Alex Chung and I meet at the local Starbucks in our hometown of Marietta, GA. This Starbucks has seen waves of Walton students enter and leave throughout the years. It has seen students cramming for exams, completing college applications and stopping by for holiday drink specials. Since Alex and I were in high school, the interior has changed –the tables and furniture have been rearranged, the case exhibiting the pastries has been updated and the familiar faces of the barista's I knew have been replaced with new ones.
Although Alex and I did not know each other very well in high school, I quickly learned that much has changed in his life as well. While he has not lost his sense of humor, he has also cultivated a grounded determination. Juggling a startup and a marketing side business, he tells me that he works hard so that he can retire his parents and take care of them by age 27. As the youngest child in his family, he has observed a lot and matured faster because of it. He is blunt, to the point and speaks his mind. During our conversation, we discuss the value of creativity, the awareness to break out of negative patterns, overcoming reputation setbacks as a new business, using fear as motivation and more. Thank you to Alex Chung for sharing your thoughts with Millennial Nomaad.
Occupation: Co-Founder of StudyHubb and Blue Flame Creative
The key to happiness is: doing whatever it is that pleases your soul
My kryptonite is: Becoming too stagnant and the fear of staying in the same place
In three words, I would describe myself as: Spontaneous, fearless, patient
I dream of: Retiring my parents by the age of 27 (I’m 24 now)
Success to me means: Making a positive impact on everyone I encounter
Define curiosity: The desire and impulse that drives learning
To be brilliant is to be: Wise and humble at the same time. Humility is key
To be a Millennial Nomaad means: Following your true passion and making sure nothing or no one stops you from achieving your happiness
MN: You currently took the bold step, quit your job and decided to work full time on your startup, StudyHubb and your new marketing business, Blue Flame Creative. What has been the most challenging part of losing the “security” of a 9-5 job? How did you decide that dedicating yourself full time was the right decision?
AC: The doubt of not having a sustainable income. I figured the only way I would truly make my dreams come true was to go dive head first into the deep end. My motto has always been: “one day or day one, you choose”.
MN: When we discussed a moment of vulnerability, you mentioned a time in which you felt as if StudyHubb failed at Kennesaw State University. You mentioned that there were allegations and incidents of users using the study app for sexual misconduct. Although your team took prompt action to ensure that the app is not designed to lure women for hookups, what did this incident teach you about the way in which technology can be misused? How can society minimize these risks and protect the safety of users on various social/tech platforms?
AC: It taught me that no matter what scenario, people will ALWAYS find ways to misuse technology. I think it’s inevitable, however, its our job to convey the right message and brand for our users. I think companies need to make their branding very clear and educate the public on how to properly use their services.
MN: As an entrepreneur and innovator, you understand that practical skills and creativity are both essential to success. Do you think that society undervalues creativity? What do you think is more important, intelligence or imagination? Why?
AC: Actually no, I don’t think society undervalues creativity. When I look at today’s culture, we tend to idolize the famous actors, internet stars, artists, etc. and I think we do a good job at spot lighting these types of creative minds. I think imagination is more important, because it makes you less robotic. Creativity gives us more abstract thinking.
MN: Happiness. We are living in the age of “Think and Be Positive” where everyone seems to be searching for a way to find joy. How do you manage stress or release negative emotions in a healthy way without suppressing them? Why do you think it is difficult to express both positive and negative emotions?
AC: One thing that’s helped me tremendously is changing my perspective during negative situations. The moment you can view something from a different perspective can be so powerful and really makes you grateful for almost any situation. I think it can be difficult to express both because people get stuck in certain thought patterns. They are so use to one way of thinking, or they aren’t self-aware enough to break them
MN: How has a moment of fear served as a catalyst for growth and ultimately inspiration towards reaching your potential? Where do you think fear comes from and how can we overcome or constructively use this feeling?
AC: When we first launched the app, we had certain metrics we wanted to hit the first 2 weeks of our launch. After the first week, we were very scared we weren’t going to hit these numbers which resulted in a lot of doubt and depression. However, with a high mountain to climb we hunkered down and kept fighting and fighting until we ultimately hit our goal.
I think fear comes from your subconscious. When doing something new for the first time with little knowledge on how exactly to do it, fear will always be in the back of your mind. With fear however, I think we can use this as a great motivator. It's kind of like getting inside your car and going on a road trip to a different state at night. All you can see is those 30 yards of light in front of you, and you know that’s all you need to get you to your destination.
MN: Love. Sometimes it can be difficult to express what feeling we are exactly searching for. How would you define being “in love”? How is your perception of love changed over time? How do you think your ideals on love differ from that of your parents?
AC: My definition of being in love with someone would mean always putting their happiness in front of yours, no matter what. When you can be fully selfless to a person and expect nothing back in return. It’s your "souls recognition in its counterpart" (from Wedding Crashers). I think my ideals of love are fairly in line with that of my parents, haha. Sorry, I don’t have a better answer for this part!
MN: Inner growth and change takes work. Do you believe that people can truly change or do we become more of what we are? How do you interpret this?
AC: Yes, people can truly change, but only if they desire and really want it from themselves. No one can make someone change on their own. They must want to want it, and once they truly have that desire, they can change to whatever they put their heart into.