Interview: Jon Yau

Describe your path up to until what you’re doing now.
As lucky as we were to be accepted as new Australians. After migrating from Singapore when I was a kid. Everyone, not just me is trying to figure out how to fit in. And what to do with their lives. Even now as a 46-year-old, father, husband and son. I still struggle to figure out my place in the world. My contribution. Do I take out more than I put in?

How did your childhood influence your ideas and what you do now?
My family, though quite liberal and westernized, are still very much an Asian family with all the requisite traits. So my childhood was about academic achievement. With this backdrop, my adult life has been characterized by goal setting and career advancement.

Did you or do you have a mentor? Who was it and how did they inspire you?
Like with most people. My dad is a major influence. Without actually being very vocal. He’s pretty laid back. He has a great capacity for independent thought. And the courage to back his own judgment. One attribute is useless unless paired with the other.

He took the big risks. After much calculation.

He quit a well-paid job to start out on his own – doing very well in the process. He took the big decision. To migrate to Australia. And left a very comfortable life. With all the trappings and family/friends. To start again in a new country. Amazing set of balls. Only equally matched with a sharp, contrarian mind.

Was there a point in your life when you decided to take a big risk to move forward?
When I turned 40 and things were going well in the areas that matter. Family, health, and finances. I thought it was a good time. To take a professional risk that I hadn’t up to that point. To launch and build my business. You can read about that one here.

I used my savings. After making provision for family, retirement, and emergencies. To start my business. In an area, I knew very little about. I’ve managed to grow it gradually and learn along the way. I’ve been able to make inroads to ticking off this bucket list item as well as a few others. Ones that would not have presented themselves. Had I not taken this road. Oddly enough, after the first shock. It wasn’t that big a deal. There are harder, more painful things out there. I’ve had cancer before and this is nothing like having cancer. Trust me. The biggest risk is not doing something that you’ve always wanted to do.

Do you feel a responsibility to contribute to something bigger than yourself and what do you hope to contribute?
Yes. I tell my kids. And have to kick me. To stick by it. Add to the system. For example. Your country, the global community, your football club. Don’t just be a beneficiary. If the system is not right, work to fix it. Don’t sit there and complain. Volunteer. If you see something’s not right, do things that aren’t your job. Pick up the bit of rubbish on the street that someone’s dropped. Vote it’s a gift. Run a coder dojo for the kids in your neighborhood

Are you satisfied creatively? Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
Na. Never satisfied. At least for not for too long. I need to tick off a few more things on the bucket list in the remaining runway I have. I don’t have any grandiose ideas of leaving legacies and the like. But I have to add to the system. At least pay back for what’s been granted me.

If you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be?
I was a naughty boy. Still am. Did and said stuff that hurt people. I wish I wasn’t so self-centered. I wish I didn’t lapse back into self-centeredness. Even today.

How does where you live impact your creativity?
Less for me to get distracted by. As much as I wished I lived in Sydney, New York, San Francisco, Delhi or Phnom Perth. Perth is fantastic for being quiet enough. So you can knuckle down and make some progress. I’d lose myself otherwise in interesting. But ultimately, non-productive events, meetup, shows concerts and sports.

If you could give one piece of advice to another creative starting out what would it be?
Just build something cool – even if other people don’t think so.

Last question. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave?
I’d be happy if my kids grew up happy and contributed to the community. And stockphoto.com was the world’s number one stock photo marketplace. (Laughing out loud)

By the way, I teach a 7-day free writing class, click this link to learn more. Also, I sent a manageable selection (3 items) of engaging, practical, and personal stories that make your day a little more pleasant, click this link to learn more.