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Prove It: Kym Huynh Exposed

Prove it campaign by LorelleAfter reading Prove It: It’s Starts With Defining Who You Are as part of my Prove It Campaign, one of my best friends volunteered himself for a bio tearing and ripping as he is now involved in several startups that are gaining the attention of investors, which means everything he does online is now subject to close inspection.

To go under the fire of Lorelle’s eyes isn’t to be taken lightly. He is my friend and he trusts me to tell him the truth, even if it hurts. That takes a lot of courage. I also don’t expect him (nor you) to take any of these as cement rules. It’s up to each of you to take from this what you will and use it gently not with a baseball bat.

Kym Huynh is a partner of mine in and we’ve done many podcast shows and projects together. I offer this as a disclosure, but also to help you understand that I know him very well, which may help or hinder this process.

Enough with the liability/disclosures/safety zone stuff. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Kym Huynh front page of his site features a welcome introduction and bio

Kym Huynh: Exposed

Kym has done something unusual with his site. The front page of Kym Huynh is a welcome page featuring his biography as a mission statement to introduce himself. It is written in first person. His About Page is a more extensive narrative resume written in third person. We’ll review both.

His blog is integrated into the site featuring pictures of his travels, inspirational quotes, notes and news from projects, and small asides about his life and work without revealing too much personal, just enough to help people get to know him a little better and share things with friends, family, and co-workers. In many ways, there is little or no connection between his blog and his welcome and bio. While Kym is fairly open and visible on the web, he values his privacy a great deal. Thus, I will not be including his blog in my commentary about his biography material.

I asked him why he split the two bios apart.

I believe the biography and about page have two different core values. I want to deliver my biography page (approachable with a relatable, naive-like dream) and my About page (he’s a fricken rock star) cleanly even though they exist on diametrically opposed planes.

I want to trumpet my achievements yet at the same time not come across as an egomaniac. Can you make a rock star friendly given that they all have a quality which makes them outerwordly?

Good question. Kym is a rock star in every sense of the word except egomaniac. He’s the most down-to-earth person I know, but he knows how to work an audience, he is highly intelligent, well-spoken, a natural CEO, a teacher as well as an entertainer, he reeks charisma, and you just want to be his best friend. You can’t help it.

His About Page/Bio must reflect that, right? But what part of him? What parts are essential to meet his goals?

His front page is his personal message. The About Page is his resume/CV, the facts to justify his experience and existence. Most people combine them, so let’s see how the split works for him. Maybe he should consider merging, maybe this will work. It’s something for you to consider, too, if you create a static front page for your own site. What information about you should be where in the site? By the end of my review we’ll know if the two work together or need to be combined.

Goals, Intentions, and Purpose

Before we begin the analysis of a biography, it’s critical we know the goals and intentions behind it. If each word must match the intention, we need a clear guide. Kym explained:

The goal for the biography page is to let the text tell the story of who I am and the values I consider important; and to let it shine through in an approachable and easily digestible manner for mass consumption.

Simple, honest, grounded with good intentions with a dash of friendliness should permeate every line and encourage the reader to:

(1) feel like I’m very approachable;
(2) easily identify and enunciate what I want to achieve/my vision, and feel good about supporting me towards on my journey to fulfill that vision; and
(3) feel like I am the person next door; someone who is familiar and relatable.

The most obvious call to action is to either follow me on Twitter or on Facebook and start interacting with my updates.

The about page is hardcore “this is what he has done” and social proof that he can deliver on what he promises.

The goals of his biography as I see them are:

  • Introduce himself to investors, partners, clients, and potential employees.
  • Put a human face on his professional positions.
  • Be seen as approachable.
  • Provide a resume/CV.
  • Provide testimonials as to his work and accomplishments.
  • Provide links to his projects and businesses.
  • Provide reporters with biographical information for interviews and articles.
  • Above all, support his goals and beliefs.

Let’s take his two bio versions one at a time to see if they can pass through the filter of goals and intentions.

Front Page Welcome Biography

Here is the front page welcome and introduction from his site.

My life goal is to make a lasting and positive contribution to this world by always listening, always learning and helping people reach out and touch and inspire the lives of others from all corners of the globe.

