December 23, 2020

Welcome to Episode 26 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Johnny Thai on this week's episode.

We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Check us out on Anchor, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Spotify, and more. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave us a positive 5-star review. This is our opportunity to use the voices of the Asian community and share these incredible stories with the world. We release a new episode every Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Johnny Thai is a Mechanical Engineering dropout turned Content Creator on various social media platforms with a following of 65k on YouTube and 20k on Instagram. Johnny is your normal small-town kid that makes his living talking about clothes and helping other guys build confidence within themselves. He was able to go full-time with his passion of Men’s fashion at less than 30k combined followers and has now worked with many various brands including Lululemon, BVLGARI, Express, Axe, and many more.

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Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan. 

And my name is Maggie 

And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asiansto pursue their dreams and goals.

We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi, Everyone welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast. My name is Maggie

Bryan: (00:00:26) My name is Bryan. 

Maggie: (00:00:28) And today we have Johnny Thai on our episode. So he is a fashion blogger and YouTuber, and he makes content around men's fashion and lifestyle. He currently has 65,000 subscribers on YouTube and near 20,000 followers on Instagram.

Johnny. Welcome to the show.

Johnny: (00:00:47)  Thank you for having me on the podcast. You're very articulate with your words. I am going to, I'm definitely going to stutter a lot. Cause a lot of my fans know that I script my videos.

Bryan: (00:00:59) Yeah, man. Let's hear more about you and your upbringing.

Johnny: (00:01:01) Um, so I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico. It's it's you guys watch breaking bad. That's exactly. Where I'm from it depicts, it depicts New Mexico quite perfectly actually just for some context, uh, it's basically pretty high up in teen pregnancy, high school dropout rates, lowest in education system.

Yeah, it's a very poor state as well. So that's kind of how I grew up as a kid and, you know, I kind of, and there's a lot of crime as well. So as a kid, you know, whenever I, me and my brother would go out and skate around the city, we'd always be ready to defend ourselves because the crime is, you know, not the greatest out there. It's pretty bad. So that's where I grew up. 

I just say that has a lack of opportunity. Um, not very many creators out there. There are a few, but the, the opportunities out there is very lacking in terms of. Create creative careers, artistry, you know, all that stuff. It's very corporate, I'd say. So that's where I grew up.

Bryan: (00:02:15) Awesome. That's good to hear about your background too, cause you know, you're so creative on YouTube and Instagram with fashion by how does all come about? Like I know you're a relatively young person, so to hear about how you got started instead, this hustle.

Maggie: (00:02:31) Yeah. And you know, I'm very curious to know, you know, you growing up in Albuquerque was fashion, very prevalent in that area, you know, and from what I've heard, it's not as big as it is obviously in like LA or New York.

So, you know, really curious to see how you were able to get into that industry.

Johnny: (00:02:30) Yeah. So, okay. Well, first off the fashion out there is almost non-existent there's like a few street wear shops. I can only name my two right now. They're very far apart as well, so that the culture isn't there fashion-wise it's mainly, you know, hiking, which is its own fashion, but it's like a lot of hiking and nature and, you know, corporate life.

How I got into fashion was, uh, whenever I moved to New York city, which was in. The first time I moved to New York city was 2016 and I was, you know, I was dressed like some regular skater kid when I first moved here. But as soon as I stepped on, you know, New York soil, I was very, you know, shock culturally in terms of fashion.

And I felt like I had to step up my, my fashion sense. I feel like every, every new Yorker feels that when they come out here it's just something that you feel like you got to do because everyone's, so well-dressed on the streets. You walk down Soho, everyone. Has good taste in fashion and you kind of need it as well in terms of, you know, if you're trying to get a business job, you know, you gotta get your suit tailored, get your, you know, your cufflinks and all that stuff.

Get a watch, you know, so it was very, I had to get accustomed to that. So whenever I first moved to New York city, so yeah, but in New Mexico, it's just not it's unfortunately not there, but it is a growing scene, especially with social media and all that.

Maggie: (00:03:49) Yeah. So while you were in Albuquerque can you talk a little bit about, you know, your family and the type of, you know, appearance that you grew up with with a, like a very strict Asian.

Household, you know, like tiger mom or were they more laid back? Um, and you know, I, I correct me if I'm wrong, but you know, how was the demographic in Albuquerque? I'm assuming, you know, the Asian population is not as big as let's say California. Right. So can you talk about that?

