Author MK Kim was one of Korea’s most sought-after motivational speakers. For more than 28 years, she spoke to corporations of all sizes, as well as television and YouTube shows, on the subjects of human relationships, communication, and personal growth.
Then, in January of 2020, her career came to a screeching halt. The coronavirus and social distancing shut down every major speaking venue around the world. Determined to find a new way to do the work she so dearly loved, MK Kim set out on a virtual quest.
She interviewed dozens of experts, read hundreds of books, pored over thousands of pages of reports, and listened to the stories of countless people whose lives and jobs had been impacted by COVID-19. In doing so, she discovered a four-part formula that was working, time and again, helping people adapt to a post-coronavirus world. Her new book Reboot lays out this proven formula, step-by-step, to help you reboot your own life and learn to thrive again.
I recently caught up with MK to learn about the exact moment she decided to write the book, the biggest lesson she’s learned in this journey, and how she’ll apply that lesson going forward.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
I’ve been a motivational speaker for the past 30 years in Korea. I still remember the date. January 22, 2020. I gave what turned out to be my last speech of the year. I never thought it would be my last. For the first time, the professional-speaking industry came to a halt so completely. I became desperate. I had to do something, anything, to find a way out of this crisis and keep all my employees. First, I read everything from newspapers to consulting firm reports to books to find any small clues for my company’s survival.
One day I was reading a newspaper and a picture jumped out at me. It was a picture of a college student holding up a protest sign. He wanted a 50% refund for his college tuition because his classes had moved online. And it hit me.
If students were only asking for a 50% refund, that meant they were still willing to pay the rest for online classes! They didn’t ask for a 100% refund. They only asked for 50%! The fact that people were developing the habit of paying for online content was a revolution!
So, I decided to move all my content online and build a digital media company. And it became what is now MKYU, an online university. Before I rebooted, last year, MKYU had 5,000 students. Today we have over 60,000. My company went from 20 employees to 100. So, I wanted to share what I’ve learned during the pandemic including four reboot formulas and my experience. My book, Reboot, is about how the average person can get back up on their feet again.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned going through the journey you share in the book?
Everyone has experienced one or two crises in their lives. I’ve experienced many. I’ve been broke, I lost my job and my career. But I believe every crisis contains a message, a question that needs to be answered. For me, each crisis was life’s way of making me search for answers.
This crisis is no different. This pandemic is asking us, how can we survive in this situation? If we find a way out of this crisis, we will come out a better person, living a better life.
How will you apply this lesson in your life moving forward?
Keep changing and stay connected is the most important thing for survival in this fast-changing world. To do that, I will always study. When I decided to move to the digital world, I started studying coding. Something I had never studied before in my life.
My philosophy is to “just go for it!” I don’t wait until I’m 100% ready to start. If I’m 10% ready, then I’m ready to start. The remaining 90% I will work out as I go along.
I want to encourage listeners to try doing the same. I will not only overcome challenges in life, but I can achieve my dreams and have fun at the same time.