I believe in educating, entertaining and empowering anyone who wants to learn and I do this with my education-centric startups WeTeachMe and Native Tongue; the former an online platform for real-life classes and noted graduate of Australia’s first Launch48 event, and the latter a suite of mobile games that take the pain out of learning a language and reining champions of Australia’s first Startup Weekend.

I have also previously founded other startups like LawYourPress, Stories of Our Journeys, Bitwire Media, WordCast, the world’s largest Neopets gaming fansite Pink Poogle Toy, and more recently a network of alternative sport and humor-oriented blogs including the world’s largest planking website iPlanking, XTREME Ironing, Evil Staring, Hairplosion, Old People LOL, Video Terrorist, Wobble Face, The Beat School, Infomercial Island, WTF Face, and I Just Want a Hug.

Creatively, I am one half of an electro/pop outfit known as Verona.

I am also active on a number of social networks, especially Twitter and Facebook so just click the links to reach them and say hello.

There is no miscommunication here. Kym states his purpose and passions at the very beginning. He clearly defines his passion, beliefs, then spells out specifics as supportive evidence. It shows his versatility as well as backs it with proof.

This is a great way to start a welcome or introduction to your biography. It sets a tone and works well if the following content supports it, which it does.

He has links to everything linkable, and he showcases his social media involvement in the last paragraph.

What’s wrong with it?

It is strong, solid, to the point, and supports his goals, but there is always room for improvement. Remember, every pixel matters.

A Story Helps Connect Us

I’d like to see the first paragraph expanded. It’s too easy to say “my goals are to make a contribution to the world.” I want to know why. Everyone has a story, and Kym’s goals include making his welcome personal. I’d like the bio to begin with a piece of that story to justify why he wants to make a difference.

Knowing Kym as well as I do, “listening” is more than a keyword. It is his passion, which is why it is in the first sentence. An unusual passion, it makes me want the story behind it even more.

Kym’s family were refugee survivors from Vietnam, victims of a political regime that saw intelligence as a threat. They left their world and generations of “belonging” behind to start over in Australia, rebuilding their lives and family in a strange land and making it their own. The story of their escape and survival is part of the foundation of his personality. He knows first hand that having your say involves risks and consequences, to the point of death.

In a world filled still with immigration stories, I believe he would find sympathy, empathy, and generate a sense of pride and honor associated with “knowing him” if he shared a small bit of his back story.

As it stands, his welcoming paragraph is too clinical, too distant. Adding a touch of his personal story would make it highly personal and draw us in. It would have to be in Kym’s words, so I’ll not try here. I want a sentence or two to sum up the reason behind his tremendous sensitivity and capacity for listening and asking the right questions, and why he works so hard to help others inspire and change the world.

It would have to be handled delicately so the conversation doesn’t go off track. His work and projects are not about being part of the boat people escape from Vietnam but because of it. He rarely shares his story but it permeates everything he does. To keep the introduction personal while sharing the story, I’d include something that alludes to his past and answers the question, “Where does his passion come from?”

We all have life or family experiences that define us, mold us into who and what we are today. For some it’s a small thing, for others it’s a life changing, dramatic experience. If it is important to share as part of your story, then share it. If it isn’t, don’t leave holes in the story that make us guess at what it could be, distracting us even further from the story you are telling, as we learned previously.

Find Patterns, Rhythm, Poetry in the Words

The second paragraph features his belief statement, a powerful element to include, but it is a bit weak, one long run-on sentence that fills the whole second paragraph.

I believe in educating, entertaining and empowering anyone who wants to learn and I do this with my education-centric startups WeTeachMe and Native Tongue; the former an online platform for real-life classes and noted graduate of Australia’s first Launch48 event, and the latter a suite of mobile games that take the pain out of learning a language and reining champions of Australia’s first Startup Weekend.

I’m always reading things I edit out loud, looking for patterns in the language, interesting twists of a phrase, alliteration, and the musicality of the structure. While we often overlook the subtitles of the language, such poetic concepts make the reading more enjoyable and interesting.

With that in mind, a possible rewrite to tighten it up and make it easier to read might be:

To support my life’s mission of educating, entertaining, and empowering people, I founded the education-centric startups WeTeachMe and Native Tongue. WeTeachMe is an online platform for real-life classes, a noted graduate of Australia’s first Launch48 event. Native Tongue is a suite of mobile games that take the pain out of learning a language. It is the reining champion of Australia’s first Startup Weekend.

