We had the good fortune of connecting with Wesley Kwok and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Wesley, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of how to measure and contextualize risk. Generally speaking, the younger we are, the higher our short-term risk tolerance is – yet, the vast majority of people more often take the “safer path” of going to college, getting a safe degree, locking themselves in to a decades-long career that is oftentimes not fulfilling – and while these decisions feel safe and responsible, they carry long-term risk that we tend to ignore.

We fail to realize that we have a massive amount of risk-tolerance in the early stages of our life and career – when we are already accustomed to a college budget of ramen noodles and value packs; have the time and the energy to spend in whatever “risky” endeavour we care about; and have very little room to fall and next to nothing to lose. But we still tend to choose the lower-risk route, simply because it is in our nature to take the path of least resistance. We sell our time – which is a non-renewable resource – for money, which compared to time, is relatively easy to make more of.

Ever since I was young, I had a tendency to do the opposite of the advice I was given, which frequently landed me into sticky situations. I didn’t do well in high school because I was too busy playing gigs with my band. While I did go to college, I decided to study music at the Berklee College of Music, against the advice of my teachers and school counselors. Once graduation came around, I partnered with my best friend from childhood and started a company, despite the doubts that were echoed by all my friends and family. Taking risks like these throughout my life may not have given me the skills I needed to get a cushy corporate job, but it gave me the perspective I needed to realize that not only I could do better than that, but that I needed to if I wanted to truly be happy at the end of my career. And I figured that if we failed, I still had a safe fall back option of getting a job.

When you are in charge of your own life and career, you always have full autonomy to make more time or money or to do whatever you need to do to find happiness. But when you are bound and shackled by a company, you work for someone else’s dream, and if you don’t get a promotion, lose your job, or don’t feel fulfilled, there is far less that you can do within that context – other than quitting – to change your trajectory.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Nodus Watches is a boutique watch company based in Los Angeles, CA. We design and manufacture watches that are built around the idea of pursuing the things that you love, because passions are an integral part of who we are.

The hardest part about starting this company was cultivating the trust that is required in a business like this, where our products are expected to be of the highest quality, our customer support is equally as important, and the designs we put out have to have widespread appeal. Our process in achieving this is really quite simple: focus on the customers, no matter how many or how few. Every business started with just a handful of customers.

Focusing on what our competition is doing has very little value and takes away from the time that should be spent spoiling customers. Paying attention to critics, haters and naysayers is equally as fruitless, because those aren’t people that play a role in your success. Bottom line: focus on your customers and ignore everything else.

Since the beginning, Cullen and I envisioned a world where people chased whatever passion pulled at them. We hope Nodus can serve as an example of what can be achieved if we allow ourselves to embrace our passions.

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.
First stop is Beachwood BBQ in Long Beach for a proper West Coast IPA, followed by street tacos on Ocean Blvd. At some point, we would make the trek down to Laguna Beach to hike at Top of the World, as well as a scenic drive in Palo Verdes. Arts District brewing would be another stop, before getting ramen in Little Tokyo. I’d also call my friend, Ryan, who is head chef at Chi Spacca to set us up at his spot. Dinner at Barrique in Venice is also a mandatory stop.

Other things include beach day at Redondo, spontaneous pit stop at In N’ Out, a day trip to Joshua Tree, and bar hopping in Santa Monica.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost, my parents deserve recognition for encouraging me to walk to the beat of my own drum, especially at times when it made little sense.

Cullen – who started as a bandmate and is now my business partner – made my risky decisions significantly less risky.

Jianne, my girlfriend, who allows and encourages me to continue taking big risks.

The book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink, taught me why I made the choices I have made in my life, and why it is important to continue down the path I started.

Website: www.noduswatches.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/wes_kwok

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.