Posted in Canadian, entrepreneurial, Interview Transcripts, tech, Vancouver

Exclusive Video Interview: How 18 year-old Brian Wong of FollowFormation is Changing the World

The Aer Marketing Team founded by Brian Wong

“If you’re not passionate about something you can’t possibly be successful in it.” – Mike Desjardins (CEO of VIRTUS)

18 year old Vancouverite Brian Wong embodies this quote. As the co-founder of FollowFormation.com, a tool that helps twitter “noobs” follow the top users in the category of their choice, Brian Wong has traditionally stayed “under the radar” and allowed his products to take the spotlight. Now, as he’s admitted to me, that’s about to change.

I caught up with him at downtown Coal Harbour for a quick interview on what he’s up to. When I say “caught” I mean it in the literal sense as we’ve been playing email tag for the good half of this year. Earlier this week, I finally got to sit down with him & he, being the A.D.D energetic wizard kid he is, initiated my first walking interview:

Passion & Skill: The Driving Forces Behind Brian’s Success

Anyone that has met Brian in person knows that he’s passionate about what he does. That, and he loves talking. Take a look at followformation.com, his design company aer marketing, or his recent slide presentation at Mini Enterprize and you’ll see the perfect blend of aesthetic appeal & quality content.

When I asked him where he learned all his design skills, he said they were “self-taught.” The simplicity and elegance of his design style rivals many top designing companies I know and yet he taught himself! He’s obviously got some natural skill & talent. Imagine if even a fraction of students discovered that unchartered territory of where their passions meet their skills and build those skills!

No Free Lunch: Hard Work Pays Off

However, Brian would also argue emphatically that he worked his butt off to get where he’s at. I wouldn’t agree more. Lucas Lemanowicz, his now co-founder who started off as a developer for Aer, tells me of the time Brian got the idea for FollowFormation:

“It was 4am, and Brian had just called me to wake me up & tell me about his crazy idea. All I could say is, ‘what time is it?!?!’ ” – Lucas Lemanowicz

These stories and more abound in Brian’s life. He’s also known for his sporadic sleeping pattern, which you can ask him about yourself.

However, it’s not just hard work & crazy sleeping that brought Brian to where he is. It’s the fact that he actually went out and did it. He didn’t talk about it, complain about how hard the economy is, or whine about how his previous employees didn’t give him the freedom to create. He went out and made his own company and did all those things.

That’s the pattern I’m seeing over and over in interviewing successful entrepreneurs. When everyone else was talking about it, they went out and did it.

When I probed him further about his lack of personal online presence, he admitted:

“People are telling me I’m hoarding all this information but that’s not it at all. I spend time making presence for the things I do. My actions matter, not my thoughts.” – Brian Wong

Those words speaks highly of the maturity that has led to his current success. Brian has mastered at 18 years what many people still have trouble mastering @ 40.

Connecting with people that matter: Not Just Hard Work but Smart Work

In addition to Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, Brian has been traveling the globe connecting with influential people like Gary Vaynerchuk & the team behind RetailMeNot & BugMeNot. To him, they are “people that matter.” That’s his advice. To connect with the people that matter to you.

But he doesn’t like telling people who he’s met with because they get so focused on those people, they’re missing the point. It’s not the names of these “celebrities” he’s connect with, but rather how he made those connections.

As a quick story to end off, Brian talks about how he started to build his worldwide network & got connected with Kevin Rose. FollowFormation had just made some big news through Mashable and other similar sites and Brian phoned the worldwide Twitter conference in LA, told him he was a poor student, and asked if there was any solution. The receptionist replied that only speakers get in for free. He then asked to be a speaker. The rest is, as they say, history!

Making Meaning

As Brian heads off to San Fran to work for Digg, I’ve asked him if he plans on coming back.

“Of course! Vancouver is my home! I won’t forget her!”

I’ll end off with a quote from Guy Kawasaki. Brian chatted with him in LA & Guy told him this:

“Focus on making meaning & the money will come.” – Guy Kawasaki

More Brian Wong Links:

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Author:

Jon Chui (pronounced "chew") has been building iOS/Android apps for the last 7 years, the last 3 working on Google Maps, Inbox by Gmail and Google's Search App. Though he grew up in a Christian family and to parents who would end up giving up their 25 years of hard-earned comforts/affluence in Canada to go back to China as missionaries when he was 14, being a Christian was always in his head, and he would constantly struggle with trying to unify the sacred and the secular - until last year. However, through a radical transformation[https://jonchui.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/a-copy-of-my-last-email-before-leaving-google/] @ work last year (which he can't take ANY credit for), he & his wife & 2 young boys have decided to leave Google, sell/donate everything they have so to serve the poor & marginalized with Jesus’ love as missionaries with YWAM.org's Family DTS in Kona, hawaii then to the Philippines. Read more about their family journey @ vickiandjon.com, and reach out to him @ jon@jonchui.com If you're a recruiter with freelance jobs or have tech projects for jon feel free to reach out to him jobs@jonchui.com -

4 thoughts on “Exclusive Video Interview: How 18 year-old Brian Wong of FollowFormation is Changing the World

  1. Thanks so much Toan for the encouragement!

    At the end of the day, I want to inspire Vancouver students (& non-students) to just go out there and turn their ideas into reality!

    I also want to provide them with as many tools, resources & infrastructure as possible too!

    Keep telling me how I can improve it!

  2. interesting blog you got going here, jon. i always thought you’d make a good entrepeneur. actually, i knew you’d be a great one.
    glad to see you’re doing well!

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