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The “King of Lipsticks” perfectly encapsulates the meaning of building a career on your strengths

Written by Weylie Li Published on     6 mins read

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How drawing lessons from Austin(Jiaqi) Li can teach us about knowing our strengths to help us in our career.

With the ability to manage to sell 15,000 lipsticks online in 15 minutes, Austin(Jiaqi) Li wins himself the nickname “king of lipsticks.” By leveraging his significant influence — over 80 million followers across various social networks — the 27-years-old has built his online empire, creating much more revenue than many shopping malls and achieving a net worth of between US$1 million and US$5 million within merely two years.

Austin Li’s achievement, especially in a conservative culture, is so phenomenal and extraordinary that numerous networks are intrigued to interview and report on him to decipher his success.

These reports majorly attribute his success to two elements: improved technology and his hard-working. The advanced technology enables an ordinary young person, like Austin Li, access to the E-commerce world. And being hustle empowered him to overcome the challenges all along.

However, with no intent to understate the importance of new online opportunities and perseverance on any accomplishment, we have to admit that most of us end up being mediocre, even though we witness the technology evolution and stick to our work ethic.

In my perspective, in essence, it’s the choice of building a career on his strengths that transforms Austin Li from a shop assistant to a household name.

What is strength?

When it comes to defining a specific term, using the exclusive method could be an effective way. One concept that some people quite often misperceive as strength is knowledge.

The well-known management thinker Peter Drucker once said, “Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer.”

In Austin Li’s case, his followers are obsessed with his lipsticks recommendations, makeup tips. If knowledge is synonymous with strength, a person with a Ph.D. in the cosmetics and beauty area would be more welcomed by the audience than Austin to give advice, which is not the fact.

In contrast with knowledge, strength is a more fundamental quality that people barely obtain through intended learning. It’s the product of a series of factors involving a person’s growth experience, educational background, personality, etc. Sometimes we briefly refer to the integrated product as a natural talent.

Maybe, a simple way to express a person’s strengths is to complete the sentence — “he/she thrives on…”. It’s quite strange to say someone thrives on accounting, but it’s probably sound to say that someone thrives on details and rules.

When applying the expression to Austin Li, we can say he thrives on attention. In an interview, he talked about he always enjoys getting surrounded by consumers. He can articulate a cosmetic product’s function while effectively putting those makeup on a consumer’s face simultaneously.

Back in the days of Austin selling L’Oréal products as a shop assistant, his consumers’ immediate feedback was the biggest drive for him to continue doing this low-paid job until he reaches out to way more consumers through live-streaming. The countless comments popped into the screen during the live-streaming consistently remind Austin that he is the center of attention.

Why is it necessary to identify our strengths?

Why bother to figure out our strengths when Google can offer a ton of information about human resource demand and compensation situations across various industries? Isn’t it an efficient way to take the autopilot to embark on the social-proved path? — choose the high-demand or high-pay major and then find a job accordingly.

The downside of playing safe is to abandon the chance to deploy the natural talents to our advantage. As we invest in our strengths, we put ourselves in a virtuous cycle: our natural advantage optimizes our performance, and our desire to continue the version prompts us to strive continually.

Some people may object to the necessity of building a career on our strengths by claiming that passion and diligence would have the same impact on our career development. Yet, the idea may not be right.

As an influencer specialized in cosmetics, Austin Li has numerous female consumers. They all have an absolute passion for makeup products, but the enthusiasm doesn’t qualify them to access the fiercely competing online sales industry.

Different from common bland demonstrations, Austin’s live-streaming sales always are energetic. His “Oh, my God” and “ Buy it, all girls.” in his high-pitched tone seem dramatic, but his approachable image combined with his funny catchphrases strike consumers as a very convincing boy-next-door.

These personal traits are essential for his success and hard to be duplicated.

On the other hand, hard-working also can’t substitute an individual’s strengths. The analogy first jumping into my mind is marriage. Just as without love, how pathetic a responsibility-only marriage would be, a career entirely built on the “being hustle” notion would be inevitably less inspirational, thereby restricting our career development potential.

It’s not challenging enough for diligent beauty bloggers or YouTubers to try some lipsticks a day on their arms. It also may seem easy for working-hard online sales to accumulate sufficient vocabularies to describe their products.

However, by building his career on strengths, Austin can test up to 380 lipsticks a day on his actual lips — that’s why people give him the nickname “Iron Lips.” Plus, in describing makeup products, Austin’s language is way more elaborate and unusual: such as “color that made my heart stop” or “a color that is tender like water.”

How to build a career on your strengths?

If you already know your strengths and acknowledge the merits of building a career on strengths, you are already way ahead of many people. The only question left is “how.”

With the flood of information that we are exposed to every day, it seems easy to spot a job or working-type that aligns with your natural talents. Yet, to conquer the roadblocks in your career paths, you’d better equip yourself with the right mindsets.

Be brave to say ‘No’ to others’ judgments: Whatever your strengths are, you can find a way to leverage them in your career in a nowadays diverse society. Back a few years ago, Austin was a nobody. People around him questioned his career choice, perceiving him as “ weird” to do a female-dominated job. If he surrendered to conventional thoughts, he wouldn’t reap his current accomplishments.

Shift your main focus on disadvantages or flaws from “get rid of” to “avoid”: Bearing the opportunity cost concept in mind, we have to conserve our energy, time, and other precious sources cautiously. Compared to an all-around mediocre, a person who manages to shine through in a particular realm would be more awarded by society.

Embrace new ideas and new experiences to take advantage of the evolving society fully: Not far ago, when most Chinese thought the live-streaming was only a complementary service of Taobao and didn’t deserve much notice, Austin quietly kicked off his online sales journey. Now, on 11th November one day (“Single day”- the Chinese largest annual online shopping festival), he generated more than US$145 million in sales.

I’m unsure if it’s an incitement of the Chinese education system — young people cling to choose their career based on their majors. Yet, the key to increase your competence is not to accumulate and employ your knowledge but to leverage your strengths in your career.

Austin Li’s rise impels us to ponder the limitation of passion and hard-working and encourages us to use our natural qualities to our advantage.

Like everything else, it’s inevitable to encounter unexpected obstacles when we’re struggling to invest in our strengths. So, keep in mind, stay focused on your strengths, maintain open-minded to novelty, and one day you would live a fulfilling life by doing what you enjoy.


This article was first published here on Medium. 

Weylie is a self-employed insurance broker residing in Canada. Besides offering professional advice to people in terms of insurance investment and reasonable tax-avoidance, she’s been committed to enhancing the mutual understanding between Asian people, especially Chinese people and people with other cultural backgrounds. One of the attempts is to writes blog posts about Chinse culture, personal growth, and her life as a new immigrant. Read more of Weylie’s writing at https://grounded-daydreamer.medium.com/.

Disclaimer: This article was written by a community contributor. All content is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the writer. If you’d like to contribute, you can apply here

WRITTEN BY

Weylie Li

Weylie is a self-employed insurance broker residing in Canada. Besides offering professional advice to people in terms of insurance investment and reasonable tax-avoidance, she’s been committed to enhancing the mutual understanding between Asian people, especially Chinese people and people with other cultural backgrounds. One of the attempts is to writes blog posts about Chinse culture, personal growth, and her life as a new immigrant.

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