Wisdom on Life and Entrepreneurship From Warren Chong
Warren Chong has a wealth of knowledge on business and life. If you spend just a few minutes with him, you’re sure to walk away with some wise words ringing in your ears, like a catchy commercial jingle. The sixty-nine year old has been an entrepreneur in one form or another since his early twenties. I sat down with Warren to learn more about his story, his business, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Warren Chong was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi…he actually grew up on Chong Street in Chongmanville. After high school, he went to college to become a teacher, following his family’s encouragement to pursue a ‘good stable job’. But after teaching for a few years, he began to long for a different kind of lifestyle. One that offered more freedom. At 25, he quit his teaching job. The timing wasn’t ideal, as he had just gotten married to his wife Joan. He remembers being very, very afraid to tell his father in law (who was 6’2” and 240 lbs. by the way) about his sudden change of employment status. (Spoiler alert: he wasn’t happy.) But Warren didn’t let his family’s doubts deter him. A few weeks later, he joined the carpenter apprenticeship program.
When reminiscing about his big leap, Warren quotes Jim Rohn — “For things to improve, you must improve” and Robert Kiyosaki — “For most people, the price for security is personal freedom. And without freedom, many people spend their lives working for money, rather than living out their dreams.”
After completing his apprenticeship, Warren went on to become a journeyman carpenter, then a business representative for the local Carpenter’s Union, and finally an international trainer for the national Carpenter’s Union in 1989. Along the way he earned his contractor’s license. “I don’t like leaving my future in other people’s hands,” says Warren. “You gotta create your own future.”
“I’ve lived my life very fully and I’m not afraid to try things,” says Warren. He’s not joking. Over the years, he’s experimented with cultivating many different residual income streams, including real estate investment, Amway sales, and LegalShield, which helped him and his wife send their three children to college debt free.
Warren believes that everyone should have at least four streams of income, but clarifies that that doesn’t mean four jobs. He recommends making at least one of your income streams a business, which opens the doors to converting many of your common personal expenses like telephone, internet, office supplies, and even mileage on your car, to a business expense. “Being a business owner with tax deductible expenses allows me to keep more in my back pocket, which I can apply to other investments,” says Warren.
In addition, when thinking of a business, Warren recommends something that offers residual income – something that few people have. According to Investopedia, residual income is “…money that continues to flow after an initial investment of time and resources has been completed.” For instance, rental income, artist royalties, interest income, or a subscription based service where you collect fees each month.
Ultimately, it’s about having the freedom to wrap your business around your life, rather than wrapping your life around your job, as Warren says.
Warren’s longest, most consistent stream of income has been as an independent representative of LegalShield. In 1985, when he was thirty-two years old, he met a man who asked him, “Warren, as your family grows and your estate grows, what if you could ask an attorney questions and not get a bill? Would you?” It was a no-brainer, and he has been with LegalShield ever since (37 years and counting). “Law surrounds everything you do, everyday,” says Warren. “The philosophy is not that you’re in trouble, but gaining more information so you, your family, and your business can make educated decisions.”
Over the years, Warren has collected many stories of how LegalShield has helped him. For instance, there was that one time when he parked his car overnight at the airport, and it got a horrible ant infestation. It was going to cost him $500 to repair the damage. Working with his LegalShield attorney, he was able to file a claim and get the airport to cover the cost of the damage.
Or, there was that other time when a new house was being built next door in his subdivision. The house was ten feet too close and four feet too high, encroaching on his property and ruining his view. However, he couldn’t get the owner or the contractor to budge on the plans. He contacted his attorney with LegalShield, who contacted the contractor. Within a few days, they moved the house, saving him thousands of dollars in real estate value.
“Most people get pushed and shoved all over the place,” says Warren. “I work with LegalShield because I want to help people and make sure they don’t get pushed around.”
LegalShield offers a variety of different programs for individuals, families, and businesses that start as low as $1/day. Their services also include identity theft protection. Warren notes that many major corporations in Hawaiʻi offer a LegalShield program to their employees, as legal issues are a serious drain on productivity and create absenteeism, which in turn negatively affects the company.
In 2013, Warren and his wife Joan were selected by the Small Business Administration as the Home-Based Business Champion for the County of Hawaiʻi. “LegalShield has provided me with a great opportunity for education, to lock arms and minds with some very successful people,” says Warren. He invites people to ask themselves – does what I’m doing for work also provide me with an education, does it make me a better, smarter version of myself? Does it give me more freedom?
It’s not all about the money. “It’s not making a million dollars that’s important,” says Warren, “but it’s the person that you become in that process, that’s important.”
His Suites Story
Warren’s Suites story predates Suite Possibilities itself. He’s been a client since 2007, before Juslyn bought the business from its previous owner. Back then, Warren and his wife Joan used the space to host a business networking event they called “Breakfast with Fran (Tarkenton)”, an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and a Hall of Fame Entrepreneur with GoSmallBiz.com. Warren (mostly Joan) cooked up a full spread with eggs, sausage, coffee, fruit, you name it. They had over nine hundred business owners attend over the course of 10 years, some, a multitude of times.
Fifteen years later, Warren is still a client at Suites. He utilizes their professional office rental, as well as conference rental services for seminars and workshops. “Suites has a win-win philosophy,” says Warren. “It’s a positive atmosphere, opening the door for small businesses who are just starting out to succeed and I’m happy to be a part of that.”
If you’ve ever met with Warren for a 1:1, you’d know that he always carries one of those old school three ring binders with him. Inside are many things, including his affirmation statements, which I think are worth sharing here.
I, (insert your name here), am a person of integrity…with a good attitude and specific skills. I have a high energy level, am enthusiastic. I take pride in my appearance and in what I do. I have a sense of humor, lots of faith, wisdom, vision, empathy and courage to use my talents effectively.
I am a good listener, and patient, but take decisive action. I am bold, authoritative, and confident, yet humble.
I am an encourager, a good finder, an excellent communicator, and I am developing winning habits.
I am a student, teacher, and self-starter.
I am obedient, loyal, responsible, dependable and prompt.
I have a servant’s heart, am ambitious, and a team player. I am personable, optimistic, and organized.
I am health conscious, balanced, and sober.
I am flexible, punctual, and thrifty.
I am an honorable person, who is truly grateful for the opportunity God has given me. These are the qualities I was born to be, and I am fully committed to develop these marvelous qualities, with which I have been entrusted.
Today begins the first day of the rest of my life.
I will remind myself of this commitment every single day, so I may sleep wonderfully well, dream powerful, positive dreams, and awake early and energized.
This day and every day, will be magnificent, or as close to that as I can possibly make it.
Connect with Warren
Connect with Warren and learn more about LegalShield at https://warrenchong.wearelegalshield.com/, or send him a message at email@example.com.
And, as Warren likes to say, “Be the reason someone smiles today!”