[00:00:00] Maggie Chui: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network podcast. Today, we have two special guests, Christina and Daniel Seong. Christina and Daniel were both born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the States early. They met in San Diego in 2000 while Daniel served in the Marine corps. They married in 2004, had four girls in five years, and their son a few years after they lived in Irvine, California. They are having a wonderful time raising their children and running their successful insurance agency, Great Park Insurance.
[00:00:33] Maggie Chui: They started a TikTok account in January 2021, sharing their life struggles and successes, which quickly grew to 1.4 million followers. Their goal is to inspire as many families to fight through the work together. Christina and Daniel, welcome to the show.
[00:00:49] Daniel Seong: Hi, thanks for having us guys.
[00:00:52] Bryan Pham: Of course, it’s been a long time coming, having you guys on the podcast.
[00:00:56] Bryan Pham: I think that Maggie and I started as fans. We saw you guys in TikTok. We watched your content, and to my surprise, Daniel reached out to our agent account, and that is how we connected.
[00:01:06] Daniel Seong: I remember that, and then, we were so excited to find out that you guys were local.
[00:01:11] Daniel Seong: I think you were moving to Vegas at the time, and you guys were in town. So that lunch, that shabu -shabu, was meeting you guys and hearing about everything you were doing inspired us. So I just wanted to let you know that you guys are constantly doing a great job.
[00:01:26] Bryan Pham: Awesome.
[00:01:27] Bryan Pham: Thank you, guys. We appreciate you guys in our corner, as well. So I’ll start with the first question. We’ll start with Daniel. Daniel, tell us about your upbringing and more about yourself.
[00:01:36] Daniel Seong: It’s fascinating because whenever I look at my story, it contrasts with what the typical Asian kid in the nineties grew up in.
[00:01:48] Daniel Seong: I was born in Korea in 1979 on a little pig farm. I remember the dirt roads. I remember our home being probably 200 square feet. And back then, in the morning, it’s your bed or your bedroom, you put it away, and then you bring out the table, and it becomes your dining room.
[00:02:06] Daniel Seong: I moved here when I was five years old, but I vividly remember some of the things I remember from Korea. It was interesting because one morning, I woke up, I was three years old, and my mom had left. She left my dad with two kids; it was an exciting time.
[00:02:22] Daniel Seong: My dad brought us here to the States in 1984, and looking back now. I can tell I appreciate my childhood so much more and what elementary kids or junior high kids go through. But I was lost. I want to say I was lost throughout my adolescence.
[00:02:42] Daniel Seong: In the nineties, if your parents had to have a kid go to college, be a doctor, be a lawyer, be an engineer, they could brag about their kids to all their friends. I was an ESL. I was probably, at best, a BC student, maybe a CD student back then.
[00:03:00] Daniel Seong: The schools would mail out your report cards in the mail, so I remember trying to get the mail those days when I knew it was being shipped out before my mom got them. I never really even understood how to study.
[00:03:13] Daniel Seong: I didn’t go to college. And the reason why I went to the Marine Corps is that I wanted to go to UCLA. But there was no way I would get in, so I went into the Marine Corps because that bought me some time. It took me four years. I got a steady paycheck.
[00:03:26] Daniel Seong: I got to go overseas, travel a little bit, and figure out what I wanted to do. My first duty station was in Okinawa, Japan, and my second duty station was in Miramar, San Diego.
[00:03:38] Daniel Seong: That’s where I met Christina. Her family was military, but they were living there. That’s how we met in San Diego.
[00:03:46] Bryan Pham: I love that.
[00:03:47] Bryan Pham: That’s great hearing about your story too, and how much the army has impacted your life, personally. Many of my friends who went to the military are the most disciplined and headstrong. They can pick up any skill, like being good at everything.
[00:04:04] Bryan Pham: I’m like, wow, what do you guys keep saying about the army? So that we know the Marine Corps. Sorry. Sorry. I apologize. We end that part here. I’m kidding.
[00:04:13] Daniel Seong: But I do agree with you. It was probably looking back at it now. It was perhaps the best decision I made. It was now in Korea. You are required to serve two years automatically for every male.
[00:04:26] Daniel Seong: It gave me an understanding of the discipline. What hard work is having no excuses, getting it done, and mission accomplishment. It taught me the value of discipline and authority, so it’s what you make of it. I also have friends who went in with me, and we were in Okinawa, Japan.
[00:04:48] Daniel Seong: I remember I got a phone call. I say, hey, and so is in the brick, which is the military prison. And I said, oh my gosh, what happened? The knucklehead decided to go out into the town and rob a liquor store at gunpoint. The MPS caught him, and he got thrown into the brigade and dishonorably discharged. Not everybody has a great experience, but it was incredible. I wouldn’t change a thing.
[00:05:11] Bryan Pham: I’m happy to hear that. Oh, go ahead, Maggie.
[00:05:14] Maggie Chui: Yes, I love that you could find your outlet. I feel like, for many people, the school may not be their thing, and that is okay. I think that we put so much emphasis on school and grades, and we put a value on how well you do in school, which is, I think, also very important. The school does mean a lot of things. School can set you on the right path. We need to encourage the kids in our generation to go to school to finish.
[00:05:43] Maggie Chui: Some people may not find school is their thing. And then, they end up going into entrepreneurship and succeeding very successfully, which is okay. You have to find what works best for you. I’m just glad you could find that path for yourself.
[00:05:58] Bryan Pham: I like that a lot. I think the biggest thing is school and whatever, and doing the Marine Corps teaches consistency, hard work, and discipline, which are the three skill sets you need to succeed in life, no matter what you do. I love hearing these types of stories because of my background there out of high school. I didn’t want to go to college immediately.
