I consider myself successful, because I do what I love for a living, and I’m not homeless. I feel I’ve found the secret to success, and I want to share that key with you.
Ok, the world is incredible. The chance of you to die from starvation is nil. You will not die of thirst. You will not die from the cold.
This is how I liberated myself:
- I realized I can feed myself on $2 a day, on eggs. $60 a month on food.
- I realized all I need to drink is water and coffee. I probably spend $5 a day on coffee (which is where I get free wifi, and is my creative studio). $150 a month.
- I found out I can live in a very nice hotel in Saigon for $20 a night, which is $600 a month.
Plus random expenses, I can live on less than $1,000 USD a month. My real expenses are probably closer to $3,000 USD a month, from credit card bills, eating out, server costs, and traveling.
But if shit hit the fan, I could just move in back with my mom or Cindy’s mom.
My first mindset for success, knowing the maximum downside.
I got nothing to lose. Maximum downside (moving in with moms) is good. Free food, free rent, and family love.
Two. Thank GOD for the internet
Okay, I don’t know how other folks make money, but I make money via the internet. I accept payments via PayPal (digital currency), I have a platform (this blog), and I earn my living curating expenses, teaching workshops, and selling HAPTIC products produced by CINDY.
I don’t need to pay for overhead. The more I produce in terms of digital goods (ebooks, blog posts, videos, photos, text, information, etc) the more I “succeed.”
The more I publish and hustle, the more folks come to this website. And then more folks sign up for my workshops, and buy HAPTIC products. And buy my books. And the more money I make.
Therefore, my secret to success has been:
- Publish more.
- Make more money.
Three. Publishing more
What do I publish?
- Blog posts
For me, I try to publish more encouragement. I publish art. I publish things that inspire others. I publish stuff that fights visual boredom. I publish ideas which I hope empowers others.
I also try to publish this mindset of winning (thanks Vu).
I found some secrets to make better photos via composition and soul. And I share all this information, because I believe everyone has the right to have access to information that can empower them. I grew up poor, and I only was able to become “successful” from the help of my mentors and mom. And also help from the US government.
Four. Produce more and earn more
Another key to success in today’s capitalist economy:
The more you give and produce, the more you shall receive.
The problem with today’s society: we expect to get something for nothing.
America is weird. We work hard, yet we are entitled.
The secret to failure: entitlement.
What is entitlement? Thinking that others will help you for no reason. A lot of us are leeches off the government, or our families.
Five. Pull off the leeches.
Let me give you a personal story.
My Dad is who taught me not to be entitled. Why? Because he was the ultimate leech.
My Dad is weird. He worked really hard in Korea, mastering English, starting his own business in America, and going to business school. He was an entrepreneur and hustler.
Yet somewhere, he lost it.
Maybe it was a mental disorder or some disease. I have no idea.
Anyways, from the age of 2, my dad never held down a job. My mom was essentially a wage slave, working minimum wage, under the table, to just hustle to pay the bills, rent, and to keep me and my sister Anna alive.
This is what I remember from my dad:
- Him smoking lots of cigarettes: this is why I have never taken a puff from a cigarette. And why I’m morally opposed to cigarettes.
- Watching a lot of movies: he introduced me to “Life is beautiful” and Schindler’s list and other great avant-garde film at a young age. Thanks Dad. But why didn’t you ever direct your own movie? Too afraid? Anyways I’ll continue where you left off, I’ll become the next Alfred Hitchcock.
- Excuses: you always made excuses about everything. Your health, lack of money, opportunity. Whatever. You taught me to ever make excuses.
- Lying: you lied about everything, even petty shit. I learned to never lie, because it ruined our family.
Anyways, my dad was the ultimate “anti role model.” Seeing his laziness pissed me off, so it made me become a hustler. Seeing how he was a leech, I took pride in being self-made.
So in short, my entrepreneurial hustle fame from my dads laziness. I guess this was one of the good things about growing poor.
No resentment to my dad. Never did. But I learned from his mistakes. And he helped mold me into who I am (through his anti role model), and biologically I’m part of him.
