Author MK Kim was one of Korea’s most sought-after motivational speakers. For more than 28 years, she was a corporate speaker, as well as a television and YouTube personality, speaking on the subjects of human relationships, communication, and personal growth. At the onset of COVID, determined to find a new way to do the work she so dearly loved, MK Kim set out on a virtual quest. She interviewed dozens of experts, read hundreds of books, and pored over thousands of pages of reports, and listened to the stories of countless people whose lives and jobs had been impacted by COVID-19.
In doing so, she discovered a four-part formula that was working time and again to help people adapt to a post-coronavirus world. Her new book, Reboot: Your COVID-19 Quick Start Guide to Life, Work, and Hope, lays out this proven formula step-by-step to help you reboot your own life and learn to thrive again.
Drew Appelbaum: Hey, listeners. My name is Drew Appelbaum and I’m excited to be here today with MK Kim, author of Reboot: Your COVID-19 Quick Start Guide to Life, Work, and Hope. MK Kim, thank you for joining, welcome to The Author Hour Podcast.
MK Kim: Thank you for having me, it’s very nice to meet you.
Successful Speaker, Author, and YouTube Personality
Drew Appelbaum: Nice to meet you as well, can you give us a rundown of your professional background?
MK Kim: Yes, I’ve been a motivational speaker for the past 30 years in Korea, I’ve written over 20 books. I’m also a television show host and run a YouTube channel with 1.4 million subscribers, and I’m also a dean of an online university that I founded back in 2019.
Drew Appelbaum: Why was now the time to write this book? What was it about the COVID experience that said, “I have to write this down?”
MK Kim: I gave my last speech on January 22nd, 2020. I never guessed it would be my last, but it was. In the beginning, when everything came to a halt, I thought it would pass quickly. Then I realized things were pretty serious. I wasn’t giving any speeches, so I wasn’t making any money.
My employees offered to take a pay cut, but I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want my career to end like that. I was desperate to survive. I had to do something, anything to find a way out of this crisis. That’s when I began to search for the answer. I read everything from newspapers to consulting firm reports, to books and searched for a way to help my company survive.
That’s how I started writing my COVID 19 solution notes. This note was my desperate attempt at finding a way to survive the pandemic. After a few months, my COVID 19 solution notes were complete, I was ready to face the pandemic and bring my career back to life. I told my employees–I still remember the day–that the post-corona virus era will be a completely different world. I found four formulas and they will bring our company back to life but to make it happen, we have to completely reset the way we operate our businesses. What we need to do now is to reboot.
This is when I hit the critical turning point in my career after the pandemic.
Crises During the Pandemic
Drew Appelbaum: When you were writing this book, in your mind, who were you writing this book for? Is this a book for business owners only, can managers, can leaders in businesses have takeaways from the book as well?
MK Kim: My book Reboot is based on my personal experiences of all the crises that I went through during the pandemic and the real story about how I could bring my company and my career back to life. There are many books about the pandemic, what’s the deal with the big issues on a national and economic level.
My book is written for individuals or the average person. I’ve been enduring hardship for over a year. We may have difficulties financially or with our job. First of all, I would like to tell people that you’ve done a great job so far. The fact that we are still living is the greatest thing ever. You are doing that so you did a great job. However, now is the time to move to the next level. It’s the right time to change yourself and challenge yourself. I hope my book will help readers in the United States.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, the Korean version of the book was released in June of 2020 and it was one of the bestselling books in Korea. Why do you think that it resonated with the people of Korea so much?
MK Kim: Last year, Reboot was a top seller. The rest of the pandemic, I was happy to hear feedback from readers, they said, “I applied four reboot formulas to my work and they saved my life.” Some people said, “If I hadn’t read this book, I would have never known about how the world was changing faster than ever.” I think my book was really realistic and practical to apply to their lives and their jobs.
Drew Appelbaum: At the beginning of the pandemic, you were reading books on every subject and newspapers and articles from around the world, and a few months in, you came to a turning point that you experienced. Can you talk to us about the turning point?
