Feb. 17, 2021

Ivan – From Commerce to Vocal Coach

Ivan – From Commerce to Vocal Coach

#23 – Ivan Lu was driven by respect and competition to follow in his brother’s footsteps in a corporate career. To make that dream a reality he decided to get a degree in Commerce, something that would provide him with a variety of opportunities when he graduated. While in university, his internships/co-op experiences helped him realize that some of what he was studying was just not that interesting. He did not want to sit in a room and crunch numbers so upon graduating he tried to find a job with more of a client-facing role. Bouncing between a couple of jobs, Ivan found himself spending more and more time on one of his hobbies, singing, and soon realized he needed to set off down a totally different career path than the one he initially intended.  Now, two and a half years later Ivan has his own vocal coaching business and is thriving.

Website and Podcast: singingsimply.com

Instagram: @singingwithivan

Transcript
Jonathan Collaton:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening. If you're new to career crossroads, welcome. And if you're not new welcome back. I'm Jonathan Collaton. And this is the podcast where I talk to one person each week about all the decisions that led to their current career path. This week, I talked to Ivan Lu in Sydney, Australia, he found a Reddit thread of mine where I was looking for podcast guests. And he seemed like you'd be a great fit for the show. So let's listen to his interview. And then afterwards, I will share some of what I think we can learn from Ivan. Ivan, welcome to career crossroads. How you doing today? Going well, thanks for inviting me, Jonathan. I'm super thrilled that you're here. And we should talk right now. But the distance between us and how, thankfully the online world has allowed us to communicate this way? You are in Sydney, Australia, aren't you?

Ivan Lu:

Yes. All across the world around the different world?

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, so 16 hour time difference. So it's 7pm for me, but it's noon for 11am for you, right?

Ivan Lu:

Yes, yes, yes.

Jonathan Collaton:

So yeah. And for you, it's my tomorrow. So God, I love that, that we can find a way to connect and do things, thanks to the tools we have in front of us. So I'm really curious to hear about your career path. And so why don't you start by taking me back to what it was like for you, when you were in high school? What were you like? What was your family? Like? What are the different things that influenced you? Because I always think that it's really around that age, when people start to think about what they're going to be doing next. Right. That's a great question. So I in high school, so I was very different to high I'm at the moment. So I was way, way, way more quiet. So I really wasn't that kid who would be willing to do an interview, it simply wasn't something I would be interested in doing. Right. So I was the typical kind of typical kind of kid studying a lot of maths, English, very academic, actually, I was quite academic. So I always had a knack for studying and learning things. And at the time, right, I think I really don't know if that's when I decided to do what I wanted to do. Because obviously, with career crossroads, everything's going to change, things are gonna change. And at that point in time of my life, I was very driven to maybe take on a corporate career, because my brother followed a similar pathway, worked at the banks and whatnot. And so I was very driven to follow this kind of corporate pathway. And so I think in high school, that's, that's what I thought I was gonna do. But we all know that didn't turn out. Yeah. Now, the I like the idea of your brother kind of being a sort of a driver in that. Is he older or younger? He's older. He's two years older. He's older. Okay, so did you feel that sense of was it just sort of wanting to follow in his footsteps? Maybe? Or was it like a sense of competition to like, prove that you could do that? Also? I think I think it's a bit of both. Because there's obviously a lot of respect. I'm seeing, like my brother go through and achieve things in his life. That's inspirational. So I think there is some true like, Oh, I would love to be like that. And of course, there is that side of competition, which is, I wish I could be a tiny bit of that. Right. And, obviously, with two brothers, that can happen a lot. So yeah, but of both. Now, were you raised in Sydney as well?

Ivan Lu:

Yes.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so you've been there the whole time pretty well, maybe not? I don't know. Well, I guess we'll find out as we as we continue here. So as you're wrapping up high school, what direction do you want to go in? I mean, you know, I know you've had that general sense of like, Oh, you've mentioned finance or business, but like, was the idea I'm gonna go to university and I'll get a degree, and then I'll do x? Or was it just I'm going to go to university because education is the next step. Mm hmm. So I think the mindset back then, especially for a lot of us, not even just me, like a lot of my peers had a similar mindset is, you want to go into a degree or some kind of next level education, that gives you the most options. Because for example, say someone who studies like biomedical engineering. There's, like, there's only so many pathways you can head into right? Probably something along of creating medical devices, right. And so all of a sudden, right for a lot of us, we wanted to keep things open and sudden commerce was seemed to be the best option. And so for me, personally, I, I kind of went into education, just as a way to keep my doors open. And I think there's pros and cons of either, but yeah, I'm definitely kind of heading into university with the ideas of still keeping things a bit more open. Right now. What specific degree then did you think was going to give you that sort of open? I can use it for a lot of different things. Was there one that you really nailed down on early on? Or did you think I'll just take some courses here? I'll take some courses there, and then I'll figure it out. Right, right. Um, I think with I'm not sure how it works in the States, but in, in Australia, you choose your degree first. And then as you choose your degree, right, you then decide on your majors, majors and minors, and that kind of determines maybe this specialty that you had. And so I chose a Bachelor of Commerce because it's, there's so many majors you could do on there. And then you can go finance, economics, accounting, or all these different different majors, right. So I actually thought more about just choosing the degree. And from maybe that first year or second year, where you kind of get a bit of a taster of all these different, different different courses, then you build your majors from that. Gotcha. So I'm actually Canadian, but it is similar here where you would do the same type of thing, you pick your, your degree, and then at the end of your first year, you kind of select your major, often people, you're kind of applying into the university for that program. But you can't actually be admitted to that until after your first year till you can sort of prove that I guess you've got the stuff for it. is