Johnny: (00:04:17) California is huge surprisingly New Mexico does have quite the amount of Asians. There's a lot of Vietnamese and so for some context, how I grew up, I grew up in a very weird dynamic. My, my dad was very strict. My mom was very, you know, empathetic and loving and also I am. So if you're so I'm Cantonese but like my family is weird as in, cause they're from Vietnam. Yeah and, but we're still fully Chinese. So if you're Cantonese, you would know us as, uh, eat lamb Waukegan. So that's exactly what I am. So I grew up speaking Canto and Vietnamese and English, and I was, I was so confused with canceling it. So I would, I used to think that it was the same exact language because you know, the culturally it's pretty much exactly the same, you know, we celebrate the lunar new year.

Weddings are pretty much exactly the same and, you know, all that good stuff, but yeah, my dad was very, very strict. My mom was very loving, but my surprisingly, my dad let my brother and I just go out whenever we wanted. So in terms of letting us play and all that, he was very lenient. But in terms of, uh, you know, you know, Asian parents are, so I got a lot of ass beatings and all that good stuff that made me who I am. Today, but, you know, I'm glad I went through that.

Bryan: (00:05:35) That’s part of the Asian American experience, you know, can't quite grow Asian in Yoda or yeah, exactly. Yeah, man. I want to learn more about how you piqued your interest and ex uh, you know, starting to get into fashion at a younger age. Like what kind of advice do you have for someone who wants to do the same thing? Cause we like your story a lot, you know, like you grew up in New Mexico Albuquerque. The fact that you're relatively successful on social media and YouTube, but how can, uh, someone who just starting out learn what?

Johnny: (00:06:09) Yeah. So, um, I definitely say when it comes to creating YouTube videos and content in general, I'd say you want to look at your, your favorite creators, not just in.

The industry you want to go in just your favorite creators or CEO's business people in general and see how they tackle their business or their content and try and replicate it. But not, I definitely, a lot of people would say they would recommend to basically copy everything they do, you know, cause they had their success.

And if you basically do exactly what they do and you're going to. Achieve some sort of success, which is very true, but also it can water down your brand if you are exactly like them. So when I first got into the fashion scene, I was a big fan of the Fung bros and Richie Lee shout out to them. So Lee was a huge, like fashion inspiration for me, as well as teaching men's fashion, shout out to Jose as well.

So I looked up to them like the most when it came to my content. So I pretty much made the same exact videos as them and it didn't turn out well. So I've been making videos for three years and I only reached 65,000 subscribers, which is probably standard to be honest. But I probably could have grown a lot more if I made my content a lot more original, if that makes sense, instead of copying the same exact content that they were making.

So that's what I recommend is you want to look to your YouTubers that inspire you, that motivates you and you want to replicate their contents, but put your own spin on it and try not to. Yeah. Try not to copy them exactly. Like a lot of YouTubers, they scream at the camera and stuff like, yo, what's up, everyone, like all that stuff.

And it can come off very fake, which I've done, you know? And I definitely don't recommend that and you'll learn as you go, but I definitely just recommend replicating putting your own, spin to it and just being yourself and not over-exaggerating yourself too much.

Maggie: (00:08:06) Yeah. I love that. I think that, um, a lot of people with brands, even like clothing brands, um, I think one really good example that I follow and I really admire is Randall.

Um, I don't know if you got run up. Yeah. For example, his brand it's like, yes, everyone loves his brand, but at the same time, everyone loves him. Right. So I feel like he puts his own unique spin to it. And like, John, you do too, you have your own spin to it. I think that when you were first starting out and you might've, you know, copied other people, but while you got to, you know, 65,000 subscribers, you know, you picked up on your own unique style and had your own spin.

Johnny: (00:08:46) Yeah. Sometimes that's what you gotta do, because I'm same. It's the same with fashion. If, uh, for those of you that are into fashion or my viewers, you guys would know like there's trends and stuff. So I like to think of trends, like, you know, copying other YouTubers in a way because. everyone has the same style.

There's like the Jerry boy era back in 2016, you know, it was like flannel, a long line tee, distressed denim and Chelsea boots. Everyone had that same exact outfit. So it kind of made your outfit less tasteful, I should say. It's the same thing with your content. If you make the same exact content, same exact style, same exact exaggeration of your energy, then it's just going to water down your videos.

