What is the meaning of success? Is it excelling in your studies? Being at the top of your chosen profession? Having a fat bank account?
Wong Chung-kit has had all these, and he thought he was living a full life. But he later realized it was not enough.
Wong, now 34, grew up in a humble family, and strove hard to improve his station in life.
He excelled academically. He earned seven distinctions when he took the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE).
He got admitted to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he finished his undergraduate degree majoring in risk management science. He furthered his studies at the University of Hong Kong and earned a master’s degree in economics.
Full of confidence and enthusiasm, Wong dived into the banking industry immediately after graduation.
He quickly moved up the corporate ladder. By 2013, he became the youngest vice president in his bank. He was given the title “youth leader” by a local club, and was able to publish his first book in Chinese.
But despite all the success, he felt there was something missing in his life.
“To a certain extent, money doesn’t seem to be my top priority any more,” says Wong. “I realized that happiness is a mixture of different elements. I felt it was time to turn a new page as I was already in my 30s.”
Last September he quit his job and went in a completely different direction: he became a full-time Cantopop lyricist.
Actually, the career shift didn’t happen quickly. When he was still in the university, he was introduced to a composer, who is a friend of a friend.
After their meeting, Wong tried writing some song lyrics and eventually sent them to Universal Music.
The studio liked his compositions and signed him up as a contract lyricist.
He was then 21, and already pursuing a banking career. But there was no problem as he could handle both very well.
“Back then I could write 100 songs in a year — roughly finishing one song every three days. I was so young and felt so energetic. Besides, the income from my job in the bank was enough to support me and so I didn’t have to worry about my finances.”
His music career was not a bed of roses, however. “Most of my demos ended up in the bin,” Wong admits. “At most only two or three out of my 100 compositions were able to make it to the market.
“But though 97 of my songs were discarded, I didn’t give up. I just love writing lyrics.”
As of today, Wong has written over 90 songs for various Cantopop singers including top-tier artists like Alan Tam Wing-lun, Gigi Leung Wing-kei and Denise Ho Wan-see.
Asked if reading contributed to his being a successful lyricist, Wong replies: “I don’t like reading. If you ask me to name an author I like, I would say [famous Cantopop lyricist] Wyman Wong. His books are the only ones I have brought home to read.”
Wong says he is mostly inspired by movies. While many people say inspiration is a necessary part of any creative endeavor, Wong thinks preparation is far more important.
Music introduced him to another world — education.
Six or seven years ago, Wong got an opportunity to conduct a workshop on lyrics composition for a group of junior secondary students in Tin Tsui Wai, which once earned the title of “City of Misery” because of its many social problems.
Wong didn’t find the students miserable. On the contrary, he says the youngsters were no different from students from prestigious schools in terms of abilities.
However, he admits that their knowledge of the world is badly insufficient.
His encounter with the students gave him the idea of establishing his own educational center.
But it is not to be an ordinary school or training institution dishing out traditional courses and instructions. He is thinking of a school of life.
Wong says his primary aim is to help in bridging the gap between the rich and the poor in Hong Kong.
He strongly believes that education holds the key to a better life. But in order to succeed, students must be equipped with the right skills and given the proper motivation.
This includes encouraging them to work out their dreams through comprehensive classes such as arts, creativity as well as career and life planning.
His ideas constitute the philosophy behind his La Violet Education, a school that encourages students to discover their interests, explore their talents, and harness their knowledge and skills to lead a fulfilling life.
Wong has also launched Dream Plan 2015. Now in its second year, the program seeks to provide financial assistance to 10 individual or group applicants to realize their dreams.
“Dream should not be confined,” says Wong. “It can can come in any form without being bounded by any framework or any scale.”
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 17.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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