William Hung Explains How to Take the High Road After Failure
Hanna: Welcome back friends. This is Hanna and today we have Mr. William Hung hanging out with us. Because with so much pressure on the numbers and fear and failures that can happen in our lives people are on the verge of burnout. We define our own creativity, voice, and gifts to help those shine through in our everyday work. We also need to find the connection to other people that have been lost and need to refocus. This is possible with the right mindset towards growth. Something that the She Bangs star William Hung brings in spades. From a failed American Idol auditioned to an inspirational speaker and international motivator, William Hung will transform our mindset by showing us that it is possible to take the high road even in the face of defeat. I am so excited to be chatting with you again William.
William: Hi Hanna. Thank you.
Hanna: I always like to ask guests, where in the world are you, right now?
William: Los Angeles.
Hanna: LA. I know a little bit about your story and hearing that you are in LA, I would love for you to give us — I’m sure you get this question all the time, but can you give our audiences just a short synopsis of what has transpired in your life since your infamous meeting with the American Idol team?
William: Okay. Well, it’s been a whirlwind and very long journey, but it’s been great. I really don’t like the word infamous. I know the media love using that word, but it’s more just able to turn failure into success that people, including myself, did not expect. It’s more just taking advantage of opportunities right in front of you. It starts back right after the original audition, because what you may not know is that right after they broadcast my audition on the same night Fox News anchor John Beard said, “William Hung is the worst singer ever.” Ouch. Imagine if you are told that you are the worst entrepreneur, you’re the worst business person, worst colleague. How are you going to get up from that? How are you going to deal with that the next day? Fortunately, the next day something really crazy happen. Towards the end of one of my civil engineering classes my professor decided to show my audition in front of hundreds of students. The students were going like, “Oh my God. Where is he? Where is he? We got to look for him?” Then, after that I was mobbed for pictures and autograph. Then, from that day I know that my life can never be normal again.
Hanna: Your classmates received the audition well and wanted to get to know you and they appreciated your audition. That’s amazing.
Hanna: I think we’re going to talk more about what you’re doing today but I think even just overnight and in that moment you to decide to still get up on a bed after hearing that at night, show up to class, sit through the audition again, and then still receive the accolades and the attention with assuming best intentions. Is that something you’ve always practice throughout your life? Have you always been a pretty resilient and understanding person or are there habits that you had to developed right around that audition time?
William: I think that’s a great question. I think the reason I was able to maintain a positive attitude despite of the harsh criticism from people that may not like me or the media it was because my mom. She told me that it’s okay to fail as long as you tried your best.
Hanna: It is okay to fail. I think that trying your best means that you’re going into opportunities, experiences, classes with the idea that if it doesn’t work out something better will happen or you’ll learned from it at the very least. What an amazing example of that in your own life that like, well, one person said I’m the worst in the world and here I am the next morning finding opportunity.
William: Yeah, it was unbelievable. On that same night I got hundreds of emails for performance and interview opportunities. In fact I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to make of this.
Hanna: At that time were you thinking that you would pursue a career in music with all of those interested people?
William: Well, I just started doing a few interviews. I’ll never forget the very first one was Entertainment Tonight. Then, after that I was on Ryan Seacrest’s show a few times. Then, I just thought that well maybe it can happen, maybe it won’t. Just because you get invited and get paid to do a few things doesn’t mean you’re going to become the next star. Usually it doesn’t work that way. Then, one day I was invited to perform at a UC Berkeley men’s volleyball game. Right after my performance one of the staff members from the Koch Records gave me a $25,000 check for a record contract. Could you believe it?
Hanna: For a record contract.
William: Yeah, could you believe it? For a college student like me it’s like, “Wow, what is this?”
Hanna: So many Cheetos and video games you could buy.
William: [laughs] Unbelievable.
Hanna: You took that record deal? Do you have an album out there? What happen next?
William: What happen was I ended up going for the record deal, because I just told myself that I only go to get one chance in this lifetime. One thing about my philosophy is I don’t like my life to have regret whatever it is. Let’s say I want to do this back then and I want to do something else right now, motivational speaking, playing hearts on whatever. Whatever it is that I want to do in my heart I don’t want to have regrets later. I’m going to try. I’m going to make it happen.
Hanna: Like you said when these opportunities present themselves so what if you fail?
Hanna: It’s okay to do that so take the opportunity and assume that the best will happen. Today, William you mentioned a little bit your work is a bit different than performing at college volleyball games or recording records. Help us understand what your mission is today?
William: Well, my mission is to inspire people to take ownership of their life and their careers. I believe that people can make the conscious choice to become champions by becoming the best version of themselves each and everyday. That’s my mission.
Hanna: Because Simon can’t tell you or no newscaster can tell you you’re the worst at being you.