Ivan Lu:

That's right.

Jonathan Collaton:

That's how it's, you know, I work at the university, I should know this, but I work on the non academic side. So it's not my expertise. All right. So you, as you go through university, was, did you ever have more clarity about, like, you saw with a lot of people, it's like, they see a TV show? And then they're like, Oh, I should do that? Or did you just keep thinking like, were you getting summer jobs that you thought would help you kind of pick what exactly you wanted to do after, or what sort of drove you over the course of university into the place you headed? Absolutely. So it's interesting, because you, you mentioned how when you watch TV, you get inspiration, and you see a lifestyle that you wanted to go for? I think, for me, the big driving force was at university, what I didn't want to do, what I did what I didn't want to do, for example, I did a lot of interns and a lot of different placements throughout University. And I studied a lot of different courses as well. And so for example, I actually went into my degree as a dual degree. And so what that was, was a commerce degree, and an actuarial studies. And Gosh, when I when I was studying actuarial studies, I was like, This is not for me, I do not want to be calculating premiums, and calculating when people are going to pass. And that just wasn't for me. And so then, because I knew I didn't want to want to do that, then I moved to a straight kind of commerce degree. And as I kind of went through and did some internships, I started to realize what I didn't like as well. For example, my first kind of first kind of little intern was as an account payable accounts payable at a little kind of private equity firm. And for me, personally, the work was really, really dry, you're going through documentation, making sure you put it into all your different accounting systems and just processing processing things. But I think for me, that gave me great clarity, and never wanted to be in a back end. And that for me, kind of switched me off. And then and then by the time I went to my next role, which was still in accounting, but I worked as an auditor, at a big kind of big company. And then again, showed me some things I did like, but also didn't like. So I really love the whole client experience working with people getting results for them. But then I didn't quite like that idea of looking at numbers, looking at numbers, looking at numbers, not so it still wasn't quite the thing that I enjoyed. And that finally led to my, my graduate role, which was at a, IT firm, I was working at Accenture for a while. And so that kind of put the the previous two roles from what I didn't like, then push me towards, essentially. So I think that's what really drove me throughout University. You know, it's funny, right? How often we think about, like, what made you want to do that? And sometimes, it's actually the things that you don't want driving you away from from that into something else, right? Yeah, yeah, it's, um, it's like, you can't even really see what's in front of you, because you're worried about what's behind you and what you're reading. And then you end up at wherever you end up. So you said Accenture Is that like a commerce bank, or something like that. So So Accenture, is a pretty big company. So they, they specialize in a lot of different things. But I think one way to think of them is their client service. So they have a lot of different services that they perform. For example, if like a bank wants to completely switch out the way they do their accounting, with the guys that come in and do it, but then if they also need a bit of strategy, so for example, should we even be switching our technology, then we also there so we kind of provide this kind of full service. And depending on where you are, we kind of give we tailor different services I I was more in a bit of management consulting, so I was kind of looking at more through the process. and whatnot, versus more from the tech side, but I did have a bit of experience that. So yeah, that that's what essentially does. Gotcha. Do you know, do you know the company, Deloitte,

Ivan Lu:

Deloitte? Yes.

Jonathan Collaton:

