourself, well, how did my past with money. how does that affect me today? So, for me, that meant things like, I wasn’t really doing things like actively managing my retirement accounts. It meant that I would hoard money. I would feel really guilty if I took myself out to get a manicure. But then I would splurge all of a sudden because money to think about it just seems to you manage. 

And then I would say for fundraisers, thinking about that emotional connection that you have with money. how does it affect your feelings about fundraising? And for so many of us who have not done the work. we have a very negative affiliation with fundraising. Oh, I’m begging,  I’m, on my knees. I’m twisting arms. A lot of very negative kind of orientations to money. as opposed to which I think is a healthier orientation of, like. I’m inviting people to be part of something, and if they don’t want to, that’s okay. 

It’s not personal, but we have to decouple our worth from money and from outcomes. because you are a worthy person no matter what. No matter how much money you have, you have value as a human being. But so often, I think we attribute our value as a human. to how much money I have in my bank account. and how much I can get done in a day. And I think both those things lead to absolutely.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely, Rhea. And it’s crazy how all ofthat ties together and you start to realize it. You start to pick up the pieces when you’re okay. When you start to lay it out, and you’re like, I see the pattern here. I totally see it. And how to navigate really past that. So first step is definitely conscious awareness. then number two is, unlocking those blocks after you recognize what they are. That’s the hard part. So walk me through how you kind.

Rhea Wong: Of yeah, there are lots of ways to do it.

Bruce Lipton: You can train your brain against intrusive thoughts

Rhea Wong: So I know you’re a big fan of neuroscience, as am I was. I’m a big fan of the Andrew Huberman podcast. I don’t know if you listen to that. But he’s a neuroscientist and ophthalmologist at Stanford. and he talks about how you train your brain against intrusive thoughts. So if you have, let’s say, a thought, so what a belief is. is that you have over and over again such that it becomes a belief. 

a belief is just something you think a lot. Two things that you can do. So if you find yourself having, an intrusive thought that you don’t want to have. like a song that you can’t get out of your head. then the best thing to do is to do something else to get your mind out of that loop. Like go for a run, go exercise, go read a book, whatever. And that’ll turn the noise down. 

If the thought is actually a harmful thought or is connected to trauma. which a lot of times it is, the thing to do is actually to journal about it. Because essentially, by journaling about and you got to journal a lot about it. you start to turn down the emotional weight of that trauma. and then it just becomes a story, and it actually kind of becomes a pouring story. But it’s almost like have you ever seen a, horror movie. or something where it’s like, ah, it’s scarier, it’s scarier, it’s scarier. And then you open the door and it’s like a little bunny rabbit.

Pamela Bardhi: Yes.

Rhea Wong: Right. So I think we kind of have to step into that. What is it really? Is it a bunny rabbit? And is it our story about what is going to happen that is creating this emotional reaction to me? Because the thing about emotions is that it’s the interpretation of stimulus. and interpretation of past events that create thoughts in your mind. then your hypothalamus pumps out neuropeptides in your body. that then creates what we call an emotion. So if that’s true, if your thoughts create your emotional state. we can choose to change our thoughts.

Pamela Bardhi: Yes. absolutely. And thoughts become know. This is literally proven science at this point. If you listen to Dr. Joe Dispenza.

Bruce Lipton, it’s know that intention with the thought powers energy, something like that. It literally does that. So everything that you do with intention manifests. especially if you attach an emotion to it as well. So it’s just so interesting how the brain works like that. And he talks about quantum leaps and all that stuff. But for those who are listening that have no idea what we’re talking about.

 just keep in mind that this is all about your intention being very intentional. with your thought process and being aware of all of this programming. Because the thing that sucks about all this is that you may realize you’re going to have to, unlearn. some things that you grew up with that you didn’t even realize were so deeply ingrained. And that’s the work.