MK Kim: Yes. One day, I was reading a newspaper and a picture jumped out at me. It was a picture of a college student holding up a protest sign. She wanted a 50 percent of refund for her college tuition because her classes had moved online during the pandemic.
At the moment, I had a great idea, if the students were only asking for a 50 refund, it meant that they were still willing to pay the rest of it. Before the pandemic, I could only make money through in-person lectures, and offline classes. If for some reason I couldn’t give them an in-person lecture, I offered the video recording instead. Companies weren’t willing to pay for them, but now the situation was different.
University students were willing to pay for online classes, and this meant that all my old videos would be valuable. This was something that I had been dreaming of. I no longer needed to physically travel somewhere to give speeches. Until then, all my video clips were free, but due to the pandemic, people were developing the habit of paying for online content such as videos, lectures, and seminars.
Since I could no longer give speeches in front of a live audience, my video clips were going to be very profitable. This is something that I thought about in the past. That one picture in the paper gave me an idea and renewed my sense of hope. So, we started moving all my content to these top platforms and that’s how I developed MK KimU, an online university.
The New World is Here
Drew Appelbaum: Inside of the book Reboot, what advice does it give to readers?
MK Kim: Yeah, many people are still asking themselves, “So, when can we go back to before coronavirus days?” And I’m sorry, but I have to say this, we are already in a different world. Reboot means to reset, we must reset ourselves and our lives. After the pandemic, the world will be different than before.
The only way to survive is to accept this reality and move into this real world. Before the pandemic, our industry was combined with analog and digital systems. We were forced online during the pandemic. Now that we’ve experienced the comfort of learning and working online, we know that we can’t live without this technology. There are many people who are still complaining that the world is changing faster than ever, and they ask, “Who made this world? Who created this new world?”
The answer is you. You made it, you chose online shopping and online classes. I can tell you, the truth is, many companies have already moved to the post-corona era. Money is also moving to the next world. We can see what will happen.
The first thing you have to do is accept this reality. So then, what’s the next step you should take? It’s to study about the new world. The new world is made of digital technology. Digital technology is not difficult to learn, you can access Instagram and YouTube.
Until now, you’re always a consumer. But now you can be about selling something in the digital world such as content, your lecture, your image, or material goods. You don’t need to be afraid, you can sell anything–yourself in this world. You create this world, so you can thrive in it. No matter how tightly you hang on to the past, the world has changed, and you can’t go back to the pre-corona virus space, so you have to reboot yourself right now. The old ways are not working anymore, so don’t be stubborn.
It’s very simple, you have to reboot yourself. My book gives four formulas on how to live in the post pandemic world.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, as you just mentioned, you do break the book up into five parts and one of them has four reboot formulas that will change your life, so can you elaborate on those four reboot formulas?
MK Kim: Sure, Reboot explains four formulas about how to live in the post-pandemic world. The first formula is on-tact and this and that you must learn how to connect and communicate with people online. The newly coined word for this is on-tact, which means online contact. Most people are now working from home and children are learning online. The majority of what you used to do in our daily lives are now on-tact. You must accept that everyone has quickly moved to the on-tact data, and then you must become an active part of the on-tact data.
The second formula is digital transformation. You must understand on-tact, and then go through this digital transformation. This will allow you to study and earn money online. In my case, I could no longer give personal lectures, so I had no choice but to move my career online and learn the skills required to make the digital transformation. It’s not very difficult to learn. That was the only way my company in Korea could survive, so you should start to build your own business in the digital world.
The third formula is to become an independent worker. The ones who make the digital transformation, you can meet people more easily and become part of a large market. There are no borders in the digital world. Everyone is a unit and as an independent worker there are more opportunities and possibilities. At the same time, we all have many challenges to overcome, so you have to be hardworking and study more than before because there is a lot to prepare for the digital world. New technologies and digital tools are being introduced every day. If you make the digital transformation and apply what you learn, endless opportunities will knock at your door in the on-tact world.