Because from my my understanding of Deloitte to some of that same work, but maybe I'm way off. Yeah, no, absolutely. The Deloitte started off as more of like an accounting firm, I think. So they did a lot of that. And then they branched out and like tax and then consulting, which is like, helping businesses grow. Yeah, I think essential started more from it side. Like No, you know, it's, it's funny, right? I think it really depends on your each person's experience. Because the reason I know Deloitte is my buddy was an IT consultant for them working on software for their clients. So it's funny how like, while they are primarily an accounting firm, because I think I, I actually know that as well. I, my experience with them has been more from their IT consulting side. So yeah, so anyway, the company you were working for. Did you get that role, like right out of graduating? Or was it something that you had an internship in, so that they just brought you back? I, I didn't do an intern with them. But I went through the recruitment process in my final year. So they do that a lot. In our penultimate new, so you write off, you're done, like a couple of interns, that final year of university, you then go apply for these grad roles. So you're not kind of waiting, like, try, like, frantically go for one, like right after you graduate, right. So I did have that lined up before I finished. You know, that's the value of a degree like that, where there's no real fear, as long as you're good at what you do, right? Like, you're gonna get recruited basically, by somebody, because these are huge companies. And they need lots of people to do that. And they're always looking for people. And it's funny, the same guy I was mentioning, he ended up starting at a bank, and they had recruited and before even graduated, so he had that same type of experience, where he knew he was gonna end up working at the bank DOING IT consulting for them, whereas my experience was a little bit different. And then I had about eight months before I found the job I was actually kind of looking for. So really, the the choice of degree can impact very much your early experience in the job market, I think. Exactly. And to each their own. I mean, like, like, it doesn't really matter where you go to, like, as long as you're heading in the direction you want. Yeah, totally. Yeah. So with Accenture, is it Accenture? Am my saying that right? Accenture, accenture. Accenture, oh Accenture. Gotcha. All right. With Accenture when you got there, were you? Did you feel like it kind of fit with what you were looking for? You said you like that more client facing role? It seems like sitting in a room crunching numbers, not your thing. But actually, talking to people being involved with the clients was more your speed. Absolutely. So I was there for about six months. And I think that was by far one of my most enjoyable roles, because you get to meet a lot of people. I mean, that's, that's just the nature of the business meeting all these different people sign up and build relationships, right. And also quite a bit of a challenge, because I remember the first, the first engagement or like the first kind of project I got to work on, I got sent to this big bank with two other graduates. And then from there, we were literally working for like their senior managers, like these guys were pretty high up in the chain. And we were just helping them execute things that we're building like dashboards, building all these cool stuff. And maybe like six months back, I didn't know how to build like, I don't even know how to use Excel that well. Because he gets thrown in the deep end, which I kind of really did. I really like that. It got me to grow a lot. I just learned so much in such a short span of time. And I think that's the beauty of like firms like Deloitte, and those guys are like, they just started in the deep end. That's part of the process. Yeah, no kidding. Now, what point did it switch for you where, you know, you said you were kind of like shy and didn't really want to do interviews and stuff when you were younger? But then when you was in those roles, those internships where you started to realize like, Did you really come out of your shell there Is that how you realized you actually enjoyed that? I think it would have been like entering university, because in high school, you've got your cohort, you've got people, you spend, like five days a week with maybe sometimes even six or seven, right? And then all of a sudden, when you jump into university, you've you've obviously still got those connections. But a lot of times you're thrown into these really new environments, people you've never really met before and like your first kind of class. And, I mean, if you don't be bored, if you got a certain that like speaking to them, you got to start making some friends. And I think for me, I realized, okay, it's actually really fun, like meeting all these new people, especially some guys who were really cool. And that kind of catalyzed things. And as I started doing more roles and whatnot, I just learned how to deal with people getting better, but really going to university and meeting all these new people that for me was like Wow, this is Awesome. Alright, so in that first job that you had, you said it was about six months you were there. So after six months, like did you have a it? Was it a contract job or a full time job? Or why would you leave after six months really what changed? Right so I was for six months, and as amazing as it was meeting all these people or whatnot, I think there's just a certain feeling you get when you know you're not doing the thing you need to be doing. Because I didn't mention like, alongside this whole journey from high school, to university, and then to my first role, I was learning how to sing. So I was learning how I was taking voice lessons, I was working with some people around the world, learning from them. And I, if I really looked at the way I spent my time, it almost felt as if I was shaping and spending kind of shaping things around that activity, even like a full time kind of role is kind of shaping it around my singing, right? I've come by like, practice, practice, practice. And then then I go to work, think about practicing, go back to practice, and then practice again, right. And so it kind of hit me where I can't really be doing this for the next 45 4050 years of my life, I think the way it would be the way to spend, it would be much better. If I maybe had that as a focus, find a way to make a living there, find a way to make money off that. And then maybe have some things that go around some things that obviously aren't as important. And so for me, for me, that was just like a, like a seed that just kept growing in my mind. Like, he just kept growing until the point where I was like, Hey, I think I need to do something about this. And so at that six month point, I decided to see if I could, I actually switched into like a digital marketing role. Because I wanted to see if I can study how to build like an online business. Because for a lot of listeners out there, I'm at the moment, I've got a completely online business, I'm coaching people all around the world, from the comfort of my own home. So I've been I've been doing this for the past two and a bit years. But that kind of came from understanding how to really market yourself online much better. And so that's really what kind of catalyzed me to kind of jump out because I know a lot of people would go, oh, only six months. But when you have something you're trying to do, you have to go for it. Mm hmm. So you really you almost work backwards, like you, you looked at it and said, okay, in the future, I want to do this. But for me to get there, I have to learn how to build my own online business. So I should leave the job I have and jump into something like online marketing, digital marketing that would allow me to get the skill set, I need to then run my business on my own. Absolutely. Wow. Now, did you multiple questions here? One, did you have any sort of regrets about like.... Now, I don't know what the cost of university is like in Australia, but but here to go to university, and then to do what you did for six months, and then be like, I'll do something else. There'd probably be a lot of people who are paying off student loans at that point in time. were like, I can't leave, because or I shouldn't leave because I'm still worried about using my degree. Did you have any of those fears? Or did digital marketing seem like just a pretty easy way to switch into something else that was still going to be using what you learned in your degree? I think there's always going to be a hint of Ah, have I ever made the wrong choice? There's always even to this day, right? Like even even though now I'm kind of working full time teaching and do my own thing. There's still moments where I wished Okay, maybe maybe I shouldn't have done this. Maybe I should go back for gone back like a comfy kinda Corporate role? Of course there is. But I think there's always gonna be different voices in your head, but you need to learn to choose the one that really rings out for you. And when I was kind of making that switch into the digital marketing role, yes, it was different. It might not have correlated as much with my career degree as I'd like. But I can't really let something in the past govern my future. I think that that's the most important thing, right? Because we're going to make mistakes, we're going to make the wrong choices sometimes. But what's more important is going okay, well, where do I want to be next? Where do I want to kind of focus on next and then take the steps there? Even like with a digital marketing, I don't know if that helped me a whole ton. But I think it was what I feel at the moment was the right move. And sometimes you got to go for that. Mm hmm. No, I love that point. That makes a lot of sense, right? Like, yeah, you can only let a mistake bother you for so long. And that's even if it really is a mistake, right? Because you've got to live with the choices you've made literally forever. So you might as well just accept like, okay, I did this. And now I'm going to move on and figure out what I'm going to do next. So, so the transition to digital marketing, that's what I really want to hear about because it doesn't sound like what you were doing before really gave you like, from my end, I'm not hearing the skill set overlap. So how easy or hard was it for you to find a job doing that?

