Meet Charles Ngo, one of the world’s most successful affiliate marketers. Charles made $1 million profit in the first year of his career and is now one of the most well-known faces in the internet marketing space. After studying Marketing at Georgia Tech University, Charles made a rebellious yet informed choice as to which career route he would take for the short term, to get him on track for the long term. Here’s everything you need to know about his journey to success…
Getting to Know Charles
How would you describe your lifestyle as an entrepreneur?
There are 2 types of internet entrepreneurs. Firstly, there is the ‘lifestyle design’ entrepreneur. They make around $5,000 a month, enabling them to travel and live life to the max. However, they work to live. Secondly, there is the ‘domination’ entrepreneur. These guys have staff and an office and are taking things to the next level. For a long time, I was a ‘lifestyle design’ guy; I travelled the world and lived oversees for 3 months. But then something changed and I decided I wanted more, I wanted to make a bigger impact. I didn’t need another vacation, I needed to make sacrifices to effectively fulfill my ability to impact the world. So I became a ‘domination’ entrepreneur. Challenging myself and changing the lives of others ultimately became more important to me than travelling.
“I needed to make sacrifices to effectively fulfill my ability to impact the world… Challenging myself and changing the lives of others ultimately became more important to me than travelling.”
Did you want to be an entrepreneur from a young age?
Not at all; I was not the entrepreneurial type growing up. Being Asian, I followed the traditional Asian career path which consists of going to school, getting good grades, gaining a place at university, landing a great job and climbing to the top of the ladder. This was the path my parents had set for me, with the goal of me becoming Vice President or Senior Executive at a big corporation. Ironically, both of my parents were entrepreneurs, yet they actively encouraged me against entrepreneurship. They knew how difficult it was to start a business and as their son, they wanted me to have stability. That being said, my parents became entrepreneurs for different reasons to me; they had no other choice, whereas I did. They didn’t have a good education or any second language so they had to carve out their own path.
“Ironically, both of my parents were entrepreneurs, yet they actively encouraged me against entrepreneurship.”
How do you know whether to pursue or quit an idea?
You either persist or pivot. It’s a brutal decision and there’s no right answer to say whether you should keep going or not. I recommend that when you’re on a path, at least make some progress before you quit. So many people are indecisive. They have a vicious habit or creating something and leaving it behind without giving it the chance it deserves. During that whole switching progress, you rarely achieve much. If you’re changing your path, make sure the second time around you have better information and are more informed as to why it will work this time. You also have to keep your end goal in mind throughout the whole journey. For example, if your goal is to become famous, then you might start out as a musician and if you don’t have talent, become a famous internet marketer instead with the same goal in sight.
“I recommend that when you’re on a path, at least make some progress before you quit. So many people are indecisive. They have a vicious habit or creating something and leaving it behind without giving it the chance it deserves.”
How did you transition to becoming a full time entrepreneur?
I started small. I was blogging and created an e-book, just to see if I could actually make money. When I received my first cheque for $40 it was the best payment I ever received; it meant I was onto something real. I realised my blogging was not scalable, yet I noticed internet marketers promoting other people’s product and being paid close to $50,000 by receiving commissions on each sale. The genius was that they only had to focus on sales and marketing. I realised you don’t need large amounts of money to start out; there were barely any barriers to entry. So I decided to commit to affiliate marketing.
“I was offered two jobs: one that paid $55,000 and one that paid $30,000. I chose the one that paid me the least.”
By this point I’d graduated from Georgia Tech and had various job offers. I was offered two jobs: one that paid $55,000 and one that paid $30,000. I chose the one that paid me the least. Why would I do that? It didn’t make sense to anyone. I did it because working for a search agency was more relevant to my end goal. I then did my own learning on the side. I was immersed in it 24/7. I lived and breathed it. I launched 14 campaigns and lost $4,000; I was buying banners on websites to divert people to my site. Losing hurt because it was a lot of money; I didn’t come from a wealthy family. However, what I did collect in the midst of it all was LOTS of data. I then used that data to learn from it and as a result I’ve made close to 8 figures since that experience.
How do you cope with setbacks?
By reading books. Especially in the beginning. Not everyone has good friends or access to mentors, so you have to make the most of what you have access to. Whenever I felt I was about to quit I would read a chapter of ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ – I would feel instantly re-energised and reminded as to why I was doing what I was doing. Now that I have progressed as an entrepreneur I have access to mentors. My mentors have taught me lots on the power of generosity. I couldn’t understand why they would pay for my meal or drinks when they were already sacrificing their precious time to advise me. Yet now I’m completely inspired to always be giving and do exactly the same. It may only be 30 minutes of a mentor’s time, but it has the capacity to change your life.
“It may only be 30 minutes of a mentor’s time, but it has the capacity to change your life.”
What’s your no.1 rule for success?
Small changes. In America we call it ‘The Compound Effect’. It’s rooted in the belief that if you build upon small habits over a long period of time, you’re going to see those big successes. People believe entrepreneurship is about that one ‘aha!’ moment. But nothing can be executed without the right work ethic and discipline. A lot of success in entrepreneurship boils down to self-psychology. The reason people pivot and change their ideas so much is because they don’t trust themselves. They believe others around them are better than they are and become sheep instead of leaders.
“success in entrepreneurship boils down to self-psychology.”
How do you maintain productivity?
The first thing to do is take care of yourself physically. I exercise every night without exception, regardless of how busy I am. Eat healthy food and sleep sensibly. Ignore the people who say they function on 3 hours sleep. They’re idiots. You will actually get more done with 8 hours sleep. The second thing is to understand your biological prime time. There are certain hours in a day where you will more productively. You have to protect those hours. They’re sacred. My biological prime time is between 9 – 1pm. I call it my ‘cave time’. No one can contact me under any circumstance. I work for 90 minutes, then take a 30-minute break, followed by 50 minutes and a 10-minute break, then the same again. Most people hammer away at things but if you want to work effectively it’s super important to take breaks.
“Ignore the people who say they function on 3 hours sleep. They’re idiots. You will actually get more done with 8 hours sleep.”
Rebel Wrap Up
What moment would you go back to and what would you tell yourself?
Graduation day. This was a pivotal moment in my life. I’d tell myself that college is a new beginning. Anything I want to do, I can do, with enough time and attention. Be true to yourself. Always work hard and think bigger.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you want to succeed faster, fail twice as fast. One of my mentors taught me this. I’m always looking for that magic bullet but it really is a case of working harder and failing faster.
“If you want to succeed faster, fail twice as fast.”
If you could change one law what would it be?
I would allow everyone to marry whoever they want. A person’s sexual orientation is none of the Government’s business. I would also enforce a law for voting to be mandatory. The requirement to vote would also include some kind of education system for voters whereby they learn to understand what each candidate stands for.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
Being able to create value in this world and get paid for it.
What advice would you give to anyone listening?
It’s not too late for you to become an entrepreneur. If you want to become successful, you need to understand that it happens internally. Don’t blame outside circumstances and don’t find excuses; you can achieve anything you want, but it begins within yourself.
“If you want to become successful, you need to understand that it happens internally. Don’t blame outside circumstances and don’t find excuses; you can achieve anything you want, but it begins within yourself.”