And it's no, one's going to subscribe to that. You know, so yeah. 

Bryan: (00:09:29) At what point when you started mimicking these other YouTubers that you found your own style, you know, I want to, I'm kind of curious to, to hear more about yourself, discovery you and the person too, because I always feel like how you feel inside is how you feel outside.

That trigger, like really? Okay. Like I'm just copying someone who is Johnny Thai, you know, w when was that point and how did it happen?

Johnny: (00:09:53) Okay. Well, a lot of my copying when I was copying other YouTubers came from the situation I was in. So I was working a full-time full-time startup job. So I was around 50 hours a week, um, with commuting. And then I was editing for other YouTubers as well. While trying to build my YouTube channel. So I didn't have time to put in efforts or study, like, you know, just being yourself. It was just like, I was like a robot, you know? So I just made contents, you know, regurgitated content that everyone else was making.

And yeah, it just wasn't that good. So discovery is, I mean, you kind of have to do that in general when you first start off in YouTube because. I mean, no, one's going to start off talking to a camera very well, or, you know, scripting very well. So you kind of have to do that initially as, as long as, as long as you try and make your own spin on it, it's more acceptable.

But yeah, it's just like your style. It develops over time. It matures and refines over time because you have that experience and your preferences change and obviously your mood changes as well, and you mature as a person. So back then I was a very cynical person, but I'd say whenever I went full-time on YouTube around last year is when I fully discovered, you know, my, my style fashion wise and YouTube wise. And I was just experimenting a little, a little bit more instead of playing it safe, if that makes sense.

Maggie: (00:11:15) Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, I feel like a lot of influencers and content creators have this mindset like, Oh, I have to get to hundreds of thousands of followers or subscribers until I can make the jump to do this full time. Right. And it sounds like you. Didn't even have that many subscribers on YouTube yet. I think we have like 19,000. I think that's a pretty impressive number already. But you know, from your perspective, that was like obviously a lesser number than what you have now. So what's your biggest advice for people who are trying to make that jump who are, you know, kinda afraid to, you know, make that jump in with their job. You know, they're, they're just afraid of the future and they don't know what's ahead.

Johnny: (00:11:59) Right. So making that leap of faith, that came from. I mean, sometimes you just got to, like, it's not, it's not a glorious thing to be doing your own thing. Right? Like having your own, you're your own hustle as a lot of people like to glorify it on social media, but it's a lot of grit and hard work.

So I understand why it would be scary for someone to quit their job especially in 19K subscribers, but you gotta, you gotta find, I was only able to do that because I found, um, I learned from other YouTubers that I used to live with as well. And I learned, you know, their sources of income and how they got to that.

And eventually I got to, I had like 1.5 K coming in per month on average. It was like one-to-one 0.5 K. And so at this point, like you got to make some sacrifices either for me, I was living with a bunch of roommates they were YouTube offers as well, but I don't want to do roommate situation again. So to me, I was like, I can either live with more roommates and quit my job in your city and struggle and probably make worse contents because I'm not very happy or I can just.moved back to my parents or moved back to Albuquerque New Mexico, where the, the cost of living is a lot cheaper and it's just a different a different lifestyle up there. So I decided to leave New York City, you know, the best city in the world. I love the city but I had to leave it temporarily just to make my dreams happen.

And that's kinda what you gotta do sometimes for those that are going to take. Take the leap of faith. They got to not go to all the raves. They got to not party every weekend, you know, and you just got to make, you just gotta make it happen. You know, you gotta make some sacrifices. So yeah, I moved back to New Mexico and then I eventually moved back to my parents to save even more money is what I had to do.

And then eventually during that time my subscribers tripled in that year because I had 50 more free hours. So that's how you got to think of it as well when you quit your job, you. Are opening up your whole entire week for content instead of just the weekends is what I was doing.

Bryan: (00:14:08) Yeah. I really liked that too, man.

I really liked the all-in mentality, but that's really applicable. It's not only your own success in YouTube and you know, for social media, that mentality. It's very transferrable to a lot of things, you know, like where my situation, I get to real estate, it's like the most successful real estate investors.