Ivan Lu:

Um, to be honest, I'm not gonna lie. I know a lot of people gonna hate me for this just because of COVID it wasn't actually hard at all. So I think this is a little strategy I use a lot of times when I'm like kind of scouting out for new roles. I would shortlist a couple of companies that are in the industry that I'd like to See who the top players right and then find employees that work for them. And this shoot up for a coffee chat, I'll just shoot a DM go, hey, let's let's chat, any room to, to kind of help out. And a lot of times that leads to a lot of places, just simply finding people who work at the companies you want to work for, and then reaching out to them setting up a coffee chat. Most people are more than happy to do that. Maybe not now, maybe not now. But previously that that was a really easy thing. And so that made it a lot easier to kind of transition digital marketing. I think it from looking to maybe actually getting a roll, maybe about two weeks. So quite quick. Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

That is very quick. Yeah. So. So for one, I do want to say that I totally agree with you that most people are happy to, if somebody reaches out to them is like, Hey, you have expertise I want Can you talk to me about that most people are flattered, and they're gonna talk to you about it, they're gonna sit down and have a coffee or whatever, and talk about like, yeah, here's what I do in my business and, and they're gonna be willing to offer you some insight because they realize that you see them as sort of an expert in their field enough for enough of one anyway, that that's who you chose to talk to. Right? You chose to message them to, to, to get some expertise from and I, I love that because I can totally relate to that. I have a coffee chat this weekend with a guy from Barcelona, who saw me post about podcasts on an online forum and was like, Hey, can we talk? So I got a call with him this weekend. So people are willing to help if you ask, right?

Ivan Lu:

yeah, yeah,

Jonathan Collaton:

I want to see other people be successful to having a podcast as well, because it's a lot of fun. And I like doing this type of stuff. So, of course, I'm gonna chat with this guy. Okay, but the actual, like skill transfer for you was like, you know, from a random Wednesday at your job, to then moving into digital marketing, or random Wednesday? How much of how much overlap was there from like, the actual tasks you were doing? And the skills that you learned? How much did they overlap?

Ivan Lu:

Right, right. Um, I think I think the thing that really does overlap is soft skills, right? Being able to kind of work with people, your team, your clients, that that stuff is timeless. And I think, like when I was at essential, definitely working with these guys who had much more seniority than me, and being able to kind of stand your own feet, that was very, very important. And that obviously, crossover now I think, the technical part, like learning how to do like SEO, doing like AdWords, like, all that kind of stuff, was probably a bit more difficult. For me, there was definitely like a learning curve. Because I think it's whenever you go into like a new kind of industry or whatnot, it's the jargon that kind of sets people off. Because if you really understand a lot of concepts, none of them like terribly hard, but they just put some big fancy word around it to the point where like, oh, like, what does that even mean? Same thing could apply and see, to be honest, and I think was just understanding the jargon, being able to use it. And to be honest, I wasn't there for long, so I didn't spend too much time there. But being able to kind of pick up the jargon. I think that was the biggest learning curve, to be honest.