[00:06:19] Bryan Pham: Many people knew that side of me. I wanted to join. I always actually want to try out Navy seals.
[00:06:26] Daniel Seong: Wow. I didn’t know that.
[00:06:27] Bryan Pham: Yes, they heavily recruited wrestling camps, but every single wrestling camp that I went to would come and be like, wrestlers statistically, are the toughest, and you guys are more statistically able to make it past the Navy seals and the most challenging department. But obviously, my parents didn’t let me go because they didn’t know what it was. I’m thinking about how much my life would’ve been different. Had I gone down the Navy seal path?
[00:06:49] Daniel Seong: Yes, that’s an accomplishment, and Maggie, to your point. Yes, and that’s one of the things that we try to teach our kids. School isn’t for everybody. Now, we encourage our kids to go to school after they have to go to college. It’s not because you will have this great life after getting that diploma.
[00:07:07] Daniel Seong: It’s a transition period from being in mommy and daddy’s house to adulthood. You meet people you wake up on. When you wake up, you make sure you go to class; it’s all the little responsibilities of becoming an actual adult. So we want people to think we don’t emphasize the insurance school.
[00:07:23] Daniel Seong: We do. But if that isn’t your path, just like you said, it’s okay.
[00:07:29] Christina Seong: And also, with all of our kids, we acknowledge that they are all very different. Even though they have the same parents, every kid has their personality. We try to figure out their strengths and, like Daniel said, encourage school, but we also know it’s not for everyone.
[00:07:51] Maggie Chui: Yes, I love that. I love that. As parents, you guys encourage your kids to pursue what they feel most passionate about, whatever that may be. Every child is indeed unique. Every child has their personality, has their interests. But Christina, we want to pass it on to you and ask you.
[00:08:09] Christina Seong: My background?
[00:08:10] Maggie Chui: What is your background?
[00:08:11] Christina Seong: I was born in 1980 in Korea. My dad was a retired pastor. I grew up In a Christian household, and his dream was to start his church. He knew that America was a better place, a better life for his family. He came two years before the rest of us. He came in 85, we arrived in 87, and he started a church.
[00:08:38] Christina Seong: I started playing piano at the age of five, and my mom’s whole path was to keep playing the piano, play for your dad’s church, marry a doctor and be a housewife. That was their path for me. But also for myself, my dream, my whole life since kindergarten, was to be a stay-at-home mom. I wanted four or five kids.
[00:09:05] Christina Seong: I had this idea of just an organized, clean house with a hot meal. That’s just what I pictured in my head. I guess it’s similar to our life now. I am a stay-at-home mom raising five kids, and I went to school for piano during that time. I met Daniel and dated for three and a half years.
[00:09:30] Christina Seong: From Korea, we went to NorCal San Jose, and then from San Jose, I was there for about five, six years. In junior high, we moved to San Diego until we got married. Yeah. Wow.
[00:09:44] Maggie Chui: Thank you for sharing that story. And honestly, being a stay-at-home mom is a job in itself. It is not easy. It is tough, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. She worked a couple of jobs before she had me. But after she had me, she was already getting to that age where she was like, I need just to rest and take care of the kids. Just cook dinner and do all these things at home that people don’t usually think about, but it is a lot of work.
[00:10:14] Maggie Chui: I want to commend you for all your work, having five kids. It’s a lot of work, and I agree with you that I feel like I watched you guys talk. We’ll get into that a little later, but I understand how Christina works and what Daniel says. Christina has her way of doing things; Daniel doesn’t touch any of those things where Christina has her way of doing things.
[00:10:36] Maggie Chui: I love that. But I love how you had this idea of what you wanted to be. You were able to see that into fruition and have that come to reality. I just wanted to thank you for talking about this because I think many people have this misunderstanding.
[00:10:54] Maggie Chui: Stay-at-home moms don’t have actual jobs or have to do real work. A lot goes into it, and raising one kid is already hard. But raising multiple kids and running a whole household is a job. No other words can explain how no job is as hard as being a stay-at-home mom and doing all the chores and the work at home.
[00:11:16] Daniel Seong: Yes. And so, when the kids were young, one of the great things about Christina is that she communicated that with me. She said, hey, look, some people want to be doctors. People want to be on the corporate ladder. She said, my dream is to be a stay-at-home mom, but I appreciated that so much because it gave me a clear vision of what her life should look like and what my life should look like to provide that for her.
[00:11:42] Daniel Seong: I think we read about a 70% divorce rate here in Orange County, which is enormous, right? So the odds are against you, but communication is just one of the things. It’s one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, and I can appreciate that because I would stay home for three hours to give Christina some time with her girlfriends or to go out.
[00:12:04] Daniel Seong: I would stay home for three hours. And in those three hours, the house would be flipped upside down. But any time anybody comes to our house, it’s immaculate because Christina is always on top of things. If she’s out for a night, like the kids can tell after dinner, the island isn’t clean by itself.
[00:12:22] Daniel Seong: It’s because mommy’s down here. She’s constantly wiping down the counter, just little things like that. But our whole, I guess if you were to ask us what you want to, how do you want to impact the world? One way is to show people that family life is still strong in a very corny way.
[00:12:42] Daniel Seong: Love is still alive, and marriage works. That’s one of the things that we want to encourage. People don’t give up so easily. I put Christina through a lot there. We got married in college, and I said, I’m a man now. I have to provide for my wife and my family, and I am 20. You were 20. You just turned 24, okay?
