Welcome to Episode 3 of Industry Change. This week Richard interviews Gary Ng founder of E-Web Marketing in Sydney about what’s coming up in the technology space, how to build a success culture in your business and the challenges of stepping away from the day to day running of your business.
Gary founded his business 18 years ago and is now the Chief Visionary Officer (CVO), casting vision and building culture rather than dealing with the day to day running of the business. He talks to Richard about the initial challenges & fear that came from that decision.
These days Gary pursues other enterprises and focuses on his role as a socialpreneur with his vision of bringing the message of success, happiness and fun to 500 million people. He discusses with Richard how he discovered his vision and why it’s so important for the success of his business and life.
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Richard T.: Welcome back to Industry Change. My name is Richard Toutounji, and today I wanted to bring someone on the show, that we could talk all about, like, what’s next, what’s next in business. I’ve got Gary Ng. Welcome.
Gary Ng: Hey, thanks for having me.
Richard T.: Thanks for having me in your office, Gary. And, actually, when we say “in your office,” you’re really never here, and I wanted to actually touch on that point with our listeners. Gary, you’re a CVO. Talk about what a CVO is.
Gary Ng: So, I’m the chief vision officer for my company. What does a chief visionary officer do? It’s just basically cast the vision or where we’re going in the organisation, and the day-to-day running of the business, you leave it to your CEO, your chief executive officer, and the general manager to run the business.
Richard T.: And this is great, because we talk to all the small to medium businesses. Now, the theory of actually not being in your office at all, not having a desk, not having a role at all, zero, is probably a lot of fear and probably guilt and how do I do that to a lot of people that are possibly watching.
I kind of want to pre-frame this a little bit to say that, hey, you haven’t just decided that you’re not turning up. You actually have a company. You have a business. You have it working. You’ve been in business for over, like, 20 years. Is that right?
Gary Ng: Yeah. 18 years. Yeah.
Richard T.: 18 years in business in the digital marketing business, and you’re doing other enterprises in businesses now. So, it’s kind of like you’ve got a business that’s working, but you found something else outside that, and that’s called the socialpreneur side of you. And that’s the side that I want to talk a little bit more about. Can you tell me about a little bit of your background first so we can actually realise that you’re running a business. It’s on a system, and then you’re going out to get the vision. Tell me about your background first.
Gary Ng: Yeah. So, I guess I started a business straight out of uni. I studied economics and marketing. I thought, you know what, I could work in a marketing ad agency for a few years, get some experience, eventually start up my own business. And why business in particular? Because, man, when I first came to Australia, the highest tax bracket as an employee was 49.5%, so you get taxed half of your income.
Richard T.: Half income, yup.
Gary Ng: It’s crazy. Like, that’s not the quickest way to accumulate wealth, and to me, like, I came from Hong Kong. I’ve seen a lot of people that have money and they don’t have a lot of money as well. So, to me, making money was a game, was a choice. And especially in my year, right, like, the Generation X’s, a lot of tech boom, a lot of people in their 20s making their money really quickly. So I knew it could be done.
Richard T.: You saw it.
Gary Ng: Yeah, it’s real. So … and the way to get there is … definitely wasn’t an employee. So, for me, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of people doing great things in serving the community and what they do, but for me, my art and my passion is how to make money as a game and how to get there as quickly as possible. So, at the time, tech was booming, so I started a web-related business, and that kind of grew from there 18 years ago.
But, my original goal was to make my first bucket of gold. Most people say that, in every single book you read, your first bucket of gold is always going to be your most difficult to make.
Richard T.: The first million, hardest million to make, right?
Gary Ng: Exactly, and once you make it, even if you lose it all, you’ve got the skills, you’ve got the mindset, you’ve got the contacts to make it all over again.
Richard T.: Sure, sure.
Gary Ng: So that was the aim. It wasn’t so much, “What am I going to do with a million dollars?” I’m not a very materialistic person. Eventually, I got there, before I was 30, and from that point onwards, I started to think, “What’s next in life?” Yeah, I could make another million here and there, but at the end of the day, I started to think about what’s really, really important. What if I make an extra $10,000 this week, but my clients think that, Gary, you’ve ripped us off? What if we make another $10,000 this week in sacrificing my own health, my relationship, my me-time?
Richard T.: Where a lot of business owners go and do that?
Gary Ng: Yeah. So, where does it end? The money will only get you incremental amounts of utility or happiness. So, I started thinking, like, what’s really, really important to me, and at the same time, we have a company vision as well, which is we want to be the best marketing agency in every single business that focused on growing their business, they’ll think about us. Yeah, well, that sounds great in theory because I model off a lot of the big companies on how to create a proper vision statement. But at the end of the day, like, Richard, which is the biggest marketing company in Australia?
Richard T.: Hmm.
Gary Ng: I don’t know, and who cares? That was the point that, you know what, I’ve got this vision that nobody cares about, I don’t care about.
