Cherry Tung: “Opening a Coconut Romantically”

Women may be faced with more sexual harassment, especially online. I was on a call with a coaching prospect one time. He completed the application form in full, pretended to be really interested in starting his own coaching business, and near the end of the call he suddenly started saying how “we should go out” […]

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Women may be faced with more sexual harassment, especially online. I was on a call with a coaching prospect one time. He completed the application form in full, pretended to be really interested in starting his own coaching business, and near the end of the call he suddenly started saying how “we should go out” because he thinks we are both cute. It was very rude, disrespectful and a complete waste of time for both of us. I have shared this story with some of my friends who are also coaches, and only the female coaches could relate to this story.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cherry Tung.

Cherry helps 9 to 5 employees break free of their corporate job and salary by launching their own coaching businesses, alongside with their full-time job! Cherry is also a full-time corporate employee so she knows first-hand how to juggle a business and a full-time job. In fact, Cherry has created 16 income streams for herself at the age of 24!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I had always played the part of the traditional good girl. I got good grades, was accepted to and attended a great university (USC), secured an internship at one of the Big 4 accounting firms, and converted that into a full time offer before I even had my degree. I was, in short, doing everything “right”.

But I became depressed and burnt out when I started my Big 4 full-time job. I realized I did not want to be in a Big 4 firm, I did not want to be an auditor, and I definitely did not want to keep working nonstop busy seasons… but I was really scared to give up on this prestigious job. It took me over a year to finally quit my miserable Big 4 job; my self-esteem was crushed as a result, as my entire self-worth and identity was tied to my role as a Big 4 auditor. Who is Cherry? Cherry is a Big 4 auditor. Nothing more. After quitting my prestigious Big 4 job, my self-esteem and self-worth was so low that I decided that I did not deserve to even live in a decent apartment, so I chose to live in my car.

As I spent nights in my car, zipped up in my tiny sleeping bag, barely sleeping as I was afraid of being attacked in the middle of the night, I had time to do a lot of self-reflection and contemplation. Is life really just like this? Is there no purpose in life than working a 9 to 5? Is there nothing more to me than my 9 to 5 identity? Am I just going to be an auditor/accountant forever?

During the “car-life” days, I realized that I didn’t just want to be an auditor. I wanted to have an impact and make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to create and connect. At that time, I didn’t know what it meant to create and connect but now I do. Now, I create content for 9 to 5 employees who don’t have the knowledge and means to be financially independent and job optional. I connect with them so they can see the possibilities beyond their 9 to 5 jobs. Starting a business and working a 9 to 5 are not mutually exclusive. Many people are afraid of starting businesses because they don’t want to “give up” the security of their 9 to 5’s. They are not ready to give up their stable paycheck and workplace benefits. But they don’t have to, I am living proof that it is possible to juggle both a full-time job and a business!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Instead of telling my audience to quit their jobs to start a business, which is the mainstream message most online business influencers preach, I show my audience how to start a business while they work their 9 to 5’s. Most other influencers preach that we have to burn all the ships and jump head first into entrepreneurship. I don’t think so. It is smarter to start a business while you’re still working your 9 to 5. First of all, you will continue to receive that stable paycheck which takes the pressure off of making money immediately with your business. Just like building a career, it takes time and experience to build up your business. Very rarely do businesses start making money right off the bat and therefore, it is better to start a business while you are working a 9 to 5. Your day job also provides healthcare, 401k matching, and other benefits so you can experience even fewer financial stresses while starting out your business (which by its very nature, is quite stressful). Your 9 to 5 can also provide you with the knowledge, experience and network that can translate into the success of the business you build. In short, you keep your day job so that you can focus on the important part of growing your business and not how to feed, cloth and house yourself.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was first starting my YouTube channel, I had no idea it would eventually become one of my multiple income streams. I had no expectations back then… So, one of the first YouTube videos I made was titled “Opening a Coconut Romantically”, which features 18-year-old Cherry, clumsily opening a coconut with a fruit knife. Unfortunately, that coconut already went bad, so the juices were quite… thick and clumpy… From that, I learned that you don’t always know where you end up in the next couple of years. 18-year-old Cherry had no idea that her YouTube channel would be one of her 16 income streams. She just went and filmed a funny YouTube video. You can too! You don’t necessarily have to plan everything out before taking action.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of my mentors is Vanessa Lau. She’s a business coach, a YouTuber, and a huge inspiration to me. I aspire to have a business like hers, one that can generate income passively via course sales, and she actually generates consistent 6 figure monthly income from just her one course, The Bossgram Academy.

In December 2019, I decided to purchase her program, The Bossgram Academy, and that changed my perspective of coaching entirely. Before taking her program, I had no thoughts of becoming a coach as that is “trading time for money”. “I am already trading time for money at my 9 to 5 job, so why would I want to do that for my business too?” I thought to myself. However, her program really opened my eyes to the potential in coaching and motivated me to start coaching myself. I soon realized how much I enjoy coaching, making a direct impact in people’s lives, connecting with my clients 1 on 1, and witnessing their transformations.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Whether a disruption is positive or negative really depends on which side you are on. The taxi industry got hit hard when ridesharing came out. That disruption is positive for the rideshare industry, for the customers, but not the taxi industry. That is why it’s so important for companies and people to keep adapting and evolving, as our world is constantly changing and advancing. Some systems and structures do withstand the test of time, but usually they do so, not because they came first but because they are either fundamental to our society like the rule of law, or because they were created with enough foresight. Taxi either failed to adapt or couldn’t adapt due to their structure, to the fact that we all have powerful internet-connected devices, our cellphones, in our pockets.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

My role model, Vanessa Lau once said, the difference between someone who is going to be successful and someone who is not, is how resourceful they are. Resourceful people don’t take no for an answer. They don’t expect other people to just hand them the answers. They are willing to do research and experiment with different strategies, and eventually find quick and clever ways to overcome obstacles.