[00:13:06] Daniel Seong: I just turned 20, so I went to Fullerton City College after the military. And then, I transferred to USC, so we got married when I moved our first year. So I said, okay, I need to get a part-time job.
[00:13:17] Daniel Seong: I started at a mortgage company, and that’s when the mortgage industry was booming. So I got a part-time job, five minutes of just being in the office. I was on the phone selling mortgages and did a pretty good job at selling mortgages. We were making money. And then, six months later, if people know about Christina and me, we do things just like literally within five seconds of thinking about it. We got married over the phone because I was at home in Orange County, and she was down in San Diego, living with her parents.
[00:13:45] Daniel Seong: She had a big fight with her family. And every night, we would talk on the phone before we went to bed, and she had a tough day. So I said, you know what? Let’s get married. That was the only way she was going to be able to leave her house. Leave her parent’s home. So the next day, we went to Robert’s brothers in San Diego, picked a ring, and married.
[00:14:02] Christina Seong: That’s how it started.
[00:14:03] Daniel Seong: We just decided to start a business and did it the next day. We take action pretty quickly. So after about six months of working at that part-time job, we started our own company. We had about 15 loan officers and about two processors making money.
[00:14:18] Daniel Seong: We didn’t finish school because we went a different path, and I got to tell you. I will share numbers because I do not want to brag about it. To show people a point of reference at 25 years old, just with my pen selling a mortgage. I made a hundred thousand the next month, seventy-five, the next month 50.
[00:14:39] Daniel Seong: At 25, I made $225,000. That was just my sales. That wasn’t the company. That 25 might have been 225 million to me because I’ve never seen that money. I thought my stuff didn’t stink. I was just in a big shop. My Eagle was huge. We were buying this.
[00:15:00] Daniel Seong: We were buying that. We bought our parents BMW. We purchased four cars. It was just nuts, but there’s a great lesson in that. We didn’t know how to handle money. We didn’t know how to take success or responsibility because the more money you make, the more responsibilities you have, and the bigger team I was responsible for.
[00:15:19] Daniel Seong: We were reckless when 3, 4, 5 years later, the market turned, and we lost everything. I remember it was exciting because we’ve foreclosed on our home in Irvine, and having to take your kids out of their homes is an exhilarating feeling. Now, you could move up every year into a perfect house, and it never gets old, but once you have to move down, it’s an exciting situation.
[00:15:51] Daniel Seong: We lost our home. For about two-three years, we were trying to fight bankruptcy. We didn’t want to file for bankruptcy because we thought bankruptcy was just a total failure. We racked the bar’s credit cards. We moved so many times that we never updated our driver’s licenses.
[00:16:05] Daniel Seong: We would move for two-three months because it would buy us time. We were running from rent. That’s really what we were doing. We had three kids at the time, at the lowest point in our lives. I had $200 in my left pocket. We sold everything, but I had $200 in my left pocket with four kids.
[00:16:25] Daniel Seong: So imagine you have no floor under you. You feel like the world is collapsing and have nowhere to turn. We were on food stamps. There’s a program out there called WIC. I think that’s food stamps. And we were on welfare, so it was just brutal. Christina and I cried every night.
[00:16:47] Daniel Seong: We prayed together every night before we went to bed. And really, I was at one point; I didn’t share this with her at the time. At one point, I thought I was worth more dead than alive. Because of my life insurance policy, I remember going to the subway when the kids were young. That’s the beauty of it that they were so young.
[00:17:11] Daniel Seong: They don’t know anything. They don’t remember anything, but on a Friday night, to get the kids out of the house, we would, at the time, have $5 foot-long sub sandwiches. We had four kids, and we would take them to the spectrum or take them to the park, buy a subway, cut it in four pieces and give each kid a quarter.
[00:17:29] Daniel Seong: That was plenty for them back then. They had a full tummy, and they were playing at the park. It was the best life in the world, but it’s because mommy and daddy never fought in front of them. We never complained about it. We never showed aggression. We never offer frustration. Now talk about stress; we were stressed out.
[00:17:51] Daniel Seong: And then, so at one point, being on WIC, we went to the local grocery store, and Christina came home, and she told me this. She said, oh my gosh, I was in line, and behind me, a friend of hers and my heart just dropped. I thought, okay, tell me, you didn’t pay with the wick coupons.
[00:18:10] Christina Seong: And it was checked. It was this, it was undeniable out of these checks you have to give. I probably used maybe five or six of them every time I went, so they allow you $10 worth of products and $6 of something else. It’s just this vast printout, and it takes forever to check out. I heard it’s a better system now, but yes, it was a horrible checkout back in the day.
[00:18:35] Daniel Seong: Her being more mature than I am, she said, what are you talking about? Of course, I did. I went to the grocery store to get food for the kids. I was so upset and remembered not talking to her for five or seven days because she embarrassed me. My friends and everybody know that we’re not making money.
[00:18:55] Daniel Seong: We don’t have an income and depend on weekly checks. I was distraught. And then, after so many days, she sat me down and said, honey, look, she said, why would I be embarrassed about feeding our kids? I remember this day so vividly. And she told me, she said, let’s not be ashamed of who we are or what we’re going through because it’s something we’re going through.
[00:19:23] Daniel Seong: It’s not something we’re staying in, and that hit me like a box of bricks. And I said, oh my gosh, you’re right. She was saying that, and her message was, I believe in you. I believe in you that you’re going to get our family out of this. In a very subtle way, she said, get your butt to work.
