PP 098: Derrick Kwa from PassionBlueprint.com

As the host of the Passion Blueprint podcast, Derrick enjoys sharing inspirational stories of entrepreneurs with his listening audience. Tune in to be inspired his journey and valuable advice!

Episode Transcription

KIM: Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity. This is your host, Kim Sutton, and today I’m thrilled to have Derrick Kwa from PassionBlueprint at passionblueprint.com with us. Welcome Derrick.

DERRICK: Hi. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

KIM: I’m thrilled to have you here. Derrick inspires and helps people overcome their fears and do what they love. And Derrick, I would love it and I know the audience would love it if you share more about what you do as well as the journey that got you to PassionBlueprint with us.

DERRICK: Yeah, so in PassionBlueprint, as you mentioned, the idea is to inspire and motivate and to help people to do what they love. I think the first step in that, is really getting people to believe that it’s possible. I think what, you know, holds us back the most is that belief that we can’t do this. And so, at PassionBlueprint, I wanna, kind of, break that belief by showcasing stories of people who have than that for themselves.

KIM: That’s fabulous and this is a journey that you went on yourself. Did you have trouble believing in what you were doing?

DERRICK: I have always been about, kind of, you know, doing the old days, forging your own path. You know, I left school at 16. I’ve never had a full-time than to find working for someone else. So it’s like a co-propendency and it’s something I’ve always believed in. And by looking at people around me. And seeing, you know, my friends struggle and jumped at a hay. It’s been — It’s the message I’ve been wanting to spread for a long time. It’s something I’ve been given for a long time. And since, like, I need ten, I’ve wanted to do with something in that space, but, you know, always — you know, all that self doubt that comes up at wanting something. I’ve been telling myself that I wasn’t good enough. That there’s so many people in this place, I’ve nothing unique to provide. And it comes well to the point where I was actually ready to take that dive, I guess.

KIM: When did you know that you were ready to take the dive? Was there a key moment where you just felt aha and I can do this?

DERRICK: Well actually, mostly came about by circumstance. So, in 2014 to 2015 I was running a marketing agency in Singapore with one of my friends there. And in about August last year, she got another job offer and she’s accept. And I decide that I didn’t want to do marketing agency on my own. And so, you know, just kind of figuring out what I can do next and I just felt like, you know, how I — I only felt like I could take the step to do something in this phase. You know, with all the lessons I learned from the marketing agency, from freelancing and all that. From kind of the lessons I’ve learned from my business coach, Ishita Gupta. As well as, I was, you know, I was in the first [Inaudible] of Zack Prudence of MBA last July, which did a lot of, kind of, pushing you out of your comfort zones and doing things that scare you  and all of that. And all that kind of, you know, culminate that at the same time that I completed the all-out MBA program about a week before my business caught a lap and all just came together to a point where, okay,I think I can dive in now. And the fear is always still there but I got to a point where I’ve felt like I could take that step despite the fear.

KIM: You also played in professional poker tournaments lessons. What lessons would you say that you gained or learned from playing in those poker tournaments? That you have turned in, applied in running your own businesses?

DERRICK: Oh, a lot actually. You know, poker — to me poker symbolizes life along. I think one of the biggest things, biggest lessons for me was dealing with those swings. Right, in poker, there’s always lock involved. It’s all experience in to shop them and but you kind of keep the faith up. If you’re a good player in the long run you will win. And, you know, just building that emotional thing thing, I guess, to deal with the doubts and not letting that get you too much in whatever is, like, I lost $1,000, $2,000 in a day. You know, okay, not the end of the world. There’s always tomorrow. And now that — I know, learning to deal with when thing don’t go your way and be able to take a step back and take a breathe and still to continue on without losing track and losing focus. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons for me.

KIM: And that’s a huge lesson.

DERRICK: Yeak

KIM: I mean, how many entrepreneurs, especially those who are just getting started, can leave a day after losing a thousand or $2,000, and not just panic, and want to give up, and throw up their hands and say: “I’m through.”

DERRICK: Yeah, I mean, it’s tough. And those feelings are always there. I guess, for me, it’s been more, you know, running to take small steps forward. Well — even well you’re having those feelings and you’re running and get — no, dancing with that. You’re ready off wanting to get at that, you know, cause that’s never fully gonna go away.

