Laila Cheng


Independent Agent


Surviving a terrorist attack in Nepal, my nicknames “Anego” and “LanLan,” or how to sneak across the Vietnam-Cambodia border without a visa.


Laila was born with “freedom” flashing in neon from her heart. This self-confessed Daddy’s girl actually grew up a tomboy who refused to wear skirts, fishing and exploring caves with her brother in and around her hometown harbor on Taiwan’s northern coast. When her father moved the family to Panama, young Laila dove headfirst into the deep end of Latin America’s cultural melting pot, its kaleidoscope of rhythms and flavors. And just like that she was hooked on newness and the joy of making connections with other people. On travel. From India’s clamorous streets to the idyllic mountains of Laos and far beyond, she has explored forty countries to date, always taking time to interface deeply with the locals. She could have gone native almost anywhere, so how lucky are we that, while here studying to become an ikebana expert eight years ago, she settled on Japan as her base. But it feels like destiny. Because long before knowing our philosophy, Laila was manifesting it: not work-life balance, but integration; not mercenary me-first, but giving back. Indeed, becoming Zensho Agency’s IT expert was an organic fit for one so committed to liberation and kindness, who measures success not in yen but by how much she improves other people’s lives. Laila’s greatest pleasures include Japanese literature, temples, shrines, onsen, practicing yoga, and adding to her rice wine and shochu wisdom at kikizake events. Ours include Laila.

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Values: A message to our awesome tribe

Years from now, you may not remember the particulars of deals you closed at Zensho (or what the returns were). You will remember your colleagues and how it felt to work with them. The imprint you left on the world.

We invited you to join our tribe because you impressed us as someone who shares values intrinsic to our culture. But just to ensure we’re totally on the same page, here they are, spelled out in black and white and trimmed in our corporate colors.

Freedom is Zensho’s central pillar. Beyond the mere state of being free, for us the word carries with it a sense of obligation: “Freedom to…” What follows should define you as a person. Of course, to provide your business community with amazing service, but also to engage and give back to the world. And that’s where Autonomy comes in. Unlike the general implications of self-rule, ours leads not to detachment but to a broad and radical sense of interconnectivity. One that enables each of us to commune with others in infinite ways. Together, these two values empower you like nothing else on earth, and they’re here waiting for you.

So, what do we ask in return?

Transparency means not only having open books, but being one yourself. No secrets or ulterior agendas. It is to share personal and industry information without seeking to leverage it for profit or motivate others in any way. Its cousin, Clarity, is about including precision and context in the communication process. At Zensho, we always try to anticipate the details a fellow partner might need and supply them up front.

Which leads us to…

Collaboration. That is, to cooperate meaningfully. Because only through recognizing individual strengths can we thrive as a whole. For us, collaboration requires presence as we listen and respond, evolving toward a collective goal represented by the name of our charity initiative: Ayni (reciprocity). This can’t exist without Collegiality. How we care for each other and the tribe as a whole, share both opportunity and responsibility with open hearts – that’s what empowers us to excel as a firm.

With these six in place, our seventh value happens all by itself.

Harmony. When your environment manifests balance between all people and things – even forces that oppose each other – life just flows. Living completely becomes a state of being. After all, that’s the very meaning of Zensho.