Jonathan Collaton:

Gotcha. Okay. Now, one thing I'm curious about, too, is with the coffee meeting that you had, or however many coffee meetings you ended up having? And then finally, somebody you talked to them? And was that somebody from a smaller business? who offered you a role? Or was it a bigger company, because I have found, in my experience, it's much easier to get hired at a smaller, smaller business, when you can talk directly to the people who are running the show. They're not some large sort of Corporation where, you know, their HR has got to vet people first. Yeah, yeah. Because I'm a little surprised, because I would think that, and this is not a slight on you, you seem like a great guy. But if if 50 people were applying to a job in digital marketing, and a bunch of them had marketing degrees, I wouldn't even think you would get an interview. So that's why I'm so impressed by this. And that's why I'm so curious about it.

Ivan Lu:

Yeah, um, so it was definitely a big, small company move. So Accenture, gosh, like hundreds and 1000s of employees. This company maybe had about 3040. So they were they were looking for people, of course, and that made it easier. I think the most important thing, right is like, I feel like with people, as long as you can meet them, and leave a good impression. You don't even necessarily have to show you but the qualifications, as long as they like you. And you show that you're willing to learn and be the bit obviously be the person that they need you to be, then they're more likely to hire you anyway. Because it's very rare to find a guy who's like got every single skill ticked off. Yeah, as much as like there's so many qualified people out there, but sometimes, like it's really about choosing the right person. Based off their personality based off someone may like the way they interact with people. I think that's what really clicked me across. Because they just I guess they just liked me as a person.

Jonathan Collaton:

That's awesome. That's a great like story about how it doesn't matter. If you don't You know, you can look at a job application. And like, even if you don't have everything they're looking for, if you are the right fit, because you fit with their culture, you've got the right personality. And you've proven that you can learn that it really doesn't matter, right? As long as you put in the work, and you can do it. So that's awesome. Yeah. Now, you said you weren't there for very long. So what was the catalyst that led you to not be there for very long?

Ivan Lu:

Right. Um, well, I think I think the main, the biggest thing was realizing that, that wasn't it as well. And like, I know, my journey has been a lot of that, wasn't it? That wasn't it. That wasn't it? And, like, Who knows? Like maybe this isn't it, either. But I think for me, I'm always a guy who can look keep looking forward. And the moment I realized that the is a moment, I need to move, take my next action. And for me, what I the biggest thing I had in the back of my mind is I always love music, I want to be a part of music and kind of get a Korean music, right. But I never kind of took it because obviously, inspiration from other university pressures, all these different things, right. But I think once I kind of had that clarity, which is I've worked in many different roles. And it just wasn't it. I was thinking to myself, okay, well, I need to find a music like a Korean music. And the best way I kind of thought of was, okay, well, why don't start building my own kind of coaching business. Let's see if I can kind of help some people out with singing, I can maybe develop my voice a bit more along the way, right? Learn more about music, because I think like, like, I just don't remember who said this quote, right. But if you say if you wanted to work, like to be like a soccer player, I could the world's best soccer player, I think it helps to know some of the people there. And so how do you get to know those people? Maybe you have to even work as a janitor at a club? Who knows, right? But I think for me, it's I had to get into that vicinity, get into that bubble, for me to kind of take things to the next career to the next level. And that's, that's what I've done. I wanted to build a bit of a, a career in voice lessons, voice coaching. And so once I kind of had enough clients, that's when I did a bit of that switch, and moved into this.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so So it sounds like the whole time on the side, you were already building up that business, even though, you know, it sounded before, like you got into that marketing role to figure out how to start building up your business. But you were already kind of doing it along the way. Yes, yes. Yes. Gotcha. And what was the sort of tipping point where you felt like, you were ready to go and leave your you know, Monday to Friday, full time gig to do just music because I think I've thought about this before, too, like if I was ever to be able to make enough money doing a podcast and podcast related activities, to, to, to leave my job, I thought about it. And I realized, I don't need to make, I don't need to make enough like the same money I'm making in my job right now. But I need to make enough so that I could know that I could cover my bills for like six months with some savings and and then in six months of working full time doing podcast stuff, instead of just doing it on the side, I would you know, that's when I would know, okay, I'd have that much time to build it up. And I think I could do it in that amount of time. So for you, did you have a mindset similar to that? Or were you kind of at the point where you're like, Oh, I make plenty of money doing this on the side now. So I can just leave my full time job.