KIM: So tell us about PassionBlueprint some more. You said, you shared inspiring stories. Is there anyone particularly inspiring story that really sticks out in your mind?

DERRICK: The most recent episode I post out was Rachel Pederson. Who — she’a a hairstylist became a social media strategist. And now, she’s fully booked. Has been featured in, like, [Inaudible] post, The Today’s Show, Cosmo, and bunch of this publications. You know, she’s got a great energy and a great positivity about her. So that was a very stunning, motivational interview to do. The other one is, actually the one that’s gonna go up at the start of November with Emily Kenway who was an opera singer that left that world to work in nonprofits. And I think, you know, that’s a very interesting story to me because most people dream of being professional positions and stuff like that. That going the other way I think it’s very interesting and to me, it’s really important to recognize that. Like, you know, the artist and  entrepreneur like self-employment now isn’t necessarily for everyone. Like, it’s great but there’s also nothing wrong with, you know, getting a job or company that as long as you get doing work that has meaning to you.

KIM: Right, so as long as you’re following your passion, that’s what’s most important.

DERRICK: Yeah.

KIM: Absolutely, so PassionBlueprint is your podcast. Where can listeners find that? This is typically a question I would ask at the end but I’m gonna lead into more with this. But where can listeners find your podcasts?

DERRICK: Right now you can — The best way to find it is at passionblueprint.com. I haven’t put it up on iTunes and stuff yet. Cause mostly what I’m doing is a soft launch and stuff and building up for now. Until I, you know, feel ready to put it on directories.

KIM:  What did the whole launch process look like for you? I know we talked about this a little bit pre-show, but your story is very similar to mine. What did your launch process look like?

DERRICK: Yeah, so for me, you know, this has, think of the evolution. So I started doing this, initially, I thought that doing this, kind of, one on one coaching thing where I wanted to help people take to step out. But I realize that there’s a four piece of that belief. That it’s possible that needed to be changed before the strategy and action steps. So, you know, I evolved from the consultancy thing to wanted to do podcast. And the podcast itself was probably like six years — six months before I published. I recorded the first interview in January and there was a long process. The biggest hurdle for me was the editing aspect. Mostly, like the technical product, I can do. Like I know the interviewing and stuff. I can do that. But just the psychological aspect of, know, listening to my own voice for half an hour was something that I struggled with for months. And, you know, put in to really get over and eventually I was just like, you know what, I’m just gonna outsource this to an editor to get it done.

KIM: I love it. And that was one of my first struggles too. I didn’t think I would ever listen to one of my episodes after recording it.

DERRICK: Yeah. I still have to listen to  a full episode of my own. I think

KIM: And I am, I have actually listened to every episode now. Only because I am actually still doing the editing of the transcribing –

DERRICK: Yeah

KIM: – to put up on my site but it’s been entertaining to say the least. To listen to the episodes and reabsorb everything that the guests talked about because I’m sure you understand when I say you’re listening, but really sometimes. And I hate to say it because I’m getting better at this, sometimes when you’re just starting out, you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next rather than really listening. And that can go with so many conversations.

DERRICK: Yeah, it can be tricky sometimes, you know. That’s a whole kind of odd talk interviewing like that. I’m still trying to get better at myself.

KIM: Oh, I think every podcaster is constantly trying to get better and that I can’t even tell you how many uhms and ahs I have decreased since I started. And the listeners, to all you listeners, you should be glad you don’t have to listen to those, but I have noticed that the editing of those has significantly cut down.

DERRICK: That’s good

KIM: Yeah

DERRICK: And I think, exactly about one of the things about finding your passions where it’s just not about doing things you enjoy. It’s about doing thing that you love enough to want to constantly improve that.

KIM: Oh, absolutely. And yeah, what you wanna share with the world because it’s not just about us. And you also mentioned that you do consulting. Is that consulting for PassionBlueprint and can you share more about that?