I know, put their job pretty much out of the blue to make things happen. Cause there's always that desperate feeling that you feel inside. It's like, Oh no, have you, what makes me happen? Because yeah, I had too much time and too much thoughts. That's not exactly a good thing. So you have to put that into action.

The next thing I want to talk about is, you know, like how do you set your goals? Like from age, like twenties is 25 where you are now, like, how do you set goals? Um, and then how do you, how do you constantly hit these milestones?

Johnny: (00:15:00) Right. So, okay. Let's start with when I was 20, because that's when I started trying, trying to do my own thing.

That was 19. I was 19 when I started trying to do my own thing. So I was a mechanical engineer in college. I only, I only picked that major honestly for the money because I didn't grow up very financially well. So my parents encouraged me to, you know, do architecture or whatever it was, but I was really good at math and science.

So that's why I picked well for obvious reasons. I'm good at math and science, but that's why I picked engineering, but I absolutely hated it. So I was trying to figure out any way to get out of it. So I'm, I'm a college dropout, by the way, if you guys didn't know and what had happened was I set a goal because at this point in time, it was when I was starting to fall in love with New York city, from visiting so much, I set a goal to get out of engineering.

Within the next two years. So, and I was like desperate, cause I was in thermodynamics class with my friend and I was absolutely dreading it and I had the worst teacher ever, but this is very random. I don't like, I don't believe in the whole law of attraction completely, but I have a situation where it happened is like two weeks after I set this goal to quit my job or not, sorry, not my job to quit engineering.

An opportunity came up for me to move to New York city and it was in the fitness industry, which was, which was something I was really big in at the time. And that actually happened. So I took that opportunity. It was a internship for the same startup company and I worked free for 90 days.

That was like the requirements you have to work free for 90 days, you had to make a video of yourself, why you should be hired. And those were the requirements, if you did get hired. And so I got that job and eventually at this point I was starting YouTube but my blog channel, so is my current vlog channel right now, but it was very cringy.

This was before the fashion channel and I just wanted to be a YouTuber because of the likes of Casey Neistat at the time. When he was really hustling. That's what really inspired me Richie Lee, the Fung bros who else? Those are the main three. So at this point I was trying to go on my YouTube and work that side hustle at the same time or that main job at the same time.

And I set the goal to quit. That job within the next three years. So a lot of goal setting comes from, there's a saying where people overestimate the amount of things they can do within a short timeframe, but they underestimate the amount of things they can do over a long period of time. So I knew in three years I could make it happen because I had a lot of confidence in myself at that time.

It was delusional confidence, but, you know, I had the confidence, I was like, I'm going to make it, I'll make it happen. It's going to give me three years but yeah, I knew within three years something would happen because I had the work ethic because of the, well, my parents taught me growing up and then eventually it happened.

I don't want to ramble on that part, but eventually it happened and. So I like to say every, the start of every year with the whole new year's resolution. Your goals have to be specific. So especially in 2019 is before I went full-time I was like, I want to quit my job within this year. So I, within by August should say starting to ramble, but I wanted to quit by August and I basically.

That was in my head every single day to make it happen because one, I didn't enjoy my job as much, and I just wanted to go full-time and just really dive into the content that I was passionate about. And you got to let that drive you in order to make it happen. If you have some vague goal, like you're trying to lose weight, it's like, Oh, I want to.

The skinnier, it's not specific and specific enough, it's like a, without a, without a goal you can't score. If you don't know where your target is, how can you aim and shoot at it? Right. So I set a goal for August, 2019, and I just worked my ass off until it eventually happened. And sometimes you might miss and sometimes that's okay because,  August was kind of, you know, scary and probably wasn't going to happen.

And to be honest, if it didn't happen, I'd be happy. But if you overshoot, if you set a goal that's very high and even if you undershoot it, it's going to be more than if you set like a, a smaller goal. If that makes sense. So if I set a goal in August, 2019 to quit by August, 2022, it probably, yeah, I'd probably do it eventually, but if I set it for August, 2019, I'd work my ass off.

You'd put in August, 2019 effort instead of August 20, 22 efforts with your goals. If that makes sense. And even if you underperform, you'll be more you'll, uh, be further than if you just did a vague, longer goal. Does that make sense?

Bryan: (00:19:35) Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense because you feel pressured, you know, you feel like you need to make something happen.

