She started doing YouTube videos showing her subscribers how to put on makeup. Today Marie Claire calls her “Oprah meets Steve Jobs” and with that, I would not call her your typical YouTube success story. With her close to 8 million subscribers on YouTube and her multiple start-up businesses, Michelle Phan is one of the people who has inspired me the most.
Why, you ask? She is not only the leading voice within the beauty industry online with a huge audience following her every step of the way, she also has a creative mind that she uses to build upon new brand concepts worth millions of dollars. Michelle is the voice of an emerging industry online through social media, where people can develop their creative side. She believes that “anyone can own a niche market and make millions of dollars” making her the true role model for everyone pursuing a career within the blogging or YouTube industry.
When rejected, find another way
In 2007, Michelle worked as a waitress and was rejected from a job at a beauty counter because she did not have any experience with selling. Not to be discouraged, Michelle kicked off her YouTube career, and soon after she became the digital spokesperson of Lancome. This can be applied to everyone pursuing a career within a new industry: there will always be someone telling you “no”, and here it is important to think outside the box. Here it is important to know your own values and find alternative ways you can get to where you want, that can even benefit you later on.
Explore your creativity
I once thought that the world of business was not for creative people and that creating art would not lead you to success overnight. I soon reconsidered after watching Michelle’s videos for years. She is originally an artist that loves drawing, and she relates that in her beauty career by imagining that a bare face is the canvas and the makeup is the paint. I now realize that your own creativity is truly unique, and can lead you anywhere. Michelle also uses her artistic skills in advice-videos where she draws while talking in the voice-over.
Spend your money wisely
Michelle has received tremendous success over the past years, yet you do not see her driving around in fancy cars or walking down the street in designer clothes. The first thing she bought when she became the YouTube celebrity that everyone was talking about was an apartment for her family so they could move out of their one-room apartment. She even paid her mother’s retirement so her mother would not have to work anymore. Besides these graceful investments, she spends time traveling and investing in experiences instead of material goods, which taught me a lot. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences are so much more worth than a designer bag, after all.
Find what inspires your work
Michelle often mentions through her videos and blog that she loves ancient history books, pyramids, crystals and video gaming. She collects cartoon and video game character dolls and has a whole room dedicated for her meditation (explains how she can be super productive while in her zen). Whether you love knitting, playing with your pet or reading young-adult fiction, do not get disappointed in yourself if you are not sitting with a personal development/career-based book every time you try to relax. Instead, embrace your passion and interests. I found my love for yoga and sci-fi books, even though that does not necessarily fit together.
Never settle, and keep developing your career
After Michelle set off her success on YouTube, she soon started her own brand concept, GlamBag, that last year had an $84 million annual sales run-rate. Today she has her own makeup brand EM Cosmetics and she just published her first book. Not to hold onto her success alone, her new non-profit concept ICON helps fellow YouTubers by providing them with a studio and video equipment, helping them to reach their own success on YouTube. What I am trying to point out is that you should not settle as soon as you feel like you reached your so-called “point of success”. The creative industry is for instance constantly developing, which means that you constantly have to develop with that by coming up with new ideas and ways of standing out from the crowd. Success is after all, not a destination but an ongoing state.
Who is your role model?
xx CGD team