DERRICK: So when I started PassionBlueprint, it’s kind of like one-on-one consultancy thing to, know, help individuals, helps create a strategic plan for the first step to take. But I’ve kind of scaled down on that right now. The main goal is, you know, focusing on the podcasting, doing that. And, you know, kind of taking a different direction right now. Like I still take one-on-one but if I’m with the right clients and all. But it’s not something actively assume. And so

KIM: It’s really interesting when you say with the right client because developing and finding our niche is so important to growing the business that we’re really passionate about. And without that knowing and without that developing, sometimes that can be really difficult.

DERRICK: Yeah, definitely. And that’s all the biggest lessons I learned from when I was running a marketing agency. That having that niche and all you position yourself, you know, the language you use. All of that is really important. Like even on, — Like, when we were on marketing agency we went through three completely different versions of a website. We’ve been a year and a half because just kept refining, know, the way we positioned ourselves and presented ourselves and who we are trying to speak to.

KIM: And I’m sure, had the marketing agency continued then you would’ve been through another four versions of the website until now.

DERRICK: Probably

KIM: Well, I think that every small business is an evolution because we are always realizing more and more about ourselves, more and more about our ideal clients and who we want to work with. And as you just said, I mean, you’re scaling back from working one-on-one. And that’s a whole nother evolution of the business is realizing, some of us realize, that we don’t want to be doing as much of the one-on-one work. We want to be serving a larger audience.

DERRICK: Yeah definitely. And it’s about proving out what works for you. And I think, right the odd is knowing when to stick and when to, you know, shush and pivot. And I mean it’s something that I’m still improving on but I think this is, there was this whole belief this days where, you know, people always say, like,we must never quit and stuff. And, you know, one the biggest lessons that I learned was from Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, where he talks about how the winner’s quit all the time. They quit fast and without remorse until you find the right, know, dip to pursue. Until you find right things to, like, push you through the walls and barriers. And if you’re hitting a dead end for whatever reason. If it’s not connecting with you or, know, whatever it is, you hit a dead end. There’s nothing wrong with switching paths.

KIM: Oh, absolutely. Sorry about that pause. I’ll take that out. My microphone actually just fell off the stand.

DERRICK: No problem.

KIM: Positive Productivity not perfection.Yes, Seth Godin is very interesting. I mean he has himself said that he’s had more failures than anybody that he knows but he doesn’t look at them as failures. He just looks at them as another opportunity that could have succeeded, but it didn’t. And it’s not the time to sit there and mope. It’s the time to get up and keep on going.

DERRICK: Yeah. You know, that’s — Yeah Seth is one of the people that I admire the most. He was the first blogger guy. He is basically how I started out and everything. And, you know, I think that’s one thing that he does really well. Being willing to do the things that might not work and so keep moving forward even if doesn’t work. And that’s, you know, always really tough because right, specially, when you’re doing work that you love and you’re connected with. Even if doesn’t work out, it gets you so much more. And it’s, you know, it’s tough to not let that kind of spiral in to keep pushing on.

KIM:  Oh absolutely. I completely agree with that. When you look back at the marketing agency, would you do it again or do you think you would move on to something else?

DERRICK: I have no regrets about doing it, you know, I think I’ve learned a lot in those two years about sales, about putting myself out there. You know, making — and kinda of break a lot of mental barriers and fears for me. In terms of like charging for work and putting yourself out there and reaching out potential clients and building that rejection and all of that. So, you know, so it’s all part of the journey. I have no regrets over it.

KIM: It’s really interesting that you brought up charging. Were you undercharging drastically to try to bring clients in the door or what was your path that you took as far as charging one?

DERRICK: It’s been flexus and especially with the agency, like, I had a business partner. So, we kind of balanced each other out. I almost tend to lean towards being, like, personally, kind of, arrogance a lot of the time. So I tend to lean towards, like, being continue to turn down a project if it’s not, you know, worth it. But on the other hand, I also do a lot of free stuff for people in my personal cell phone who, you know, I consider friends and all. And it’s a tough balance to make.

KIM: That is a tough balance, especially when our friends and family and close acquaintances come to us for help, a lot, and they do expect for free.

DERRICK: Yeah

KIM: But we have a full client load and our personal life is already really busy. How did you balance that?