The fourth formula is safety. The three formulas must be combined with safety. When you ask people, “So, what do you want to do after the pandemic?” they’re going to say travel, so then even if you really want to travel to another country, I’m sure you’re going to ask, “Is the country safe? Is the hotel safe? Is the airplane?” So, safety will become the first and foremost a priority when making a decision. Now, safety is the priority for many companies and individual businesses.
If you make a product or a business model, you must be safety sensitive because if you don’t care about safety, then your consumers won’t support you. In addition, the issues of safety expanded to the issues of environment and climate change, so we should keep on updating about this.
Prepare for the Future
Drew Appelbaum: Do you have any advice for people who are still struggling to adjust to this new way of life?
MK Kim: I will say that the biggest challenge for people is accepting this reality and preparing for the future. Since we are already living in a different world, now is the time to repeatedly ask yourself, “What should I prepare for the future?” It’s like immigrating to a new country, you can’t survive without preparing and setting up a new life there. There is hope and great happiness that lie ahead if you reboot yourself. The key is to learn about change. Set new goals and work hard, then you will succeed in the new world. We can do it together.
Drew Appelbaum: What’s the number one thing you hope readers will take away from the book?
MK Kim: It’s not too late to change and we can make our own success and move into the next era safely, so you must keep in your mind, it’s not too late to change.
Drew Appelbaum: You recommend a lot of books to your students and you’ve interviewed a lot of famous authors in the US. Can you talk about some of the people you’ve interviewed and maybe some things you learned from them?
MK Kim: I interviewed the amazing people like Gerald Diamond, Jim Rogers, Gary Vee, Scott Harris, Adam Grant, and many more. You know, I really love meeting inspirational people and discussing important issues that we all need to learn about. You can find all of these interviews on my YouTube channel.
Drew Appelbaum: Can you talk about what people can find on your YouTube channel?
MK Kim: Yeah, there are so many inspirational video clips. There are more than 2,000 video clips. That’s a lot, that was hard work. I introduced many, many books and there are some very short video clips. I want to share my experiences that I realized that from the books and people in their daily lives. You can find my channel by typing MK KimTV on YouTube.
Drew Appelbaum: This is one of my last questions. You’ve said you’ve written so many books before, so what are those other books you’ve written and what are they about?
MK Kim: I have written more than 20 books, most books about self-improvement and self-esteem. In fact, they are mostly stories about what I have experienced and overcome in my life. There are mainly about rediscovering your dreams again after marriage. This is for young wives, how to raise children with high self-esteem. This is for mothers and how to overcome adversity to achieve their dreams, this is for young people, and I’ve been giving lectures on these topics as well.
Drew Appelbaum: You have 20 books, you have a YouTube channel, you have Reboot, it is now out in the US and you can find it on Amazon. What else is in the future for you, MK Kim, and what are your future goals?
MK Kim: My future goal is very simple. I’ve shared my life and my message with Korean people for the last 30 years. I’ve been dreaming of becoming an international motivational speaker and meeting people living in different cultures and countries with different ideas, so I’m so happy to have a great chance to publish the English version of my books and to meet American readers. This is actually my first interview in English, all of this is new to me, which is very challenging, but I’m sure that this is the first step to moving forward to my second dream.
I think now is the perfect time to start the second dream of our lives, especially for people my age who have fewer responsibilities and more time. I call this the second independence, so I’m just about to start my new journey and it would be an honor if you could join me on this journey.
Drew Appelbaum: Well MK Kim, we just touched on the surface of the book but I want to say that writing a book about how to succeed in this new world is no small feat, so congratulations on having your latest book published.
MK Kim: Thank you very much. Thanks so much.
Drew Appelbaum: This has been a pleasure and I‘m excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, Reboot, and you can find it on Amazon. MK Kim, we talked about MK KimYU, your university. We talked about MK KimTV on YouTube, where else can people connect with you?
MK Kim: Yes, search for MK KimTV and MK KimYU, you can Google and you can search me and I have my website, MK Kim.
Drew Appelbaum: Well, thank you so much for coming on the show today, MK Kim, and best of luck with your new book.
MK Kim: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me. Bye.