Chris and Mary Anne Yep from Triune Health Group Give Lexington Students Advice and Confidence About Starting Their Own Businesses
In a warm and casual afternoon get-together, Lexington students had the chance to chat intimately with this year’s Scholarships for Service Annual Benefit Dinner honoree. Chris and Mary Anne Yep, owners of Triune Health Group, spoke about how they started their business, which helps employers control health care costs while providing their employees with good health insurance, worker’s compensation and wellness options in the workplace.
Their first question came from Regina Torres (Class of 2016, from Ann Arbor, Michigan). “Here at Lexington I am specializing in Event Planning. After Lexington, I plan to go get my MBA, with a focus on fashion business, IESE, a well-known Business School in Spain. I am concerned about women and culture. I believe that for our culture to flourish, women need a new vision based on dignity and service, intelligence and strength. I know that Crain’s Chicago Business magazine named your company ‘Chicago’s Best Place to Work for Women in 2012.’ How did you accomplish that and what does it mean?”
The Yep’s told everyone about the process by which Crain’s surveyed their employees and how pleasantly surprised they were to be voted number one! They agreed that strong women build culture and insisted that a company like theirs, which seeks to offer a service based on the dignity of the person, must care first and foremost for its own employees.
Petra Matos (Class of 2014, from Chicago) connected with the Yeps because of her work at Walgreens and her thematic specialization combining Culinary Art, Healthcare and Wellness and Nutrition. Her question was, “sometimes I fear that no matter how smart I am or how hard I work, the dream of starting my own business may be too far out of my reach. What advice do you have for a hopeful young potential entrepreneur?”
Mary Anne encouraged Petra, and all the Lexington students, to be confident in their inner beauty and in their natural gifts. She advised that they work hard, but not underestimate their capacity to do good and achieve their goals. On a more practical note, Chris suggested, “Be sure to ask yourself—‘why do I want to own my own business?’ You need to have a good answer to that question, because that will keep you motivated!”
Not knowing that “Yep” is a Chinese name—Chris’s grandfather was Chinese—Therese Chin-Lee (Class of 2015, from Trinidad) had a question referring to her own background, “I come from a big family and a long line of Chinese traders, merchants and small family business owners,” she said. “I find Americans sometimes idealize the family business concept. Although our family businesses have grown and diversified, from import/export to hotels and restaurants to technology, still there are lots of challenges that come with working for your family. It can feel like a small world with a lot of personalities. How do you handle working with your children, being their parent and also their boss and negotiating the finances?”
The Yeps spoke about how they invite their children to join the family business if they are interested, but they do not pressure them or expect them to do so. “Often they need to explore where their own talents lead them,” Mary Anne explained. The students were most impressed by Chris’s story of how he sought help from a consultant before starting the business. “I laid out my plan before him and he said, ‘No way, you won’t make it.’ When I asked why not, he said, ‘You didn’t bring your wife with you.’ The consultant told me that my business would only be as strong as my marriage. He knew that Mary Anne and I needed to be in it together from the beginning—and he was right.”