Hanna: We all totally have the tools and the power to be the best us. I know you have a lot going on in your day to day life, but how does that work manifest? I know you do some speaking events. Do you work with people on these things? What are you up to?
William: Well, it’s been crazy. I definitely done some professional speaking recently. I spoke for a global south conference at San Antonio. It’s for Qorvo, a company called Qorvo, Q-O-R-V-O and it was a technology company. Then, July I’ll be going to Singapore to speak for their technology conference. There’s been a lot going on. Another exciting is I’m about to speak for a tech’s event in Los Angeles.
William: Thank you. Thank you. It’s been crazy like that. I think that since this podcast is going to take a while for it to go out I can go ahead and also share that I just got invited to sing with Ricky Martin.
Hanna: No way. You haven’t done that before, have you?
William: No, I’m serious.
William: It’ll be at the Monte Carlo June 2nd on Saturday. It’s tomorrow night.
Hanna: Oh my gosh. Wow. Well, break a leg. I can’t wait to see the videos and things afterwards.
William: I talked to them if they’re okay with me sharing everything on social media and website. This is unbelievable.
Hanna: You are still banging. I love it.
William: Yes. Only singing one song and it’ll be She Bangs with Ricky Martin on stage.
Hanna: Such a good flashback to that.
William: I know, I look forward to that.
Hanna: You’re doing all of this. You’re still being invited to hangout with celebrities and do these speaking events yet you are also balancing a full-time job. Is that right?
William: Yes, that’s true. Right now, I’m still hanging onto it. I think that offline we’ve talked about this one before. It’s a conscious choice that I’m making. I feel good about what I’m doing in terms of solving process problems and helping people get better healthcare as a result. It’s not the direct result but it’s still the end result, because whether it’s processing applications faster, contractors gaining more money by doing better, delivering better services I believe in it otherwise I wouldn’t do it.
Hanna: Yeah, I wanted to highlight that because a lot of people on this show and just people who think, “They’re chasing their dreams or they’re helping people overcome fear.” They think that they are living some life by the beach and totally radicalizing their life. I think it’s really inspiring that you are still so invested in your work as an engineer while you pursue your other engagements. How do you maintain — I understand your mission of going to help people, willing to empower people. It sounds your day job has an aspect of that, but how do you balance this I guess genres of work that you do? Because I know a lot of people listening to this might still be in a full-time job trying to chase dreams, trying to book meetings with people like Ricky Martin –
Hanna: – that we can go by quickly. Do you have any sort of productivity tools or time management wisdom for our listeners?
William: Well, I love this one because for me — Sorry, I’ll try again.
Hanna: Yeah, there we go.
William: There are many suggestions in terms of how we manage that. For me, I don’t like a rigid structure. It doesn’t really work for me. I’m not like that. I don’t see myself living like that, but however I do like the idea of having a few big goals each day. You heard of the divide and conquer, right?
William: You break down this huge goal and then you just come up with something that’s reasonable for each day. Maybe today was I’m going to make sure I get all the travel plans settled. I’m going to make sure I figure out my itinerary for Singapore, things like that, reasonable goals.
Hanna: Yeah, I think that’s amazing. I want to go back a little bit now to your decision to engage with American Idol because we’ve talked in other places about your decision to choose the high road and you could have hid in and said, “I’m not going to talk about it. Don’t contact me.” Was it a conscious move for you to say, “You know what? I’m going to find opportunity in this”, or like I said was just that something that’s part of your personality?
William: I would say it’s a conscious choice to take the high road because it’s necessary. At that time the way I saw it and my friends saw that too. They saw how people were using me and my image and my likeness. They’re talking about me on media. They’re talking about me on websites back then. I can’t really avoid it. I could try to pretend nothing happen or deny but I don’t see a point of view in that because that’s part of who I am. I did go on American Idol for better or worse and I did try my best things did not work out. I cannot compare my talent to people like Carrie Underwood. That would never happen in my lifetime and that’s okay. That’s actually okay.
Hanna: I think you realize that I can’t actually completely avoid this like it happened, I’m going to own it. What advice would you give to someone who has that failure or has that let down or they hear harsh criticism? What advice would you give other people for that next morning when they have class or they have life to show up to?
William: I would say that just trust your heart. Believe in what you do.
Hanna: Like you said just be you. You can only be the best of being yourself and you shouldn’t hide or change that. It doesn’t do anyone good.
William: Yeah, yeah. Exactly because — How do I say it? Because everybody has different interest or philosophies and beliefs and the main takeaway I learned from all these years is that you can’t please everybody. It’s impossible. Why not just get rid of that? Why not just walk to people who will support you? Walk with your raving fan. You have raving fans. For me, I’m very fortunate to have raving fans but I know you do too in your network. The people you spend the most time with. The people that make you laugh and smile the most those are your raving fan.