[00:19:41] Daniel Seong: I took that as a real challenge and encouragement, uplifting me. From then on, I went to work. I was in the mortgage business back then. But I wanted something a little bit more stable. Something that didn’t have a season. Something that wasn’t a roller coaster.
[00:19:58] Daniel Seong: So I said, okay, let me look at insurance. Like everybody else who gets into insurance, I said car insurance, home insurance, everybody needs it. It’s by law. You have to have it. And I thought, okay, let me check it out. I didn’t know a single soul in insurance. And now, knowing what I know now, my path could have been different.
[00:20:15] Daniel Seong: I could have done many different things, but again, I didn’t know anybody in insurance. I said, okay, I’m going to try it. I worked insurance from 9:00 AM to about 5:00 PM during the day. And then, I would come home right around six to eight o’clock. I would eat dinner and play with the kids because I remember Lauren was just born.
[00:20:32] Daniel Seong: She was just born, so we’ve been married 18 years, but in the first five years of marriage, we had four girls. When we had four girls, we had three in diapers simultaneously. That’s really when we were in the thick of things, where we were struggling the most, so it was crazy.
[00:20:48] Daniel Seong: But, nine to five, I would work my insurance, six to eight, eat dinner, and play with the kids. From eight to 10:00 PM, I would nap every night for two hours because, at 10:00 PM, she would wake me up. After all, I had to go to my 11:00 PM graveyard shift. I would work her graveyard shift from 11:00 PM to 7:30 AM.
[00:21:06] Daniel Seong: I would work at a home alarm company being dispatched. If your alarm goes off at your business or home in the middle of the night, you get a call from dispatch. And then, I was that person so that I would do that seven-thirty. I would get off. I would get home right around eight-thirty in the morning.
[00:21:21] Daniel Seong: Take a shower, eat breakfast, and build my insurance business. Friday night was terrific because Friday night was my weekend from the nighttime job. I was able to sleep. I think the first night, you said you never slept.
[00:21:34] Christina Seong: You slept like a baby. I think you slept like 12 hours or something.
[00:21:38] Daniel Seong: Yes, but you know, the mindset was, I have no choice, and also, we’re not going to make any excuses. Her parents were retired pastors. My parents are retired. Nobody could help us, and looking at that now, that was the biggest blessing because we had to figure it out. And at those moments, I feel as if people look to other options and say, Hey, what’s the easier choice?”
[00:22:05] Daniel Seong: I always get upset. When I hear about dads or husbands leaving their families in tough times, that’s the easy way out because that just sold. Thinking that our relationship is based on finances is just wrong. So when we got married, we took that to heart to say, hey, look, we’re combining our life.
[00:22:32] Daniel Seong: Nothing will break our bond, and we are committed to each other, good times and bad. That’s how relationships get more robust. It’s not during the good times. It’s not when everything is fun. It is tough times and struggling together. She has taught me I wasn’t always this way.
[00:22:51] Daniel Seong: I was very insecure, not knowing the language. Being in ESL, I had no friends. I talk about this because when I was in first grade, all my first-grade friends in the new school year became second graders. None wanted to play with me at recess because I was bombed. I was a loser.
[00:23:14] Daniel Seong: I didn’t know English that well, so I would play by myself as a first grader in the field. And really, what I would do a lot of times was go to the bathroom because, in the bathroom, I could be there for 10-20 minutes. Lunch was only 25-30 minutes, and I just hid.
[00:23:32] Daniel Seong: And then, the other times, I didn’t want to do that, or when I was too hot, I would go to the field. I would walk fast to the soccer field. And then, from there, I would walk fast to the baseball court field or at basketball courts or handball to make it seem like I was going somewhere to do something.
[00:23:48] Daniel Seong: So it took me to have a lot of demons. It took me a long time to overcome those demons and feel comfortable with myself. It honestly happened after I met Christina that it’s okay. Not to always have the correct answers, but it’s okay to figure it out together. Once we had kids, it all changed. It all changed because you have to be that example to the kids.
[00:24:15] Maggie Chui: Wow. That’s so much to break down there, and it got emotional at so many points of your story, and I wanted to thank you for sharing all of that. A couple of touch points hit me because I feel like when you talked about buying groceries and buying food with the WICS, I can understand where your frustration came from. Daniel, maybe many people wouldn’t want others to know what we’re like in the Asian community. Mainly we’re all about reputation, appearance, and social status, and you know how well we’re doing financially.
[00:24:51] Maggie Chui: Once someone finds out that you are struggling financially or in your family, they talk about it, or we think they talk about it. I think Christina was able to make you look at the bigger picture. We’re often so focused on the smaller picture of what our peers would think about us or what our family members or friends will say about us. But just sitting you down and saying we’re feeding our family, and this is just a phase for us like it will help us in the long term if we’re paying for food the right way right now, regardless of what our peers will think about us.
[00:25:28] Maggie Chui: She was able to make you look at the bigger picture. It’s insane how you managed your time at that time, like a graveyard shift, working two jobs during the day while getting two hours of sleep.
[00:25:38] Maggie Chui: That’s insane.
[00:25:40] Daniel Seong: I remember. Specifically, we got two extra months. Christina was able to buy us two additional months when we had the $200. She came home one day and had to step out, and I was with the kids. She came home one day and said she had sold her wedding ring.
[00:25:59] Daniel Seong: I said, oh my gosh. Why? Why? And we just broke. We both broke down, but like she took it upon herself, right? What wife and mom must sell their wedding ring? If anything, you pass it down to your kids, but it got terrible when she didn’t feel like she had no choices. So to get us by for two more months, she sold her wedding ring.
