Why I Decided to Write a Book!
When I stepped down from Chesapeake Bay Candle at the end of 2018, my husband Alessandro first approached me about writing a book:
“Mei, if you have anytime at all, this is what you need to do, write a book about yourself” he started approaching this topic at when he brought me my first cup of cappuccino in the morning!
It came as a surprise coming from Alessandro, if you know him you would know he is the most modest and unassuming man, particularly as a handsome Italian coming from Milano. The idea of him wanting me to write an entire book about myself, is not what I expected.
“It would allow you to look back at your life from a different perspective, and hopefully set a stage for you to continue to pursue something that interests you,” he followed. I brushed him off initially, while it is true I am a good and fast reader, writing one seems so distantly challenging. One simply does not go on to say to oneself one day: “Guess what world? I think I am going to write a whole book about myself!”
I know people who do important things are expected to write a book, people like Michelle Obama, or Henry Kissinger. People that won Nobel Prizes or created the map for human genome. I enjoyed being the “candle queen” so to speak for more than 20 years in the US, but to think anybody would actually sit down and read about me, I am not sold.
Alessandro continually pushed this idea on me: “imagine how girls and women who want to start something would feel about reading your book, Mei” he would say once he got me listen long enough before jumping to other subjects! Or “I found your story about building factories really interesting, not many people really know how it works to make things”
What changed my mind eventually is when I started to work with some women owned businesses in 2019 and started interviewing them each week. Over the course of a year, I met over 300 women here and in countries such as South Korea, China and Italy where my family and Alessandro’s family are from and I start to see the following:
What I have accomplished over the last 20 years is a result of many great things: timing, innovation, my background and training, but also the partnerships I was able to build with the likes of Target, Kohl’s etc. If I don’t tell my stories, many who are searching for answers about many challenges in their lives would miss the lessons I learned: How to find more opportunities economically when all doors slam shut in front of you; how do you let passion and drive guide you towards a life of meaning and purpose: what do you do when you graduate and the whole world has been on pause and therefore you have to figure out a whole new way to fight a path forward?
I wrote a book with the help of many. I felt indebted to them for all the big things and little ones they helped me to make the book a reality. And out of the entire group, no one deserves the shout out more than Alessandro. Indeed, after writing this book, I highly recommend any retired CEOs, leaders of for profit and nonprofit, to give writing a memoir a chance. It is not for you; it is for those coming after you. But the benefit is that you would enjoy discovering yourself all over again!
Shop Mei Xu's new book, Burn: How Grit, Innovation, and a Dash of Luck Ignited a Multi-Million-Dollar Success Story.