DERRICK: After a certain point, I kind of get better at not, you know, agreeing to to do too much free stuff for people. It really just comes with time and practice and, you know, realizing that you can’t. I mean, I still — It’s something that I still struggle with once in a while now. But you know, you get better at it as time goes.

KIM: You get better at saying: “Here’s my online scheduler link. You can make an appointment.” And then: “Hey, if you want to hire me, I’ll send the invoice.”

DERRICK: Yeah, you know, all of this things, kind of, comes with practice. And then that’s what builds up the confidence to say this things and to charge and fetch and all of that. Confidence, you know, it’s a skill that comes with package.

KIM: So you said you tend to be a little bit arrogant. Does that mean you have less fear of the word no?

DERRICK: Not necessarily, it really depends. Like, it really depends on why people are saying no, right? People are saying no because they think you were defensive and all that. Like a bunch of the time, that’s fine for me. Especially, you know, if it’s not a client that I particularly connected with all projects I really wanna work on. But you know the downside of that is, right when you are more arrogant and you have more of that belief when it’s something you really want and you get a no, it kicks you harder. And so it’s also more kind of insecurity that comes with that.

KIM: Oh, definitely. Yeah and see I have struggled with worrying about the word no. But my parents, fortunately, taught me that the worst answer that you can receive is no. So, why not go for yes, anyways.

DERRICK: Yeah, know, that’s a great lesson too. But, you know, it’s tough to do, right? The only way to really learn that is by getting more and more no’s.

KIM: I think a lot of my concern, and this is sort of embarrassing, is I often compared me asking a question after starting the business. To me asking a boy in middle school or high school out on a date. You know, if I asked a boy out on a date and he said no. Then I would have to worry about him knowing I liked him, and his friends knew I liked him, and peer pressure. And anything that came along with it. But that’s not how it is in small business. That’s not how it is in the entrepreneurship community. You ask somebody to be a guest on your podcast, and honestly. And I’m just using the podcast example because we’re both in this community. Honestly, most of the time that you get a no is because their calendar is full. So what’s wrong with that? I mean in asking somebody to be a guest blogger on your blog or really any opportunity that you can be thinking of. There’s not going to be any type of embarrassment, in my opinion, that goes along with that. And if there is any type of — Chances are if they say no, they weren’t your ideal guest, or guest blogger, or client, or sponsorship opportunity, in the first place. If there’s going to be any type of derogatory response.

DERRICK: Yeah, you know, it’s really kind of running to acknowledge that. You know, a no isn’t personal like that. Like, maybe you’re not just a good fit. People, you know, look for different things. And it’s not a personal thing against you.

KIM: Oh, absolutely. What type of personal and professional development do you do on a daily or weekly or monthly basis?

DERRICK: Like nothing overly specific. This year I’ve been trying to read a bunch more and, you know, trying to read kind of range of things that I would never read otherwise. So, avoiding typical business book and stuff and just reading, like whatever, like the wide range of things that interest me. So, for example the latest book I finished was on linguistic, The Evolution of Language. And think that’s very important to, you know, expand your horizons. On a personal level, you know, I’m a huge believer in kind of small consistent actions and, you know, doing things that scare you and involve that few rejection [Inaudible]. Right so, for example, for me now, in terms of building PassionBlueprint, one of the things I’m trying to do is to appear on top of the hill. So, emailing like three to five podcasters every week to pitch and, you know, offer to come on the show. And just kind of that consistent action, you know, I think, trains you to not be afraid of rejection in terms of that confidence and slowly breaks down those mental barriers to fear

KIM: That’s great. So, what is something that you’re consistently working on besides becoming a guest? Like, what’s another big action you’re taking right now for PassionBlueprint?

DERRICK: The biggest one is really, like, getting on other people’s shows. That’s probably like 80% of my marketing strategy. And beyond that it’s really just, you know, engaging with people and putting up constant, consistent content, I should say more than constant. Consistency, I think is really important. So, you know, I’m trying to blog every week and, you know, that forces you to, you know, pay attention things around you. When think of ideas every week and publish every week. Which every time you click that publish button there’s a bit of fear of, you know, what if this blog’s not good enough and all of that. Just kind of doing that week after week to build your internal, like, strength to deal with that fear as well as, you know, I think it helps with audience building and stuff.

