Home / Profiles / Alice Guo, Making an Impact with Speaking Academy

Alice Guo, Making an Impact with Speaking Academy

Alice Guo, Making an Impact with Speaking Academy

By Jennie L. Ilustre

Everyone has a turning point in life. Something, an event or perhaps a decision, dramatically changes things. For Alice Guo, Founder and CEO of Impact Speaking Academy, her turning point came “when my aunt in China nudged me to leave my comfort zone and come to America with two bags of dreams.”

She taught at a top university in China teaching English for nearly five years. In 1997, she came to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in accounting.She was a CPA, financial adviser and entrepreneur before she started the Academy.

Alice traced the idea for the Academy in email and phone interviews, and one could sense her confidence, warmth and high-octane energy. “I started the Little Leader Club when my son turned 5 in 2011,” she recalled. “The following year, I started coaching young kids the art of public speaking. In the fall, I began to teach the first English public speaking class at Hope Chinese School Chantilly campus in Virginia, when my son, Joshua Nakhavanit, enrolled there to learn Chinese.”

In 2013, after the birth of her daughter Joy, she founded the Academy. She considered other names, including Ambition Speaking Academy and Legend Speaking Academy.

She had a list of over 30 names. She sent it to all her friends, asking them to cast their vote. Finally, she chose Impact Speaking Academy. “I have a vision that our coaches are more than just speech coaches,” she explained.  “We are also making a profound impact in the thinking and life of students.”

Impact Speaking Academy Chief Inspiration Officer (CIO) Edmond Joe
Impact Speaking Academy Chief Inspiration Officer (CIO) Edmond Joe

At a summer camp in 2013, she ran into Edmond Joe and invited him as chief judge of speech contests. As her students grew in number, she started to build her team. In the fall of 2013, she invited Edmond to teach a speech class at Chinese school on Sundays, while she taught three classes. Edmond became theAcademy’s Chief Inspiration Officer (CIO) and Coach. Alice describes him as “an incredible friend and business partner.”


For Edmond, his turning point came when he was crowned the winner of the 2009 District 27 Toastmasters Humorous Speech contest. He won “out of pool of 4,500 Toastmasters.”

“When I was growing up, I was very, very shy,” recalled Edmond.  I was a typical Asian without knowing it–shy in school, good in math, and I even played the violin. There were very few Asians in Fort Worth, Texas, where I grew up. I didn’t even speak English till I was five years old.”  Being a champion “provided me with the confidence to break out of my shell, and feel confident in public speaking.”

Alice herself joined Toastmasters International in 2000. Her first speech, “Alice in Yonderland,” about her funny experiences in Tennessee, won her the first place in the Humorous Speech Contest at the club, area level, and 2nd place in the division level. Six months later, she competed in the International Speech Contest in the Inspirational Speech category. She won in three levels, and out of the pool of 4,500 toastmaster members, garnered 2nd place.

The pair’s Toastmaster experience resonates with their students. “Our classes are not designed only for Chinese Americans,” Edmond also pointed out. “Every child will benefit from our program. The Academy provides a tremendous opportunity to help others.”


The Academy’s work speaks for itself. Melody Shi is the mother of Lucy Cai, age 11 and currently a fifth grader in Oak Hill Elementary School. In an email interview, she wrote about her daughter’s transformation.

“Lucy started her first group speech class with Coach Alice during summer last year. I still remember how nervous and fidgety she was when asked to go up to the front, facing the rest of class and talk about herself and her family.

“However, with the well-structured, interactive and creative curriculum, it really didn’t take long (just a couple of classes) for me to notice the change in Lucy, who completely opened up and often raised her hand for an opportunity to speak up or lead an activity. At that moment, I knew I made the right decision signing her up.

“Today, I realized it’s even more a brilliant decision to have her keep up till now, because her change in the past 10 months was simply transformational, benefiting from the consistent practices on prepared or impromptu speech, comedy club and bi-monthly speech contests, etc. ‘Shy’ is no longer a word to describe Lucy in front of a large audience. She now describes herself as ‘a confident speaker with good sense of humor.’”

Alice said there are “many parents who have been giving us ‘rave’ reviews, commenting on how our classes have changed their children in a profound way.” The Academy plans to compile the testimonials and post them on its website.

Between the classes at Impact Speaking Academy and classes at Hope Chinese School Chantilly campus in Virginia, there have been over 350students, and the number is growing. The kids’ age range is 7 to 16. At the Academy, each session is 90 minutes and costs $35. An entire ten-session course of public speaking, creative activities and speech contests costs $350.Last January, Alice added a Comedy Club for kids.