I'm just trying to map the time. Cause there's a tendency where we all feel sometimes where if there's no harsh deadline or it's like, we take our time. And worry about it tomorrow. Worry about tomorrow. Don't worry about tomorrow mentality. Right? Dangerous too, because it makes me very comfortable.

I understand that we do things we never do when we're uncomfortable, especially in business, you know, especially from being entrepreneur, because entrepreneur is a lot of it's relationship building. Right. And having these, these uncomfortable conversations, but that's a part of success, you know, like you have to be constantly changing or adapting and pivoting and a song that you did that, you know, so hats off to you.

I appreciate that marking his journey because not a lot of people can do it. You know, like just me relating back to you, as you're telling your story. When I was 20, like 11, 12 years ago, I was nowhere as brave as you were. I. I want to play safe. I was scared, but it comes to show that each of us have our own different journeys in life.

And oftentimes it's really easy for us to compare ourselves to others. Exactly. Oh yeah. It's a big thing. So it's just take your time and figure out what makes you happy. Walk down your own path and have faith. It will work out because as you mentioned before, you had a lot of blind faith, right. That matters a lot because you need even yourself that you can do it because if you don't believe in yourself, you're already climbing uphill battle.

And that's exactly thing.

Maggie: (00:21:12) Yeah. I remember you talking about the law of attraction, right. And, you know, although you don't believe in it and probably a lot of other people don't believe in it too, but there's just such a multitude of factors that go into it. Like, as you said, When you quit engineering, I feel like that forces you to be more aware of the opportunities around you too.

Right? So yes, it could be law of attraction, but then yes, it could be you just being more self-aware and looking for opportunities that are around you.

Johnny: (00:21:40) Exactly. And I always, um, Tell all my friends, like I always tell all my friends, I want to pursue this, or my followers as well is because like the rapidly changing landscape of technology and social media and all that, I mean five years ago is when the iPhone six, I think I believe came out.

That's when I phone changed their rectangular shape to, uh, you know, the round shape, the downsides at the time technology wasn't very advanced. Instagram was maybe four years old at that 0.4 or five years old. And so five years from now, it's going to change completely. So you have plenty of time and those opportunities can come, you know, but I was, yeah, like I said, I always tell my friends, you got to give it a minimum.

You should expect minimum three years worth of efforts in order to make a dreams happen three years with effort and no, no success from that? No, like, let's just say no, like money from three years of effort. Like the first three years I probably made like.

You know, maybe $400 during that time, 400, a thousand dollars during that time with just all the effort I put in cause I started 2015 with logging that didn't work and then I started making income 2018. Yeah. But yeah, you should expect three years of effort, right? The minimum in order to see some sort of success is what I'd say to all my friends, because people expect, especially with social media, they think instant successes very attainable. And it's really not. It's really a lot of effort, especially because social media just glorifies it. You know.

Bryan: (00:23:04) I agree with that. I mean, there is a lot of, there's no such thing as overnight success, success is built over a long period of time and then you have the alarm and first, and that's what the media capitalizes on a lot.

And it's like, yeah. Um, but all in all, you really have to enjoy the journey. But you have to enjoy the process of getting there because you are essentially becoming the person that you wanted to become. My son needs goals and wants to be that person, you know?

Johnny: (00:23:33)  Exactly. And it's something I'm still trying to work on because, uh, it's, it's a lot of comparing yourself in this space. Yeah. So, I mean, we're all human, right. It's something you are going to do It's something to be aware of. So I'm, I'm starting to appreciate the journey a lot more than a quick success. Cause honestly, I actually, don't prefer a quick success if you like, if you really think about it, because what are you gonna do after you have a huge success?

You have to have a bigger success to feel satisfied, right? Then eventually it's going to be unattainable and you will be 30 and then you'll be unsatisfied with life. That's my opinion. So I like progressing very slowly until the day I die. You know, that's how. I like to think of things.

Bryan: (00:24:10) other than journeyman. And let's talk about your goals and see, like what, what are you looking to accomplish in the next three to five years? for our guests who were just starting out in the early twenties.

Johnny: (00:24:22)  So like, like I said before, Like in five years, a lot of things can change. The whole internet is still pretty new. So I don't like to think that far, but in terms of vague goals, I definitely want to have a clothing line started.

