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Charlie has built a number of companies, built a number of communities, and created a number of experiences on WOW experiences. We’re excited to chat with him today and dive into how he makes that magic happen.
- 1 You’re working on quite a number of exciting projects. Tell us about them!
- 2 What does “embracing the suck” mean and how did you turn it into your advantage?
- 3 What have you learned about how to create epic experiences after building WOND3R and CROSSxOVER that you wouldn’t have known otherwise?
- 4 How did you get early users for your community based companies like JollyGood and Asian Wives Club? What have those sites taught you about community building that you think is counterintuitive to people who have never built communities before?
- 5 Anything you’d like to plug?
You’re working on quite a number of exciting projects. Tell us about them!
We have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment. From creating fun, guerrilla type of videos for a tequila brand, to creating a festival centered around streetwear fashion. Think Complex meets Vice meets Fashion Week. It’s a massive project. But one of the most exciting projects we’re in the middle of at the moment is putting artists in astronaut training and having them create art afterwards. Artists like Adrien Brody, Jeff Koons and Terrence Koh are some of the names we are trying to finalize to be part of the project. The main goal of the project is to position space, tech, engineering and math and make it as enjoyable and cool as it was back in the 60’s. To do that, we need to include art and creativity into the mix. To move into the next phase of human evolution and explore further into space, we need that nugget of creativity. That’s what our space scientists friends are telling us.
What does “embracing the suck” mean and how did you turn it into your advantage?
We’re in the ad business. It’s our job to look at things from all angles to be able to find a solution to a brief or problem. Some people might think being blind sucks. You can’t see anything ever again. We here at WOND3R might take a different route. Perhaps you’re blind, but now your other senses are enhanced. You can see with your sense of smell or touch. That starts to open up weird and cool alternatives and could be very magical. That type of thinking is not common.
What have you learned about how to create epic experiences after building WOND3R and CROSSxOVER that you wouldn’t have known otherwise?
We’ve learned that without tension, you probably don’t have a good idea or experience. We don’t want to just do a TV or radio ad. We want to create a song or short film. We want to get you talking about the work whether it’s an ad or not. That only happens if you have some type of cultural tension. You need to come up with 1000 ideas and land on the idea that will scare the shit out of not only your client, but yourself. And then execute it well. This is especially difficult for the Asian audience, but the force fields are starting to come down. In due time, I think you’ll find great work start to seed by and for Asians.
How did you get early users for your community based companies like JollyGood and Asian Wives Club? What have those sites taught you about community building that you think is counterintuitive to people who have never built communities before?
JollyGood was a great experiment that ultimately failed. But I learned what and what not to do in terms of creating content and giving people something interesting to come back to. AWC is still alive and kicking, as it’s part of our Asian/Asian-American offering within marketing. The biggest learning from this aspect is that no one’s truly figured out the Asian audience just quite yet, and this is coming from a Viet-American. There’s a lot of cultural similarities between Asian cultures, but there’s even more that sets us apart and makes each culture unique. All I can say is that whoever understands the Asian community will have a big leg up in terms of brand-building. It’s no longer just Black, White, Latino. Asians are have become a dominant force.
Anything you’d like to plug?
We have so many things going on – CROSSxOVER is our streetwear media company, where we’ll hopefully be having an event this year in December (fingers crossed); WOND3R is our experiential/creative marketing shop that’s working with all kinds of industries from space and tech to food and tourism. With the whole coronavirus fiasco happening, we’re in the middle of building a program with brands to help combat the loss of business these local establishments are facing. We love doing creative work, but it makes it especially fulfilling when it’s for my fellow Asians.
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