April 15, 2021

My High School Talent Agency Business

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It seems I've been an entrepreneur most of my life. I started working in the family business when I was just a child, and when I was about 16, my parents got me a job working for a friend of theirs who had a TV production house. They made commercials for the TV industry in Hong Kong, and I think the founder said that he would give me a job just because he wanted to help my parents out and companies often take interns. So I went in there as an intern and they said, "Oh, you can just help us with the filing."

And I was there for about three days watching them make TV commercials when I realized that they were having a lot of problems with their models being unprofessional. So we're talking about Hong Kong, and they were making a lot of TV commercials for the Chinese speaking channels and for the English channels, and I noticed that a lot of the English speaking models were not very professional. They were getting them through an agency and sometimes they wouldn't show up which would really mess up the production schedule, or they'd come unprepared and then they'd have to have all their hair and makeup and nails and everything done, which again messed up the production schedule.

And I started thinking, "Well I have all these friends that are home for the summer vacation. They'd love to be in TV commercials." I suggested to the owner of the agency that I bring in some of my friends and we actually set up our own little modeling agency within the production house. And he loved it. He said, "Why not?" I put a call out to a whole bunch of my friends and they all started coming in and he gave me a photographer, one of their in-house photographers, to work with. And we got all these kids to pose and we learned quite a bit about posing people for professional modeling shots and that kind of stuff.

And I put together a whole portfolio of models that our clients could choose from. And of course, it was great for me at school because everybody thought I was awesome because I'm getting them in TV commercials. But also I ended up being in a commercial because one day a group of clients came in and they walked past my desk and they pointed at my skateboard. I used to ride a skateboard back then and they said, "Oh, you have a skateboard." And I said, "Yeah, you know, makes the journey to work a little faster." And then they went in, they had their meeting and they came out.

And the owner of the agency, Robert Chua, said to me, "Hey they want to use you in their ad." I said, "Really?" And he said, "Yeah, because it's a skateboarding ad. They've been running a very, very successful skateboarding ad in the U.S. for Pepsi and they wanted to repeat it in Hong Kong. They wanted to do one with Caucasian, non-Chinese kids and Chinese kids skating together. I reached out to my network and I found kids at the Hong Kong International School, which had a lot of American kids. Some of whom were American Chinese, and some of my friends and my brother and I all went and made a Pepsi commercial which was really fun. Skateboarding and drinking Pepsi.

And for years when I would go around Hong Kong, people would point at me and say, "Oh, it's the Pepsi girl", or in Chinese 'Pepsi girl'. It was a fun time and great to be in a commercial, and then I actually worked with quite a few of my friends to get them in commercials too.

Cydney O'Sullivan, Founder of Millionaires Training

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