Obviously, you know, at least half a million subscribers, you know, just like numbers, you know, with the social media. I definitely would like to know how my parents out and get them out, get them out of New Mexico, same with my brother buy them a house. On the East coast, that'd be a nice school, so they don't have to worry, you know, financially.

Bryan: (00:24:54) Yeah. We love that gold man. It's very, a lot of Asian values in that. Yeah. Authentic care of your family, really like that.

Maggie: (00:25:01) Yeah. I love that. You're giving back to your family.

Johnny: (00:25:03)  Yeah that's the one thing I wish I did growing up as a kid is I didn't do that enough, you know?

Maggie: (00:25:10) Right. Yeah. So we know that, you know, you've worked with a lot of brands along your journey. You know, some to name is like ax, Lulu, lemon, express, Skillshare, audible. Can you talk a little bit about your journey? Just, you know, having these brands reach out to you and you know, what that process kind of looks like.

Johnny: (00:25:28)  Right. So. How it works with any type of marketing, because, you know, if you're an influencer, you're technically, you know, a social media marketer, right.

How come, how that happens is traffic. That's why you see, you know, a lot of crazy different ads play during the super bowl because there's a ton of traffic. So they're going to, people want to pay more cause there's a lot of traffic. They want to have their banner on the, you know, the fields and all that stuff.

So they, people can see the brand. It's the same with you. Same way with your social media. Now you don't need millions of followers in order to make that happen. You only need a few hundred. So a few thousand brands are starting to catch onto that by the way. So it's kind of a good thing. If you're a small creator and you have a tight knit community but that comes with.

A lot of it is sometimes you have to like for me, I just tagged brands that I, you know, I wore that personally wore and just like in general, and that led to some brand deals and otherwise you can reach out to brands yourself through emails. So you might have to learn a little bit about writing professional emails and stuff like that.

So there's like with YouTube, it's a lot of our content trainings, a lot of administrative work. Rather than creating as well in order to make it your full-time income those brand deals definitely came from them reaching out to me eventually because I had a sizable audience that they preferred for their campaign.

So a lot of it's just starts with creating the content, just create the content that you want to make. And you'll develop a, a tight knit community. And then eventually you can try to reach out to brands. Let's just say it's, if it's fashion, then you can tag those brands. You can message them through DMS or send them an email. But for me, if I fortunately had a, a friend of mine that did, what do you call consulting? Basically, they consult with other brands and try to pitch other, other social media influencers, quote, unquote to those brands and then eventually you just got to get one. You just got to get one and that'll that'll snowball into more brand deals.

That makes sense. Cause if they see one brand, especially a, a renowned brands work with you, then other brands will see that like, Oh, they must like this guy. So then they'll send an email. So yeah, you're just building audience.

Bryan: (00:27:36) Yeah. I mean, you do bring up a really good point too. So like, brands are not recognizing that it's not about the number of subscribers you have or like their followers, I mean, likes yeah. But in your opinion, is it more important to have a large number of subscribers and followers are higher engagement than like.

Johnny: (00:27:55)  Oh yeah. That's. Yeah, it's a hard debate. I, well, I'd definitely say it's all about your tight-knit community, your engagements especially, yeah. Brands are definitely catching on to that because there's a lot of people that buy their followers, especially on Instagram.

It's like so like a lot of ABGs, unfortunately they pay for their followers. Cause I know some that have in some form. Late to, to, sales for that brand. You know, it's like, it's like a, it's like a, if a tampon company marketed towards guys, it just doesn't make sense right now. That is a huge audience, was to the wrong audience.

You know, usually if you have a lot of likes and engagement this just might not be the. It doesn't mean everything because it might not be the right audience. So if you have a very niche audience, like for me, it's more strict where a tech, where type of fashion, then it's very niche and definitely no SU supply's not going to reach out to me.

You know, it's mainly going to be, you know, you know, tech wear brands and it's more streetwear brands, so streetwear startups and all that good stuff. So yeah, you got to have a niche, gotta be, have you got to have a tight-knit community? Rather than just a huge following.

Bryan: (00:29:08) Yeah. That makes a lot of sense too. Cause I, I personally feel that, you know, having stirred about engagement versus like absurd amount of followers, more important because end of day, and building your brand, you're building community. You and your billing tracking and your engagement, what does that show? It shows trust. Yeah.