I had the honor to meet Gary Vee at a speaking event at USC, and I asked him how he was able to stay so energetic all the time. He said, “I don’t drink any energy drink or even coffee to stay so energetic. The secret to my high energy is gratitude.”At the time, I did not fully understand what that meant. As I continued advancing in my business, however, I started to realize how powerful gratitude is. Even though I am not yet at Gary Vee’s level of replacing my morning coffee with gratitude, I do practice gratitude every day, starting with writing down 3 things I’m grateful for in the morning and at night. This really helps me maintain high energy and motivation to serve my clients every day.

One of my mentors, Stefan James from Project Life Mastery once said, the best time to film a YouTube video is right after you filmed another one, because then, you would be in the state of flow. This is my secret to uploading 3 YouTube videos every single week, on top of a demanding full-time job, while maintaining 16 income streams. When I put on my filming clothes and makeup, I rarely only record one video in that sitting. Instead of just filming one video at a time, which is not only tedious but also inefficient, I tend to record at least three videos in one sitting so my creative flow, my makeup, my filming outfit and high energy does not go to waste. Content batching is my secret to uploading on YouTube consistently as a full time corporate employee!

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I am going to launch an online course that teaches corporate employees how they can start their own coaching businesses, even while working their 9 to 5s. This is exactly what I have done in my business and this is also what I helped numerous clients achieve through my 1 on 1 coaching. As I can only have so much time for 1 on 1 sessions, I’ve decided to launch a course, which will enable me to reach an even greater number of people, give them the tools to launch their own coaching businesses and become work optional!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women may be faced with more sexual harassment, especially online. I was on a call with a coaching prospect one time. He completed the application form in full, pretended to be really interested in starting his own coaching business, and near the end of the call he suddenly started saying how “we should go out” because he thinks we are both cute. It was very rude, disrespectful and a complete waste of time for both of us. I have shared this story with some of my friends who are also coaches, and only the female coaches could relate to this story.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield has a deep impact on my thinking. She is not afraid to share her own failures along the way — how her first-course launch flopped and one of her already-completed courses did not even get launched because she realized that she was not happy with the topic. This made me realize that no matter how successful the entrepreneur is, even if they have a 7-figure business, it is still very possible for them to make mistakes or fail along the way. This resonates with me so much because on my journey as a wealth coach, I have faced my own fair share of challenges along the way and this story reminds me that the issues that I run into are simply part of the process of starting your own business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Fail fast, fail forward”

Growing up Asian, I was not given the chance to fail. Even getting a B in my math class would bring “shame” to my family. Failing was a really new concept to me as I entered adulthood. In entrepreneurship, it’s almost impossible to avoid failing, as entrepreneurship is all about trying something new, and trying something new is almost guaranteed to involve failing to some degree. A lot of people decide against entrepreneurship simply because they are afraid of failure. Many people refuse to adapt to changes because they are afraid of failure. The single most important thing I’ve decided to do after pursuing entrepreneurship is allowing myself to fail, as long as I fail fast and fail forward. Failing is inevitable. Failing helps me move forward. Allowing myself to fail gives me permission to try new things that are risky but can potentially result in huge returns.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A lot of your readers might already be aware of the FIRE movement, which stands for Financial Independence; Retire Early. While I do agree with the first half of the FIRE movement, the financial independence part, I don’t necessarily agree with the second part that stands for retire early. I personally don’t see myself retiring anytime soon, as I love getting involved and working towards a greater goal.

If I were to inspire a movement, it would probably be FIIS; Financial Independence Income Streams. This movement will inspire more 9 to 5 workers to create income streams independent of their day jobs so they can eventually be financially independent from their 9 to 5s. The goal would be to inspire and help more 9 to 5 workers be financially independent from their day jobs and be work optional, instead of being forced to work because it is the foundation of their livelihood.

I’ve seen too many people work a job they resent simply because it pays the bills. Life is too short to live with resentment and a lack of fulfillment, yet most people are also afraid to give up on the steady 9 to 5 paychecks without first developing a proof of concept for their businesses. This is why I’ve decided to help 9 to 5 employees build their own coaching businesses, while working their 9 to 5s, so they don’t necessarily have to quit first to build wealth, and they can eventually grow to be financially independent and do things that actually bring them fulfillment. After building a successful and profitable coaching business, my clients can still work at their 9 to 5s if they want to, but it will no longer be a “must” or a requirement, as they will be able to maintain their livelihood with their new coaching income stream.

How can our readers follow you online?

Your readers can follow me on Instagram and on YouTube by searching my name, Cherry Tung.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thanks for having me!

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