Richard T.: Yup.
Gary Ng: So, what do I really care about? I really care about whether my clients are happy.
Richard T.: Okay.
Gary Ng: Whether they’re successful. Whether I’m having fun, our team is having fun. And not just our client. I think, dig a bit deeper, whether the people I surround myself with, that I care about, are they happy, are they successful, are they having fun. And success doesn’t have to be just that monetary terms. It’s like, are they succeeding in whatever areas of life. And then when I have to rewind back to where that came from, because I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t successful when I was growing up, and I was having fun. So when I was able to reverse that trend for myself, underlying that became my mission and my vision in terms of helping a lot of people.
So, when you talk about what is the role of the chief visionary officer, when it became clear that our vision wasn’t so much that we want to be the best marketing agency, and then … well, you’ve got a vision. Well, what is the actual goal that is tangible. Tangible goal is I want to be able to serve 500 million people with this vision of happiness, success, and fun. Knowing that, I needed to expand and reinvent myself to be something much greater beyond that.
Richard T.: Interesting, so you had a bigger … so you took yourself back, what’s really important, and then you work back from there to go out, possibly to the same marketplace, but with a different vision that actually people want, not just what you want.
Gary Ng: Yeah, exactly. And most people get stuck on what they do. As an example, back a long time ago, there was one of the major railway company that transport goods and stuff, when the motor vehicle was invented, there was an opportunity for them to move into that market, but they said that, well, we are a train company. We’re not a motor vehicle company. So, whereas someone else saw that, well, they are a transportation company, and that company took the opportunity and moved into the market, and the train company went out of business.
So you need to think about what is it that you really doing that you’re wanting to serve because, for all we know, whatever that you do, especially with technological change these days, is changing ever so faster than before … What you do, it could get completely wiped out. If you say, I create motor vehicle, well, what if it’s all self-driving or maybe we don’t even be in motor vehicles anymore?
Richard T.: Okay, so it’s an interesting point you make because you’re now talking about going to the highest vision that you can imagine, what serves the most amount of people, you’re saying 5 million people, is that correct?
Gary Ng: 500 million.
Richard T.: Sorry, sorry. I take that back. 500 million, right. I’m speaking very small. How do you reach 500 million people with success and happiness, and then it rewires the entire purpose that you’re put here for.
Gary Ng: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Richard T.: And it’s really interesting, that thought, because I don’t know how people are getting to that thought process. I know you’ve had a lot of thinking around that process and how you developed that, and it kind of takes me in two parts here. One, you have to see a bit of a change, what’s happening, and you say the technology, it’s going to boom. We don’t know if we’ve got any industries in five years. It could just totally change.
So there’s one concept there, and the other concept is, well, how do you actually create a vision that you can’t see. How do you get to that place?
Gary Ng: How do we create a vision we can’t see? I guess most people that get stuck on how do I do this, how do I do that. If you start with the “how” in mind, yeah, you may move a few steps, but you never going to reach your potential. For anybody that have a baby, they’ve never had a baby before. “Oh, man, I don’t know how I’m going to change the nappies. I don’t know what I’m going to teach them when they three years old and having a little tiff with their brother or sister or cousin.” Well, you just have faith that you’re going to be able to work it out. You just have the certainty that it’s been done before. If other people can do it, surely I can do it, too.
So, but if you start with the vision of where you want to go and reverse-engineer it, opportunities is there.
Richard T.: When you create this vision, do you think you have to be at a place of, like … There’s no point in creating this vision when you’re super stressed in the middle of your day. How do you get to the point where your mind is actually clear and you can craft the perfect vision? What do you need to get to that place?
Gary Ng: That’s a great question. I would say that one of the keys is just allowing yourself some thinking time.
Richard T.: Okay.
Gary Ng: A lot of people have scheduled in their diaries to meet with person A, person B, and do this and do that, go the gym, eat breakfast, but they don’t have thinking time. What if you can just allow yourself some thinking time, whether it’s sitting by the ocean or just sitting in a quiet room or maybe just reflecting on your inner self, what’s really important to you, to think, “You know what, if I’m on my death bed, what would I want my life to be?” What is the difference? “How do I want people to remember me by?” Is it, “Oh, man, I run accounting practises, and I’ve helped 56 clients”? Or is it, like, “I’m a painter”? Who is the person you want people to remember you by?
Richard T.: Right. So, the vision is not what job you do or not what business you have, it’s who are you as a person and what is that purpose of your life, pretty much.
Gary Ng: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And [crosstalk 00:10:30].
Richard T.: And the vehicle could be many things.
Gary Ng: Yeah, exactly, and it doesn’t have to be, like, 500 million people. Even if it’s just five people. Like, for me, the 500 million is not like, hey, I want to be bigger and better. For me, it’s just, somehow it just came to me from [inaudible 00:10:43]. And I’m not a religious person, but one day, I was in a hospital for two weeks, and suddenly, like, hey, this makes sense.