 Like you said, like the journaling and stuff like that. And I don’t want to say that you sit here and you’re meditating in yoga state. and it’s all peaceful and stuff like that. When you’re releasing emotions, trauma, deep conditioning. it can be a very brutal type of process. It’s not pretty. It’s not pretty. Select releasing.

Rhea Wong: Yeah, well, you know what? It is too, Pamela. And I’m not surprised you’re into Jerusalem and all this stuff. So am I. Is it’s the process of, recreating your identity? Because let me put it this way. a lot of people think, let’s just say, for example, they go from a, do have b. which is like, okay, if I do a bunch of stuff. I’m just going to grind hard. then I’m going to have a bunch of money. And once I have that money, I’ll be happy. So they go in that order. 

Do have be. But actually, the better order is to be do have, which is that I have to be the kind of person. that can go out and make a lot of money. I have to be happy in myself. I have to be fulfilled in myself before I can go out there. and create the reality that I want to create. Because if I don’t do that, if my identity is always tied to the doing, I’m never going to be happy.

 because it’s always going to be moving goalposts. I’m never going to have enough money, I’m never going to have enough love. I’m never going to have enough validation. So you have to be whole in yourself first and be firmly in your own identity. in order to be the kind of person that creates your reality.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. And I think that’s the hardest thing is to get ourselves in that state to, attract. dr. George Dispenser talks about this, and he’s know the power is now. Possibilities exist in the now. They don’t exist in the past or the future. They exist in the now. So that gratitude can kind of unlock all of that possibility.

Rhea Wong: It’s interesting, too, when we think about fundraising in the brain. So this is a, researcher in Texas called dr. Russell James. He put people in MRI machines, and he talked to them about business. and then he talked to them about philanthropy and charity. And what’s interesting is different parts of the brain light up. So business lights up one part of the brain. Philanthropy is the same part of the brain that lights up. when you talk about family and when you talk about emotion. 

So what that tells us is that philanthropy is actually a deeply emotional action. We use the facts and figures and the data to back up what we’ve decided with our hearts. And the way that we get into emotional decisions is. stories, emotions, to your point, energy, right? This is about bypassing the analytical brain and getting to the emotional brain. 

And so. I think that’s why we as fundraisers have to upgrade ourselves. so that we can be the stewards of helping people. to step into something emotionally fulfilling. Because you don’t give money because it makes good business sense, per se. You give money because it feels good, You give money because it feels right. You give money because you want to tell yourself that you’re the kind of person that does x, Y, or Z.

Pamela Bardhi: No, you’re absolutely right when it comes to that. You have to get past that analytical brain to get into that emotional state. And it’s like, how can you change somebody’s internal state? Is how they will respond to whatever it is that you’re saying.

Rhea Wong: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s like the core of neuroscience is, understanding what I’m saying. How is it going to land with you? Right. And me being consciously aware of how I’m sending that message is really key.

As a fundraiser, you have to vibrate at a higher energy

Pamela Bardhi: And for fundraising, that is absolutely critical. And I loved what you said earlier about the attraction of that. You’re bringing that in, you’re inviting them in. It’s not like a sales pitch. I think that that’s key even in business.when I have my team in real estate, that’s like, oh, Pam, I feel weird about telling them about these opportunities. 

And I’m like, well, here’s the thing that gave me a whole mindset shift. Know you’re here to help somebody today, and how are you going to do know? And if you’re not going to call or meet the person and offer them what you do. somebody else is going to do that. If not you, then who? Right? Yeah. That’s another super powerful way to think about it.

Rhea Wong: Yeah, that’s 100% right. I have a couple of deep beliefs about humans. and maybe it’s just this thing, I think, again and again. But it’s useful for me. I think humans, when they are at their best, seek to connect. We want to belong. We want to be around good people. And I think as a fundraiser. part of it is that you have to vibrate at a higher energy in order to attract that higher energy. 

If you’re coming from a low energy state where you’re just like, oh, how do I get that transaction? How do I get that money? It doesn’t feel good, It doesn’t feel good for you. It doesn’t feel good for the person that you’re talking to. But if you come from a higher energy state where you’re making offers. inviting and helping them to achieve something that they want, and, you’re just the conduit. 

