Kwong-Yue Yang's story reminds us that success and happiness come from being true to ourselves, rather than trying to fit in with others.
Kwong-Yue Yang, a graduate of Radford College's class of 1997, shared his story about his quest to be cool at a live storytelling event at The Moth. Growing up as a math nerd with a bowl haircut and poor English, Kwong-Yue Yang thought being cool would help him fit in with the other kids. He idolized Jackie Chan and his goal was to get an autograph and a photo with the star to gain instant coolness.
Kwong-Yue Yang completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Asian Studies, Finance, Chinese and International Business at the Australian National University. He was the Boronia House Captain and received the Collegians Award in 1995. As an active Toastmasters participant, he has moved up to the World Championships twice, placing second both times and has spoken at events in various countries worldwide.
According to Radford Collegians, he started his career as a corporate graduate with Qantas, working with the Change Management and Business Development teams, before moving to Guangzhou, China, where he worked in digital advertising. He later became a founding member of Aleadpay, an international digital firm that has worked with Zynga, Tokopedia and Groupon. Today, Kwong-Yue Yang is a High Lead Coach, delivering communication, sales and media training to clients such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Uber, Airbnb, Siemens, CBRE, Mercer, Maersk, Power China, Fox Studios, Dropbox, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Stripe and Alibaba.
As a nine-year-old Chinese boy growing up in Canberra, Kwong-Yue Yang's parents told him that there were only three things he could be: a lawyer, a doctor, or a failure. However, what was most important to him at the time was being accepted by his peers. He thought that being cool would make him more accepted, but his bowl-shaped haircut, being a math nerd and speaking poor English made him feel uncool.
Kwong-Yue Yang realized that kung fu was cool and his idol was Jackie Chan. He believed that if he could get an autograph and a photo with Jackie Chan, he would instantly become cool. When he learned that Jackie Chan was eating at a local Chinese restaurant in Canberra, he went there with his parents. After learning that Jackie Chan was in a private room on a mezzanine, he planned to sit at a table and wait for him to leave the room. However, he waited for an hour and became nervous about running out of time. When he realized that he could not bring himself to knock on the door, his parents ordered another plate of sweet and sour pork.
As he waited for another half hour, Kwong-Yue Yang became more nervous and realized that he had to knock on the door or go home. He walked up the stairs to the mezzanine and stood in front of the door but couldn't do it. He eventually decided that he couldn't bring himself to do it and walked away. When the door opened, he realized that he missed his chance to meet Jackie Chan.
This is a reflection of the desire to be accepted by others that many people have, particularly during their childhood and teenage years. He also demonstrates that sometimes, the things that we think will make us cool or popular might not be the things that truly matter. He eventually found success and happiness by pursuing his passions and working hard, rather than trying to conform to an ideal of coolness that was unattainable to him. Today, Kwong-Yue Yang is a successful coach and speaker who helps others improve their communication and sales skills, showing that success and happiness come from being true to oneself rather than trying to fit in with others.