[00:26:22] Daniel Seong: Ever since then, I was always on a mission to get her a more prominent ring when we could, and many years later, we were able to buy just little things like that, right? It’s committing to each other and just doing what I had to do—doing what she had to do.
[00:26:37] Daniel Seong: We have very defined roles in our marriage, and she always wants to stay home. I bring in the money, but once it comes in, Christina handles it all, so we don’t have separate accounts. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s whatever works for your family, but we do it in our house because we have access to our credit cards.
[00:26:55] Daniel Seong: She has access to all of mine. We have one bank account. It’s a very trusting relationship, and you must be vulnerable to each other, right? You can’t put a face or have a look at each other. Now, as a father and a husband, I truly believe I am the family’s leader.
[00:27:17] Daniel Seong: I have to make sure my family’s protected, and they’re financially secure and healthy. Do I have some bad days? Absolutely. I remember I was so focused. I tell my team this, too, at the office; I took seven days off for the first five years in the business. Five of those were for Christmas.
[00:27:37] Daniel Seong: I worked every single day. I did not take a Sunday off. I had a goal, or we had a dream and a vision of where we wanted to go. When we had a three-month goal, a 12-month goal, and a five-year plan, we were very focused and very tunnel-visioned. She would go to church and meet new people; they thought she was a single mom with five kids.
[00:27:57] Daniel Seong: I forgot my point in sharing that you must communicate and be on the same page. Life is too hard if you’re not. And if you’re not, it will be evident from the beginning.
[00:28:09] Bryan Pham: Yes. It’s powerful to hear your story.
[00:28:13] Bryan Pham: I think, as Maggie said before, I know you guys are not that much older than me. Just a couple of years older, but it reminds me of the immigrant struggle. The story of when things get terrible and, like this season, never-ending, when it ends, it reminds me of my own parents’ story too.
[00:28:28] Bryan Pham: I think my mom had a similar story. She had all three of my siblings at that time. She has three kids. My mom told me they only had $25 left in the bank account. She said she spent it on eggs, a case of water, and a pack of instant noodles to get by the month.
[00:28:44] Bryan Pham: And somehow, when you’re desperate, things will get better. Sometimes, you think that things end there. It’s, oh no, my life is over. The world is collapsing, but this is where I want to hear your turning point. What was the turning point? Where do things turn to get better, right?
[00:29:01] Bryan Pham: Where does your hard work start to compound your consistency and make sense? The insurance started to earn money again. What was the turning point for you at what age, and what happened? That causes a shift to where we see you guys now. I want to hear about that—that turning point in your life.
[00:29:18] Christina Seong: You know, for one thing, that Daniel has always taught me to be thankful and to share your knowledge, share your resources, share. He is one of the most driven, hard-working people I’ve ever met. He said for five years, and I don’t even want to say in five years, even though he only took seven days off, he was still present in the family.
[00:29:45] Christina Seong: If he had an hour break, he would come home and spend time with us. So for the kids, they never thought, oh, dad, dad wasn’t around. He was always present. He worked 16- 18 hours a day. I always get emotional whenever we’re talking. I think I don’t try to hold onto any information, even for other moms I meet and me.
[00:30:11] Christina Seong: It’s whatever helped me. I wanted to help others. I think that just came around. We noticed it year after year after his graveyard shift. He was able to stop doing that after a few months. There was no way he could sustain that no sleeping schedule that his two other jobs were able to at least pay for. We didn’t have a lavish lifestyle, and he could get by with his two full-time jobs.
[00:30:41] Christina Seong: And year after year, his income increased. The great thing about insurance is the residual income. We noticed, oh, hey, he’s good at it. The payment is also growing, and he put himself out there to meet many people in the industry. I feel like good people attract good people.
[00:31:07] Christina Seong: That’s just how it started, I feel like.
[00:31:10] Daniel Seong: Yes, because I’m 43 now. I got into the industry when I was about 31. Like in any business, it’s tough for the first five years. We were grinding for it. It took about six or seven years.
[00:31:22] Daniel Seong: I’ll be 36-37 at this time when I wasn’t working from home. And I said, okay, I could quit that second job right now. A lot of people finish too early. I think they stopped too early. We were making a good living, but we were saving a lot because we knew we had to open an office and hire a team one day so that I could have quit that second job long ago. But I was so afraid to go back to where we were.
[00:31:51] Daniel Seong: So we did it about seven years later. I quit that second job. That’s when we opened an office. And once I started building a team, I could work on the business versus the business. And then, at that point, it just exploded from there.
[00:32:06] Daniel Seong: We were having fun. I don’t sell policies anymore. The team does a much better job than I do. I can work on and invest in relationships, people, the business, and my time. My schedule now is entirely different, especially with the kids getting older. We’re having so much fun, but I always tell our kids you have to operate with the end in mind because nobody wants to do the work.
[00:32:40] Daniel Seong: Nobody wants to be in the foxhole. They always want to go to the super bowl, but they don’t want to practice during the off-season. When all their friends are partying and vacationing, that’s what I always emphasize. Work in silence; kill yourself in silence. And then, when I had some terrible days, I would go into the closet and scream and cry for about five minutes.
[00:33:02] Daniel Seong: And I will come out after that. They would never know whether I was at the office or with the kids because we were always upbeat. We were optimistic, and we went. So that was our turning point, probably about six or seven years in the business.
[00:33:18] Maggie Chui: Wow. That’s amazing. I think it’s commendable for you to emphasize that you can find a way to release all of that frustration on those bad days. That’s true. When you’re talking about a career, when you’re talking about work, you have bad days.
