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Henry Liu is an Asian Immigrant E-commerce Marketing Expert. He is currently an Advisor to Appsumo which is run by Noah Kagan and has previously worked at Facebook in which he advised companies and helped generate a total of $450 million plus across his clients.
Growing up , he was travelling between between China and Japan.
His mom received an opportunity to attend Harvard Medical School to pursue her Post Doctorate Research and took Henry and his 2 siblings to America. Henry attended Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst in which he did his BBA in Finance- Alternative Finance.
What made you decide to pursue Finance ?
I grew up from humble beginnings, being an immigrant in America is tough. My family moved to Boston from China without really knowing anyone and really didn’t speak any English. We were all very optimistic but it was never easy. I wanted to have a stable career to support my family and I. I realized that the 2 most stable career choices at the time were either Engineering or Finance. Although both my parents are PhD’s in Physics and Medicine, I couldn’t stand Biology and Chemistry so I decided to pursue Finance instead.
I don’t know how I landed an internship in the investments department of at Liberty Mutual and it definitely didn’t go smoothly.
How did you land the internship ?
When I somehow got called in for an in- person interview. I was late by 15 minutes for a 30 minute interview and I remember blanking out on the first question:
“What’s the difference between a stock a bond?”
I told them I didn’t know. This was the department that managed $80 billion in assets for Liberty Mutual, one of the largest insurance companies in the world.
I did terrible in the interview process. I went home and broke down and thought to myself “What do I do ?” I decided to send a heartfelt personal and emotional Thank You Letter to the hiring manager thanking them for the opportunity.
I got a call back letting me know that I got selected to do an internship with Liberty Mutual. I was elated because this would be 1 step closer to my goal of a better life for my family and I.
I somehow received an offer for the internship and ended up returning for the 2nd summer and landed a full time offer in the investments department managing $13 billion in international investment grade bonds.
I was shocked and knew it wasn’t the interview that got me the job. It was the the Thank You letter. This taught me to never give up even if you fail REALLY hard the first time.
What was your proudest moment ?
It was being apart of TEDx UMass- The goal that year was organizing conference and I was leading a team of 40-50 people. It was one of those moments where I felt a sense of responsibility to ensure that this was TEDx conference was a success. We had very little time and our goal was to raise $50,000 and I was in my senior year at this point.
I went to The Career Fair- instead of asking for a job, I asked companies to be a sponsor for our TEDx Conference. I managed to secure a meeting with 2 publically traded companies; one of them “Here”- a subsidiary of Nokia and Demandware.
We raised $15,000 from these 2 companies and the rest from other institutions and investors. The event was a success as we had invited notable speakers and sold accessorized items for the conference. Also, it was a huge success with 500 attendees and you can see the speakers by searching TEDxUMassAmehurst on YouTube.The friendships, the memories I made during the conference, I will never forget them.
Why did you decide to decline an entry level role in investments?
In early October in my final year at UMass(University of Massachusetts Amherst), I accepted an offer from Liberty Mutual for an entry level role. However along the way I had developed an interest in tech companies like Facebook and Snapchat because of the impact they were having on changing the world. I realized that I didn’t like being behind the desk and I loved selling. I wanted to be in tech and specifically in sales because I wanted to learn how to interact with potential customers.
I had very little time to find a sales role before the year ended, I ended up declining the position at Liberty Mutual. I was able to land a role at Fiksu in which I was the Account Executive managing the top brands and mobile first companies in Retail, E-Commerce, Dating, Real-Estate and Growth stage startups.
I exceeded expectations of my individual goal of 138% and the team’s goal of 310%. The company grew to $100 million plus in revenue and we secured over 900 customers and brands which include: Coca-Cola, Disney, Topps, Dunkin’ Donuts and Groupon.
Our industry leading technology allowed us to partner with Facebook, Twitter, largest mobile advertising exchanges and networks to gain access to 99% of all mobile advertisement traffic in the world.
I decided to leave and thought about pursuing a role at either Google or Facebook. I was being interviewed by both organizations and in my final month, I got an offer from Facebook in their Growth Strategy department after completing the final round of interviews.
What was your lowest moment till now ?
While at Fiksu, we were doing a 3 vs 3 basketball tournament against other companies. During the game I tore my achilles tendon and I couldn’t walk(when you tear an achilles you can’t walk for about 2 months and the healing time is typically 10-12 months). I had to get surgery to fix the issue. For those that know the impact of tearing your achilles tendon, it’s a devastating feeling.
I had to have surgery and those days were dark. I had to pause everything I was doing to focus on my health. No more job searching, partying or having fun. It was time to re-prioritize my life.
I remember 1 morning 4 feet of snow fell in Boston and I didn’t have the mobility to shovel. I was crippled, broken and hurt by this injury-emotionally and physically.
However, during that time, I learnt one lesson- No matter how hard life is, the only thing you can do is keep moving forward.
What did you accomplish at Facebook and what made you leave ?
Fahad: If it was anyone else, people would kill to have your job. A six figure salary, a great benefits package, a stable career and a great environment. Why did you leave ?
Henry: At some point you realize what you are doing doesn’t align with what you want to do for the rest of your life, and I needed a change.I just didn’t want to be limited to Facebook Advertising or Growth. I wanted to learn the operations, manufacturing, supplier relations and all the other back end activities that go into running a Company.
I wanted to dig deeper into businesses. Yet my role required me to help and manage 35-50 businesses at any given time. I couldn’t give the attention to the companies that I wanted to help and learn from. I managed and advised over 100 businesses and helped them generate $150 million in ad revenue and a total of $450 million in ecommerce sales.
A few clients that taught me the most about business include: BeachBody, Everlane, OutdoorVoices, Soylent, ClassPass, Eve Sleep, Tommy John, Treehut, and Love Your Melon.
What are you currently working on ?
After living in 3 different countries for over 7 years each, I saw value in physically experiencing different cultures and connecting with local communities. We want to empower travelers to bridge the communities around the world
We have a Facebook Group called Travel Hacks in which we share our best travel tips and hacks. From how to get super cheap flight deals to finding cool places- we understand the challenges of travelling so we wanted to form a community that includes travelers from all over the world an build a community.
The decision to start a travel brand(an eCommerce store which is coming soon) is because I wanted to grow a company from the ground up and work with companies that I am passionate about working with.
I am currently also advising a few companies- one of them being Appsumo run by Noah Kagan.
What is your best travel hack ?
Be flexible and plan travel ahead of time – travelpirates.com, secretflying.com are my go to for flight deals and I got a ticket from NYC to HongKong/GuangZhou and Beijing to Vancouver round trip for $340 because of it
Teach us something about Facebook Advertising ?
Facebook advertising is no different than a giant billboard on the highway. You have 2 seconds to capture their attention and leave a lasting impression. The only difference is they now have a chance to click on it and perform action
Final Question: What is 1 quote you live by ?
“You are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with”- Jim Rohn. If I wanted to grow as a person, I needed to surround myself with the best and learn from them.
What is 1 thing entrepreneurship taught you ?
I am still early in the game- I am learning as I go. Thinking and planning have their place but a lot of it comes down to execution. You just have to keep moving, keep pushing and this is how opportunities surface.
What is your legacy ?
I want people to remember that being uncomfortable is okay. Surrounding yourself with people smarter than you is vitally important. My mission is to empower people to travel and meet other communities and learn other cultures. By doing so, we can create a world with more compassion and empathy for one another.