You’re just the vessel through which this happens, all of a sudden, it changes the whole dynamic. You’re like, look, if you’re not into the donation, it doesn’t mean anything about me. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time for you. Maybe I wasn’t the right messenger, it wasn’t the right cause. That’s okay. 

But there are a ton of people in the world that I can help who want to come to my party. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go find those people. And I think it just changes the whole game, because then it becomes not about you. It doesn’t become about rejection. It’s just about, who can I help today? I love that so much. Who can I help today?

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah, absolutely.

You came out of executive director role at nonprofit to start your own accelerator

Pamela Bardhi: And I love that you came out of the executive director role at this nonprofit. and then you started your own thing with coaching others on how to do this. So walk me through that transition, because I love that about helping others. That’s exactly what you’re doing, which then ripple effects.

Rhea Wong: I will tell you, it wasn’t an overnight thing. So talking about setbacks. after I left being an Ed, I actually ended up, working for a tech firm. for all of two and a half months. And I was like, oh, this is not this is not for me. So I quit. And it was the first time in my adult life I hadn’t had a job similar to you. was working at my dad’s shop when I was, like, ten years old. making change at the cash register. So I never didn’t have a job. I always had a job, even during high school and college.summer jobs, after school jobs, the whole thing. it was really to the point about identity. 

It was very destabilized. And I was like, I don’t know who I am. I’m not a worker. Like, I work. But there was nice actually, I took a little summer vacay. I was like, okay, let me regroup. Let me spend some time.  then I ended up just taking on some projects with friends. and I just thought it would be like an in between thing. I was like, I’ll go job searching. but I’ll take on these projects just to get some revenue coming in. one project led to the next to the next. 

Before you knew it, I was a consultant. I was like, oh, okay, I guess that’s what I’m doing. And then at the height of the pandemic, I really pivoted to this fundraising thing. because it’s the number one thing that everyone running a nonprofit is concerned about. and nobody really knows how to do it. for me, I was like, well, I figured some stuff out. I was successful in doing this for myself. so can I help other people do it? 

And then the other piece, Pam, for me is, as a person, I care about a lot of different things. I care about education and the environment and voting rights and women’s rights. and peace and climate change and all the things. personally am not going to be able to do all the things. I am one person. But here’s the thing. What if I could teach all of the people who are doing all the things. to bring more resources in so they can do more of the things. that can be my contribution to the world. 

And by the way, I can make money doing it. So it’s like win win. Yeah, let me do that. the good news is that it’s been going really well. So I have my 9th Cohort coming up in September. had over 100 people go through my accelerator. And we’ve been seeing some tremendous results from people. Like people getting a million dollar gift. people getting their first six figure gifts. people 100 xing their initial investment. 

We’re seeing incredible results. So that’s been a lot of fun just to see people on the world. applying what I’ve learned and getting great results. So I’ll take credit for a little part of it. but it’s really just giving people the confidence that they can go out and do it.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. And I love that. Rhea and I mean, you’ve touched on unlocking, your blocks. being consciously aware of conditioning and stuff like that.

Now, what are some practical tips for anybody who is thinking about raising capital

Pamela Bardhi: Now, what are some practical tips for anybody. who is thinking about going out there and raising capital? Because it’s not just there’s nonprofits, of course. but then there’s people in real estate and people that are starting businesses. and all these things. What is the top piece of advice or a couple of pieces of advice that you think would be key?

Rhea Wong: Yeah, I think the number one thing, whether you’re doing not for profit or for profit fundraising. is to be aware of the other person’s needs. I think so often we go in with like, oh, this is what I want. this is what I need to do, this is what I want to get. And really, it’s not about you. You need to put yourself in the mind of the other person. What do they want? What are they looking for? their end game? 