The Academy is Social Media-savvy. It entices potential students with an upbeat YouTube presentation. Edmond said the website, (www.impactspeak.us), “is now up and running.” The twitter handle is @ImpactSpeaking. Follow the Academy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Impact-Speaking-Academy/294063304090350.

Parents as Inspiration

Both Alice and Edmond trace their inspiration to their families. Edmond’s parents ran a successful Chinese restaurant business for 25 years. “My parents are my biggest role model,” said Edmond. “They proved that success is achievable through hard work, determination and common sense.”

Alice describer her parents, who still live in China, as possessing lots of wisdom. “They taught me to have a loving, generous and forgiving heart. They showed me how to be quick to praise and slow to criticize. They have influenced me to get along with all kinds of personalities. I attribute my people skill largely to my mom, a math teacher in a middle school. I inherited my sensitivity and creativity from my dad, who was a doctor.”

Alice said son Joshua and her one-year-old baby daughter Joy, have also been her inspiration.  Joshua inspired her to write his Legends with over 200 mini-stories and children’s poems, and to start a Little Leader Club, which evolved into the Impact Speaking Academy.

Ideal Coaches

Both Alice and Edmond are excellent coaches, friends and those who’ve worked with them on projects agree. Toni McGillen praised Alice’s pioneering spirit, passion and perseverance. “She has the ability to spur enthusiasm in others to dream big,take chances and pursue unchartered waters. She has an undeniable drive that inspires all who know her.”

Susan Otim-Neal said Alice is “intellectually curious, and constantly challenges herself and others. She follows through on ideas, dreams and goals.”

In phone and email interviews, Executive Achievement, LLC President Heath Suddleson said: “Beyond his technical skills of having studied the subject for over 15 years, Edmond puts his students first. He works with their strengths and focuses on their individual gaps to help them understand where they want to be and how to get there.”

“He’s great with adults and fantastic with children,” he added. “It’s so difficult for people to be able to work with both, and Edmond seems to transition back and forth effortlessly.”

Alice’s friend Tony Wang, Director at Williams Adley in D.C. wrote: “Edmond is very funny and has a warm personality.  Most of the public speeches he has given are humorous but have deep thoughts and inspiring stories. This helps him to build close and genuine relationships with the kids attending the Impact Speaking Academy.”

Photo shows Alice Guo, Founder and CEO of Impact Speaking Academy (center), with some of her students.
Photo shows Alice Guo, Founder and CEO of Impact Speaking Academy (center), with some of her students.

Secrets of Speakers

Creativity and humor are the pair’s trademarks as coaches. Alice and Edmond joined an Improv (improvisation) comedy class in Arlington, Virginia to learn even more about applying humor in speeches. Alice wrote a poem last May, “The Magic about Speech.”

There is magic in my speech!

It calls dolphins to the beach.

Eye contact brings tears to each.

Then they treat me a yummy quiche.

There is magic in my speech!

It sets dogs free from their leash.

Body language once you unleash.

All your stories are in Deutsch.

There is magic in my speech!

I was coached by Mr. MacLesish.

Vocal variety helps you outreach.

You never hear the audience say, “sheesh.”

There is magic in my speech!

It gathers penguins munching a peach.

Story-telling can teach and preach.

I save my legends in a microfiche.

There is magic in my speech!

It thunderously dispels any leech.

Paint word pictures not to screech.

While I stand on a tree-stump of beech.

There is magic in my speech!

I can shoot from a King’s Breech.

An opening, body, and end to beseech.

It’s President Nixon I’m about to impeach.

There is magic in my speech!

All the king’s men can’t make your rich.

Humor and jokes throw you out of a ditch.

In a flash of lightening they laugh in stitch.

There is magic in my speech!

In a cab ride I learned from Mr. Friesz.

Magic of 3 enthralls beyond Pastiche.

Audience’s under a spell without hashish.

There is magic in my speech!

It gives goose bumps to an ostrich.

Inspirations blast off your personal niche.

You can even bewitch a wicked witch.

There is magic in my speech!

I can pitch and hitch Hurricane Mitch.

Leadership equips you the power to enrich.

Let’s move the world in a twitch without a glitch!

Asian Fortune is an English language newspaper for Asian American professionals in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Visit fb.com/asianfortune to stay up to date with our news and what’s going on in the Asian American community.