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Jay Kim is a full-time investor and entrepreneur. He is the host of the popular podcast The Jay Kim Show, and the founder of Hack Your Fitness, the complete fitness & lifestyle solution for busy professionals and entrepreneurs. He works with world-class athletes and other high performers to help them achieve fitness results that are sustainable for life. Jay is an active early-stage investor and avid supporter of the start-up ecosystem in Asia.
City where you’re from: Hong Kong
Hobbies: Hacking Anything
Favorite quote: “Never give up what you want most for what you want today.” – Neal A. Maxwell
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
My entrepreneurial journey started off the same as most others. I was working in a day job in finance which I hated, for a boss I didn’t get along with, and was miserable every single day. The problem was that the job was paying me good money, just enough money to ensure that I wouldn’t just quit and pursue something else. So I began using that time exploring different businesses I could invest in to generate additional income. Initially I never looked outside of the world of finance and since it was the only area of expertise I thought I had, I focused my efforts on this space. It wasn’t long before I realized that my main motivation for getting into the industry was simply for money and not out of passion or interest in the actual field. It was only then that I opened up my eyes to the possibility of pursuing something outside of finance, on my own.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
Life changing events always trigger the strongest emotions and they served as defining moments in my entrepreneurial journey. The first one occurred with the birth of my eldest daughter. It was that spark that put my work life into such an extreme perspective. On the one hand I was so overwhelmed with the joy and happiness I felt being at home with my newborn daughter only to have this completely offset by the pain and depression I felt when I had to leave her each morning to report to a job that I hated. It was the catalyst that moved me to take action in my entrepreneurial journey.
The second life event that defined my journey was much more recent and that was when my father passed away unexpectedly last year. It gave me a whole new sobering perspective on finding my purpose in life and fueled me to attack my entrepreneurial ventures with passion.
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
I just published a book called Hack Your Fitness. It officially launches at the end of March and it’s a concise guide that teaches readers the simple science behind body recomposition. The idea to write the book came after years of frustration and wheel spinning in my own personal fitness journey and I wanted to share my findings to help anyone who might have experienced the same frustrations I did.
How is your product/service different and unique? What has been your favorite moment with it? What’s the vision?
The Hack Your Fitness system is very much geared towards busy professionals and high achievers who don’t want to spend a ton of time on their fitness each week, but still want to look great. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about biohacking which is all the rage these days. I’m talking about the very simple science that anyone can and should learn to get their fitness under control in as little amount of time possible. It’s a system I wish someone had taught me 15 years ago when I first started working out which would have saved me years of effort. For the longest time I was enslaved to this idea that exercise was something I just had to do since it was good for my health and it was always a means to offset my otherwise unhealthy lifestyle. I would feel so guilty after having a big social night out and would kill myself the next day in the gym to pay for my sins. Now that I’ve hacked fitness I have complete freedom and control over my life.
I truly believe that the number one productivity tool for entrepreneurs is a commitment to fitness and my vision is to educate as many people as possible and show them how to find freedom in fitness which will positively affect their future potential for success in life.
What’s the best marketing technique in the fitness space?
In fitness the best marketing is by word of mouth. Websites these days are littered with before/after transformation pictures and there are a surprising number of fakes or copied testimonials out there. Nothing is more powerful than hearing about a personal transformation firsthand and this has proven to be a very good channel to market my brand. I selectively coach a very small handful of students and when people see the shocking transformations I put them through, the marketing comes automatically.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
I pretty much fail at something every single day of my life. Failure is something that even the most successful entrepreneurs face regularly but it is how they manage it which differentiates the successful from the rest. Successes and failures always are always magnified as an entrepreneur and the smallest thing can bring such joy and satisfaction just as quickly as the smallest hiccup can seem like the end of the world.
One thing that helps tremendously is obtaining a level of financial security before embarking on your entrepreneurial venture. I always tell young aspiring entrepreneurs to never quit their day job until they have some sort of financial metric that will justify that action. Whether that is a month or two of proven income from the new venture or some other metric like a healthy savings balance, just try to take as much of the financial constraints off the table before jumping in full time. I’m not sure what the exact statistic is anymore, but something like 80-90% of all new businesses fail within the first 18 months, so why not keep your day job for those first 18 months while you are building that business on the side and reduce some of the financial risk?
I still work a full time day job and I actively pursue my own entrepreneurial projects at the same time. I believe that if you’re really good at what you do, you don’t need to quit your day job to have things on the side because it should not require the full breadth of your capacity in the way it might for someone who’s not quite as good at that same occupation.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
There is an inspiring book co-written by Michael Hyatt called Living Forward. In the book, he takes you through an exercise where you write out your own obituary and use that as a basis to reverse engineer your life goals and path. It’s an unconventional yet extremely powerful way to reframe how you view your life from the perspective of how you want to be remembered when you’re gone.
Do you know any useful tools to be more productive or do better marketing?
I literally just learned about a cool new marketing tool called GMass from my friend Sol Orwell. He wrote a great post about how to develop deeper relationships within your LinkedIn network and he recommends this tool. I’m still learning the ropes but from what I’ve seen/tested so far it is very powerful.
While working on your project, have you come across any interesting bit of knowledge that you’d like to share? (i.e. any new research finding, any new platforms, some novel management technique, etc)
I researched a lot of productivity tools and tips as I was writing my book and one that I stumbled upon that really helped me focus is the Pomodoro Technique. It essentially is a way to break up your writing (or any task) into intervals, taking scheduled breaks in between work sessions. I found it to be extremely helpful with focus.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
One of my favorite quotes comes from Neal A. Maxwell. He says “Never give up what you want the most for what you want today.” This goes well beyond simple goal setting. To become an entrepreneur you really need to have a certain level of obsession with what you are working on. What that means is you make a lot of sacrifices in life but they don’t seem like sacrifices to you because you are so fixated on achieving your goal that you are willing to give up things like sleep, social life, or TV. Entrepreneurship is a long journey and there are no such things as overnight successes. But if you remain disciplined, patient, and focused on your goal you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish while your friends are out partying or binge watching Netflix.
What are some of your favorite books?
One of my favorite books is called Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur written by Derek Sivers who was the founder of CD Baby. Derek is a masterful writer and was able to concisely articulate his entrepreneurial lessons in a short 96 page book chock full of wisdom. It is a must read for every aspiring entrepreneur. Another one of my favorite books is called Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink. In it he explores the invisible scripts that dictate our eating behavior. It is a fascinating study on human psychology.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
I’m very focused on serving as many people as I can over the next several years in as many ways as possible. One channel I can do that through is Hack Your Fitness. Another channel I use is my podcast The Jay Kim Show where I profile successful entrepreneurs and business leaders with the goal of providing actionable insights to my audience around the world. At some point I should start thinking about how to fully scale and monetize these channels but I guess I’m fortunate enough right now that I don’t have a heavy financial burden to distract me from my main goal.