Ivan Lu:

Definitely not like that. Because I'm, I'm pretty impatient as a guy. So I think maybe i'm going to retract some of my words. So I actually took a leap of faith. And so I left without....good cause for me, right, the biggest thing is, I didn't have that many expenses at the time. I wasn't really like paying flat rent, or like paying all these crazy expenses wasn't, wasn't really paying for a kid either. And so I, I, when I did the calculations on my own, I really didn't need that much to survive. And so once I had just bare minimum with clients, I took the leap. And what I did do actually though, to kind of safeguard I took a little part time job on the side, just a little kind of retail role, right? And a lot of people might have gone like, oh, why didn't you stay with the the corporate pay the full time gig. But the only problem with that was I couldn't have that time flexibility. Right, it was eating my nine to five and I wanted to build a nine to five teaching there. And so when I worked for this kind of retail, all sudden, I could get maybe one to two shifts a week, but then have the capacity to build that kind of nine to five with my teaching gig. And so I think sometimes you need to take a step back to take a step forward. But that's, that's what I ended up doing.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, great. So tell me about how do you go from a guy who likes music to I now get paid to teach people music to or as a vocal coach, I think is what you kind of told me before. So how do you do that? Like how did you promote yourself as that in the online world? Was it easy to get clients? Was it difficult? Do you primarily Rely on referrals, like what's the How does it all work?

Ivan Lu:

Cool. So that's a really, really good question. And I think for maybe a lot of your listeners who might be thinking of running their own coaching business or like an online business, I think the biggest thing is, number one, just get started, like you got to get started. And what I mean by get cited a lot of times is you have to offer free work. So you have to be able to somehow show your, your service like the way you can help people, right? Because otherwise, no one's gonna, no one's gonna check you out, right? There's just no reason. And so a big, big thing of that I did was I actually looked out for a lot of farms, a lot of places where maybe my potential kind of the people I wanted to work with would hang. And so I was checking out like Reddit, Facebook groups, all the all these different places, right? And all I did, I just listened, because a lot of people were there, I would post things on, okay, I need help with this, I'm trying to sing higher, I'm trying to see my mixed voice or all these different kind of stuff, right. And you just got to see you can add to them, give some kind of helpful suggestions, hey, maybe we could try this, I noticed this is happening with your voice, try this. And if they see value in that, you then take them to the next step, which is offering them like a free kind of consultation. And so I spent, I did quite a few free consultations. And I still do now. Not as much though, but just giving them a chance to get familiar with you. And so I would offer these kind of free consultations at 15-20 minute lesson where I can actually help them with this problem. And from there, most of times, when people who do see enough value, they will go Okay, well, how do I keep on? How do I kind of book in for lessons with you. And then obviously, things would go from there. But that that's a strategy I used in the beginning parts of my career. It's definitely more now more, I'm trying to go through more like an organic, so through like content marketing. So having enough content on Tik, Tok, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, like my podcast, enough there to have people go ah, just from listening watching me going, Oh, this guy's pretty cool. I could probably learn a few things from him, and to the point where they reach out, and I'm getting a lot more traction there now, too. And so I think it really depends on where you are with your career. Because if you just first started, there's only so much reach you'll get with your content marketing. If you've got 10 followers, you have to gradually build that up.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, definitely. And I think you said before, so you've been doing this for two and a half years now?

Ivan Lu:

Yeah, yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Two and a half years of Vocal Coaching. Do you meet up with people in person in Sydney, or primarily online?

Ivan Lu:

Initially, I actually did some in person lessons. Just to realize how, how outdated there was, to be honest, I know, a lot of eating a lot of teachers with sudo, right. But then there's a couple of things that kind of hold you back, which is you, you're often in like a like, for a lot of people, right, they have to rent a studio. And when you're renting your studio, gosh, that's like maybe half the lesson, gone to rent. And a lot of times, like the room isn't even that good. It might just be room with a piano, a couple of guitars. But it's often not like nice is not the most furnished. And so for me, I was like, hold on, something doesn't matter. I don't have to do this. And for me, I started looking into online lessons. And frankly, I used to take a lot of online lessons myself. So I had no idea why I wanted to take the physical route. Because I think with technology and how far it's come, especially like, gosh, we were recording like this really fantastic kind of video on Riverside, right? technology has come so far to the point where a lot of the problems that you see exist in the bad internet, even bad audio quality, a lot of that can get compensated by getting a better mic, upgrading an internet connection, looking at some of the technologies out there. Yes, I might not be able to come in and touch your belly. Unfortunately, I can't come and touch your belly. But I can look at it and tell you to me become a standard in a specific way. So then I can kind of adjust. And so I know a lot of teachers would be like, oh, like, you have to be in person to get the most experience, maybe. And I think the world is moving forward, especially with COVID. All those teachers have transitioned to online teaching now. And it's just it's just, I guess, a story that goes, Well, a lot of things that we used to do, might not have to be like that anymore.

