Joy Ahn Ngu: “Listen for the feedback, not the criticism”

Listen for the feedback, not the criticism: We can’t grow without correction, change and feedback from an outside influence. I would say listen to the feedback and not take criticism and correction so personally. People get so easily offended and you often see them in a stagnant place in life, because they are too proud […]

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Listen for the feedback, not the criticism: We can’t grow without correction, change and feedback from an outside influence. I would say listen to the feedback and not take criticism and correction so personally. People get so easily offended and you often see them in a stagnant place in life, because they are too proud to acknowledge shortcomings and flaws, or too stubborn to make changes. Or they just quit! Be teachable; learn how to receive feedback. Also be humble enough to make those changes.

As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Joy Ahn Ngu.

Joy is the fashion-forward mother of two who has helped her parents, beloved Pastor Ché Ahn and his dynamic wife, Pastor Sue Ahn, add and develop a media branch to their internationally recognized Christian networks including Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, and HIM (Harvest International Ministry), which comprises tens of thousands of churches worldwide. Poised for success, Joy was raised in the Christian ministry from the early days when her parents would hold services within their own home for just friends and family. Soon, though, the ministry grew and the Ahn family name became synonymous with Evangelical Family success stories.

Joy is the executive producer and co-host on the hit show on GOD TV, “Equipping the Saints with Ché Ahn,” where sought-after Christian leaders such as Cindy Jacobs and Mark Chironna discuss an ultitude of fascinating topics and everyday interests. “The show was entirely my father’s vision.

What I love about my dad is his ability to relate empathetically to all people. I have a deep respect for him because he is Kingdom minded — to him, it is always about how he can help others,” Joy explains. “The show provides a look inside personal relationships, personal stories, and very real vulnerable moments. It’s very special and like nothing else, because it brings internationally recognized preachers, evangelists, leaders and prophets into a safe space and introduces the viewer to their most relatable sides.”

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

Thank you for having me! This position as an Executive Producer for a TV show kind of landed in my lap. I was not looking to produce, though I have experience in set production from another platform. I have extensive experience as a wardrobe stylist. My past career was styling for look-books, commercials, editorials and music videos… but never television.

When GOD TV approached my dad to produce his own show, he immediately solicited me to create it. Between my administrative skills and my creative eye, he said he would not create a show without me. So, I signed on to be the Executive Director of Ché Ahn Ministries, our non-profit organization that birthed our show, Equipping the Saints with Ché Ahn.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or takeaway that you took out of that story?

I don’t recall anything “funny,” but I have lots of interesting behind-the-scenes moments that most people in production don’t talk about. One early memory I have is when we were shooting a music video in Malibu and our talent (the model) showed up late. She wasn’t ready for set, she had a really bad attitude, and she was fired on the spot by the director. It felt harsh at the time, but it really stuck with me — don’t just show up, show up ready (and on time!) Attitude is everything! The city of Los Angeles is full of talented and qualified people. The thing that will set you apart is your work ethic, and your character. And I learned quickly that integrity goes a very long way in this industry.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

In line with the previous question, I would say, “work hard and pay your dues. Stay humble and be reliable.” You can’t imagine how many people in the industry are flakey — they just don’t show up for jobs! Nothing is handed to you; you have to work for it. I would also tell people to set attainable and trackable goals. You won’t go anywhere without a road map — you need to have a vision for what your long-term and short-term goals are. Write them down! Lastly, I would say, “don’t give up!” Even in the mundane and “pointless” jobs, stick them out and find your takeaway. What is your lesson in that season that you can carry as a life value in any career?

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

My most immediate response would be my parents. My parents are from two minority backgrounds — from Korea and the Philippines, who started out with hardly any money and no connections. They entered the U.S. and learned the value of hard work. Our entire family on both sides was born and raised on the East Coast. My parents were the only minorities in their neighborhoods and schools. When they picked up our family and moved across the country to California with no contacts, family or job, it was a massive risk. I have seen them hustle hard for the family. They have shown love and forgiven when we have faced the deepest betrayals. The greatest impact my parents have had on me is that I’ve learned to stay steadfast in my values — regardless of opinions, economic status or personal doubts. Those are the pillars that will remain, despite your mood or life events. For us, those pillars are God, family, then last would be your career/work.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

Our show is global! We air across America, in Australia, the UK, Asia and Africa in over 300 million homes. You can access Equipping the Saints with Ché Ahn for free on the GOD TV app, or you can find our show on DISH or DirecTV. What the program offers is encouragement and hope, which is so needed right now. We end every show with prayer for our viewers and leave them with practical guides for daily Christian living.

One specific charity I helped launch for Pastor Ché is our City Care Project. Harvest Rock Church was able to raise close to 100,000 dollars and hand out stimulus checks to small businesses that were greatly affected by the pandemic. The recipients also included individuals and families who lost their jobs as well.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

Like many Americans across our nation, COVID-19 has directly affected people’s jobs, businesses and personal households. It’s been devastating to see friends and neighbors alike be forced to close their businesses that are deemed non-essential by our governor.

