For the best part of four years, John Ng has been living a double life. Known to some as a journalist, and others as a broker, he recently decided to unite these two roles on his quest to add value to his life and that of his local community.
MPA spoke with the Melbournian about his community page Humans of SKY and what it means to win the City of Maribyrnong’s Citizen of the Year Award.
A long trip around.
After moving to Australia from Singapore to complete his journalism degree 16 years ago, Ng found himself working in the unlikely world of finance.
He worked in collections at NAB for two years before jumping the fence to sales. After working seven years at the bank, he knew it was time to take a different route.
“I really missed the whole aspect of writing and meeting people and that’s why I always loved journalism.”
“I had been following Humans of New York a long time by then and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I did something similar in my local community.”
Humans of New York is a photoblog of portraits and interviews collected in the big apple that was started about ten years ago by Brandon Stanton.
Ng envisioned something similar for his local suburbs of Seddon, Kingsville and Yarraville, only this time, with longer stories crafted in his favourite medium – words.
Around the same time, he left his role at NAB for a salaried broker position at Loan Market after working 15 to 17-hour days at the bank.
“I was just chasing the money, the corporate ladder, but I was deeply unhappy.”
“So, I took a step back, quit NAB and decided to be a broker.”
Two identities become one.
About eight months after the move, he decided to leave the role and start his own company, Money Jar Concept.
“I’ve been with Finsure ever since.”
“Over the last three years I’ve just been building up my brand slowly.”
At the same time that he became a broker, Ng committed to featuring one story a week on Humans of SKY, and began to get quite a following.
“The stories that I was churning out really hit home and people were liking them.”
“I was connecting families and people who would say, I have never been to that butcher down the road, but your story – the butcher’s dad went to the same school as my dad and now we’re having conservations.”
“By the end of last year I had about 5,500 followers on both platforms and every week my reach across any of my posts is 3,000 or 4,000.”
Despite keeping these two identities separate up until the start of this year, Ng decided to let his followers know that he was a broker after winning the City of Maribyrnong’s Citizen of the Year Award – an accomplishment that took him completely by surprise.
“When they said I was the recipient I almost fell off my chair.”
After sharing his broking identity on social media channel, he went on to pick up more clients.
A cure for Mondayitis.
He says creating Humans of SKY means a lot to him because it has enabled him to contribute to his community while engaging in his passion for writing.
“Most people have a passion project or they have an idea but they are stuck to their 12 hour a day jobs.”
“But the truth is, the weekend comes, they work towards Friday and then they get Mondayitis.”
“What I’ve been saying for the past four years is if you have a passion project pursue it. Take one day off, get a pay cut and pursue it, because you don’t know where that’s going to go.”
“What is the legacy you want to leave?”
“I don’t want to say I’ve worked 17-hour days at NAB.”
“Now I can say I’m the crazy migrant who left Singapore 16 years ago, came here and is running my own business and writing a community page.”
“The local community actually look up to me and see me as someone who is setting a good example for all migrants within the community area and also helping their businesses and their finance.”