June 7, 2015 by Christina Hamlett
A Conversation with Ling Wong
If you’re going to be successful as a business owner – especially in today’s uncertain economy – you not only have to put your heart and soul into everything you do but also be prepared to take occasional leaps of faith. A scary proposition indeed when you’re in a virtual free-fall and can’t predict where, exactly, you’re going to land. Savvy entrepreneur Ling Wong, founder and owner of Business Soulwork, took such a leap three years ago and is now helping her clients find the wings to fly higher than they might have imagined.
Interviewer: Chrstina Hamlett
Q: What made your leave the comfort of your corporate job and start your own business?
A: Even before I started my own business, I had always been a sucker for creativity and individuality. I studied design at Yale College and went onto getting my Master’s of Architecture degree from Harvard University. I explored photography and did graphic design. When I got out of school, I followed the “traditional path” : got a job at some prestigious New York City architecture firm and started my life as cubicle-dweller.
I was miserable. I was not cut out to sit at the desk from 9-9 executing other people’s ideas while breathing in recirculated air. I sucked at my job. I got pink-slipped when the economy tanked. But I didn’t know better because “job after school” was all I was knew… so I went on to look for another job, and ended up in the online marketing agency world for nine years. I learned a lot during that time, but my inability to sit tight at a desk executing other people’s ideas became painfully apparent.
I could not do it anymore. I walked away from a six-figure New York City ad agency job and started my health coaching business. It was a big jump – there is zero entrepreneurial blood in my family and I had no idea what I was getting into! But it was inspiring, and it suited my adventurous personality. Even with my extensive design background and experience working in creative projects, my years as an entrepreneur are definitely one of my most creative times.
Q: How did your business evolve over time, and what did you learn from this experience?
A: After a year as a health coach, I found out that I am very good at identifying opportunity, synthesizing information and developing creative solution – for others and myself. I started a successful venture to help coaches build their businesses.
However, something was bugging me. I love marketing and I was doing it quite well to promote my business. Like many entrepreneurs, I took training classes and programs to help me grow my business. The more I did so, however, the more I felt like I was being put on some factory assembly line.
I was spoon fed a bunch of information and told to execute (“just do it!” without asking – where was ME in this whole picture?) I was given blueprints but because of my maverick rebel personality I could rarely “do as they say” and when things didn’t work well, I fell into the comparison trap and blamed myself for being “too creative.” I ended up wondering if there was anything wrong with me.
My good intention of furthering my business through training was stifling my creativity and growth! Something was not right. I was doing what everyone else is doing and no longer felt the FIRE because my individuality was suppressed!
I missed that fire, the excitement, the drive – what got it all started. My mission, vision, and passion got diluted along the way. I realized that (1) I tasted the freedom of entrepreneurship and there is no turning back and (2) my business won’t be sustainable if I can’t fully express myself in it.
Even though my business was going well, a big part of me wanted to create something more, something innovative, something to help others approach their businesses from a different place, a different perspective. That’s why I created Business Soulwork – the current incarnation of ME in business.
Q: What is Business Soulwork? How is it different from other business and marketing coaching?
A: Business Soulwork is the synergistic relationship between business and personal growth to create an upward spiraling helix that when one improves, the other gets brought upward as well. You may say that I translate the woo-woo’s into rainbows and unicorns for your bottom line.
Business – something very day-to-day and practical – can be a framework for attaining our highest potential. When you are out of alignment with your truth, your strength, your value and your vision, the misalignment is reflected in your business – oftentimes as revenue – which makes it a perfect mirror to show you if your actions are actually taking you closer to your fullest expression of your potential, and you truth.
We started our business so we can live our purpose by doing what we love. I wholeheartedly believe that our business can be a full expression of ourselves. To build such a business, we need to KNOW our CORE essence. To make it happen, it takes GUTS, trust, and stick-to-it-ness. It takes inner work and strength to stay the course – and this is where Business Soulwork comes in.
My approach starts with helping my clients to put all the vision, passion, conviction and superpowers into one cohesive message. I want them to know that ALL their ideas are being acknowledged and incorporated without sacrificing who they want to BE in their business. I don’t make my clients deny parts of who they are in order to fit into a “marketing box.”
I call myself an “Intuitive-Brainiac” – I approach each “project” from an intuitive and holistic standpoint, guided by the “deep knowing” clarity I help the client identify, then create strategies and plans based on this big picture idea (the Truth) to translate it into communications that sell.
Q: Where does the “psychic twist” fit in?
A: I can easily tap into the clients’ core essence, help them draw out what really resonates with them, and translate that into words and phrases that really click with them. The process is quick – it involves getting on the phone and having a conversation so I can tap into the energy – there is no 20-page questionnaire my clients have to endure!
I also have the capability to see through/feel the “facades” some clients put up and take them to confront the core of their challenges. We work with the energy of that block so they can experience immediate breakthroughs (without having to journal till they turn blue!)
Q: How do you combine your past experience and strength to create unique positioning and offerings?
A: My training in design and architecture allows me to approach every “project” from both a right brain and left brain perspective, and seamlessly ground holistic visionary ideas into strategies and tactics that work in the “real world.” I have helped a lot of clients who are full of wonderful ideas find that golden thread and translate it into communications and offerings that make sense from a business and marketing perspective.
I also have 10 years experience working in the digital marketing industry as a project manager, with a focus on design and strategy. I can assess a “big idea” and break it down into actionable chunks without losing the essence of the vision. I help my client go from idea-overwhelm or analysis-paralysis to knowing exactly what to say and what to do.
Q: You do lot of work with fears for your clients. So what is your story of battling and overcoming your own fears?
A: When I switched over to Business Soulwork, I had to take the leap of faith – leaving behind a business model that has worked very well for me (I hit 6-figure in 18 months working part-time hours) to pursue something that I KNOW to be the next step in my growth.
I had to get over my fear of not being good enough (who I am to go about challenging the “tried-and-true”?); battle the fear of lack (what if this new venture doesn’t work out and I lose the income from the old model?); and overcome the fear of being vulnerable/criticized (what will my list think of this switch? Will people leave in droves?)
Q: In your opinion, what does it take to become a successful entrepreneur?
A: Courage, Conviction, Gumption.
Q: What pitfall does most entrepreneurs starting out got stuck in?
A: The bright shiny object syndrome.
Q: How do you get out of those pitfalls?
A: Develop the clarity, discipline and discernment so you know what you want to achieve and select only the actions/tools/resources that will help you get closer to your vision.
Be aware of the Fear of Missing Out and not falling prey to scarcity tactics.
Q: Should we have our own definitions of success and failure or rely on what we have read about other individuals’ experiences?
A: I think we all need to define success and failure on our own terms. You are not living another person’s life, why are you going by another person’s definition of how things are supposed to be?
Q: When someone says, “Let’s be realistic,” what is your reaction?
A: Sure, we have to ground our vision if we want to not only dream but also make things happen. But many people overlook the opportunity cost when they try to be “realistic” and not even entertain the possibility of having a big vision.
Q: What is the single most important factor that keeps people from becoming a Maverick Rebel?
A: The inability to see the box that they or others put them into.
Q: How can readers learn more about the services you provide?
A: To learn more about me and my work, visit http://business-soulwork.com/gift and download the free “Monetize Your Truth” Mindset + Marketing Training Bundle.