Michelle Phan is living a millennial’s dream. Ten years ago, she was working as a waitress, unable to afford another semester of college. Now, she’s a multimillionaire with two successful companies. The best part? Her journey to fame and fortune all started with a free YouTube account—a resource that’s accessible to just about anyone.
The daughter of two Vietnamese immigrants, Michelle spent her childhood moving from city to city as her dad gambled away their savings. When her father abandoned his family and her mother remarried, her step father proved to be no better of a father figure.
Until she moved away for her first and only semester of college, her mother, siblings and Michelle herself, lived off food stamps in a one-room apartment. Art was her escape from poverty and the racially charged bullying she suffered at school.
During her brief stint in design school, Michelle received the laptop she used to upload her first makeup tutorials to YouTube. After leaving school, she continued creating these videos. Within a couple of years, her channel’s popularity led to a million dollar offer from Google to create more content; in default completely changing her life.
At Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 Summit last year, Michelle told her audience:
“I didn’t have a roadmap, I just did it because it was meaningful to me and I wanted to disrupt the beauty industry.”
And she did; her humble iMovie-edited tutorials are still among some of the most popular videos on her channel today; many with over a million views! Not because of her film quality (as many wrongly assume), but because they were original. They brought something new to the world of makeup. Michelle Phan is living proof that you don’t need money or a long-term plan to be successful. Her path to success was simple:
“Have a vision and know your motivation.”
As women, it’s important that when we ask ourselves the question:
“What do we want to change,” we also ask, “why?”
Michelle’s story shows us that in life, having a method is not enough to be successful. You have to have a motive or reason that will force you to get up and do what you do.
It took Michelle two hundred videos to get that million-dollar offer from Google. In the time between quitting her job as a waitress and the offer that forever changed her life, she lived off of ad revenue from her videos. She didn’t make much, but she kept going. The feeling of working for a purpose, not just to get by, is what will make your effort and perseverance worth it in the end; even if it takes time and even if it feels like the struggle will never end.
The rags-to-riches story of Michelle Phan is proof that ideas and the determinism to create change, are the ideas that sell. So no matter how unrealistic or impossible it seems as a woman, you should never hesitate to channel your creativity!
Michelle didn’t have expensive editing software or a decked-out studio to work in. She didn’t have a college degree or a ten-year plan. All she had when publishing her first youtube video (with 0 subscribers), was the desire to change things and the motivation to not stop until she did; and that is what takes people to heights they can’t imagine.