In episode two I talked to my sister-in-law, Tran Bui Smith, about  her experience as a Vietnamese refugee in the US, her career as an Emmy-award winning media personality, and how she transitioned to being a mom and non-profit founder.

Listen now!

You can also find this episode on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

A little about Tran: She is an Emmy award-winning host/producer, was a news reporter and anchor in Tallahassee, Ft. Smith, and Memphis, is co-founder of Little Helpers family volunteer group, and is a mother of Jackson and Ava.



Show notes:

  • Fleeing Vietnam: During the “Fall of Saigon” in 1975, Tran’s parents fled on a boat with three very young daughters. They left on a fishing boat with no family or belonging, eventually were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard and landed in a refugee camp in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. They were scared but “their hope was bigger.”
  • Takeaways from experience – Tran’s key memory was that people in the refugee camp were very giving. Her parents had to start over with no language skills, money or belongings, but were able to find housing and eventually jobs in part because of the kindness of others. Looking back on this helps Tran put life’s minor challenges into perspective and makes her appreciate everything she has.
  • Values driven by her parents: Education was very important to her parents- they knew possibilities were endless via education . They also exhibited very strong work ethic. Understanding her parents’ sacrifice has been a strong source of motivation.

I’m not going to let everything they worked for fall by the wayside.


  • Her start in media – Had planned to be a business woman and was working on undergrad degree in business. A friend encouraged her to apply for an open news job. A lightbulb came on – “I felt like I had found my passion.”
  • Early work ethic – Tran  didn’t want to fail, didn’t want to let anyone down. Worked late nights and weekends, obsessed with the work. She couldn’t wait to get to work each day. She experienced different roles on her path to reporter and anchor, so she appreciates all the work that goes into each.
  • “Biggest obstacle was me” – Tran wasn’t a journalism major and was hesitant about the things she didn’t know. She wishes she could tell her younger self to take more risks and push herself more.  She still feels lack of confidence at times but know that it’s a good sign that she still gets butterflies.

If you stop feeling that adrenaline rush, then you’ve lost that passion.

  • Shifting focus to family – The decision leaving her full-time job was very tough. Some people told her not to do it. Everyone seemed to have an opinion. Tran’s husband was supportive, but wanted her to choose what was right for her. You have to go with your gut. You may not know right away you made the right choice, but now she has no regrets.
  • Experience Freelancing – Did various freelance jobs but determined on-camera work, writing, and producing are her passions. Now gets to focus on positive stories. She has more flexibility in choosing jobs that will work with home life.
  • Critical to her success in freelancing – First, Tran and her husband have to be on the same page. Second, she puts herself out there and takes advantage of new media for connecting. Third, she establishes strong personal and professional relationships.
  • Importance of relationships / Tips for staying in touch – Her start in media was due to knowing the right person and then getting strong support from others. Her key projects now come from friend referrals. Tran genuinely wants to know what people are doing and has stayed in touch via email, Facebook, etc. Everyone should make the time for this.
  • Founding Little Helpers – Realized her kids had SO much and was worried about them appreciating everything they have. She wanted them to value being compassionate and kind to others. Planned a service project every month, then started inviting other families to join. In six years they have not missed one month! In hindsight, volunteers came into her life at a very early age and had a tremendous impact on her life, now she is able to give back. Having it on the calendar holds her accountable to giving every month. It’s nice that it’s time spent with your family as opposed to another commitment that takes you away from the family.


  • Embrace change – Change can be scary, but what a beautiful thing when you learn something new, meet someone new, or expose your children to something different.
  • Don’t look down on hard work – Early career she learned not to be afraid to work in smaller markets, work long hours, talk to someone in a different department. Have an open mind and an open heart.

Change can be scary, but what a beautiful thing when you learn something new, meet someone new, or expose your children to something different.

Thanks for listening to episode two. If you have a second, an iTunes review would be MUCH appreciated, as it will allow others to discover this podcast and the incredible women it highlights. -Becky