My Journey From Corporate America To Following My Passion

Today's blog post is written by Stephen Oh.  Stephen is a Korean-American entrepreneur currently based in Detroit, MI with companies, such as Main Street Trading and FMC Group (Instagram: @fash.musc.cult), in his portfolio. He graduated cum laude from Michigan State University with a degree in Finance and has experience from multiple Fortune 500 companies, such as J.P. Morgan and Delphi Automotive. Some of his interests include snowboarding, traveling, analyzing music, fitness, and psychology. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @doubleohstephen.

I had my dream job set after college at one of the biggest financial firms in the world. Shortly after I started, I realized: I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. College definitely did not prepare me for “the real world.” It was unbelievable how quickly life changed - I had an incredibly terrible time adjusting to corporate life and living on my own. And on top of that, I had multiple, unrelated personal problems appear one after another within such a short time frame. I was living with an unhealthy mix of arrogance, insecurity, ego, and pride and that kept me from asking for help.

I wasn’t happy where I was. I worked in a toxic environment; I didn’t see myself doing this job for the rest of my life; I didn’t feel fulfilled. I needed to find out if it was possible to create a life that I wanted. I was a year into my career, and pursuing my dreams would only set me back a little bit. Thankfully, I’ve been working and saving since middle school, so I had enough to live off of for a while. So, I made the decision to leave the firm, pack up my bags and go soul-searching in Southeast Asia for about a month. At my age, what did I have to lose? I didn’t have a family that I had to support, I was single, and I had paid off all my debt, so I was debt free. The trip marked the beginning of my journey of humility, appreciation, and the search for my passion.

I’ve listened to so many debates on whether or not you should follow your passion, only to wonder “what the hell is my passion?” Well, I am now one year into my journey and here is my story and the conclusion that I’ve come up with.

After the trip, I got back to the U.S. feeling recharged, energized, and motivated… but still unsure of what I wanted to do. So, I decided to meet with as many people that I can - entrepreneurs, founders, professionals, designers, financial advisors, and much more. This was done by reaching out to my network, cold calling on LinkedIn, attending meetups, volunteering, and just walking right into a business.

A few weeks into this, my friend from college, who is an options trader at a hedge fund in New York, reached out to me and asked me to help him out with a newsletter for stock and options traders called The Corner of Wall St and Main St. Investing and trading was one of my hobbies, so I agreed. The newsletter began to grow faster than we had thought and finally, we decided to create a business out of it called Main Street Trading. At first, having no experience in building a business, I had no idea what I was doing. I picked up as many books as I could and quickly looked for mentors. I went through ups and downs and eventually got better and better. I didn’t care if I failed at something or an idea didn’t work - this was fun. I realized I enjoyed business, and I started to see myself improve. But now, I started to wonder what it was like in other industries. I was so curious that I decided to try it out. Of course, I’d have to make some changes - I’m paying for it now with lack of sleep and social life, but looking back, it was all worth it.

I decided to dip my hands in a completely different industry - fashion. I wanted to start my own clothing line, so I began attending fashion events to look for a designer that was interested in becoming my business partner. I ended up attending a fashion show in Detroit, MI last October, but this fashion show was different than the others. The founder had put a creative twist to it, and it captured my attention. I asked around and finally got to meet the owner of the company, called FMC Group (Instagram: @fash.musc.cult). I needed to be a part of this. I brought him a proposal on what I would bring to the table if he brought me on as a business partner, and within a few months, I was brought on. We run independent fashion shows around the nation and with our success and growth so far, we’ve decided to launch our FMC Magazine on March 24th.

Knowing myself, even though what I’m currently doing fulfills me, I’ll continue to dip my hand into different things just to experience what it’s like. From my journey so far, I’ve realized that one does not find their passion, but develops it. You have to be curious and keep trying different things until you find that thing that makes you feel fulfilled. Find that purpose that keeps you patient enough to stay committed through all the failures.

8 take-aways from my journey:

  • Don’t just wonder about what could be, take action. Keep on moving even if things aren’t going right

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help and stay humble.

  • You will fail here and there, but that’s ok as long as you reflect and try again. Aim to improve 1% every day

  • Find mentors (it can be both physical or virtual)

  • Have a growth mindset and think long-term

  • Don’t quit your day job right away. If you’re passionate about something, you’ll have enough energy to work on it at nights and weekends

  • Don’t worry about what other people will think. Most of my family and friends were very supportive, but I knew they were worried and skeptical. Some thought I was going crazy

  • Don’t worry too much about finding your passion - aim to create a fulfilling life with a purpose. Set goals and a plan to get there. Stick to it

  • Always be curious