Tiny details but huge difference. Read the first one out loud then read the alternative version. The second has a pace to it. A rhythm. It reads with a little more authority.

Educating, entertaining, and empowering is an example of alliteration, with the “ing” part of the rhythm of the enunciation, followed by the high top “twing” of “education-centric” in the phrase, with another “ba-dum-pah” ending as “reigning champion.” Add to this, WeTeachMe and Native Tongue just got double mention in the same paragraph, increasing keyword exposure for SEO naturally.

Treat the third paragraph the same way, breaking it up into sentences, keeping the pace pushing the reader toward the end of the piece.

Which brings us to the disconnected sentence about his band and writing group, Verona. I call this a “clunk,” the wrong note played. It just lies there. An after thought. Dead weight. All momentum is lost.

I understand why he added it. What we don’t know yet is that Kym is a composer. He and Simon Villani of Verona are getting a lot of attention with their creative musical works including providing the vocals to the award winning dance label One Love’s release “I Gotcha.” One of their songs was used in an Australia television show.

If he’s going to add that clunker, make it matter. It only opens up more questions not answers them. We need to know more about Verona, the band. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy description, but this kind of information reveals Kym’s creativity and risk-taking as the music industry as well as the television industry are tough markets to crack.

As every pixel matters, what you leave out is as important as what you add. If he doesn’t want to include his band here, he doesn’t have to, but since he did, let’s give it more credit and value.

Putting Some Social Into Social Links

As a design note, Kym features a Twitter button and followers chicklet between the first and second paragraphs. I’d move it to the bottom as it visually interrupts the reading pace and flow.

The last paragraph of his welcome page I’d also change. The invitation regarding social media end with “…so just click the links to reach them and say hello” is awkward.

Personal but professional. Engaging. Accessible. This is his chance to put some serious social into his social links and prove he means what he says about making a difference and being approachable.

There are many ways to do this. Here are some examples he might want to consider.

As my work is on the web, so is much of my social life. Stop by and say hello on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Simple yet personal. Can we make it even more personal and reflective of his personality?

That’s me. Now it’s your turn to tell me a little about you. Look me up on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and introduce yourself.

Do you feel like you know him? Do you “get” what he is about? For the most part, I think readers will get a quick picture of where his interests lie.

What’s missing is the link to his About page for a “continued reading” experience. I’d add a last sentence or expand his final sentence to include “If you’d like to learn more about what I do, check out my About Page.” It’s simple but ties the two together if he is going to continue to have two separate pages.

The About Page

Kym’s front page welcome is usually enough of a bio for most websites, but his businesses make it important that he present a professional biography written in third person which includes professional credits including media coverage of his projects and businesses, interviews, and testimonials. Not everyone has those, but if you do, they are essential to proving your worth.

The About Page of Kym Huynh with his bio and testimonials.

For the most part, his About page serves his purpose.

Kym Huynh, awarded an honourable mention in Anthill Australia’s “Top 30under30 2011,” is an entrepreneur and founder of two of Australia’s hottest startups WeTeachMe and Native Tongue.

Kym is featured in more than 70 media publications–including Startup Smart, ZDNet, The Next Web, Anthill, News.com.au, Business Insider, Shoe String Launch, The National Student, TechNode, The University of Melbourne, The Age, Herald Sun, The Telegraph, The Australia, Adelaide Now, Courier Mail, Perth Now, mX, NYDailyNews, QuadCity Times, Dateline USA, and more recently in NTV, CBS News, BBC, and ITV2–and presents as a guest lecturer at the University of Melbourne where he presents and speaks about entrepreneurship.

I’d change and expand the opening sentence to put the honorable mention at the end as a punch.

Kym Huynh is an entrepreneur and founder of two of Australia’s hottest startups: WeTeachMe and Native Tongue. He was awarded an Honorable Mention in Anthill Australia’s “Top 30 Under 30 2011.”

He is also founder of LawYourPress, Stories of Our Journeys, Bitwire Media, WordCast, the world’s largest Neopets gaming fansite Pink Poogle Toy, and more recently a network of alternative sport and humor-oriented blogs.

Then continue with the long list of media coverage.