Johnny: (00:29:27)  Right. And also within the fashion industry, like Louis Vuitton, I think flew out Emma Chamberlain to one of their fashion shows that just didn't make sense, even though she has a huge following, they're all like younger girls and all that.

So younger girls and guys. That aren't really into fashion. They just like her because she's entertaining, you know, it'd be smarter if you know these high fashion brands or just other fashion fashion labels brought on fashion YouTubers. That would just make more sense versus someone that just has a huge following. Yeah. So yeah, that was, that was, that was weird, but yeah,

Bryan: (00:30:04) That's awesome. And looking through your Instagram, see like your engagement is really, really good. A lot of comments. A lot of likes. You have any tips and advice on how to bolster that engagement? How long did it take to get to that point?

Johnny: (00:33:00)  Ah, to be honest, like my Instagram only grew because of YouTube. Like if you, if you guys see my Instagram, I don't ever really put hashtags or anything. It's mainly just for my, my current audience. To just see the outfit and those followers came from YouTube and I can see because I'm on YouTube. I always leave a comment, a pin comments, you know, about the video.

And I always tell them to follow me on Instagram. And there's, it's a Bitly link. So you can see how many clicks you got. And I think there's like 13,000 clicks on it. And if you're going to click on that and you're already on my page, you're probably going to hit follow. I mean, I have, yeah, I have 20,000 followers now.

That's more than half of my audiences. Yeah, it's more than half of my audience set, click that link and probably follow it. So if I didn't ever mention my Instagram, I probably have less than 10 K right now. Can't do swipe ups.

Maggie: (00:31:06) Yeah. Well, I think that creating a community culture goes a long way in terms of engagement. So, I mean, it seems like a lot of people from your YouTube channel are going to your Instagram. That means that they're enjoying your content on YouTube. And they're also enjoying the content that you're putting out on Instagram as well. So, I mean, Ahn is also all about community. Can you talk a little bit about like how you are incorporating a community culture with your subscribers to YouTube? Like how often are you. Responding to them. How often do

Johnny: (00:31:38)  I respond to all my comments? I know, I know it's a it won’t be sustainable. Like it's already starting to become unsustainable. I can't respond to all of them, but for the first hour of uploading and I learned this from one of my old roommates, Christian frugal aesthetic, shout out to a Christian. He would just engage with them for the first hour of uploading and that builds a community. Cause I like, I remember. I forgot what YouTube, I definitely Richie responded to one of my comments before and or he liked it or something like that. And I felt so much, so much joy from that, you know, so if I can do that for any, for just one of my viewers, that's, that's enough to just respond to them, you know, or just to give a hearts, something like that, you know?

Bryan: (00:32:14) Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That does make a huge difference to you. And that's our that's the way we treat our knee as well, that we want to make sure that everyone feels like they belong to something greater. Right. Which is the reason why you take a lot of time to read everyone's story. In AHN it says, I feel like everyone has a voice.

Everyone has a story to share, and it's inspiring, you know, reading some of the stories and. You know, and that's something that no one asks us to do. Um, it's something that we truly enjoy and that's the reason why we built a community and we feel that way every year too. You know, you take your time out of your day.

It's we respond. It's not easy task. Sometimes your day is so busy. But this is like a passion thing. That's how you truly know if you're passionate about what you want to do.

Johnny: (00:32:58)   Yeah. That's how it should be, you know? Cause  when it comes to cloud chasing, a lot of people think it's a more, I don't know.

It's like I, I'm sure some influencers are like, yo I I'm probably just not going to respond to people just because it. My make me look cool or something like that. You have to be cool enough to get a response from me. You know, I'm sure that those influences exist, you know, but to me, it's just like, I'm just some, I'm just some guy from New Mexico, you know, who just got into fashion four years ago, you know?

So that says a lot. I'm just a regular guy. Anyone can do this. You know, so and if someone, if some other Youtuber made me feel some type of joy from partying, my, one of my comments and I can do the same for someone else, you know?

Bryan: (00:33:36) Yeah. It's amazing.

Maggie: (00:33:38) Well, I mean, I'd love to know, you know, what has been your most rewarding, um, moments, you know, since going full time as a content creator and Youtuber, um, and blogger, has there been like a one defining moment that's been.