Six. Tomorrow is never
I remember coining a phrase that I would just tell myself in my mind:
Tomorrow is never.
When I was 18, and had business opportunities or anything I wanted to do, I just did it. If I met someone at a party who could help me, I would always email to follow up.
Cindy helped me a lot. She is the one who taught me to “just do it.” I would always annoy her with my ideas. She empowered me to make the PHOTOGRAPHY CLUB AT UCLA with my friends Daniel Jeong and John Son, she encouraged me to start this blog, and has essentially given me a twin-turbo upgrade to my V12 engine. Thank you Cindy.
So I guess a secret to success:
Marry someone who empowers you.
Cindy is my jetpack, who told me to just do it.
Now together, we’re going to break the orbit.
Seven. Love controversy
I used to be afraid of passing people off. Now, when there is some controversy, I think it is hilarious. I love taking risks, and ruffling some feathers here and there. I’m like a The God Dionysus – I like to joke and fuck around.
To be frank, I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m not afraid of going broke. Because the truth is, “all press is good press.”
The only sort to failure:
Nobody who is boring has ever become “successful.”
Eight. My definition of success
How do I define success?
Do what you love without being homeless.
I love writing, making poems, music, art, culture, philosophy, science, conversation, dance, theater, and just being alive, and having the privilege to help others. At best, I’ll live to be 100 years old. I’m running out of time, and my life has no recharging cable for my iPhone at 10% charge.
Of course in today’s capitalist society, “success” is measured via dollars, commas, and zeros. Truth be told, money helps a lot.
For me, money is a tool of exchange. I feel like I’m a slave that has bought his own freedom with my money. And now, I’m using my money to buy the freedom of my sister and mom, and the entire familia. Then to help empower my friends, and then of course, the entire world.
I think it makes sense to first help yourself, then help your family, help your friends, your local community, then all of humanity.
Nine. HELP YOURSELF FIRST (BE SELFISH.)
The most important thing: help yourself first. Because if you ain’t selfish, you will be bitter and resentful for your entire life. So you gotta do what you love, and ignore others before you can put your mind in a mental state of positivity, creativity, and love.
Modern society (if you’re Christian) tells you not to be selfish. We gotta be like Jesus, and crucify ourselves for others.
Now I’m a Christian and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. But before you devote your life to empower and help others, you gotta first build yourself up.
How can you help others if you’re weak?
You gotta become fucking strong. Then help those weaker than you. If you’re weak, how can you help your fellow brothers, sisters, daughters, mothers, or fathers?
How do you become strong? Some things which have helped me:
1. Don’t fear going broke
you will not starve to death or die. So don’t fear going broke. You’ll be fine. Then you will be able to take a lot more risks in life, to become grand.
2. Never doubt yourself / cut away nay-savers in your life
take “calculated risks”, don’t be dumb. But never doubt yourself, your dreams, or ideals. I fucking hate all these nay-sayers on the internet. Now, I’m only surrounding myself with “yay-sayers”. The secret: be fucking ruthless and cut out the negative folks in your life. This includes friends, family, or random folks on the internet.
3. MEMENTO MORI / remember you will die.
SPOILER ALERT: one day you will die.
Do you want to be on your deathbed, regretting not taking more chances, and more risks in life?
I see life like Heraclitus: a child playing with sand castles on the beach. No matter what we build, time and eternity’s endless currents will wash it away. But why not have fun while we’re alive?
Jeff Bezos (one of my heros) calls this the “regret minimization framework.” This means, imagine yourself at age 90 on your death bed, and try to live life to minimize regret.
We don’t know what makes us “happy”, but we often know what we might regret not doing.
To minimize regret in life: take more chances and risks.
Quit your job, or get that new job that requires you to uproot and travel. Don’t settle with an abusive partner. Don’t follow the cookie-cutter path to life. Avoid being raised the “Asian” way (going to a good college then getting a “safe” job being a doctor, layer, dentist) and buying a house.
Love to take risks :)
Ten. Never stop reinventing yourself
Be like David Bowie, always re inventing himself. Same with Picasso, he always switched his style up. Same thing with Kanye and Jay-Z, constantly changing their style, and presentation. To avoid boredom, but to also court attention.