[00:33:33] Daniel Seong: Absolutely.
[00:33:34] Maggie Chui: Those days will be tough. As a family and as a father, as a mother, whatever it may be like, we must set that example for our kids. I think a lot of the reason your kids can see you guys as such amazing parents is that you never fight.
[00:33:50] Maggie Chui: You guys never express that anger to your kids. They see that they’re at that age where they’re learning a lot, and whatever expression they see from their parents, their role models, and the people they look up to, they will mirror that expression.
[00:34:05] Maggie Chui: They’ll take that with them.
[00:34:06] Christina Seong: I don’t want to say we never fight. We do fight. We don’t fight every argument.
[00:34:11] Maggie Chui: Of course.
[00:34:11] Christina Seong: Yes, we argue, but we try not to do it in front of our kids. But everyone has their bad days, and that’s fine. And now, I grew up in a household where my dad was just, if you talk back, then you’re being disrespectful, that kind of a household.
[00:34:29] Christina Seong: When we married and talked about having kids, I knew I wanted clear communication between our kids. Even with our kids, I have bad days all the time. I lose my patience, but I’m very quick to apologize, even to my kids, because no one’s perfect. Everyone has bad days.
[00:34:50] Christina Seong: They see the vulnerability.
[00:34:52] Maggie Chui: Yes!
[00:34:53] Bryan Pham: Yes.
[00:34:54] Daniel Seong: And in family or business, I think people must realize it’s a bad day. It’s not a wrong career choice. It’s not a bad life. It’s a bad day. The best thing about that is tomorrow’s a new day, and it’s all how we handle it.
[00:35:10] Maggie Chui: Absolutely, so let’s shift the conversation and talk about TikTok. As I read in your bio, you quickly grew to 1.4 million followers. And our listeners who haven’t seen Daniel Christina’s TikTok videos talk a lot about lifestyle, family content, and career, as well as how to raise their kids and introduce them.
[00:35:36] Maggie Chui: Why did you guys decide to start a TikTok account, and how did you ultimately base your content on those couple of things, family, lifestyle, etc.?
[00:35:46] Daniel Seong: Well, just a lot of things. It evolved throughout time. I remember it was two years ago. A year and a half ago, during Christmas, Leah, my third daughter, got me a daddy joke book, 365 jokes.
[00:35:56] Daniel Seong: One for every day of the year, and TikTok was getting more and more buzz, and all the kids were on it. I thought, what is this? So I just created an account, and I was going to tell a joke a day for 365 days. And then, it started picking up. It didn’t take long; maybe a week later, the kids laughed at me because only cool people have TikTok.
[00:36:20] Christina Seong: We’re like the most significant works.
[00:36:21] Daniel Seong: What is daddy doing? There was no way daddy could get 10,000 followers, so we got 10,000 within a week. We got 50,000 a couple of days later and then a hundred thousand. And then, they started thinking; you can see it in their eyes like, people are interested in our family. Then it started evolving into more of a family channel.
[00:36:41] Daniel Seong: It took us six months to get a million. But that month in June, we would go each week a hundred thousand. Our biggest day was 50,000. So it became, and we were having fun with it. And then, people started recognizing us every time we would go out and say hi, and their kids at school were talking about it and saying, hey, your dad, your parents are on TikTok.
[00:37:02] Daniel Seong: Then, the perfect bite; I’m not sure how that came about. But I do the perfect taste with the right bull and everything else. And then, it’s evolving into Christina, and I am giving parenting advice, marriage advice, child-raising advice, and just how we live our lives.
[00:37:19] Daniel Seong: It was exciting that people were interested in us. Some super fans message us. During summer, we took a break, and we were contemplating whether we should take a break or not because it was going to kill our momentum.
[00:37:32] Daniel Seong: We thought, you know what, even shows the TikTok world that we’re regular people. Yes. We need breaks too. So during summer, we were so busy we took a break. But when we returned and posted our first video, many people said, oh my gosh, we’re glad you got to take a break.
[00:37:51] Daniel Seong: I know summer is crazy with the kids, but we’re still happy you’re back. It’s the most rewarding thing for me. We get messages on our IG and our TikTok all the time about people struggling through their marriage, not having a role model in their lives because their parents are abusive, and reconnecting with their kids.
[00:38:14] Daniel Seong: Taking some of the advice like we have date night quite often, but we also individually have a date night with each child. I just took my fourth daughter Lauren to New York for a week because she loves tennis, and we went to the U.S open. Now that trip, I will remember that for the rest of my life.
[00:38:34] Daniel Seong: I know she is too. We had such a wonderful time, but it’s just sharing what we do with the kids.
[00:38:42] Christina Seong: And yes, Daniel and I went to dinner with us too. This young couple, not married, probably in their early twenties, came up to us. The guy said that listening to our advice changed his relationship with his girlfriend.
[00:39:00] Christina Seong: I don’t know what advice he heard, but he had to come over and say that to us. His comments like that make it worthwhile.
[00:39:09] Maggie Chui: It was probably a combination of your ticket videos that changed his relationship.
[00:39:14] Christina Seong: Yes.
[00:39:15] Maggie Chui: Your content is so valuable, and I think it’s essential for us to have role models in it. What should a healthy marriage look like?
[00:39:25] Maggie Chui: What should raising a family looks like? Everyone has their way of raising their kids. But we need to see what other people are doing. How healthy are families raising their children? You guys are setting such a standard; amazingly, you are putting this content out there because not many people had that type of resource before. No one knew where to turn to, I think, before TikTok.