And if I can align what I am doing with what they want. then we have a deal. Also, I would say, how do we build trust? Because you don’t do business with people you don’t trust. So how am I showing up in a way that is trustworthy. in a way that makes them feel like I’m treating them like a human being. with respect and dignity, not like this transaction. And then the last piece I would say is listen, right? 

Because I think so often in today’s society, we’re all just yelling at each other. You got social media and you’ve got the news, and everyone is just so riled up. And I just think connections happen with conversations like this. where we are giving each other space to share who we are. what we’re about, what we care about. 

And so really, the key is to listen and not just listen with an agenda. So, my friend Jason Frazal shared this with me. There are really three levels of listening. Level one, listening is where I’m listening with an agenda. I’m just listening to hear what I want to hear and then insert the thing that I want to say.

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

Rhea Wong: Level two listening, is listening with no agenda. Okay. I’m present I’m with you. I’m hearing what you’re saying. Level three, listening, which is really hard to do. but is so golden when you can get it, is listening for what’s not being said. And if you can get to level three, listening. where I can read the body language, read the tone, read the energy. and be like, what’s really happening here? That’s where human connection occurs.

Pamela Bardhi: absolutely love that. And the conscious awareness to understand what are the needs of the other person. how can I align with them instead of just like, shoving an agenda down somebody’s throat. which is what happens in business all the time and in fundraising all the time. It’s like, okay, here’s what I need. Bye. Please donate or please invest in this project. 

And you’re just like, okay, you know what I mean? What happens next? Kind of thing. It’s fascinating to me. It’s absolutely fascinating to me how this all gets laid out. But I love those three levels of listening that is amazing and golden. And I’m going to note that because that’s incredible. That’s, absolutely incredible. I love hearing the journey and all these tips and all these beautiful things. Rhea seriously, it’s incredible.

What would your older self tell your younger self based on what you know now

Pamela Bardhi: And that brings me to this is one of my favorite questions ever. And you could take this business personal, whatever resonates with you. but what would your older self tell your younger self based on what you know now?

Rhea Wong: Rhea oh, my gosh, so many things. But the single biggest lesson, I think will be everything will be all right. Because I think especially as a younger person, I was so anxious. I’m still anxious, but I was so anxious as a young person. I was, like, really stressed. And I think this might be true of type A go getters. I don’t know if you were like this. but I was really stressed out and really anxious and really wanted to do my best. And I’m not saying that I don’t work hard, I certainly work hard. 

But I think I work hard now without thinking about what the measurement is and more working hard. because I want to create value and I want to help people. And that’s a different kind of motivation. It feels like a cleaner kind of energy versus coming from that hustle energy. Like, I just got to grind harder. I got to work harder. I got to outwork the person next to me. That’s exhausting. So I would say, if I can add just one more thing. 

I had a friend named Dodo who was amazing. She was 105 years old when she died. And on her voicemail, you’d call her, and on her voicemail that would say. hello, this is Dodo, everything is going to be okay. I was like, you know what? She’s lived on this planet for 105 years. and she has seen some stuff. So if she says it’s going to be okay, I’m going to believe her. because that’s like 60 more years on the planet than I have.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that. That was her voicemail. Oh my gosh. Wisdom from Dodo. I absolutely love that.

Rhea Wong: RIA.

Pamela Bardhi: Oh, my goodness. Well, sometimes we just move so fast through life. and it’s just like you’re just like, okay, what’s on to the next thing. especially type A go getters. And I totally resonate with that. And it’s kind of like, okay, what’s next? You achieve this thing. Level one is done. Now level two is there now level three., it’s going to be a never-ending chase unless you realize, just chill out. it’s all going to work out. there’s endless levels to the game.

Rhea Wong: That’s right.

Pamela Bardhi: Forever.

Rhea Wong: And I will say we were talking about neuroscience. So I work with a neurohacking coach who actually is very into dispenser as well. But he talks about the fact that when we’re in fear, we’re in fight, flight, or freeze. And this hustle culture that we see everywhere entrepreneurship, nonprofit. whatever, is actually a fight response. Because we are so deep in fear that it’s not going to be okay. I’m not going to have enough. 