For me, to reinvent yourself is to refuse to be type-casted. Don’t be like Will Ferrell, who can only play one “humorous” role.
Refuse to be put into a box. Un-define yourself. Never put a label on yourself.
Avoid boredom. Change yourself to just keep life fun for you. A child doesn’t label their art, their playing, or life. They just do what they are curious about and avoid what makes them feel bored.
You are a child. Your life is short. Have fun, make money, and seek to empower yourself, then your family, your friends, then all of humanity.
I feel the ultimate “human flourishing” is empowering others. And the more you give, the more you will receive, to continue to give more.
This is the “Positive feedback loop of life”.
If you want to make a living (or a killing) from photography, download PHOTOGRAPHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP MANUAL by ERIC KIM.
Expanded Table of Contents
Learn how to make a living from your passion:
- Preface. BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PHOTOGRAPHY
- Chapter 1. How to Create Value
- Chapter 2. ZEN CAPITALISM
- Chapter 3. Scarcity
- Chapter 4. How to Brand Yourself
- Chapter 5. How to Build a True Following
- Chapter 6. The Blueprint to Success in Photography
- Chapter 7. HOW TO BE BOLD
- Chapter 8. How to Sell Out
- Chapter 9. GO AGAINST THE GRAIN
- Chapter 10. EXTREME ABUNDANCE
- Chapter 11. Photography Experience Economy
- Chapter 12. Why You Should Make Money for Your Photography
- Chapter 13. How to Become a Famous Photographer
Photography Business 101
How to Make Money with Photography
- How to Charge More Money in Your Photography
- Why You Should Not Pursue Photography as Career
- Can Photography Make You Rich?
- How I Earn $200,000+ a Year From Photography
- How to earn $10,000 a month as a photographer
- Why you must be an expensive photographer
Photography Marketing 101
- Why You Should Do Photography Work For Free
- How I Became an Internet Famous Photographer
- Photography Blogging Ideas
- Why You Should Promote Your Own Name
- How to Build a Following
- How to Stand Out as a Photographer.
- HOW TO GO VIRAL AS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
- How to Master Marketing
- How to Sell Yourself
How to Hustle.
- Entrepreneurial Advice to My 18 Year Old Self
- How to Become Insanely Productive.
- 5 Lessons From Hesiod on Hustling
- It is Better to Beg For Forgiveness Than Ask For Permission
- The Free Way to Become Rich
- JUST DO IT.
- 7 Steps: How to Make a Living From Your Passion
- How to Do What You Love for a Living
- How to Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- How to Fail Big
- How to Invest in Yourself
- How to Be Bold in Photography and Life
- Mission: Cover Your Rent and Food
- 1,000 True Fans
- The “10x Principle”: The Only Difference Between “Success” and “Failure”
- Make More Value Not Money
- We Live in a Photo Utopia
How to be a Full-time Photographer
- How to Make a Living From Photography
- The 3 Principles of Making Money With Photography
- Advice for Aspiring Full-Time Photographers
- Don’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography
- How to Brand Yourself as a Photographer
- Trust: The Most Important Thing You Need to Succeed as a Photographer
- How to become rich from photography blogging
- How to Make a Living with Blogging
- 50 Blogging Tips For Beginners
- How to Start Your Own Photography Blog
- A Photographer’s Guide to SEO, Blogging, and Social Media
How to Teach Photography
- How to Become a Photography Teacher
- How to Teach a Street Photography Class
- Why I Teach Street Photography Workshops
- Why I Deleted My Instagram
- The Social Media Blackbook for Photographers
- Why Do You Need More Likes or Followers?
- Instagram is Going to Be the Next Facebook
- Don’t Trust “Free” Photography Social Networks
How to Save Money
Take your street photography to the next level:
- August 27 (Friday): SEATTLE MASTER STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP - [NOW LIVE!]
- September 11 (Saturday): DOWNTOWN LA ADVANCED STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP - [NEW!]
Be notified of when new workshops are live here.