Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?
I don’t have the typical rags to riches story. I have a great family, average class for the most part. Coming from a Vietnamese household, entrepreneurship or anything closely related to what I’m doing was 100% out of the question and unheard of. My path in life was supposed to be safe and steady, went to a great school, graduated, got an expensive degree. Being from Silicon Valley, it was pretty much inevitable that I would end up in the high tech startup field. It was the norm you could say. My career started in financial technology and I worked in marketing and communications. I was expecting that to be my life for the next few years. Going to work every day just made me miserable. I was working the 9-5 ,40-60 grueling hours a week.
Sometimes even more. And just doing the same thing over and every single day just played this biggest mental toll on my well- being. I did not expect to be in chained to a desk every single day for the rest of my life One day, literally out of the blue, the CEO announced that the company ran out of funding, and everyone was fired in a matter of days (this was pretty typical for most startups). On one side, I was ecstatic. It was my opportunity to finally try something new. Dive into what everyone is calling entrepreneurship.. That was what I needed. But on the other, I was terrified. I didn’t even a severance package. My stable income literally disappeared overnight. Like everybody, I wanted to make money and be financially stable So I stumbled into the online space and I tried everything.. E-commerce. dropshipping. crowdfunding.
Content creation. Social media management. Affiliate marketing, Network marketing. I was in a weird pyramid scheme. You name it. After some time, I had about 9 out of 10 projects failed. And one of my e-commerce brands finally clicked, and I was able to grow that past 6 figures in less than one year. But I was young and careless. We got into serious legal trouble with one of the largest corporations in the US. And this bankrupted the entire company. I lost everything. After that I was left with $14 to my name. From there, I figured I had two choices… either work for another company (which I didn’t want to) or start another business. I started to realize that paid advertising / advertising campaigns were something that was in huge demand by all sorts of businesses.
Using nothing but a dinky laptop and wifi connection, I started Highstoke Media. The past 6 months alone, I was able to scale that past 6-figures working with some of my dream clients. Now I’m coaching other entrepreneurs how to do the same – to learn how to create their own digital marketing agencies from the ground up, and turning their passions into profit. On top of it all, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world doing what I love and making impact at the same time. It’s crazy how much has changed in a year!
Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
My rock bottom. After I got fired from my 9-5 job, I decided to put every single dollar I had into growing an e-commerce brand. I was able to crowdfund over $100,000 and grew that company from zero to a 6-figure brand in less than a year. Being young and careless, we got into legal troubles with one of the largest corporations in the U.S. which literally bankrupted the whole company in a few days. The company that I grew from the ground up to 6 figures was literally ripped apart in front of me. Desperate to try to get everything back, I gambled away (I struggled with a gambling addiction) over $100,000 of my life savings, a lot of which I borrowed from my own grandma to start the business. After it was all said and done, paying off the debt, legal fees, inventory, etc.
I was dead broke and had $14 to my name. I had a ton of anxiety and filled with depression at that point, and was drowning in alcohol every night to fall asleep. I lost everything I had and wanted to give up, and that was rock bottom for me. Rather than giving up, I realized that if this entrepreneurship game was easy, everyone would do it. If I wanted to be the 1% and have complete financial freedom, I had to be willing to do what 99% of people won’t. And if that was my rock bottom, the only way for me to go at that moment was up.
So I decided to leverage my everything I’ve ever learned (digital marketing / paid advertising), start over, and create a brand new business based off that skillset. And that’s how Highstoke Media started. Since then, I’ve been able to get back on my feet, grow the company past 6 figures in less than 6 months, and have launched a wildly successful online program with dozens of other entrepreneurs and their own success stories.