MF 092 : Ian Chew Shares How to Get Over Your Fears and Make an Impact with Content
Updated: Jun 17
Ian Chew is a story whisperer, entrepreneur, celebrated TEDx speaker, mentor, coach and a director and consultant at Empact, a firm specializing in entrepreneurship programs and events. Today, Ian will share the power of content marketing to make waves, build relationships and move forward.
Successes at a glance:
Director and consultant at Empact, a firm specializing in entrepreneurship programs and events.
Featured in numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune Time, Inc. and Business Insider, Global News, Canadian Geographic and many more (list here).
TEDx speaker on storytelling and his 700 interviews project (watch Ian’s TEDx talk here):
How Ian gets inspired to conquer the day:
For Ian, it starts with a mindfulness process. Ian doesn’t wake up thinking about the praise he’s gotten from his publicity, TEDx talk or his many featured articles. Rather, Ian starts his day by thinking about this simple question: “how can I help someone today.” One of the reasons why Ian has gained such a following is that his focus is always on others, never himself. If you watch his TEDx Talk, it’s not about him but what he has learned from 700 interviews; the 700 individuals that have come into his life from this amazing project. This thinking extends to his work at Empact. As a Director, Ian is constantly thinking about how he can help this company grow while contributing to its mission of giving a platform to entrepreneurship programs. Ian has gone thru quite a journey. He started on the entrepreneurial path, then segued into social media. He even shares how the ending of a relationship sparked a career pivot in his life. This long, winding path is how Ian has found his purpose thru the amazing individuals he has connected w/ while moving forward. Ian asks, what is your legacy? Are you simply working a 9-5, M-F job to pay the bills and run the clock till retirement? Or are you pursuing a passion, be it a business or career, that fulfills a purpose? As we move into Thanksgiving this week, think about what you’re grateful for that inspires you and use that as fuel to pivot and move forward.
Setback or failure that led to pivot and shift:
Early on, Ian helped a friend start a business by lending him some capital as well as time, effort and sweat equity. Several months to a year later, just as the business was starting to do well, the founder (Ian’s friend) decided to close the business. The decision hit Ian hard and he started to question and doubt himself. Ian shares that this was a painful moment for him because he didn’t want to face the possibility that as he “f***ed up.” Ian was a crossroads, he could either pivot and move on (and hence forward) or stay stagnant and stew. Looking back on this event, Ian shares two takeaways: 1) as much as possible, try to preserve the friendship if the business partnership fails or doesn’t pan out. This is not easy to do and something I admittedly, have struggled w/ during my entrepreneurial journey. What has helped Ian is to call back to your legacy goal and put into perspective that businesses go up and down but in 10 years what will be important is not the setback that caused the roadblock but the person who was in your life before the business started. 2) When it comes to dealing w/ a setback or failure in an external situation (such as a job or business venture), we often internalize those failures to our detriment, boiling it down to “I suck.” This especially happens when we pursue something that we feel is part of our core purpose or legacy. There is a conflict that arises and it’s a painful one. What Ian shares is that you have to really look into the face of this conflict between your purpose and the setback or failure you may experience and grow from that pain. In other words, the feeling of “I suck” is momentary. It’s hard, it’s a kick to the gut but it should not define you. It can however, provide a learning moment for you to assess whether you need to make a hard pivot to better align yourself w/ your purpose. Moving Forward listeners, make no mistake. This is not an easy process. One of the sources of inspiration that Ian shares is investor and founder of Bridgewater hedge fund, Ray Dalio.
Knowledge Bursts on content marketing:
Advice for exploring content marketing:
When creating content, you want to focus on two things: 1) quality and 2) quantity. The conflict and what holds a lot of us back is that starting out, you won’t necessarily produce quality. So Ian’s advice is to just start producing content, whether it’s good, bad or even “sh##y,” just start building a library of digital content. Do this on a regular basis: this will program your mind w/ a habit to create. Don’t worry about the quality as that will come over time. Focus now on content and consistency.
Moving Forward listeners, this is the one piece of advice I stress over and over. When I launched Moving Forward, I didn’t get hung up on being a “perfect podcaster” (and believe me I’m still nowhere close to being one today!), I focused on getting content that came from amazing guests. Today, we’re on episode 092 and Ian Chew is sharing this important lesson!
Advice for getting over shyness or hesitation to put yourself out there publicly:
Start by understanding yourself and key to that is identifying that one thing, that bare minimum thing that you’re comfortable putting out there and the audience you wish to introduce it to. So if you’re not comfortable writing a blog about your innermost thoughts, aspirations and fears, start smaller and simpler. Or as Ian puts it, what is the content that “will create the least amount of friction” in your inner self that you are comfortable putting out there. The beauty of digital content creation is that you are the content creator. You can start w/ something small and that small thing can later spark a giant leap. Remember what Ian shared above: content and consistency are key. It’s not just about one piece of content, it’s about building momentum and the right mindset to create consistent content. Also, you can tailor the audience. Think of digital content as two radio knobs. One controls the friction level of your comfort w/ the content, the second sets the audience you’re comfortable sharing it with. So if you’re not ready to publish a blog, podcast or video on YouTube for the world to see, start by posting it on Facebook or emailing it to just your closest friends. The point is you don’t have to start big if you’re not ready for big. Ian shares this important psychology concept: flooding. If you’re scared of something, immersing yourself in it in the deep end is not necessarily going to be good for you. So don’t feel you have to just dive in and put it all out there. Start small, control the two dials and start w/ the biggest risk you’re comfortable taking right now. Then from there, see if you can inch it up a notch, turn that dial slowly and start moving forward!
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Ian to move forward:
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Ian’s Advice for you to Move Forward:
Focus on relationships, the ones you have established and building new ones. This is something Ian has done throughout his career journey and is an important lesson he coaches and mentors on. The reason is that right now it may be very difficult to see the future w/ any clarity. What job will you have next year? How will your business do in 2017? Who will you marry in the next 5 years? None of these questions can be answered now w/ 100% certainty. And this also applies to goals. So Ian’s advice is if you’re struggling to figure out what to do next, how to pivot and move forward, then talk. Talk to the different people who are already in your life and talk to people who are doing different things. Ian did that w/ 700 strangers over a three year period. He not only got over his social anxiety and shyness, he started to focus in on a purpose, a legacy, which he talks about on this episode. As Ian shares, it’s all about sequencing. Taking the next step and moving forward, is having a sequence that works, that gets results. So if you’re stuck, focusing on goals may not be the most productive first step. Instead, talk to your network, to those in it and start building relationships w/ people outside of it. And instead of seeing it as a “network,” see it as a community. Your community should be made up of people who support you, especially mentors whose values align w/ yours and are invested in your success. That’s one of the reasons why I do this podcast. My hope is that you are listening to extraordinary people talk about extraordinary things they have done in their lives and careers, so you can get inspired and move forward.
Connect with Ian:
Check out some of Ian’s work: