Welcome to Episode 113!
STIMY Episode 113 features Bryan Pham.
Bryan Pham is the founder of Asian Hustle Network (AHN), AHNF, and AHN Ventures. He is passionate about bringing together communities of like-minded individuals through growing AHN to over 200,000+ members in three years. Bryan seeks to uplift, amplify, and connect Asian creatives and entrepreneurs around the world.
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Who is Bryan Pham?
Bryan Pham’s parents escaped the Vietnam War with $25 in their pockets. And investments and business were taboo during his childhood.
But how did he end up running side hustles?
- 2:17 Growing up with $25
- 4:02 Investments & business were taboo at home!
- 5:31 Why computer science?
- 6:45 Companies aren’t loyal 😕
- 9:43 Starting his side hustle & losing $22,000 😫
- 12:01 Getting into real estate investment
- 18:04 When you’re less reliant on your job, you start seeing what’s wrong with it
- 20:17 I don’t need to be an employee!
- 22:47 Depressed over finding the meaning of life
Building Asian Hustle Network
For 4 years, Bryan had been thinking about his why. And found himself wanting to build something for the Asian community.
A trip to the Meiji Shrine gave his idea the spark, a rejection gave it the light (you’ll have to listen to find out what! 😏), and within 3 days of AHN being born, the Asian Hustle Network had 1,000 members.
👀 In 11 months: 60k members
👀In 1.5 years: 100k+ members
👀In 2 years: 120k+ members
Talk about fulfilling a need! 😱
But things weren’t easy:
☹️Bryan was receiving hate messages (and wanted to quit after 8 months)
☹️ AHN wasn’t profitable for years.
Things have since turned around
🔥AHN is incorporated in the USA, Singapore & Australia;
🔥Has its own venture fund;
🔥Also runs a non-profit fund; and
🔥Has expanded into Southeast Asia!
- 27:03 The Asian community is divided
- 31:04 Asian Hustle Network’s mission
- 32:35 Being inspired by the Meiji Shrine
- 34:33 Going viral (thanks, Subtle Asian Traits!)
- 39:14 How do you make everyone feel like they belong?
- 41:11 Wanting to quit after 8 months
- 41:43 Hate Is A Virus movement
- 45:44 Running successful events
- 48:51 The trick to networking
- 50:09 Constantly innovating
- 51:18 Becoming profitable
- 53:04 Sponsorships
- 55:00 Moving to Southeast Asia
- 57:57 Difference to EST Media
- 58:46 The Vietnamese Way
- 1:03:11 Bing Chen of Gold House
If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:
- Eric Sim: Former Managing Director of UBS with 2.9 million LinkedIn followers
- Gerald Sebastian: Co-Founder, Kok Bisa – How to Build a 4.2 million YouTube channel on education
- Amanda Cua: Founder, Backscoop – the hottest newsletter on Southeast Asian startups
- Nicole Quinn: Celebrity Whisperer & General Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. Portfolio Companies include Goop, Haus (Lady Gaga), The Honest Company, and Lunchclub
- Phil Libin: Co-founder on Evernote & mmhmm on why startup success is worse than startup failure & why he thinks that the blockchain is bullish*t
If you enjoyed this episode, you can:
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If you’d like to support STIMY as a patron, you can visit STIMY’s Patreon page here.
Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:
- Bryan Pham: LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter
- Asian Hustle Network: Website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter
- Subscribe to the STIMY Podcast for alerts on future episodes at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher & RadioPublic
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STIMY Ep 113: Bryan Pham [Co-Founder, Asian Hustle Network, AHNF, AHN Ventures & Hate Is A Virus movement]
Ling Yah: Hey everyone!
Welcome to episode 113 of the So This Is My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer Ling Yah and before we start, I just wanna say something really exciting is happening at STIMY, because STIMY is now open to establishing strategic partnerships, which is really just a fancy way of saying STIMY episodes, past and future, now have promo slots available for purchase.
So if you are interested in telling STIMY listeners what you are up to and how your brand can help them to live better, more productive and fulfilling lives, then do get in touch. Just drop me an email at [email protected]
Now onto today's guest: Bryan Pham.
Bryan is known for many things, including establishing the Asian Hustle Network with his now wife, Maggie.
It is a 200,000 plus member strong super canta platform for Asian entrepreneurs and creatives around the world. But as with most STIMY guests, Brian's journey has been anything but predictable or linear. In this episode, we learn about how having parents who escape the Vietnam world move to the US affected him.
Why investments end business with taboo during his childhood.
How Brian learned about the importance of site hustles. Spoiler alert, because he realized during the recession that companies don't care about you. How Brian then got into property investment and made $100,000 from his first sale.
How he created the viral Asian Hustle Network.
And by the way, in the first three leagues, they gain 1000 followers. Then how Brian overcame some personal challenges. He was getting a ton of hate messages and he really wanted to quit after eight months. Also, they were in negative cash flow for years, How they're getting sponsorships, why move to Southeast Asia and specifically Vietnam and so much more.
If you're interested in site hustles, entrepreneurs, community growth, and Southeast Asia, then this is the STIMY episode for you.
Are you ready?
I learned that your parents actually escaped the Vietnam War, and your mom always tell you that they survived in the US with $25. I imagine that must have really influenced you growing up.
So what was your childhood like growing up there?
Bryan Pham: I would say that my parents did a really good job in making sure that we were not missing anything, right? Even though in reality if you look at hindsight, 2020 we're missing a lot of things. We always had everything we needed, and we always knew that we could compete with other people like academically in anything in life.
They did a really good job of like making sure that we believe in ourself, which I super appreciate as an adult.
Ling Yah: I imagine that hustle was very much the culture as well. I mean, like you are now in Vietnam. We spoke about it briefly. Everyone's hustling. They're working 24 7.
Cafes don't even shut at all. Was it like that as well when you were growing up in LA?
Bryan Pham: In my household, yes. Like my parents would find any way to like, keep ourselves afloat just because they knew that they had to work twice as hard. Right. They didn't come here with an education, they didn't come here speaking the language.
They came here and they were washing dishes at restaurants. They were washing cars, they did delivery at a furniture store. Any job possible kind of keep themselves going and over time, like they're able to, to own their own business. After years of struggle and years of sacrificing themselves for us.
So when I talk to my parents, they're always like, make sure you live your life because you start a family too early Like it might be like us , you know? Oh no, maybe that's why I'm still not married or have a family yet, even though our friends all have a family. But I think that I'm heavily influenced by my parents and what they tell me growing up.
Ling Yah: You said earlier your parents eventually ran their own business, but wasn't investments and business taboo in your childhood?
Bryan Pham: Oh yes. My parents believed that the stock market was a huge way to gamble their money away or like owning real estate was risky or something like that.
Ling Yah: Even real estate? That's surprising.
Bryan Pham: I know it's because they did own real estate themselves. And during the 2008 crash uh, we actually lost everything that really traumatized my parents cuz they were taught like real estate is like the best investment that you can make. But there's a lot more to real estate investing than just buying properties.
You have to buy correctly, you have to buy in the right area and all these things. I think they didn't really account for that. So that's also one factor. But then just growing up, the idea of investing scared me for the longest time. But because with my personality, when someone tells me I can't do something or I shouldn't do something, most likely I would do that thing.
They kept telling me that I shouldn't invest. That sparked my curiosity and sparked my interest to understand like what's so taboo about it. I started talking to my friends and talking to their parents and they're like in the more wealthy part of town.
So where I grew up in San Gabriel and where most of my friends were growing up, they were in like Arcadia, like Samino area, which is like upper middle class.
And the thing that really caught my attention when I talked to their parents was, oh, we invest into the stock market. We own real estate. I'm like, wait a minute. Like why is my parents telling me not to do those things? So I started looking into how money worked and 4 0 1 and all these things and like really gauge my interest in that.
Ling Yah: So given that you were interested in investments, why didn't you go into finance but instead you went to computer science?
Bryan Pham: Oh, that's a good, good question. I love how much you did research of my life. So when I graduated, it was two years after the '08 crash.
After I graduated in 2010 and during this time there was no hecking way anyone could find a finance job to start for sure. And even studying too, like I would hear from my older classmen who were in finance, couldn't find jobs like in Wall Street or find any like investment jobs. So I knew at that time I needed to pivot towards something safer.
And it wasn't like computer science was something I was extremely passionate about. It was something that I Googled at the moment cuz I was so desperate for like a safety net. I was so desperate to find something that I could find a job immediately after college. Like when I Google what is like the top 10 safest paying job in America: software engineering.
This, This is like 2007, 2008, software engineering was like number one.
Ling Yah: That's amazing.
So you didn't even do coding, you just decided to go for the safest job.
Bryan Pham: Yeah, I always wanted to have a job after college. Right. And then I learned how to code and then became a software engineer , right after college.
Ling Yah: That is amazing. And then you ended up, I realized that you jumped from a Medtronics to I B M and you did say in one interview that you noticed that people were being fired and being let go and that sort of had an, impact on you. Right. Tell us about that.
Bryan Pham: I felt like most of my early career was very turbulent, Anything from applying after college during like the worst time to apply to college, like for a job or after college, right. There was, I remember applying for like a hundred jobs. I only get like one interview and that interview, lucky like a pyramid scheme or a scam or something like that.
And I was like, this is like a really bad time to graduate. And then on top of that, when I finally made my way to like these big tech companies that I always admire.
I don't wanna name the tech companies I applied to, but I always admire them. And finally when I got into working in there, I was like, this is the worst time to work for these companies because everyone's going to like tech lays. All my mentors, getting let go.
Every department was cutting resources. That was my early impression of like my professional career. It's really hard to find a job and now I'm in the job and job security is like, is out the door. And that really taught me like, shoot, I really need to like find something else to keep myself going because I might be in those positions one day.
I might be in my late forties, late fifties, late sixties being let go. And mind that it's a different time period, right? Back then there was a lot of emphasis on company loyalty, staying there the rest of your life, they're gonna take care of you. These guys were at these companies for 10, 20, 30 years.
And they were let go and a lot of them have not fixed a resume in like 10, 20 years. And that's part scared me cuz I will get dinner with them. I'm like, dude, I don't know why they didn't let me go. Why they let you go. And then we finally came to a very obvious answer is because I'm a lot cheaper, salary wise.
And I can do twice the amount of work because I'm hungry to prove myself . That really taught me a lot about company loyalty and working for myself and having a safety cushion and really learning how to invest correctly because I don't want that to be me in the future.
Ling Yah: And I'm sure people listening would resonate with cause that's happening again. I mean, we just went through that whole Google layoff and everyone is talking about basically the same thing. I was there for 20 years. I was the most important person. I have no idea why I was let go.
It's just a total gamble. I'm interested, once you had that awareness, what did you end up doing?
I think that's when you started your site hustle.
Bryan Pham: Yeah. Yeah. That's when I started dabbling a little bit. Mm-hmm. I was just still very, very scared. Right. I didn't know what the heck I was doing, but I was determined to like make a few investments through my paycheck every single time I got paid.
I would just buy, like whatever.
I knew for a fact if I had money in the stock market, I would pay more attention to it. Before I was doing all these hypothetical things, I was like, what if I bought this stock and how would it do in like the next two months or three months? And then what I find is that I keep forgetting to like check up on it or read up in the news or something.
But until I had money, and at that time I thought it was a lot of money. I had like $2,000 in the stock market and went, oh my God, like it's mine. This is like post recession, by the way, . So every, every single dollar was like a lot to me. Okay? I was like, oh my God, I finally have $2,000 in whatever Merrill Lynch bank account I had to buy.
This is like before Robinhood days. I finally had skin the game and some reason it like triggers something in my mind that I had to pay attention to the stock market. So because of that, I learned how to like, look at the numbers correctly. Figure out why stocks were dropping. Read up the news and listen to annual reports, quarterly reports.
Why are they making the decision? Why is the stocks dropping? Why is confidence falling in that? And I became more invested into this knowledge. So I started making heavier investments and before I knew it, like I was relatively comfortable with like the way the money worked.
I knew that there was no such thing as getting rich overnight. I knew that everything took time. I knew that everything took research and there was no such thing as true passive income out there. Always active to a certain extent. That's what that experience taught me.
Ling Yah: Didn't you also start selling stuff on Amazon and you ended up losing $22,000.
What's the story behind that?
Bryan Pham: Yes, yes. So that was the other dabble.
So when I started investing to the stock market, I was about 22, 21 year old. And that gave me a lot of confidence. Cocky confidence, right?
I'm like, I can do anything I set my mind to. I made a little bit of money, obviously, and I threw that money into my next venture. Everybody's talking about it. Everybody's coming in here online, right? Everyone's making a lot of money. You buy stuff in Alibaba and post in Amazon. I did that and did not turn out really well for me obviously.
Ling Yah: Why? I mean retrospectively, why did it not work?
Bryan Pham: A lot of things that I didn't know. I didn't know about the tariff taxes. I didn't know about import tax. I didn't know about quality inspection.
I just kind of assumed that it was so passive like watching all these grooves and YouTubers and like making meals of dollars selling Amazon. There are people out there making that much money, but that person isn't me. It was a pretty expensive lesson for me at the time, but that really taught me to like really take things slowly.
This is like a time where I thought that I could become a millionaire by the time I was like 24, 25. I'm like, if I do this right, I can be a millionaire by 24 or 25. That taught me, like, Hey, take a step back. Slow down, learn things from the basics and do it right. Life is so much longer than what you think it is.
You need to take a step back and just do it right.
Ling Yah: And I think you sort of took that lesson as well to your next venture when you moved to the Bay, which was in real estate. So what's the story behind that?
Bryan Pham: Yeah, yeah. So when I moved to the Bay Area, I did not intend to be in real estate, although I was very, very curious. That was like the next thing I was really curious about. When I got to the Bay, I realized how expensive everything was. . And I realized that even though I was making six figures at my software engineering job, I wasn't living very comfortably.
Like I was still penny pinching at every single corner. I was like, dude, I can't even rent a room and go eat out. I was like, this is terrible, you know. Everyone's telling me how like six figures a lot of money. I'm like, dude, my money's not going far at all. This is terrible.
Luckily I was able to reconnect with one old college buddies because of one of my coworkers. She found a post on Facebook that he was subleasing a bedroom out of his house.
So he gave me the best price possible that I could ever imagine. Utilities included. My room only cost me $600 a month. Oh, that's really good. Absurd in the Bay Area, right? So that actually allowed me to like, save money at a pretty fast rate cuz I was making six figures, paying 600 rent. I wasn't really eating out. I was cooking, eating in. And really like save money there.
It's funny cuz at that time me and my new landlord slash roommate, we broke up with our girlfriends around the same time. So we were were like really sad dudes around the house. I remember this is around March of like 2016 or something like that, or 2015.
Like, he walked into my room and he was like, Hey, I'm gonna go to this real estate meetup. Do you wanna go with me? And I said, yeah, let's do it. Let's be real estate investors . And that's how like, That's how I got starting to real estate and it became a whole adventure for me. It's so fun.
Ling Yah: Didn't you make almost $200,000 from your first deal?
Bryan Pham: I did. I did. So this is back in 2017, so about two years. So it took us about two years of just getting the courage to do something, because in our mind it was so much money at the time, it was like 60, 70,000 of our own money to put into something that was a lot of money at the time.
Right. We had cold feet for so long. Like we kept saying, yes, oh, we're gonna do it. No, no, no, no, no. Yeah, we're gonna do it. No, no, no, no. He kept getting scared. So finally I did it because I was motivated by my roommate, I think at the time. He just went out there and purchased two investment properties in Florida and I figured, you know what? Like I can always make the money back. I feel like I need to learn.
And learning what I learned from being in the stock market at such a young age, I was like, the best way for me to learn is put my money in the game. So I did the most educated, uneducated thing ever.
I trusted a bunch of strangers on a line. Oh wow. So there was this online forum called Baker Pockets and someone posted a deal inside of this form saying that, Hey, he has this real estate deal and he's looking for a money partner. Funny enough, I messaged him thinking that he was someone else.
That was my first mistake, . And then luckily he turned out to be a guy with full integrity. It's funny cuz I think a couple years ago I dug up the contract that I signed, cuz now that at that time I was more savvy. This time I looked at the contract, I'm like, holy cow, I can't believe I signed this piece of paper.
It was like literally like one paragraph saying that we're business partners and that I lent him this money so we could get into this deal together.
It was like the worst contract ever. I'm like, luckily this guy's not a fraud. I would've lost like 60, 70 k there. So lo and behold the first property we bought was in south central LA, which is at the time an up and coming area.
It's okay area now. It's not too bad as it was before. We bought it for I believe like 375 K. And it's funny because I checked on the same property a few years later. It's like worth over a million dollars now. I'm like, damn. Oh wow. It's crazy for like that area. So we bought it, we fixed it up really fast, three or four months, and then we sold it for like $760,000.
So we ended up netting, after repairs like $200,000 and that was like the fastest amount of money I've ever made in my life. Like, not only did I get my initial return back, but I got my net profit from that in like a summer's work.
And that was like, wow, I can be in this game.
And that actually gave me enough money to come back to the Bay Area to start investing there.
Ling Yah: Didn't you wanna go into this full-time?
Bryan Pham: Surprisingly, my mentality at the time was like, I need to have a job. This is like a few years out of the recession. A few years out of like watching my parents lose everything.
The whole idea of leaving my job was completely not an option. Like I need to have a job. So much of my identity was ties to my job. I was able to finally do things that I couldn't do growing up.
Nowadays it's pretty normalized to me. But talking about this on this podcast, like growing up, going to a decent restaurant, like Denny's or something in America or IHOP or Norms, was a special occasion for my family.
It was like our birthday or because we got like a good grade or a graduation that we went to these restaurants. You look back on it and most people be like, oh wow, why is that a special occasion? It's such a cheap restaurant. But to me, at the time, it was so much money for my parents.
They couldn't take us out to these places very often. So those places always hold like a special place in my heart. And that's kind the type of childhood that I had. And finally when I started making money, working as a software engineer, especially in the Bay Area, and making all this extra money I can finally compensate. I have to use the word compensate.
Finally, compensate for a lot of things I was missing growing up. Then I didn't have a lot of clothes. I didn't have a lot of shoes. I had like one pair of shoes, one backpack that I wore from fifth grade to high school.
I finally got a new backpack in college. And then , it's like very like frugal mindset.
But finally when I had all those things, I wanted to test my limit. To be like, Hey, I belong in this quote unquote successful world, and then I wanna stay there. And that's the reason why it was so hard for me to leave my job initially.
Ling Yah: So what went wrong?
Why didn't you stay?
Bryan Pham: It is gonna be my own opinion here, but I think that once you're less reliant on your job, you start seeing what's wrong with your job. If that makes sense.
Ling Yah: Like, is that all that life is?
Bryan Pham: Yeah. Like you start questioning everything because you get criticized by your boss or something goes wrong. For example, when I used to get my performance review, , I would ask to be a leader because I got a taste of like manage my own projects, right? I was dealing with contractors, I was dealing with lenders, I was dealing with people reporting to me, making sure the project was going on correctly.
So I felt like I was trying to realize my inner leadership, and I liked that feeling.
I was always like giving back 115th percent to the corporation I was working at mentality.
Like whatever skillset I learned I want to apply at work would be the best employee that I ever can. So because I was gaining all these leadership abilities, doing my side hustles, I wanted to become an engineering leader. I wanted to become an engineering manager. I wanted to become an engineering director.
That was like my end goal. The more that I was talking to my manager about it and they kept brushing me off, they was like, Hey, we don't know if you're ready for this. We think you're lacking leadership ability. We don't think you're able to handle the stress.
And even though I didn't say it, but I was think to myself handling the stress, like I had basically have two jobs right now, , you know, like, I have no idea what you guys are talking about.
Ling Yah: Did they have any idea? Did they know that you
Bryan Pham: No, no one had any idea that I was like making more of my salary as my side hustle. And that part started to upset me a little bit. And I started to look into it wondering why, like, is it just me? Maybe they're right.
Maybe I do lack leadership abilities. So I started like practicing my leadership skills more during my side hustle and taking on even more projects. But still I get the same critique and the same results. Like, Hey, you're lacking leadership abilities. I'm like, Is this me? So I started talking to my coworkers and to my surprise, when I talked to my Asian coworkers, I hear the same thing.
I was like, wow, like you guys too. What is going on here? And at the time it was like 2017, 2 018. The joke between me and my coworkers at the time was that San Francisco was getting very, very white. Oh, tech is getting so white, you know? Then that eventually let me down the path of looking to the bamboo ceiling and all the things I'm doing with Asian wholesale network right now.
Ling Yah: So at what point did you decide I don't actually need a job, I don't need to tie myself to this employee identity?
Bryan Pham: Yeah. That was probably when I was 26. I realized that I was very, very close to becoming a millionaire. I was probably like one or 200 grand away from being a millionaire at age 26.
I don't know, it's something that was inside of me. It was like, if I make the jump, I think I can get there faster. I think I've come millionaire before 30. This is like a really cool goal to have. There was something that happened at work that really irritated me and then I put my two weeks notice and I left.
And that was like a huge spur moment. Like I didn't even think about the consequences. I didn't even think about like what I just did. I just did it, you know? Oh wow. I really, this is crazy. But then I wasn't scared because I knew like, I'll still making you money some other ways and taking care of my own lifestyle.
So it kind of led me down the first time I did entrepreneurship, which we talked about earlier, before the podcast.
Ling Yah: That's amazing. I heard that at this time you decided to travel to sort of figure out who you were. Is this the same period as well?
Bryan Pham: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So a little bit after.
Let's talk quickly about my time doing this full-time. I did it full-time for about a year, year and a half. Things are going really well. I think at one point we did like 15 or 16 projects.
Ling Yah: That's massive.
Bryan Pham: Yeah. So this is a guy that was never comfortable spending $2,000 five years earlier to now borrowing like the millions.
I was borrowing a few million dollars to do my projects and I felt completely comfortable doing that. And it's just like, I don't know what was going on at the time, but I felt like this was my time to shine. Like there was an inner voice in my head. I was like, this is your time. Like you can't miss this moment.
You need to seize the moment and take advantage of your time. I think a part of it was like straight youthfulness and ignorance, because half the things that we bought we should had not bought. Because up to that point, everything we touched was like the midas touch.
Like everything we touched made money for us and we got overconfident in that we can turn around any property and fix anything. But of course, like any overconfidence in any investment styles is detrimental to the long term. To any gain you're ever gonna make. So during that time I was able to take some time off to travel and figure myself out.
And when I came back everything blew up. You know, that's when I started losing.
Ling Yah: This was the 2018 19 period, right?
Bryan Pham: Yeah, 2018, 19. That's when I came back to my software engineering job. And I stayed there for a year before leaving again and starting Asian Houston network.
Ling Yah: Wow.
Wasn't this a part where you left, you came back, but you got minor depression cuz you were trying to figure out what Yeah. Meaning of life was? Like, what was your mental state at the time?
Bryan Pham: It was interesting because I feel like at that time everything started like the way the world works started like clicking in my head.
I realized how unfair the world was.
Why is it me in this position? It's not fair to people who are much smarter in me and better than me? And I struggle with that for such a long time.
This huge imposter syndrome that I came from this super poor immigrant mindset.
My parents are really poor. I was really poor growing up and that I feel like I was one mistake away from being homeless. That was my mentality for most of the time and I felt like everything that happened to me I didn't deserve. And partially it's because I felt like it was cause of the people I was hanging out with at the time.
Cuz a lot of people didn't see any of things I did at the time as being possible. And then looking back, it's like they're not bad people. I don't blame them. I don't blame anything. I think that when someone around you haven't seen the light yet and you haven't seen what's possible then to you it's always impossible mentally.
And because I was so lucky to be around people in real estate that I saw making millions of dollars every month or whatever it is, I was like, I can do that too. And when I came back and I was still hanging out with my other group of friends and they were, just going on their daily lives and complaining about little things.
And that's when I really questioned like, man, like I do, I really belong here. And I started questioning my place in the world. And I started to think about like, what is the meaning of life because if people work really hard to get to like financial freedom and they're able to do this and that, isn't that a good thing?
Why do I feel so empty inside? And then I realized like, it's because I need to find my north star. I need to find my purpose. I need to find my why. Right? Everything I did to this point was only to prove to myself that I was worthy. I was never truly My Why.
Ling Yah: I love that you said that because obviously that's how and why I started this podcast and why why is in it.
Because I realized after a while when I was doing law, I could see where my future was and I just couldn't imagine being there. And then the question then become, so what else is out there? All my friends are lawyers, but my colleagues are lawyers. I dunno anyone who isn't a lawyer and I dunno any other path.
So for you, you were in a similar state. How did you figure it out? What was your north star? How did you find that answer?
Bryan Pham: Yeah, it took a lot of, I guess like darker times and I think as human beings whenever things are going too well, I think mentally we always invent a new problem to like overcome.
Cause this is the point of life, right? Yeah. It's like the point of life is to find more adversity, to figure yourself out. During this time, I kept asking myself, why am I doing this? What makes me happy? Why am I doing this? What makes me happy? And I went down to like every single thing I did. And I think the key to like figuring it out is awareness of your own actions and more importantly, your own feelings.
What feels right to you? What feels good to you? What gives you a reason to smile? For me, the more that I interact with people, the more I realized that that is the Asian community for me. And it's largely because I grew up in an area that was predominantly Asian in LA.
Now that I'm in Asia, obviously everyone's Asian, but obviously finding an Asian dominated city in America is actually pretty rare.
And because of that experience, I really never saw myself as a minority. I always saw myself as a majority, to be honest. And for retrospective, I think my high school only had like three white people.
Ling Yah: Oh, that's really weird.
Bryan Pham: Yeah. I think the rest were like Latinos and Asian people.
That's how I saw the world, which is like an inverse of everything.
Ling Yah: Essentially you grew up in an area where there were lots of Asians and you first thought, sort of like me, I grew up in Southeast Asia.
We are not minorities. We are the majority. So you found that the Asian community was something that you really cared about, but it's one thing to say, I care about this community, another thing to go, yeah. What am I gonna do?
So how did you figure that out? Because I did hear from an interview, you said quite lot, you would think about something like AHN for a year, a year and a half, but you didn't know the answer, so how did you find the answer?
Bryan Pham: I think at the time I was asking myself like what was important to me? And because I always saw myself as majority in my own city being Asian American and being majority of the city allows you to see things from a different lens. And I think it's because I saw how divided the Asian community really is.
Ling Yah: In what sense?
Bryan Pham: I saw like how the Chinese people start together. All the Koreans always gather, all the Vietnamese people, all stuck together. And for me, I have always been a very curious person for the majority of my life. And I will sit down with every community member, anyone talk to them.
Honestly, the first thing doesn't even cross my mind that they're like different Asian people to me. They're just like Asian people. And when they share their stories to me, I realize that we all want the same thing. We all have the same values, but there's this hatred towards each other, which I don't understand.
And at the time. I knew that if we came together as a community, like we can be so much stronger than that. And then a little bit after that, I talking to my fiance now Maggie, who is also my co-founder of Asian Network. And I was talking to her over and over, like, I didn't wanna do something with the Asian community, but I don't know what it is.
And I literally was like writing stuff on the whiteboard and thinking about it at night. And literally
Ling Yah: What were you writing? What were some of the ideas at the time?
Bryan Pham: I was starting writing down the problems of the Asian community. The first thing I wrote down was like competition.
And the next thing was like zero sum game.
I started writing down like the good things. Like we are naturally very caring people. We're very community oriented. We're very driven, and I started to look at all those things. And the solution I found is it's because we don't talk to each other.
And once we talk to each other, we realize it doesn't matter if you're Filipino, Malaysian Singaporean or Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, whatever it is. Like we inherently want to trust and care for each other. And the only way to do that for us is to really put aside our differences and what we believe the stereotype is of the other culture, and understand that we're all much more similar than we think we are.
Ling Yah: So you had this idea, bring everyone together, but how were you gonna actualize it? I heard as well that you had the idea in April and you launched in November. So what was that period of ideation and launch like?
Bryan Pham: Oh boy. It was a lot of ideation. Like we , I'm trying to remember cause it's so long ago now.
It's like almost four years ago. I just remember that was like probably the best time.
We had a feeling that it was gonna be something big. It was gonna be something great. It was a missing void in the community. But we had like no idea like how big and how broad it'll ever get.
I'm talking to you right now in Vietnam. Like you would've asked me this five years ago I'll be sitting in like my office working with job and be like, dang, I just lost a lot of money in real estate.
This is like absurd to me to even be in this position. So we're trying out a lot of different things, but eventually we figured because of subtle Asian traits and how viral, they were going a few months before us.
Yeah. That Facebook group was the way to go. Mm-hmm. . And originally we did not want to be the ones that were starting this movement. We just wanted to take a backseat and support in any way that we could. We actually never saw ourselves as a leader of this movement. It was like really surprising when I was like, oh crap.
I'm in the driver's seat. Am I the right person to steer the wheel?
Ling Yah: So how did you end up pulling the trigger? Was there a push?
Bryan Pham: Yes, there was a push. This is a funny story too, . It's kind of one that you don't expect. So we actually shared the idea and premise of Asian host network inside another Asian Facebook group, and we got our post rejected. Oh no, . We're just like so outta a moment, a spite?
We're just like, we're gonna create our own Facebook group really better than them.
Ling Yah: That's hilarious. And then, yeah, the funny thing is that you created Facebook group, but you already had a clear mission at the time. That hasn't changed to this day.
Bryan Pham: Yeah, it's still the same mission almost four years later.
Ling Yah: That's amazing. Tell us how you came up with that mission. There must have been a lot of discussions and ideation again behind that.
Bryan Pham: Yeah, it was basically what I thought would be everlasting for our community. For any generation. Yeah. Right. I never wanted a mission that was selfish. I never want a mission that was short term.
I wanted something that was necessary for my future kids and grandkids to be a part of and see. I was thinking from that point of view and that mission is to be able to support, uplift and amplify each other's story. Because the more that we support, the more that we amplify, more that we listen to each other, the community will never fall apart.
Like any healthy relation, like when you stop communicating with your partner, that's when things feel really bad and that's the reason why we kept our mission the way it is. This is the very beginning.
Ling Yah: Hey everyone, just a gentle reminder that STIMY episodes like this one are now open to sponsorships, and this is one of the spots that you can get. To be honest, STIMY is not gonna accept everyone because we want to make sure that your mission aligns with the interest of the STIMY community.
So yes, dear listeners, I'm putting you first, but if you're interested, please do drop an email at [email protected], and let's start chatting. All right, now let's get back to this episode with Bryan Pham.
I want to pick up the word "story" you said earlier. Story was very much inspired by your visit with Maggie to the Meiji Shrine as well. But how did you think that you were going to share the story in the community?
Bryan Pham: Yeah, so basically the Meiji Shrine was a huge component of Asian House Network. When we went to Meiji Shrine, I wasn't expecting to be captivated by all the stories on the wooden tablets.
It was interesting because I didn't know these people. They had their names on the tablet, which obviously didn't really mean much to me cuz I don't know who they are. But it really touched me because people were like, Hey, like I'm about to take my college interest exam. My parents worked so hard for me to get to this moment.
Please wish me luck. Or it's like, Hey, like my mom has cancer right now. You know, just sharing all these deep feelings or people are sharing about their hardships or what they're grateful for. And I was just so captivated, even though I didn't know who they were and I spent hours like reading through almost every single one that I could.
I felt so compelled to like try to help these people. But I don't know who they are. And that was like the feeling, I got that up of storytelling. Right. You don't know these people, but yet you still want to contribute and help. Yeah. And that's when I realized I want to be the first one to share my story and that this can be them building.
Because I fully believe that as an organizer, as a leader, like you have to be the one setting the trend sometimes. And once you send the trend like you wish to watch your community like wow you and it continues to like impress me every single day.
Ling Yah: So you identify your North Star, Asian community, you figure out how with the stories, and then you launch AHN as a screw you moment.
What happened after that?
Bryan Pham: It has grown far beyond my expectations of anything that I've ever imagined that a Facebook group can never do. This Facebook group has evolved into a corporation. We are now incorporated in Singapore, Australia, United States. We have our own venture fund. We have a nonprofit fund .
This was all from a Facebook group, which is insane. Yeah.
Ling Yah: What were the early days like? Because I read that it was a rapid growth, what, 1000 members in three days and 3 weeks was 28,000.
Bryan Pham: It went bonkers like within a few hours, like we had a few hundred people join and then later a that day or a few days later, it was like a thousand people.
Ling Yah: Did you get people from that group that rejected you as well?
Bryan Pham: They eventually caught on and we hopped on a call, but I don't wanna name any names. I love them. They're cool, they're cool with me now. Yeah, I went completely viral and we realized that at the first moment where I knew that this was a lot bigger than what I thought it was, is when people started referring to the community as a now. As a thing that's not a part of me. Which I'm wearing the hat right now.
People are like, oh thanks so much for creating AHN. AHN changed My Life, right? AHN changed my life. And I was like, this is so crazy. Like , it's living and breathing without me, like helping it. Right? And that's when I kind of knew like I wanted to keep this going and that opportunities like this will never really happen that frequently again.
And this is before, like what we're seeing right now. I think what we're going through right now is like an Asian renaissance. We're seeing a lot of like different organizations organizing cool things and like addressing all these things that were wrong with the Asian American. Asian Australian, Asian Canadian, Asian European communities.
When you really think about it, even four and a half years ago, there was nothing really out there like this. And I really thought to myself: it has to be all the right elements for something like this to ever happen again. And I knew that if Asian host network ever went away one day, it'll set our community back and I don't wanna set our community back.
Right? I want to continue building on top of this. I want to build a brand and a culture where we are okay with competition and we're okay supporting other people cuz at the end of the day, we're trying to make the world a better place and that's our goal.
Ling Yah: Do you think that AHN took off because right place, right time, no one else was doing it because you said as well at that time, people who were really well known were also coming in getting their own people to join us , which makes no sense when you think about it. When it's just a brand new Facebook group with nothing and they're staking their personal reputation to bring friends into this new group.
Bryan Pham: Yeah. We feel like we were the right place in the right time. I think that if we would start in our Facebook group nowadays, it would probably not go as viral.
Just very, very lucky. And we never take anything for granted.
I saw a statistic out there that 30% of second founders companies succeed.
It comes to show how much luck and environment and every elements are a huge factor in pushing things through.
Ling Yah: I remember I had one viral moment and the first thing I thought was, wow, that's amazing. Secondly, what on earth do I do? How do I jump onto this trend? So for you, I imagine you and Maggie must have been going, wow, people are really, really jumping in thousands upon thousands people.
Yeah. I'm freaking out. What do I do? What were your thoughts at the time? What did you do?
Bryan Pham: My first thought was like how do I build deeper connection between the community members? So our mistake hosting our first two events was thinking too small or like, no one's gonna come after event.
No one's gonna come out. So at first we picked the venue that fit 30 people and then we posted it on the basic group and we had the whole place signed out in like 10 seconds. Like, oh no,
it's going by too quickly. And then we kept bumping it up. So we bolted out to a hundred and we posted it like it'll be gone in like 15 minutes. Like, oh my God, what's going? So the first event we host was like 600 people. That's huge. Yeah. And the second event we host in LA effort was like a thousand people. We're like, oh my God, why there so many people coming?
So why were they coming? What were they looking for?
They were looking for a sense of community and they're looking at ways to support each other and listen to each other and network with each other.
It was crazy. Like the amount of people that were making trips down from cities I would never expect . Places I have never been. People I'd never met. They're making trips down. I asked them like, why are you guys here? This is my imposter syndrome talking. I'm like, this is nothing important. Like, why are you guys here? And people really resonate with like the mission that we're trying to do.
Which is really like to support, uplift and be this really, really warm brand that really cares about you. That was so important to me to like be so endearing and caring to the community. And what makes us different at the time was we were trying to try figure out to like, help in any way possible without asking for anything returned. We never wanted to do that.
Ling Yah: So how were you creating this brand, this whole comfort, belonging, feeling?
Bryan Pham: I think it really started with a lot of credit to the community. I think it started with the people that were sharing their story. It was like a domino effect, right? There were high level, influencial people that were sharing their story.
There were people who were just starting out sharing their story. And regardless of who is sharing their story, everyone is treated with the same level of respect. Everyone is treated with the same level of integrity and dignity, which is really important. And no one ever criticize or judge anything in the community which made it a very, very safe space for you to share your story, ask questions, and be yourself.
Then we quickly learned that like most things in life, if you don't take time to nourish it or take care of it, it can quickly go bad really fast. Including healthy communities, including healthy relationships.
You don't spend the time to work in a relationship, it goes bad. And we quickly learned that we need to keep our community going and we need to constantly remind people what we're about. Otherwise, you know, over time people forget, and over time people do take you for granted and what you're trying to work on.
Ling Yah: So how do you nurture that relationship? How do you make sure people don't just take you for granted?
Bryan Pham: It's definitely been a very humbling and grateful four years building this. You get smarter over time when people reach out and talk to you what their intentions are. Because I realize that if you're able to listen to the fine lines, you really understand if you're truly there to help you or you're truly there to like seek your own benefit.
At first, I did not have the skill set because I didn't talk to enough people in my life and I figured that everybody had a really good intentions. . And you quickly learned that that wasn't the case. And then that really pushed us in the corner where it's like, is this something I wanna do for the rest of my life?
There were a lot of times where I did wonder, like, should I be doing other things? Because sometimes, you know, you feel the stress of the community. Especially during Covid.
Ling Yah: Well, you wanted to quit within the first eight months as well, right?
Bryan Pham: Yeah. I was taking a huge toll on mental health.
I couldn't deal with so many messages. I couldn't deal with the stress. I couldn't deal with being thrown into this position because fortunately and unfortunately for us, like we have grown pretty rapidly during the pandemic years, but also we were also thrown into a leadership position where people are looking towards myself and Maggie.
There's a lot of crime happening against the Asian community. What is Asian Hustle Network doing?
Honestly at that time, I didn't know what to do. Like I wanted to do something, but I didn't know enough.
So I started reading history and looking at like other, the black community for example. Understanding how did they deal with like oppression and rising crimes against their community.
Luckily there was a person that posted and she ended up being my co-founder, Shohana busa. At that time there was a huge misinformation that you eat Chinese food, you get covid or something. Chinese businesses were suffering a lot. All the Chinatowns were empty as heck.
And Michelle posted in the community. She was like, Hey, someone should organize a food drive and we'll go and order food from these restaurants. So I saw that. Set up reaching out to her to be like, Hey Michelle, I think that's a really good idea. We should find a way to work with each other and make it more sustainable.
And I said to her like, I think this needs to be more permanent. How about creating a nonprofit? And that's when she brought in our other co-founder Tammy Cho. So Tammy has a lot of experience as tech founder and both as a nonprofit founder. And even though she's a little bit younger than me like four or five years, she had the maturity as someone who's much older than me. All right. And we understood that it was best to make Tammy, the CEO of this nonprofit.
Ling Yah: Just 'Hate is a virus'.
Bryan Pham: Yes. Ends up being Hate is a Virus.
Ling Yah: What other lessons learned from running a movement?
Bryan Pham: Lots of things. I learned that everything that we're facing right now has not been new in human history. I learned that we need to actually take time to realize that there have been organizations fighting for these things for decades.
How do we reengage with them? How do we reconnect with them? How do you learn from them? Because I feel like the problem is a lot of times we don't talk to the older generation and obviously there's a lot of different factors. Ageism, culturalism, different ideas, don't have time. I think that there's a lot for us to like create resources and pass down the knowledge. Need cuz we never know when we need it.
I felt so supported during Hate the virus times because, we were talking to the Muslim community, how did they deal with the rising hate crimes against them during the nine 11 attacks? And people were saying, all Muslims are terrorists.
You know, we reach out to the black community as well. They were like, nothing but support. They taught me personally so much about activism and the importance of having representation in government and having the importance of supporting rallies and being able to speak up. This is nothing to learn in any textbooks. This is like not even imagined, like my life was gonna even be anything remotely like this.
And finding myself coming onto a Stop Asian hate rally in front of thousands of people feeling very, very strong emotions. Listening to my every word was like a holy moly moment where it's like, whoa, this is like insane. This is like some market leader, king Malcolm X moment, but not anything near their greatness.
But I kind of thought of them in my head as I was talking on the stage.
Ling Yah: But how do you go from being on that high thousands listening to you and going from there to saying, okay, this is the real world measurable impact of what we're doing. It's not just words out there and it's a long term.
Bryan Pham: That is impact a really. That is a really, really good question.
I think the long term impact for us is how do we continue providing the resources and knowledge to people who want to host our own rallies and get togethers, That's a proper K p I for us. It's like we don't want to be the ones organizing everything, but if you're willing to organize, we'll lend you our help.
We'll lend you our brand, we'll lend you everything we know. And still today, like I'm very grateful cuz I still have to wait hates virus to focus on Asian network. I'm still very grateful that Tammy and Michelle have done a phenomenal job running the organization. And every time I check LinkedIn I see very strong educational calls.
I see a lot of fellows and volunteers on the nonprofit side and everyone's really passionate about making sure that our voices are heard and that hate crimes like this will continues to drop even though it has not been dropping. But you know, we're trying to do our best our side.
Ling Yah: So I would love to go back to Asian Hustle Network again and mm-hmm one of the things I told you earlier as well, resonated with me because I'm sort of building my own little community as well. Meeting as well. And I noticed that you said in-person events are very important for you. I mean, organizing an event. It's a lot of work and there are lots of little elements you have to think of.
The place, what kind of food, drinks, how do you organize, how do you make sure everyone feels belonged and heard and they walk away yeah, and they actually remember the people they spoke to. You have hundreds. Yeah. So that makes it even harder.
What are some of the things that you've found work in running an event?
Bryan Pham: You need to remind people why you have the event. I think it's very important to set the mood to be like, this is the point, this is the mission of our event. This is the mission of organization. This is the reason why we have this.
And I think it's super important to remind people before you create the event, as you're getting up to the event and during the event. Because I think that as crazy as it sounds, once you set your core values, people follow them. Once you set like this is a street supporting listening to each other networking event.
People take a different approach to it.
Whereas if you don't set any criteria, people automatically go to like, I'm taking everything mode where it's like, what can I learn from you? Can you be my investor? Blah, blah, blah. I think that's so crazy psychologically and all these things that I think about when I was like in a company where I look at the core values inside the pillars and everything. That seriously subconsciously affects how you deal with yourself and how you treat people around you.
Ling Yah: I wonder, and this is just a guess, I feel as though in your community you don't really have all that many people who are just coming in and wanting to take, and I say this because I know this in my community as well. Lots of people come every single time I organize. It's almost always new people, but they all come wanting to share and wanting to give.
They all seem to have the same core values, even though they are all total strangers. And I wonder that's been the case for you as well.
Bryan Pham: Definitely not the case. We actually had it in, we have hundreds of people though.
We have it in block letters, on the group, and we actually make it so whenever you join the Facebook group mm-hmm, one of the requirements that you have to answer is, would you give first before taking the community?
That's one of the things that we require. Maybe that core value has spilled over in the last three or four years. But it wasn't like that at the very beginning. I remember distinctly someone posting, Hey guys, like I actually inherit some money and I'm trying to make an investment. Can you guys gimme some advice?
And to my surprise, we were like, why should I share with you my idea? You're just gonna take my idea. I was like, what the heck is going on? So block, we had to like, no, we didn't, not block, but we had to like tell people like, hey, we want to have more people believe in them, but in this mindset.