Jonathan Collaton:

Mm hmm. For sure. And it sounds like so your transition when COVID hit probably wasn't....I don't want to say it wasn't difficult, but you already knew how to do it in that online space. Whereas a lot of people probably had to figure it all out right when March hit or whenever it was for them. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Now have you found like, Did it get a little more difficult to run your own business in March? Because I've well, starting in March? I mean, basically when COVID hit, did it get more difficult to run your own business? Because I guess I'm just really curious about that because I'm thinking about it. And I'm like, well, I've talked to other people who've had to literally close up their shop, right? They couldn't open they couldn't have people in there. But when you Run everything online. Did you notice much of an impact? I actually boomed. Did you know I got like a lot of a lot of your listeners are gonna hate me for this. But I think if you set yourself up, right, things can actually work better. Like I have my own coach. And he runs a lot of online lessons as well. And he he also noticed a big kind of spike in clients. Because guess what, a lot of people were starting to work from home and they're like, Oh, I'd like to do something right. With my spare time. They started going for the hobbies. And I think that's that that's where we kind of really pouncing on that opportunity. And I think there's still that right. Like, it's not as crazy as what March and March to June was like, but people were starting to think differently. I have a lot of people who still go back then go, oh, like is online lessons a thing. But I guess now post COVID. It's on their mind. Like if they can take a lesson, a lesson lesson, they probably might opt for the online lesson just because of safety. And convenience. convenience. Yeah, exactly. Hmm. For sure. I mean, for whatever the cost is of a teacher, like you mentioned before the studio costs with took a big chunk of your profit. But now, in theory, your prices could be lower, because you don't have to pay for that. But you're still taking a higher percentage of the profit because you're taking 100% of the profit. And for those other people, they save money, and they don't have to drive somewhere. So they're saving gas money. So it's all these little things that really start to add up.

Ivan Lu:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Jonathan Collaton:

You know, it's funny, the different things that and this is not career related at all, this is just a funny story. The different things that because of COVID I think people really started like paying more attention to and, and people finding their hobbies, so finding people like you to coach them. I noticed something maybe two months ago, three months ago. My parents were moving and to the away in a smaller house, so I had to kind of get all my childhood crap out of their house. Well, I found a binder with all my old Pokemon cards from like, 20 years ago. And I thought, okay, are these worth anything, so I went and looked them up online turns out now, finally, Pokemon cards are worth money again, after 20 years. But the one thing I realized is every person in the world was pulling out their Pokemon cards, because they're all stuck at home looking for hobbies, and they're all sending them in to get graded, which is some company that you know, tells you if your cards in mint condition or not. So the wait time on getting cards graded went from like three weeks to six months, because there are so many people doing that. So you know, when you said you boomed it made me think like, there's probably people who can't even find coaches, because just there's not enough people out there. I mean, I suppose a lot of musicians who who are gig musicians, maybe transition to doing exactly what you're doing right now as well. But anyway, just made me think of that story. Yeah, no, I think that's a great thing. Because like, I'm not sure if you've seen this right. But a lot of a lot of the businesses we know today as like the big ones, actually boom from GFC. Like, for example, evil, evil came from that, right? And the Airbnb as well. There are some companies right, which maybe 20 years back would like, gosh, never heard of these before, they've now become mainstream kind of names. And I think there's always going to be businesses that grow in business that that don't work as well. Because I think it's the ones that adapt to the situation that kind of work that out. Maybe in the future, maybe online lessons become terrible. Gosh, like, why would you even do video lessons? Maybe you should do something in VR? Maybe not right. And I think the once you keep adapting are the ones who are going to keep going. That's an interesting way to think about things like you're already you can already see what the future might hold. And it looks like you've got a whole room to record. And right there. You can get your big VR rig set up in there and start doing your lessons. That looks good.

Ivan Lu:

Yeah, yeah. Perfect.

Jonathan Collaton:

All right. And so you, you mentioned that you've got a podcast. And that's how you do some of your your marketing, which is a really cool way to think about it. Because I think a lot of people assume that. I think a lot of people get into podcasting with the idea that like I just want to monetize right away and make money off of it. But I've heard from so many more people that they use it as just a tool to market themselves in their own business, because making money from a podcast is very hard. So what is your podcast? I mean, I know what it is, but tell the people who are listening. Tell them about your podcast where they can find it.

Ivan Lu:

Absolutely. So my my podcast is Singing Simply. So the real mission with a lot of the content I put out there is to make singing simple for everyone. Because a lot of times when you're learning, you can get mixing the jargon. Like a lot of terminology terminology is thrown at you, but a lot of it I guess, can help. But there are simple ways to go about things. And so if you want to find the podcast, you can check it out on like your favorite podcast platforms like Spotify, Apple podcasts, it should be all there just search seeing simply and you should you should get my my podcasts popping up. So it really right if you're if you just want to kind of get some knowledge on singing, learning how to sing, but without the computer That's what my podcasts really comes in.