The next section of the page covers media reviews and links for his startups, then a collection of testimonials. These are great, but I’d like to see more professional testimonials such as quotes from the various media coverage on him, and comments about working specifically on projects. These are just a little too friendly.

I’d also like to see accomplishments such as the mobile app, Native Tongue, just reached 2,000 downloads within its two months online, X number of classes registered with WeTeachMe since Y launch date, and other factoids that brag about the accomplishments of his companies.

I’d also like to see links to his LinkedIn profile which has more details and references.

What is Left Out Can Be as Important as What is Left In

For the most part, I recommended tiny improvements to Kym’s fairly solid introduction and About pages, showing you how a few tweaks can make a big difference.

Again, what is left out is often as important as what is included. You don’t have to tell everything. Just as you customize a resume for a specific job position, you can cherry pick your life for your bio.

What is missing from his bio surprises me. He doesn’t mention his Vice President position with his family’s company nor the fact that he is an attorney.

I feel like these professions are disjointed to my enunciated vision and don’t contribute in a material way. Perhaps in the future they will appear in there, but for now I believe that my press, testimonials and history speak far greater volumes as to an ability to achieve what I have set out to do than having an tenuous inferred “he’s a professional so what he says must be true” link.

It’s an excellent point that I’d like to counter.

Kym has a schizophrenic career if you choose to look at it that way. He is an attorney, podcaster, recording artist, composer, publisher, writer, interviewer, voice over artist, singer, entrepreneur, investor, marketer, social media master, blogger, and business man. Yet these all have something in common. Education, entertainment, and empowerment. Sound familiar?

Let’s look at this from the point of view of his demographics.

As an investor considering one of his companies, I’d feel more confident knowing he had the experience of social media and web publishing in his resume. Add his law degree and evidence that he is an experienced and educated risk-taker, I’d trust him with my investment. I’d want to work with him.

As a client, the same things apply. I like working with people who know their industry inside and out, but also have a high level of education along with their experience.

As a reporter, this multifaceted, over-educated man is even more fascinating. A truly Renaissance Man. He didn’t just come out of the early days of podcasting and blogging and get involved with a startup company. He saw business opportunities in the web from the early days of edu-tainment and supported it with a degree specializing in contract law knowing how critical it is in today’s world to understand the letters of the law that protect himself and others, making him not just a fascinating subject but a resource for the future.

As a reader and fan of his work, I’m eager to know everything and anything about him, so I wouldn’t be confused by any of it. It helps to fill in all the missing pieces. I’d be too excited to tell a friend, “He’s also a singer AND a lawyer…ooooooh la la!” <swoon here>

Yes, his press, testimonials, and history speak for themselves, but the other things are part of the complete picture, enforcing the legitimacy of his work and mission.

However, he’s also right. If not handled properly, these things could become a distraction just like the answer to where home is can put a conversation off track.

Do you think it’s important to who he is and what he does?

The Division of Welcome and Bio

All along this process of analyzing his bios, I’ve asked myself if they should remain separate or be combined. Honestly, I could go either way.

As a clear welcome statement and landing page, Kym’s welcome bio is perfectly placed. It accomplishes its goals. Introduction.

However it leads nowhere. There are few calls to action and nothing to compel me to dig deeper and really learn more about who he is and what he does and why I must want to get to know him. It’s critical that some follow-thru be a part of the tweaks to his layout and design. I need more calls to action.

Because I know Kym so well, this is what I would professionally recommend:

  • Integrate the blog back into the front page.
  • Put an abbreviated form of the welcome statement in a “sticky post” or in a text widget in the sidebar.
  • Kym is a thought leader and known for his innovative thinking and business strategies. I’d ask him to blog those so he is known as a thought leader and we get to know him through his post content on business, strategies, social, multimedia publishing, etc.
  • Keep the About Page as a professional resume with the tweaks mentioned.
  • Create professional CVs and press kit materials in PDF files ready for downloading and access from the About Page in a “Press” or “Media Materials” section or in a subPage.

Who you are on your site is an integration of all the things you are, not just your bio. Kym is many things so why not celebrate them all and let us peek behind the scenes to see the real intelligence behind the pretty face and bio. Then the entire site, not just the bio, would meet his goals.

Thanks again to Kym Huynh for being a volunteer victim for my campaign.

Prove It! Campaign Article Series


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