KIM: Is there a word count that you look for in every one of your articles?

DERRICK: No, I’m not really a believer in this, in like, fix word count and stuff. Maybe a lot of host are aiming right of, kind of, the perfect templates, for block post, stuff like that. How many words? You know, the format, like bullet points, that kind of thing. And, you know, I’m not really a believer in that approach. I think, like that can work, that builds, you know, that — it’s obviously that because it gets results. And those templates are effective and it brings results in terms of building your audience, right? But it doesn’t, you know, showcase your personality. It doesn’t necessarily bring out who you are. And I think those things are really important because you’re making a deeper emotional connection, and inspiring change, and motivating people, and all of that. That personal authenticity is what really, you know, connects with people. And so, if your goal is purely to build your audience then by all means, I think that following these templates and best practices and stuff is great, right? But if your goal is to basically create, to create something that resonates with you, that represents you and has, know, your personality and your heart in it. You can’t fit that into, you know, a word count or any sort of templated format and you have to just do what fits.

KIM: I absolutely love and agree with every word that you just said because I have personally read tons of articles about how many words you should have in an article. But I am a believer in content or quality over quantity. Make it good. Even if it’s only 400 words –

DERRICK: Yeah

KIM: – and mediocre or less than mediocre at 2,500 words.

DERICK: Yeah, definitely. You look at someone, like, Seth Godin, his block post. Some of his block post are like so lines but

KIM: And I have to admit those are the ones I tend to read because that’s what I have time for but-

DERRICK: Yeah, and look at the ones that

KIM: – the messages are so awesome

DERRICK: [Inaudible] when it’s kind of to the point and shop that’s the [Inaudible] because it’s kind of direct from what he feels, and believes, and thinks. And I think that’s the most important part. It’s you know, really putting yourself, and your emotions, and your heart, and beliefs, out there. And it’s tough to do because right — It’s scarier to do. It’s easier to follow templates, word counts and, you know, articles because it’s less personal. Ad it if doesn’t work out and people don’t like, it’s easier to shrug it off. But that’s where the challenge comes in, I think. It’s completely worthwhile to do it but it’s scarier, so

KIM: So where do you find that you get a lot of your inspiration for your blog articles?

DERRICK: Mostly, you know, you just, — when you commit to writing, like, every week or whatever it is.You, start writing [Inaudible] and specially with time, you’re like get to-do’s things [Inaudible]. For me, it’s really, mostly things I noticed day-to-day or think about. Could be from a post on one of the Facebook groups, could be a line I hooked with me or something I read in a book, you know. Just whatever I think about and hear it –

KIM: How do you record your ideas if your not in a place that you can write at the moment?

DERRICK: I just put everything on Google Keep. So Google Keep on my phone and, you know, whenever I have, you know, top ideas that I think is interesting enough. I just keep couple of lines down and, you know, you develop that more when you have time to actually sit down and write.

KIM: I love it. Yeah I have notebook that I carry around with me but I’m personally an Evernote user, like if I’m in a car –

DERRICK: Yeah, you know Google Keep is just kind of simple enough than, like Evernote has more. For me, Evernote has more complexity

KIM: Oh it definitely does, yeah

DERRICK: Yeah. So that’s why I love just the simplicity of Google Keep.

KIM: I’m gonna have to take a look, I honestly haven’t used it yet and you’re right Evernote is more complex. I mean, I just wanna go in and draw something down. Look Derrick, this has been a great chat. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. And I just want to ask you again, where can listeners find more about PassionBlueprint? And get in touch with you and yeah, just learn more.

DERRICK: Yes, so you can find the podcast at passionblueprint.com and you can connect with me at my personal blog which is at derrickkwa.com

KIM: Great. It’s D-E-R-R-I-C-K-K-W-A . com?

DERRICK: Yep

KIM: Fantastic. This will all be in the show notes and then the transcription for listeners. So, please do not try to write it down or visit while you are driving. With Derrick, thank you again. This has been an absolute pleasure.

DERRICK: Yeah, thanks for having me.