Jonathan Collaton:

Perfect. Well, I know that I listened to an episode, but it's not going to help me because I had a roommate in first university, who was a music major. And he told me that if I ever tried out for Canadian Idol, I'd get on the show, because I'm that bad. So I, maybe I should do more of your podcast. But I kind of think at this point, like, it's probably not gonna do much to help me. I just feel like, I don't really care. I enjoy singing anyway. But my point is, you know, I've recognized that I'd probably better spent my time doing other things than learning how to sing. But I'm sure there are people listening out there today who are going to take you up on that offer, check out your podcast. And then if they're looking for vocal coaches, what's the best way to get a hold of you?

Ivan Lu:

Right, just check out my website. So I'm on singingsimply.com. So singingsimply.com. Real simple. You can also find me on Instagram. So if you have any questions, you can DM me there. I'm just singwithIvan. I don't know I don't know why I've chosen sing with Ivan. But it felt a bit more personal than singing simply. So you can reach me out over there. You can check me out on Tick tock tick tock is where I'm starting to kind of grow a bit more as well. That is sing with Ivan three. So a slight slight kind of variations. I should probably clean that up a bit more. But I didn't want to get back on to that point, Jonathan, because I think like obviously, like if you want to get better and better at singing, right? But I think for a lot of your audience who might have that similar mentality, which is like, like, I could never sing, or like a vow SR would be fine. Like for like fun, right? But like for as a joke. I think that's true, but also not true. It's true in a sense, where, like, there's, there's no pressure, you don't have to be good at singing. But I think if you ever wanted to do even if you aren't able to do it at the moment, you totally can. It's just like learning to throw a ball, throw something cannot throw a ball. But then you can learn to do it. Right. Same thing with singing.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, well, that's good to know. Maybe you give me a little more confidence here. Maybe I'm gonna have to try and pick it up again. Yeah. And so I will throw the links to all those things you mentioned in the shownotes. So if anyone's listening this go to my website, and it'll be in the show notes there just links to all that stuff. Alright, well, Ivan, that was fantastic career story to hear to go from consulting working at a financial institution to to becoming a vocal coach, a story I never would have expected. So thanks so much for sharing today. Thank you very, very much for having me, Jonathan. All right. So that is Ivan's career path. And now that we know how he got from where he was to where he is, what can we learn from him? I've got two takeaways from this story. Number one, is that we spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out what we want from a career, but it can be just as effective trying to figure out what we don't want in our career. Ivan talked a lot about his internships which sound quite a bit like what we would call Co Op terms in Canada. And I've talked about the value of Co Op before on career crossroads. The general concept is that students get experience working in their industry while completing their degree. And Ivan's experience is a perfect example of why that's important. He got to try out a number of roles that he then realized weren't really for him. actuarial sciences, not his thing, accounts payable at a private equity firm. He thought the work was dry and boring. And he specifically said that these internships gave him great clarity about what he wanted and didn't want. And beyond that, Ivan had similar experiences in the real world. working as an auditor, he just got tired of looking at numbers all day and in digital marketing. While it was helpful in some ways, it just wasn't the right fit for him. Now, there's no regrets in Ivan's story, he needed to do these jobs to figure out that his true calling was in fact, music. Takeaway number two, success does not happen by accident. For those who want to strike out on their own, like Ivan did a plan will help facilitate that success. Think about how Ivan got his coaching business off the ground. He didn't just up and quit his job one day and decide to be a vocal coach. He thought about it for quite some time. And he started building up a client base while he was still working full time. It's also fair to point out some of the advantages that he had in his scenario. As he said he didn't have to worry about paying rent and he didn't have a child to take care of. Another thing Ivan did was look for jobs that could facilitate the success that he was hoping for. He went and got a job in digital marketing specifically so he could learn to grow his own online business. And it's pretty nice when you can get paid to learn a skill set that you want to learn for another purpose, not just for your job. And it didn't stop there. When he eventually started coaching full time. He took a part time job on the side just to keep paying some of the bills while he built up more and more clients to the point where that job became As a full fledged, full time career. Well, I'm sure I could dig farther into this interview. That is some of what I learned from Ivan today. That's all for this week's episode of career crossroads. So now that we're wrapping up, go check out Ivan simply singing podcast. I'll put a link in the show notes so it should be very easy to find. If you know someone who would be interested in hearing Ivan's story, please share this episode with them. And if you want to hear more interviews, go to career Crossroads podcast.com. You can also review the show while you're there, and sign up to make sure you get notified about future episodes. Episodes like next week's interview with Priyanka who went from a career in mechanical engineering to getting an MBA and moving her career from India to Germany.