That it's not a zero sum game that everybody can win and there's so much money out there, like you don't need to withhold anything. And over time I became more and more open. But that what I would call a wild, wild west type of moment of age and days.
Ling Yah: What is your trick to, and this applies for people listening who are attending events as well, going to an event, hundreds of people, strangers are there and making sure that you actually connect with people and you walk away not going, I remember meeting lots of new faces.
I don't remember any one of them.
Bryan Pham: I think the biggest advice I have is going to a networking event and going against all beliefs. It's kind of expect to get nothing.
When you go under the expectation to give and not take anything, you're gonna get a lot more out of it, right? Because now you're opening up your heart to listen up to people.
And ironically, as you open up your heart with someone else, they'll open up their heart. You share things that connect on a deeper level.
Ling Yah: What have being the most surprising moments for you yourself that have arisen out of all these events?
Bryan Pham: People have reached out to me and said, Hey, I thank you so much for Asian Hustle network.
I found my wife. I was like, wow, I didn't know what else. Also dating community as well. I'm so happy for you guys because we've been around for at least four years now and this has been a long enough time to be able to literally meet at the beginning and now marry three or four years later.
Ling Yah: Soon they will have kids too.
Bryan Pham: It's crazy. . Yeah. I actually know my wife at one of your first events. I'm like, oh, .
Ling Yah: That's amazing. That's why you should never turn your invitation down if you get to go to a networking event.
That's amazing. You have also said before you are always constantly looking to innovate. What have you innovated? How do you come up with these ideas?
Bryan Pham: It's just natural curiosity in mine, right? Because I believe that nothing lasts forever. I believe in like doing things right and doing slow.
I believe that over time, whenever you do something right, you're gonna see a lot of fruitful conversations and results that you wanna see. I found a team right now that's very passionate as much as I am. We're able to still talk to community members very often. And I don't even call it intervening, I would call it improving ourselves and evolving our community.
Cause every generation, every people, every year, the priorities of the community changes a lot. And because the parade changes, the community has to rise up to the occasion to address those needs.
When you're following the needs of your community, I wouldn't even call that innovation, I would call that like stepping or evolving your community to address like the modern struggles and whatever things that comes up during that year or time.
Ling Yah: When you are running something like this, you're doing it full-time, is you have to think about the fact that this is ultimately a business. You have to make it profitable. You said in an interview approaching 2021, that you are actually in negative cash flow almost every month, which is very concerning cause you had been running for a couple years.
How did you figure that answer out?
Bryan Pham: Yeah, this is not fun to answer, but I feel like when your back is against the wall and your passion is so strong, you're gonna figure out things that will never occur to you if things are going right. And you'll never do things you would ever do if you're not desperate.
You'll never make those extra phone calls, you'll never make those extra emails if your back was not against the wall. Because our back was against the wall half the time we really wanna keep this community going. We did everything we could and we talked to a lot of different people. We got a lot of different ideas.
And I feel like the universe works in a really funny way. Is that when you want something bad enough, they'll find a way to keep it going. Like we just heard about things are about to hit the fan. You get like a miracle connection to somebody. I was like, Hey, I'll pay you a few thousand dollars for this.
Like, oh, you'll pay that? Like for real? You know, like, and you realize like it's not a bad thing trying to keep yourself going when you know that in your heart that the mission, the organization is for the greater good. And you got to a point where people understand that nothing is free in life and that if you want to continue moving , it needs to be a way that sustainable for all parties and all partners.
Ling Yah: What were some of the things that you did when your back was against the wall that proved to be profitable and turned things around?
Bryan Pham: I reached out to people in the past that scared me, like their position of power scared me. They had way much more experience in wisdom than I could ever imagine.
Ling Yah: And you asked them for a sponsorship, like what was the pitch? How did you do it?
Bryan Pham: I was always shy to ask for money straight up, but I would always build a relationship with them first in terms of like asking you to speak at an event or podcast or whatever. And once he kind of understood what we're about then the next question kind of evolves naturally. They're like, how can I help you?
And we're like, Hey, I have this event coming up and we're looking for sponsorship. I'm like, yeah, like, I love what you guys do. I want in, I wanna sponsor this. This is amazing. And slowly we were able to build up our track record as sponsors and became like a snowball effect where one person would talk to another person and one company would talk to another company.
Before we knew it, we had partnerships like over 50 companies.
Ling Yah: That's the thing that I struggle with as well. What are you offering to them exactly? Are they basically looking and saying, I love this movement, I wanna fund you? Or are you giving something that can actually incorporate and be part of their business?
Bryan Pham: It's both. Depends who you talk to. I feel like the smaller businesses have a lot more to lose and a lot more to try to have you help them. So in that sense, we do pay a lot more attention to smaller businesses. But to our surprise, we found that big companies oftentimes have a multicultural department fund where they just literally want to help your mission.
And the thing they're really looking for is like local placements announcements. But you'd be surprised that a lot of these companies do have this arm that really wants to help you. And that's the part that still blows our mind to this day.
Ling Yah: So what's the trick to reaching to them and getting them to actually hear your story?
Bryan Pham: I think the first part is building a relationship with them and helping having them understand the significance of your platform and how engaged your audience is.
I think the first part is reaching out. The first part is like, not taking it anyway, but offering them value. Showing that whatever you're doing is life-changing and game changing, and personally change your life.
Why did you change their life? They're a lifelong fan and they wanna support you in any way that they could.
Ling Yah: At what point did you think, I'm ready to move out of the US to south Southeast Asia ?
Bryan Pham: It occurred to me when I was going out to all these galas and networking events that I was meeting the same people over and over.
There's nothing wrong with that. I love the people I met so far. Like they're really, really good people. People that I never thought I could connect with ever in my life that are like friends of me now. And then I realized like a lot of these programs in the US and these organizations are catered towards the same group of people.
And there has always been that feeling in my mind that the world is much larger than just where I am. The city that I'm in. I want to impact more people in the world. And I think about that my times when I was traveling after real estate to like Southeast Asia, like Thailand and whatnot.
In mind that Thailand has developed a lot, by the way, since I last visited .
Super nice now, but at the time I was thinking to myself, cause I remember going to a foot massage place and talking to the girl that was massaging my foot and then I realized how smart she was. She was super smart and it made me really sad that because of circumstances and being born in certain places, like you are limited to less and less opportunity.
And that was almost like the first catalyst that occurred to my mind. I was like, what if they had the same resources and knowledge and connections that quote unquote we have in the Western world? What would they be able to achieve in their life? So that thought was always resonating with me because I felt like I built up a pretty sizable community and connections in resources in the states.
I wanted to now bridge the gap between the east and the west together. And I felt like this has been a challenge where no one had ever taken on, ever to really, really connect the east and the west together. And one of the ways that we're trying to do that, and we have started already, by the way, pretty fortunate that our letters are A H N.
So very similar to Ted. I mean, I'm always been a fan of Ted. I love Ted and then I realize that going to a platform, you don't see a lot of Asian representation on the platform. I wanted to have a platform where we can hear stories from not only Asian Americans, Asian Australians, whatever. What about Asians around the world, And being here in Southeast Asia over the last six, seven months, I realized that the rate of innovation is far beyond anyone ever imagined the West to be. People here are so smart, so driven, and unfortunately when you ask me to come on stage to speak in a second language, they're not familiar with they're gonna sound, no matter how smart they're they, they're gonna sound very smart.
So the whole idea behind us being here is because we wanna create a platform where people can compensate to share their story in their native language, and then have that be translated to all different languages.
