We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Chien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think risk taking is overrated. Yes, it makes for great stories and cinematic content, but it think it’s a bit over-glorified. Back in my early career, I made a bold decision to quit my job to backpack through Europe. I had so much fun exploring Europe and meeting new people. I lived a very carpe diem lifestyle where I lived for the moment and didn’t worry about consequences.
I had a lot of fun when I was younger, but now live by a different philosophy. Nowadays I’m really into slow and steady growth instead of making huge changes and taking big risks in your life. This type of slow growth mentality exists in investing, fitness, relationships and much more. As shown in the book “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy – small but consistent efforts will create great benefits in the long term.
The problem is… a lot of folks want success right away! They want to know how Chris Hemsworth gained 60 pounds of muscle in 6 months. However, if you look towards high performers such as Olympic Coach – Christopher Sommer, or MMA Champion Coach Firaz Zahabi – they advocate a slow and consistent approach, even telling people that they “shouldn’t be sore” after their workouts, and to do “less than you are maximally capable of.”
Should you go out of your comfort zone and take risks? Yes of course! Should you be patient and consistent also? Yes as well! I believe patience is something that is underrated in society.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a concept artist and theme park designer. I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for about 10 years. One of the projects that I’ve worked on that I’m most proud of is Sesame Street Land in Orlando, FL. I’ve also worked on projects such as Universal Beijing, SeaWorld, Kennedy Space Center and FerrariWorld. This journey wasn’t easy because a lot of work is project-based, which means you don’t have much job stability. This past year was especially difficult with Covid-19, because a lot of theme parks projects were put on hold, and employees were laid off.
If I could give me my younger self some advice it would be to learn about investing and Roth IRAs. Spend some time to get your financial stuff down. The earlier you start, the better. As an artist, if you are always worrying about your next paycheck, you may end up compromising your creative and artistic vision. Your work won’t be that good. Have a stable income, live a modest lifestyle, so you may have the financial freedom to to speak your artistic voice into the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think the most underrated spots in LA are probably the most touristy ones. I’ve had to visit New York like 4 times before it even CROSSED my mind to visit the Statue of Liberty. It was amazing!
In LA – I would go to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Venice Beach.
I actually live in Orange County which is about 2 hour commute to LA (with traffic). Sometimes, if I’m on a project in LA, I will stay at a hostel instead of commuting back and forth. I’ve paid $30-$50/ night to stay at a hostel where I can literally see the Chinese Theater from out the window. The price is a steal for the location. The Walk of Fame is literally your doorstep. I’ve stayed at a hostel in Venice Beach where you are literally 10 steps away from the beach. I would do a sprint workout on the beach, and maybe a couple of pull-ups on Muscle Beach before driving off to work for the day.
Sometimes, at hostels you can meet really cool and adventurous people. I met this guy who backpacked through China without knowing any Chinese. That same guy also traveled to North Korea. I didn’t believe him, but he had all of these pictures on his phone to prove it. It was meeting these type of people that inspired me to quit my job and travel the world.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shoutout to the Themed Entertainment Association (https://www.teaconnect.org/). After I graduated college, I decided I wanted to design theme parks, and one of the first things I did was join this organization. I have learned so much from the people there. Their events have allowed me to meet so many people and open many doors. I had the honor of being on the Western Division board for 4 years, serving as their official photographer. I had so many fun. Special thanks for Tricia Rodriguez and David Price for taking great care of me!