There’s not going to be enough money, and I’m going to fail. And that can be healthy. That can be useful in the short term. But long term, it’s just not a healthy way to live. Because our bodies were not designed to be under fear and stress and pressure for prolonged periods of time. When we were cave people, we had a saber tooth tiger chase us. 

We were in stress, and then we shook it off and we were fine. But in today’s society, we’re constantly under this threat of the saber toothed tiger. which is really just society. And so I, think just becoming aware of, to your point. your emotional state and what kind of energy are you coming from. and what stories are you telling yourself about. why you’re doing what you’re doing makes all the difference.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. And the kind of stories that you tell yourself is what creates these thought processes. and so on and so forth. My goodness. it’s a hell of a journey. It’s a hell of a journey. It really is. Being human is such a journey.

Rhea Wong: Being human listen to podcast. But I thought this was such a healthy way to think about it. He’s like, well, the way I think about being a human. it’s like thinking about going on vacation.So you go on vacation. You get to your place. You rent a car, you drive the car around. And when you’re done with the vacation, you bring the car back and you fly back home. 

He’s like, that’s how I think about being human. This is just a rental car. I’m just, like, driving this around for the time that I’m here. And then when I’m done, I’m going to go back home. And I was like, My God, we are all just rental cars. That’s it. M this human experience, this 3D body, for as long as we’re here. For some it’s 105 years old, others, it’s not. But it’s all just temporary. We’re all just in rented cars.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely.

Rhea Wong: I’d love to have Pam on my podcast

Pamela Bardhi: And speaking of rental cars, what’s happening in the next few months in your world. in your rental car journey?

Rhea Wong: Well, first, and foremost, I want to say, Pam, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you for setting such a generous, table. And I do a lot of these podcast interviews. This is probably one of my favorite ones. so thank you for that.

Pamela Bardhi: You’re so awesome. That has a lot to do with you, though.

Rhea Wong: But thank no, no, it’s both of us. It’s our energy building. But if folks are interested in learning more about what I’m doing. my website is probably the best way to check it out. And you can get my blogs and my podcasts and my webinars. It’s RheaWong.com. Also hit me up on LinkedIn. And if there are fundraisers out there. I’m actually opening up applications for my September cohort. So if you’re interested in that, you can find it all on my website.

Pamela Bardhi: RheaWong.com RIA, you are amazing. You are such a light, and I’m just super grateful to have you here today. Super enjoyed our conversation and just, like, the high level human stuff. that listeners are going to listen to and be like, Hold on. I need to rewind that back a few times just to get it right. But you dropped so many gems. and I adore your authenticity, your story, and just all that you do. So thank you so much for being here.

Rhea Wong: Thank you, Pam. And by the way, we got to have you on my podcast.

Pamela Bardhi: Let’s do it. I’m ready.

Rhea Wong: All right. I’ll email your people. But yeah, I’d love to have you come on my podcast and talk about your journey and your experienc.e with philanthropy and how you built your business. because I think it’s going to be really awesome for my audience to hear that. Heck yes.

Pamela Bardhi: Ah, absolutely. Thank you so much, Rhea.

Underdog is always dropping on Thursdays. Catch us next week

Pamela Bardhi: So that’s it for today’s episode of Underdog. Catch us next week. Always dropping on Thursdays. And remember, if you’re interested in real estate or want to learn how to create more money and magic in your life. check out Meetwithpamla.com and let’s chat. Sending you so, so much love.


Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with Rhea Wong. If you found this story worth your time and made changes in your life, we’d love to hear from you! Subscribe and leave a review. The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

If you’re interested in elevating your life 10x, and owning your power, Pamela invites you to join her for a 15-minute call to set your goals straight and get clarity. Start building your game plan now: meetwithpamela.com