Truly connecting. We want to be the true, super connected of the world, right? And once we have that, we can connect the east and the west together, and that's our vision.
Ling Yah: How is that different from e s t media?
Bryan Pham: I think for us we're doing it in a way where we have hired speech coaches. You know, shout out if Jill, you're listening to this podcast.
Shout out Jill. Jill is a speech coach. So essentially we asked our speakers to work with her for two months before helping on stage. And the whole point of us doing that is because we realize that Asian people should use a little bit of help. Public speaking.
Anything that we can do to help push our community forward in terms of these soft skills, lifelong skills, speaking abilities, speaking, those so crucial to success.
We'll help you do that. And that's how we feel like we have always led with our heart. We have always led with good intentions and we wanna make sure that we're able to impact more and more people and lives around the world.
Ling Yah: Well , what is Vietnam like? Cuz you hear about Vietnam a lot. It's where the crypto guys are.
It's a new startup hub. It's very exciting. No one ever sleeps. You want them to do a dress for you. And yes, they'll be done the next day. No problem. What is it like being on the ground there?
Bryan Pham: Yeah, it is for lack of a better term, it was pretty chaotic for me when I got here. People here are relentless. Like they would go out and get it. There's no such thing as a No.
It is always like, fine, I'll figure it out. Even though you keep telling 'em no. Like, it's crazy. We call it quote unquote the Vietnam Way. The Vietnamese way.
There's like, nothing's ever impossible. You just haven't looked at it from a different angle or tried little bit harder. , you know, it's kind of crazy because the city is beaming with energy. That is like one of the most vibrant energy I've felt in any parts of Asia.
Mainly because the population itself is so young. You look around, you see more kids, more young people than any older people . The ratio just complete outnumber the older folks. And you feel like there's a wave of change coming. Because when you talk to them, to my surprise at least, everyone speaks to English relatively well when they're younger.
There's a lot of like international schools here. The education system is getting better. A lot of Vietnamese who are educated overseas are not coming back and they're starting their own companies. They're bringing their own western ideologies to the country. So I do expect it now to rapidly change the next five to 10 years.
And this is also the reason why everyone's so attracted to this energy, vibrancy and workforce.
Ling Yah: I am thinking of going to Vietnam for a couple of weeks cuz this is very exciting. I've never been, I dunno how to get plucked into that community as well cause I dunno anyone. I imagine people listening probably would feel the same way.
What's your advice for us in terms of just getting plugged in. I mean, going to a new city, but how do I find the right people and the communities? I
Bryan Pham: Yeah, I would say the first thing is just really enjoy the culture first. I think that meeting people is one thing, but understanding and kind of feeling, you know, the city vibes is more important.
And once you kind of get yourself acquainted to like the food, the air, the hustle, the culture is a really fast paced place to be. If you're not mentally ready coming here then obviously you won't really enjoy your time here. After you're able to get acclimated to the environment now like try to get yourself plugged in.
I think what the Vietnamese community does really well is that they're still very active on Facebook. So there's a lot of like professional networking events, just by typing into the Facebook chat or Facebook search engine and seeing all these events pop up.
Particularly shout out to the overseas Vietnamese, LinkedIn and Facebook group. They do a tremendous job of hosting very vibrant, awesome events for overseas Vietnamese and Native Vietnamese in Vietnam. So whenever they're hosting events around the world, check them out.
Ling Yah: Amazing. And I love the reason why you do this as well is because as you said earlier, there wasn't enough representation of these amazing Asian leaders in the mainstream media.
Yeah. I'm sure you must have encountered lots of Asian leaders who are very much the idea of being unafraid to speak out, to be leading in the front. Can you give some examples of these leaders and why they stand out for you?
Bryan Pham: Yeah. I think what I love so far is seeing so much more of these leaders now.
Four years ago, it was really hard to like have a prominent Asian base that most people think for to. It was like, Hey, are you Bruce Lee? Hey, are you Jackie Chan? I was like, the two things that people sometimes people sprinkled in.
Are you Jet Lee? You know, like, you're not even Chinese. Yeah. But I feel like nowadays it's like a lot more Asian people everywhere, all at once winning all these different awards.
Michelle Yeoh and Huy Qu an, I forgot his name, sorry. He's the other actor. Yeah. You know, like Simu, Awkwafina a lot more like Hasan, the comedian guy.
You see a lot of more representation now and it feels so good to like finally see that vibrant scene in our community. Like, we're more than just Jackie Chan and Jet Lee and Bruce Lee, you know. But still we have a long, long way to go. A very long way. We're still very much correlated to a few faces in mainstream media.
I still feel like we have a long way to go to a place that we really want to be.
Ling Yah: What about on the personal level is, could you name one person that you know personally who you think is an outstanding leader? It's your chance to shout out to them.
Bryan Pham: I don't know if you'll ever listen to this podcast, but I do respect his other Asian organization leader.
Bing Chen, a founder of Gold House, so shout out to him. He really inspires me a lot. Everything about his demeanor, the way he speaks. He has a lot of vocabulary that I can only dream of having my arsenal.
I feel like he's done a phenomenal job at Gold House.
Ling Yah: Fantastic. And is there anything that people listening can help you with?
Bryan Pham: I think that if you guys offer your support by just listening to the stories in the Asian House Network and telling your friends about them and knowing that this is a place of not taking, but giving. And that would be tremendous of what we're trying to do in the world. And trying to spread our message of uplifting community.
Ling Yah: Bryan, thank you so much for your time here. I'd love to end all my interviews with the same questions. So the first is this.
Do you feel like you have found your why?
Bryan Pham: That was something that I struggle with for such a long time. But nowadays, no matter how long my days are, no matter how stressful I am, I still feel incredibly grateful to be be in this positions.
Answer is yes.
Ling Yah: And what kind of legacy do you wanna leave behind?
Bryan Pham: That is a very, very tough question to ask. I feel like legacy that I wanna leave behind is something that the next generation will benefit from, right? I want us to no longer have this pre-set prejudice or hatred or racism against each other, but to be able to put aside our differences, not only within the Asian community, but look towards other communities as well. That we're more similar than we are different.
I want people to keep that in mind.
Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?
Bryan Pham: Great question. I think the most important quality of a successful person is consistency and persistence, right? I think you have those two qualities where you don't give up easily and you understand that it's a slow process to get to where you want to get, but understand and fully believe that you will eventually get there.
That goes a long way with success.
Ling Yah: And where can people go to connect with you, find out more about Asian Hustle Network support, all the links.
Bryan Pham: Yeah, I'm have been very, very active on LinkedIn by the way. So you can find me through at Brian Bong fam or you can search up Asian Hustle Network and message any Asian Hustle network account.
And more than likely I'll see that.
Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 113.
The show notes and transcript can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/113.
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At age nine, he joined again because he didn't want to be bullied and was even part of an illegal passport syndicate.
He took a stint in Thailand, which allowed him to realize that this wasn't the life that he wanted to lead. After many tries, Alvin became sober, but he still maintains really strong relationships with his former brothers who respect and bless Alvin for all his efforts in helping people to overcome their drug addiction, and also going back into prisons to help them as well.
If you don't already know, STIMY is all about shedding light on the popular, but also the highly unconventional stories because we believe that there is something to be learned by each and every person, including ex-convicts. It's gonna be a great episode, so do stick around, listen to Notle Chew's episode because he's also another ex-convict with a great story.
You can find Notle's episode in episode 102, which is www.sothisismywhy.com/102.
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