I don’t overthink, oh, how do I do that. It just makes sense. I don’t really care whether I hit 500 million people, but that vision … Opportunities start to arise. It’s almost like you may see one of your friends buy a new car. You’ve never noticed that model before. But once your friend got it, you say, wow, I see it everywhere now. Right? Same thing. Like, before I had this vision, there was opportunity to make a big shift in different areas. I never really paid attention to it.
Say, for example, Tony Robbins invited me to work with his organisation with the workplace culture and how to make it happier, joyful, and more in alignment to achieve the corporate goals, and Tony, he fed 100 million people last year in America. Like, he’s a great friend and a good mentor of mine, but by helping me, that’s 100 million people.
But if I didn’t have that clarity of 500 million people, that’s the one I want to help, I wouldn’t be so focused on the right goal.
Richard T.: Very interesting. So, nobody’s ever going to know if the right opportunity’s right under their nose unless they have a vision, and not a micro-vision we’re talking about, a vision because, as you said, things will change. Industries will change, but the vision is, like, way stronger than a business or a job.
Gary Ng: Yup. And most people, they’re focused on the time of, focusing on what they want as the vision. “I don’t want to have to be living from paycheck to paycheck.” “I don’t want to be losing clients.” Or maybe they’re just focused on, “Maybe I just want to grow the business by 5%, 10%,” and that’s probably what they’re going to get.
Richard T.: You’ve done a lot of coaching, consulting, and work with Tony Robbins. Can you go into the power of a mentor and what you’ve got out of it personally and professionally?
Gary Ng: Yeah, awesome. One time when I came across my first mentor, I started to realise, wow, these are people that not only you’re learning from the theory of how to do certain things, but they’re actually there to coach you on that particular situation, what is the best way. These are people that have been there, done that in the exact same situation. Most people like that is not as experienced in business, or haven’t succeed at a certain level, think that every single situation is unique. But once you’ve been doing numerous business and have a track record of success, it all falls in the same patterns.
And the mentor can help you of, what the road ahead of you, what’s coming, before you even get there.
Richard T.: I love it. There’s really, really great insights there. We could talk all day. But I want to get your take on a few things, and one of the things is the future. We kind of mentioned it before, but as a leader in anything, you have to predict the future to a degree. Like, you know, you’ve done a very successful job of predicting the future of tech. You were in the right time, one of the first in the game in Australia. So, how do you predict the future, and especially the future is changing so much, how do you actually see the future?
Gary Ng: Well, I’ve studied from this guy, Peter Diamandis. He’s the person that created the first commercial spacecraft that carries people that got investment from Richard Branson, so he and Ray Kurzweil started this company called Singularity University. These are the sharpest guys out there that [inaudible 00:14:10], that the guys from Google, Microsoft, they all invest in this university. Basically, they predict the technological trend is going up like this. Right now, we’re at the end of the hockey stick curve, about to really explode, and so, what you come to now of how we operate our lives and how businesses run, is going to completely change. It’s going to completely change, and you just need to embrace it and be ready for it.
Winter is coming, or the storm is coming. Some people go and get a surfboard and a snowboard and go and enjoy, and other people go in there in fear. But if you’re ready for what’s coming and anticipate it and anticipate it with excitement and how you can take advantage of it, that’s my best recommendation. Other people make a whole tonne of money when the whole stock market is going down, where other people is in fear, “Oh, man, the market is going down. The world is going to end.” So, just be prepared for it. Surround yourself with people and knowledge and wisdom, or people that know more than you what is there about to come.
Richard T.: I love it. This whole conversation’s all been about you don’t have to kind of invent everything. You’ve just got to have contacts and networks and talk to people and have mentors, and the answers are going to be coming, right?
Gary Ng: Well, I’m Chinese. I’m good at pirating and copying people’s stuff, so that’s why I’m not the smartest guy, but I just learn from other people that are smarter than me.
Richard T.: Perfect. I love it. Okay. We’ll finish up. What do you think, if you could give one piece of advice, the best thing for, let’s say, a business owner that’s maybe got three or four or five staff? What advice would you give them? They’re in their business, working the hours, doing the hustling, doing the grinding. What advice would you give them at this point?
Gary Ng: When you have three to five staff, I would say that you’re moving to the tipping point that your team is about to grow, and you need to define what is the culture of your company. If you don’t define your culture and your vision of what this company is about, it will define by itself, and you don’t want it to be self-designed to something that you don’t want. So, once you decide what it is, you’re going to start attracting the right people into your organisation, and those people will help you build your empire.
Richard T.: Love it. What a great response. Thanks so much, Gary.
Gary Ng: Thank you for having me.
Richard T.: Thanks so much. We’ll see you next time on Industry Change.