[00:39:50] Maggie Chui: Where do people even go for therapy? It’s more relatable when seeing other people doing it in a real-life situation. Oh, how is this family doing it? How is their marriage able to relate or connect in some way? It is just a fantastic feeling.
[00:40:05] Maggie Chui: I just wanted to thank you for all you did because it’s a lot of hard work with such a large follower base. I’m sure you guys get a lot of criticism, too, right? Because they might disagree with how you guys have your lifestyle. I remember some comments here and there saying, you guys have that signature kiss at the end, which I think is super cute.
[00:40:24] Maggie Chui: I want to know how you guys came up with that too. I saw comments saying, ” Oh, why do you guys kiss all the time? Like criticism like that, where it’s super minor, but people still bring it up. I want to hear what kind of criticism you see or experience and how you move forward or past that.
[00:40:42] Christina Seong: Criticism, honestly, it took a very long time for me to be where I am now, but it doesn’t bother me more because I think I’ve become more secure with who I am. They don’t know me personally, so I think everyone can be whoever they want to be behind a screen.
[00:41:02] Christina Seong: They could have just had a bad day, and the video they saw rubbed them the wrong way. They just decided to make a mean comment. I don’t take those personally. I think you do have to have thick skin when you put yourself out there. And like I said, I’m very secure in myself and confident in our relationship.
[00:41:22] Christina Seong: We’ve had comments. We’re like, oh, I’m just following to wait for the announcement of you guys getting divorced. It’s wow. There are people out there, but I just laugh. I don’t take it personally, and I’m just continuing to do and live my life, live our life.
[00:41:38] Daniel Seong: Yes. I think it’s a different age than when we grew up because I remember writing weekly encouragement notes to our friends and giving them letters at church. But, with social media, it’s an entirely different world now. You do it for the younger generation, teenagers, and our kids.
[00:41:55] Daniel Seong: It’s tough. It’s not easy. But one of the things about us having a social media channel, it lets them see how people react to us, and it’s not always positive.
[00:42:05] Christina Seong: Yes.
[00:42:05] Daniel Seong: How do we handle negative comments? We don’t put too much weight on it and don’t even talk about it.
[00:42:12] Maggie Chui: Yes.
[00:42:12] Daniel Seong: Most of the time, I don’t read the comments much. Christina does more so now. You’ll get hate, especially being an Asian family, and talking about some of the topics. That one video blew up when we talked about our finances, how I bring in the money, and she takes care of it at that point.
[00:42:31] Daniel Seong: And suddenly, one of my staff members said, oh my God, Daniel, it’s trending on Twitter, so it got reposted. It got millions. It got posted on IG today. They posted it and all these other things. We thought that was good. That’s interesting.
[00:42:46] Daniel Seong: That’s normal. That’s how we do it, but we got a lot of hate for that too. People were saying I was ignorant. I’m not. I’m setting myself up for failure. She’s taking my money, but that’s also the thing. It’s not my money, and I’m going off tangent here, but I have to say this because I want people to understand it’s our money.
[00:43:06] Daniel Seong: Christina stays home and raises our kids. It’s a partnership. So, just because your spouse brings in the money, the other spouse shouldn’t feel bad about spending it. They shouldn’t feel bad about buying something nice for themselves. If they want to, they shouldn’t.
[00:43:23] Daniel Seong: And also, I don’t think the other spouse that brings in the money should make them feel that way, but it truly is a partnership. Sorry. I went off tangent there for a little bit.
[00:43:32] Christina Seong: Another one. Another one that went big was someone commented that I’m a gold digger. And then, he addressed that.
[00:43:42] Christina Seong: I think soon after was the hardships that we went through. There are a lot of followers that’s been following us for a week. Since we had like hundreds of followers and they’ll comment. We have fans that will comment on all of our videos and comment on other people’s comments saying, oh, you don’t know who they are.
[00:44:05] Christina Seong: We’ve been following them forever. And I’m like, oh my gosh, I feel like they know us, and they’re defending us. That was neat. I was reading through the comments. They’re like this one person commenting on every statement saying, don’t go after my parents, and it’s adorable.
[00:44:22] Daniel Seong: Most importantly, we’re having a lot of fun with it, and we genuinely do feel that some people are benefiting, and all it takes is that one person to say that one thing at that one moment in somebody’s life to change their future and their kids’ futures completely.
[00:44:42] Daniel Seong: So if we could be that one person, we’re all for it.
[00:44:46] Bryan Pham: Yes, and you’re that one person to me, Maggie, as. Well. That’s how we found your content to begin with. We look up to your relationship a lot, and I’m glad you guys and I saw the gold digger addressing video before we met.
[00:45:00] Daniel Seong: Oh, thank you.
[00:45:02] Bryan Pham: I was following along for quite a while, too. So when you reached out to me, I felt like we had already built that layer of trust to take our relationship further. I appreciate the content that you guys make. It’s not easy to put out content every day and stay consistent.
[00:45:17] Bryan Pham: At the end of the day, social media, too much of it, is bad for your mental health, right? Getting addicted to numbers. All these things are true. Feeling stagnant means your content doesn’t resonate with you anymore. And all those little ups and downs of the social media world.
[00:45:33] Maggie Chui: Agreed.
[00:45:33] Bryan Pham: I’m curious, too; how has being on social media changed your life? Who have you met through your newfound fame on TikTok that you still build a relationship with today, that you invest in, that you spend time with, that you believe in?