The most rewarding or, um,

Johnny: (00:33:54)  definitely when someone messages me on Instagram that I've changed their life or I've made, made them feel way more confident when it comes to, you know, Just branching out of their style from, you know, the normal, you know, fitted, tee skinny jeans and white sneakers because that to me makes them feel more open-minded and whenever you're more open-minded you experience a lot more of life versus, you know, subscribing to one style or one type of.

Mindset. If that makes sense. So to me, if you're more, open-minded, you have more opportunities to find your happiness and that's, that's all I want from my subscribers to feel more happy and be more confident. So I can do that. That's that's cool. Totally cool. You know,   

Maggie: (00:34:37) love it, love it. Um, Johnny, what's one advice that you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur. So we have a lot of listeners on AHN and podcasts who are aspiring entrepreneurs, um, and are most likely the same age around you. So, you know, I know you recently went full time into doing YouTube. So, you know, what does that one big takeaway on one advice that you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Johnny: (00:35:00)  I can have a story with this as well. Definitely. The choices you made in the past made you who you are today. Okay. So back then I was told my viewers this. I used to live in Brooklyn and I was extremely, extremely poor and I subject I probably shouldn't have, and I couldn't afford rent or groceries. Okay. So I can either choose to, you know, let my credit die and then me get really skinny or I can find a way to make it happen. Okay. So I started editing for two other YouTubers and I started grinding full-time with my startup job and my current YouTube channel. So it was just grinding, grinding, grinding, grinding.

It was at least 60, 65 hours a week. And I didn't have any fun during that time and that's what you got to do. And those choices led to my quote unquote success today. And now I'm, I'm full time on YouTube because that work ethic was built during that time. So wherever you want to be in the next five to 10 years, your choices now, your decisions now will lead you to, should, should correlate to where you want to be.

That makes sense. So if you want to be a YouTube star, you should. Start creating content and, you know, just developing it instead of watching other people create content and you getting mad at yourself for not creating content. So that makes sense. Yeah. A lot of just action taking. So yeah, that's where I'd leave it. I'd say wherever you want to be, your choices now should correlate to where you want to be. So if you want to stay in the same place, you can continue partying, going to raves, having fun, which is totally cool. You know, you've got to do that sometimes, but if that's your, the only thing you look forward to the weekends and you'll probably be in the same place, but if you want to be a, have your own side thing and you'll have your own hustle, then you got to put in that effort right now.

Bryan: (00:36:52) Yeah, absolutely. Now I love the foresight too. It's like you're building up the habit mentality. Looking long-term a lot of us can see where we want to be in a year. And for you to have the foresight, to know that you need to work today in order to get to where you want to be in five to 10 years. That's really impressive.

Johnny: (00:37:09)  Thank you for that.

Maggie: (00:37:14) yeah. I love the mindset. I think that a lot of people prioritize like partying. Um, I mean, like partying is fine, but then at the same time you have to party to celebrate something. Right? Like celebrate my sounds and make sure you're achieving.

Johnny: (00:37:29)  I still have fun. I'm not, I'm not a robot. One more thing also No, you can go ahead and make me yeah, no. Um,  

Maggie: (00:37:39) so you know, would love to know how our listeners can learn more about you. Um, and you know, if you can share any social media handles. Yeah

Johnny: (00:37:48)  You can follow my Instagram at fly with Johnny Thai and my YouTube channel is the same name. And I do have a vlog channel it's called more Johnny Thai. It's more documenting, the journey, uh, the vlog channel just mainly for you guys to, or my followers to get to know me a little bit better. And yeah, cause one thing I didn't do is just document enough the whole process. I wish I did that. So that's what I'm starting to do it now. Yeah, those are the, the, the handles flat with Johnny Tai. On Instagram and YouTube and then more Johnny Thai for the vlog channel. If you guys want to watch my stuff.

Maggie: (00:38:21) Yeah, we will definitely put that in the show notes. Well, it was amazing having you on the podcast today, Johnny. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Johnny: (00:38:28) Thank you for the opportunity. Appreciate the, I love talking or I can talk for days.  

Bryan: (00:38:35)Keep on inspiring bro who liked it a lot. Yeah.

Johnny: (00:38:38) Appreciate it, man.

Outro: [00:38:40] Hey guys, we hope you enjoy this episode. Please subscribe to the show.

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