Every nail shop, hair salon, small gym, mom-and-pop restaurants and bakeries — so many people losing their livelihoods. It was really important to develop City Care Project to let our local and small business owners in Pasadena (and downtown LA) know that we, the local church, are standing with them in spirit, but also practically. We are dedicated to the economic recovery of our city and state. We know it’s been an extremely difficult time financially. Our checks may not keep businesses afloat, but it’s nice to know there is a pastor who cares for the needs of people — without any strings attached. We offer prayer and counseling for those who desire it. Our hope is to bless the city.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

One of our grateful recipients of the City Care Project was the Neihule Salon, in Downtown Los Angeles. Not only was their hair and nail salon affected by COVID-19 and being shut down by the Governor, but the moment they were allowed to partially open their doors for business, the George Floyd riots put their store front directly in jeopardy. The salon had back-to-back mandatory closures, and it greatly hurt the business. We were able to gift the owners, Atouzo and Yvonne Neihule, with more than one check to support their business. Not only was the generous act helpful, it was inspiring to spread the generosity in these difficult times.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Yes! Please visit and donate at 100% of proceeds go directly to small businesses and families in need. None of our donations go to us as an organization or church. Also, support local businesses! Your patronage matters and will keep these small mom-and-pop shops open. Stay loyal to all your favorite local places and help keep them open. Lastly, vote! What our Governor has labeled as non-essential is in fact greatly hurting our economy and plunging our state into billions of dollars in debt. Who we place in office — whether on a local, state or national level — will directly affect every home, business, school and place of worship. We can’t complain about policies and legislation if we are not using our rights to vote.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or an example for each.

Faithful in little, faithful over much: Don’t be too proud to take the small jobs, the mundane ones that aren’t as glamorous. Oftentimes, those small stepping-stones lead to big doors. I absolutely take value in the “entry level” jobs, all my internships, and even my unpaid volunteer gigs — because there is always something to learn, and oftentimes those are the environments where real work relationships and connections are built.

Listen for the feedback, not the criticism: We can’t grow without correction, change and feedback from an outside influence. I would say listen to the feedback and not take criticism and correction so personally. People get so easily offended and you often see them in a stagnant place in life, because they are too proud to acknowledge shortcomings and flaws, or too stubborn to make changes. Or they just quit! Be teachable; learn how to receive feedback. Also be humble enough to make those changes.

Be a learner: My dad always says, “Leaders are readers.” Maybe we aren’t actually reading physical books, but it’s important to be learners of life. Constantly seek ways to bring value to what you’re doing — whether customer service, admin, sales, whatever it may be. Ask yourself what will set you apart and make you the best version of yourself. In the world of fashion, we say, “Fake it till you make it.” Meaning: If you don’t know how to do something, learn it. I was oftentimes thrown into situations where I didn’t know the protocol. Observe and learn, and when you need help, ask for it.

Take risks: Don’t be afraid to fail. Oftentimes great risk is rewarded! Know your strengths and where you excel and know where you can push yourself out of your comfort zone to explore new opportunities. A great example of this is when I was approached for the show. I have never produced television, but I knew I was very well versed in set and production life, and I am confident in my executive skills. It’s a brand-new position for me, but it took stepping out of what is familiar. Be confident in what you know and have the courage to do something new.

Give it away: We live in a self-serving society and generation where we feed our narcissism with self-gratification. One of the best ways to stay on top of your industry is to mentor or find ways to give back. It also keeps you on beat with changes and helps you adapt and grow in your field. I promise you, there is so much we can learn when we stop to help, invest, and pour into others.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

Well, this is a no-brainer for me: I would like to encourage my peers to vote. Only 61% of people ages 24–39 are registered, and only 51% actually vote. Who we put in office directly affects all of us. I never thought I would be talking about vaccinations and what my kids can or cannot learn in their school curriculum. As a parent now, my children are relying on me to choose people in authority that will affect their health care, their taxes, their education and health plans. It all comes down to voting.

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

You will hear me say this all the time: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Whether a stay-at-home mom, a CEO, a student, or an artist. Whatever your role in society is, you cannot give and produce the best if you are running on empty. It’s really easy to burn out when we have so many distractions and duties to fulfill. My statement simply means find ways to have a whole and healthy life, so that you can give your best. I cannot joyfully take care of my two kids if I’m a grumpy, over-exhausted, busy mom. Be intentional about the ways you recharge, decompress and process life. Sometimes that means being a little selfish with your personal time. That’s totally OK. Take care of yourself, and the people around you will thank you!

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the U.S. whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Oh, what a fun question! Let me think; there are many, many people I would love to meet and chat with. In my particular position, I would love to sit down and have lunch with Dwayne Johnson. Besides the fact I have a major celebrity crush on him, I love that he started in one industry, changed careers and rose to being a top paid actor, is an entrepreneur and extremely successful businessman, producer, and an incredible family man. I really respect him- he has incredible hustle and determination.

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

Thank you so much for the opportunity. The honor was mine!

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