[00:45:49] Daniel Seong: This is an absolute, no-brainer question for me. The two people we have, such a blessing we’ve met through social media, are you guys.
[00:46:03] Christina Seong: That we mean, yes.
[00:46:05] Daniel Seong: We have a more intimate look into what you guys do daily, and we probably still don’t know, to be honest with you, we don’t think of what’s going on and on and all the things that you guys go through the plan, think about and spend time on that don’t even end up happening.
[00:46:25] Daniel Seong: But all the events, how many Australia conferences have we had already? Are we four or five?
[00:46:31] Daniel Seong: You have influenced a whole group of people in a different country for them to join your team. And all, you guys will be in Washington, DC, at the White House speaking.
[00:46:45] Daniel Seong: I mean that later this month, it’s enormous. We are truly inspired by you two. Suppose that’s a no-brainer for me. If I think about all the people now, we’ve met some incredible people, really great influencers, but you guys are doing something special, and we have a small part in that.
[00:47:00] Daniel Seong: To be your super fan is neat for us.
[00:47:05] Christina Seong: I feel like a lot of social media is more entertainment based. So as far as people we’ve met, it would be you guys that are going out and influencing people, not in just an entertaining aspect. So yes, super excited to be affiliated with you guys.
[00:47:28] Daniel Seong: I feel you guys are making it cool to be Asian cause because we were growing up, it was not in the nineties and eighties to be Asian. It was inferior to a certain degree, but you have given the Asian community, Asian hustlers, and business owners a voice.
[00:47:49] Daniel Seong: To share their successes and, more importantly, their struggles and failures. There isn’t a day where somebody’s just making a post about how the group has changed their lives. To think this is just the beginning of what you guys are doing.
[00:48:06] Daniel Seong: It’s been fun watching you.
[00:48:08] Maggie Chui: Oh my goodness. We can say the same about you. I feel like we’ve been super fans of you, Daniel and Christina, and yes, we’re grateful to have met you two through age. I’m sure we would’ve met some way or another if we didn’t meet this time, but I’m just so glad we crossed.
[00:48:29] Maggie Chui: I think we’re doing both or all of us. We’re all doing something incredible. You are using your platform to inspire other families, other people, and your followers and be able to use what your experiences have taught you and apply them and lead to other people.
[00:48:51] Maggie Chui: I think that it’s fantastic. It’s such a beautiful thing that you both are doing, and we’re grateful. I probably speak for Brian as well. We’re thankful to have met you and even to have this conversation. Thank you so much. So now that we’re nearing the end of the podcast, we have a couple of final questions.
[00:49:10] Maggie Chui: We want to know your plans for the future. Let’s say, like your five-year, 10-year outlook, what do you hope to accomplish between you and your family?
[00:49:21] Daniel Seong: In about five to 10 years, Nathan will be in college, so we’ll be empty nesters. We’ll be about the early fifties; we’ll be empty nesters.
[00:49:28] Daniel Seong: We’re looking forward to that part of our lives where I travel with you guys. Christina could come with me, and have fun with it. Regarding social media, we want to continue posting content and positively influence more people.
[00:49:46] Daniel Seong: I always told Christina she needs to write a book. So hopefully, that. But yes, just staying on track and just growing professionally. The company is growing. I want us to stay healthy and stay a unit as much as possible, no matter how far the kids might travel.
[00:50:03] Christina Seong: Five to 10 years from now, I, as much as I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, not to put any pressure on my kids, I’m also very looking forward to being a grandma. Our oldest will be 17.
[00:50:17] Daniel Seong: And also, tell them how many kids our kids want.
[00:50:19] Christina Seong: So all five of my kids want four, so that’s 20 grandkids for us.
[00:50:25] Daniel Seong: So, at our simple family dinner, it’s about 30.
[00:50:28] Christina Seong: It’s 32 people, including us. There will be 32 people. Just thinking about it makes me so happy. And yes, I think currently I’m just riding this wave of happiness, I would say, but there are always downs. And for me, I know it will come, but then I also know we’ll make it out fine whatever comes our way.
[00:50:53] Christina Seong: I think just everything we’ve been through, that’s the courage that gave me. I can lose everything, but we’ll still be fine.
[00:51:00] Daniel Seong: I’ve never seen her cry so much.
[00:51:02] Christina Seong: My goodness.
[00:51:02] Maggie Chui: That’s beautiful, Christina. We’re going to be invited to the 32-member family.
[00:51:07] Christina Seong: All of it. Cookouts, you’re five dinners.
[00:51:09] Maggie Chui: Yes.
[00:51:09] Maggie Chui: Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today, Daniel and Christina. Where can our listeners find out more about you online and at Great Park Insurance?
[00:51:22] Daniel Seong: Yes, our TikTok is @seonglife. Our IG is @seonglife, and Facebook is SeongLife.
[00:51:28] Daniel Seong: Yes, that’s probably the easiest way. It’s greatparkinsurance.com, and we’re here now. I do want to brag a little bit about our team. We are the highest-rated insurance agency in the country on Yelp. They do an excellent job, but we’re in Irvine, CA.
[00:51:44] Maggie Chui: Awesome. We’ll leave all of those in the show notes. Go ahead, Brian.
[00:51:48] Bryan Pham: I want to say thank you so much, Daniel, Christina, for hopping on the podcast. I appreciate you too. And honestly, we’re grateful to help you guys in our corner.
[00:51:59] Daniel Seong: Awesome. Thank you, guys.
[00:52:00] Christina Seong: Thank you. Thank you both.
[00:52:02] Bryan Pham: All right.