Hanna: I love that. Something I appreciated learning in my sort leap of faith or my big audition for being an entrepreneur was exactly what you said. I can’t make everyone happy but the only person I have any control over is myself. If I can do things everyday that make me happy and of course lead you to those people that you said that make you smile, that understand your vision, that appreciate the way you think. You’ll find those people only when you are owning yourself and making yourself happy first and foremost.
Hanna: Awesome. I love it. Cool. We’re reaching the phase that I like to call pop quiz. There are three quick questions on this quiz. I won’t be grading you too harshly but I would like you to show your best work, okay?
William: Okay, okay.
Hanna: All right. The first question is what is something that listeners can do today to get them closer to their dream life?
William: Take that first step. Whatever it is, take that first step. I could speak from experience. Recently, the last two years or one and a half year I got into inspirational speaking. Some people in my network they think it’s, “Oh my God. William Hung, people know who you are. It’s fairly easy”, but actually it’s not. It helps a lot but it’s still not a gimmick. Those opportunities I’ve been getting recently didn’t happen just by chance. I reached out to people. I connected with people. I also pay my dues by speaking for local speaking engagements for free or for minimal amount of money just so that I have the speaking footage. I have the testimonial. I am more comfortable in my own skin because of the way I deliver my presentation. It’s not by luck alone. Yeah, I’m lucky but it’s not by luck alone. We have to put in the work and then the luck can come to you.
Hanna: I think those are two really great points. The first one is that your network is huge. Maybe the step that you take today is telling someone else what you’re thinking about or what you’re looking for whether it’s a speaking opportunity or a partner in your business or a babysitter. Whatever is going to get you closer to your vision of your dream day. Also when you are trying to build a reputation or a movement you have to put in the work and sometimes you have to show up for free and show up assuming the best. I think those are two really great action steps people can take. Doing well so far. Ready for question two?
William: Okay, let’s do it. Number two, right.
Hanna: Yes. Are there any tangible resources that perhaps changed your life that you would recommend to other people? Whether it’s a mentor or a book or an exercise or just something that you would recommend to other people to get their hands on.
William: That’s interesting. Well, I read a book called Do It! Marketing by David Newman. I think that his approach to marketing it’s very fascinating. He’s a big believer in using prospect like language. It’s not about using fancy words. It’s more listening closely to how they communicate their pain. For example, let’s say I want to speak to a corporation I just look at people and listen to people and I walk. How do they communicate at the water coolers? Oh my God, this is the 15th assignment today the last two hours.
Hanna: I love that. Marketing is really powerful and you can get in the heads or get in the conversations of other people. The other thing about marketing is if you think about it as a relationship builder there’s a lot of good psychology and networking skills that can be gleam when you do get into the art of marketing. That sounds like an interesting read and not one that I’ve actually heard of yet. All right, the last question William. Where can people learn more about you or stay connected to your work?
William: The people can check out my website willhung.com W-I-L-L-H-U-N-G.com. There are a couple other resources. I’m very active on Facebook. I’m somewhat active with Twitter and Instagram because I tend to post all of them on the same day using the automated scheduler, but I’m usually more active on Facebook. Then, what else? I think those
Hanna: Necessarily having Facebook is a good one to be on when you have a desk job.
William: Yeah, yeah.
Hanna: Anywhere else that we could connect with you or resources you want to access?
William: I think those are the best ways I can think of for right now.
Hanna: We’ll make sure your website is link on the show page. Just to bring things to a close here any final words of wisdom to help other people become champions of their lives today?
William: I would say you need to believe that you can become a champion someday. I look at my life, I never thought I could become a champion. When I was young I tried many many different things sport, video games, all kinds of things but got nowhere. I tried to be the best student I got nowhere because it wasn’t me. I couldn’t absorb the material. I didn’t have the talent for what they were engineering and that’s okay. You tell yourself maybe you need to find own open doors.
Hanna: Yeah, believe that you do have a unique talent that the world needs. It’s your job or your prerogative to find that thing whether it means “failing” in a lot of things, but knowing that you got to pick yourself up each time and keep trying. Maybe someday Ricky Martin will call you up and 10 years later you are living the big dream.
William: Well, he already did so I’ll see what happens after I meet him in person.
Hanna: Exactly. You’re the example of a failure turning into a huge huge success.
William: That was interesting, because Ricky Martin he actually mentioned three or four times in the past that he wanted to meet me in person but it didn’t happen until recently.
Hanna: Was it about 10 years ago or even more?
William: Yeah, maybe 14 years ago.
Hanna: Wow. Well, I know you’re going to do wonderfully and I can’t wait to see what big things happen for you next William. We so appreciate hearing your story and we will talk to you soon.
William: Thank you Hanna.
Hanna: All right.