We had the good fortune of connecting with Annie Tao and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Annie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Quitting my full time job to start my own business and pursue entrepreneurship was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. Raised in a traditional, Chinese household, I was always taught to do the “safe” thing. At first, leaving the stability of my job was scary to me. I didn’t want to break away from what I had been raised to do and I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Being a young, minority woman, I was not sure if I had what it takes to run a healthcare company, given that the healthcare industry is dominated by the older generation. However, I used all of these obstacles to motivate myself rather than let it bring me down. Fast forward 2 years, and I now have my own healthcare clinic with a team of amazing therapists that provide services to children with Autism and other disabilities. I still think back sometimes and realize that if I had never taken the leap, I would not be where I am today. I’m very grateful for my co-founder, who has always pushed and encouraged me to face my fears and reach my full potential.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Always Keep Progressing is a healthcare company that aims to innovate in therapy for children with disabilities by incorporating music in our practice. As a professional pianist and speech-language pathologist, I founded this company to combine my two passions: music and therapy. When I was a practicing speech therapist, I always enjoyed incorporating music and piano into my speech therapy sessions and saw the importance of exposing kids to music firsthand. For some children, simply incorporating music into their sessions helped to skyrocket their progress and achieve their goals. Now, I have an incredible team of speech therapists, occupational therapists, and music therapists that work with our clients to help them achieve their goals, while treating alongside each other and infusing music. Additionally, Always Keep Progressing heavily relies on technology for all operations, internal communications, administrative tasks, and healthcare documentation/file management. We understand the power of technology and how important it is in this day and age to use technology and efficiency on the operations side of the business. Lastly, we hire minority employees to provide job opportunities in third world countries such as Ecuador.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take my best friend to my favorite outdoor live music spots in Miami – Heartland, Lagniappe. These places are all outdoor, open air, and have amazing live jazz and latin tunes playing almost every night with great food. I would also take her paddleboarding near my house in the intercoastal and explore a sandbar. We would go to North Beach Bandshell for NoBe Yoga at 6 PM on beach, and Warrior Flow sound off workout and yoga event on Thursday. Night at 7 PM. For food, I would take her to Planta, an all vegan, delicious restaurant on south beach. I would also host an outdoor patio BBQ at my house and grill during sunset.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The person that deserves the most recognition in my journey in entrepreneurship would be my partner and cofounder, Martin. As someone who went into starting my own business with zero business experience, having a partner who truly understands finance and business helped me to receive the mentorship, support, and encouragement that I needed especially when times were tough. It is because of Martin that I was able to face my fears head on and learn the basics of business. Whenever I doubted myself, Martin was there to encourage me. Whenever our company faced obstacles and problems, Martin was there as a support system and together we would solve them. Martin would always tell me, “Your fears are all in your head. You are capable of doing anything you want to.” He’s said this to me so many times that it has become my daily mantra. It has become a saying that I constantly refer back to and because of that, I truly manifest it in my life and in all my endeavors.